A refugee carrying his cholera-stricken wife away from the fighting during the Bangladesh war in 1971. Photo by Mark Edwards

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Pakistan proper as we know it now was (and is) a fledgling state risen from bloodbaths as a consequence of the divorce from India. There has always been an unhealthy amount of paranoia towards India’s attempts to undermine Pakistan and reciprocally India was paranoid by being sandwiched In between two large masses under the name Pakistan. When it become clear India was obviously aiding in the union split, this not only a)served as proof to many Pakistanis that this rebellion was tantamount to treason but also b) spelt the death of half their country and undermined the vast strategic benefits which Pakistan enjoyed through splitting India’s superior army at both borders. This is a very simplified version of just one factor. So yea, its conceivable both parties escalated the situation to the point of no return based on rational they wholly thought were for the greater good.

I’m sorry but you can’t say on the one hand
>Also, it would be difficult to say that ethnicity played no role in this conflict.

Then later add the caveat
> The conflict was not an attempt at ethnic cleansing, but it was killing millions of people entirely from one ethnicity.

It seems like you agree with my wider point, which is that ethnicity was incidental to the wider political and geographical war which played out. The tensions may have escalated because the west and east parties never had much in common but based on their relative political histories we can see that both countries have incredibly fractious and bloody instability – being from the same ethnicity quelled either house.

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