Rescinding the Past For Pakistan-Bangladesh Amity
By: Bassam Javed
The cicatrices of an unwanted war, continue to haunt the Pakistan-Bangladesh relationship. Since that fateful year of 1971, 16th December every year rekindles the agony of the near and dear ones of all those Pakistanis that got killed at the hands of specially trained mercenaries recruited by the Indian Army and its veritable arm, the savage outfit of Bengali rebels infamously known as Mukti Bahinis. Whereas the Indian army capitalized on an instable environment in then Pakistan’s Eastern wing, the Indian government too colluded with Sheikh Mujeeb and supported his separatist designs in shaping the world opinion in their favor through some aggressive media and diplomatic campaigns. A lot of atrocities were committed thereafter by both the sides wherein huge number of lives were lost.
Most of the available but glaringly biased accounts of the events leading to the full fledged war in East Pakistan and the atrocities committed thereafter have repeatedly been told by adherent observers with rigid conceptions. The Pakistani media had lagged behind Indian media in impacting the masses wherein the former, for its inability to keep pace with ever changing political and military dynamics in the eastern wing, failed its listeners and viewers grasp a true picture of events through unconvincing reporting and lacked resources and technology compared to Indians. The Indian media’s massive coverage of the events chastising Pakistan army unfavorably led the world to believe whatever it wanted to convey to them for bisecting Pakistan into two countries. The Indian media campaign was so successful that at no time during the tragic transformation of events, not a whisper was heard any where around the world on India’s criminal interference in the internal affairs of Pakistan. Nevertheless, the chivalrous works of these adherent observers who claimed to be physically present in the theatre of war unfortunately continue to impact the minds of young generations and hence generate perpetual hate feelings against Pakistanis. Such sad events are repeated again and again specially whenever ‘The Awami League’ comes to power reflecting its endemic anti-Pakistan syndrome. Sadly, it has not succeeded or even worked to declutch itself from the cancerous syndrome.
To our good luck, there are some authentic works also available on the Bangladesh tragedy by neutral researchers, analysts, seasoned and authentic authors. Two Americans, Leo Rose and Richard Sisson are amongst a few, that have carried out a deep research on the events that led to secession of Bangladesh. Amongst others, is Sharmila Bose, a Senior Research Fellow at Oxford University and a reputed political journalist of India. Whereas the research work of the two American authors titled, ’War and Secession: Pakistan, India and the Creation of Bangladesh’ is a forceful analysis of the historic events that unfolded in the region, Sharmila’s book titled’ Dead reckoning: Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War’ gives a detailed but unbiased account of excesses committed by both the sides during the war. She has analyzed in her book that the figures of casualties quoted by various Indian and Bangladesh sources were highly exaggerated and described most of the atrocities mentioned elsewhere in the material available on the subject, as untrue.
Bangladesh is a reality. In today’s global dynamics, no country can carry itself along with dignity with preconceived hate traits for others. Hina Rabbani Khar, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister went to Bangladesh and invited Bangladesh Prime Minister Hasina Wajid to visit Pakistan to participate in the D-8 summit in Islamabad. Before, the Prime Minister could decide on the invitation, the coterie of her close anti-Pakistan associates announced that she will not attend the summit unless Pakistan apologizes for atrocities in 1971. Later, she also declared that she would not visit Pakistan. The Board of Cricket in Bangladesh has repeatedly shown its willingness to visit Pakistan to play cricket but again, Hasina Wajid’s government snubs it on every pro-Pakistani gesture. The stance of ‘Awami League’ on embracing Pakistan friendship has not changed even after forty-one years. Generations of Bangladeshis specially during Awami League’s tenure have grown up in an environment that only speaks of hostility towards Pakistan. These generations and many other Bangladeshis as well do not have the access to historical facts that tell all of the torture inflicted and merciless killings of West Pakistanis and the non-Bengali population at the hands of Indian sponsored Mukti Bahinis, militants and mercenaries hired by Indian Army. As it would naturally happen, even after forty-one years since Bangladesh got its independence, feelings of some kind of association or even the feelings of sincerity or positive bodings for the people of Pakistan are still not to be found around in Bangladesh. Credit for instilling perpetual disharmony between Pakistani and Bangladeshi current generations squarely goes to ‘Awami League’ and its mentors in India.
Pakistan has not lost the hope. After all, they struggled hand in hand to carve out a separate homeland out of the Indian sub-continent for the Muslims under the able leadership of Mohammad Ali Jinnah. For how long, Hasina Wajid’s Awami League or its Indian interlocutors would wedge hate between the two nations. It has to come to an end one day. May be the next generation of Bangladeshis comes to terms with reality that the present generation in Pakistan had nothing to do with the sad events that took place in 1971. May be some day they go through some unbiased material that narrates the truth on the atrocities committed by both sides and shun anti-Pakistan bodings. Pakistan has always kept Bangladeshis close to their hearts and their extra-ordinary inter-community friendships while residing as expatriates abroad, are exceptional. Let us hope that some day, both the governments will succeed in creating an aura of love and friendship between the two countries and rescind scars of the past.