Honoring friends of Bangladesh
Mohammad Jamil


Daily The Hindu in its recent report stated that 150 more people and organizations would be honoured in the fourth of a series of ceremonies to be held on Victory Day for having extended their wholehearted support to Bangladeshi people during the so-called war of independence in 1971. The question can be asked as to why it is being done so belatedly i.e. after 40 years of its independence. In the first ceremony, the Bangladesh Freedom Honor was given to Indira Gandhi posthumously on 25th July 2011. In the second ceremony on 27th March 2012, the government honoured 83 individuals and organizations. And on 26th October 2012, in the third ceremony 61 individuals and organizations were honored. Foreign ministry officials said that the Indian president, Pranab Mukherjee had already given his consent to visit Bangladesh on the occasion.

It is learnt that approximately 15 Pakistanis are also included in the final list of persons to be honored for their contribution to the so-called Bangladesh’s liberation war against their own country way back in 1971. Some Pseudo-intellectuals, journalists and media persons from Pakistan, who are ever-ready to join hands with anti-Army forces, have also been invited. Only unconscionable Pakistanis would attend the ceremony to receive an award from Bangladesh. It appears that some elements taking advantage of the pro-India government in Bangladesh are bent upon tarnishing the image of Pakistan and its military.
Last week, Sheikh Hasina refused to attend recently held D-8 conference in Pakistan unless Pakistan tendered apology for, what she said, Genocide of Bengalis. Pakistan government had constituted Hamood-ur-Rehman Commission to identify underlying causes for this tragedy and if there were excesses.
Hamood-ur-Rehman Commission Report observed that formation of One-unit, principle of parity, unitary form of government and system of basic democracies were the reasons for alienating the people of smaller provinces that led to disintegration of Pakistan. Whereas the commission criticized the then military and politicos for their ineptness, it had debunked the propaganda by India that two to three million Bengalis had been killed by the Pakistan army. The Commission had put the figure of casualties at 26000 including the killings of West Pakistanis, members of Pakistan’s security personnel and Biharis that were butchered by Mukti Bahini guerillas. Anyhow, former prime minister of Bangladesh Khaleda Zia is on record having said that figure of three million dead was highly exaggerated. Many books have been written calling the genocide of Bengalis farce; however those under the influence of India or writers with anti-Pakistani streak put the figure as high as 3 million.
It has to be mentioned that the people have not forgotten the genocide of non-Bengalis during the civil war and afterwards at the hands of Bengali nationalists. However, Pakistan considered the matter settled, as Sheikh Mujib had made no demand for apology during his visit to Lahore to attend Islamic Summit. But Sheikh Hasina has shown complete obedience towards Indian masters, be it humiliating Pakistan or be it providing and unwavering support to India, which has deprived Bangladesh of its right over river Barak when it unilaterally decided to build a Tipaimukh dam on this site with huge reservoir. This means that River Barak, which flows into Bangladesh from the Indian state of Manipur, will go dry completely. India is also concentrating small rivers flowing from India to Bangladesh to make a mainstream in India to use water for its domestic purposes, thus depriving Bangladeshi farmers of water by diverting its rivers.
Many writers hold the view that on 16th December 1971, Pakistan was dismembered as a result of international terrorism. India was, of course, on the forefront whereby the former USSR helped India in implementing the insidious plan to disintegrate Pakistan. Unfortunately, Pakistan’s so-called friends - America and the West - acted as silent spectators.
A lot many books, thesis and reviews have been written on the causes of the fall of Dacca and disintegration of Pakistan. It was unfortunate that in 1971 the UN and the big powers did nothing to stop India to dismember independent country with recognized international boundaries.
After the break-up of Pakistan, India declared that Two-Nation Theory had sunk in the Bay of Bengal, but eidetic reality was that Bangladesh became an independent country with Muslim identity, and in general Bangladeshis are not willing to accept India’s hegemony.
The differences between India and Bangladesh also exist over distribution of water on Teesta River. In April 2010 Water Resources Ministers of the two countries met in New Delhi under the aegis of the Joint River Commission.
While Bangladesh wants to have water sharing on 50-50 basis available at Ghazal Doba - the only release point of Teesta river water to Bangladesh - India is yet to take a final call on the issue as much will depend on the West Bengal Government. However, the people of Bangladesh would resist hegemonic designs of India, and would not cave into their pressure.
There was another bone of contention i.e., since 1987 when India decided to fence some locations along Indo-Bangladesh international border, (at present 2,859 km have been fenced out of the sanctioned 3,783 kms) Bangladesh has been upset. For Indians the influx of Bangladeshis across the border was a problem eluding any long-standing solution.
The decision to fence was aimed at primarily to stop illegal cross-border commodity movements, which was not without a political cost bilaterally. Bangladesh always perceived it to be an unfair move, as it reflected not only India’s lack of trust towards its neighbor but also meant overlooking and disregarding what is largely considered as a historical trend of free movement across the subcontinent.
Nevertheless, with the fences that were built on Indian soil with Indian resources, there was very little Bangladesh could do to stop the process. It protested about these fences being defense structures, which are not permitted between the neighbors within 150 yards from the zero line. Bangladesh had also refused to send its troops to Afghanistan, which seems to be the result of the fact that Bangladeshis guard their freedom very jealously, despite Sheikh Hasina’s appeasement policy towards India.