Can Pakistan - Bangladesh Relations Move Beyond Apologies
By: Osman Khan


Our Pakistani friends referred more to as ‘friends’ of hostile near and distant neighbors rather than their own country, are having a ball of a time in Pakistan despite their anti-Pakistan rhetoric obliging their hosts while being abroad on invitations. In the coterie of such ‘friends’ that recently assembled in Bangladesh to receive personal awards or on behalf of their elders who had contributed in one way or the other towards Bangladesh’s independence, a lady belonging to the art circle of Pakistan was demanded Pakistani establishment to apologize to Bangladesh on the purported atrocities carried out on Bangladeshis by Pakistani armed forces deployed then in East Pakistan. At home the same lady has been rewarded for harboring anti-state views through her induction as the health minister in the care taker government in Punjab under Mr. Najam Sethi, whose own loyalties to the state of Pakistan were put to question in 1990s when he was arrested more than once, only to be released under American pressure.

In the absence of national accountability of such people, the coterie only gets bolder in discrediting their own country abroad. No wonder, they routinely get invited by Indian and Bangladeshis to make their anti-Pakistan aspersions and comments look authentic through well thought out cultural and academic activities in their countries. In their misdemeanor, they tend to become a party to their hosts’ anti-Pakistan ventures that are only meant to castigate Pakistan and its armed forces and the ISI on various issues.

Our self boasted spiteful media and art related personalities were recently in Bangladesh attending a ceremony that the latter organized to what it called was held to honor the friends of Bangladesh who had helped their causes in 1971 that resulted in creation of Bangladesh. On the occasion while talking to media persons the ‘friends’ earned accolades from host country’s officials, journalists and academicians when they in a state of predisposition asked their own country to apologize to Bangladeshis on the purported atrocities carried out by Pakistani armed forces back in 1971. While demeaning their own country they forgot their Pakistani brethren whose dear and loved ones lost their lives against heavy odds in hostile environments to save their country from breaking up. Every year in December, these Pakistanis seek justice against those (Bangladeshis) who massacred their blood relations remains of whom have not been returned to them by Bangladeshis. Who would take to task the vicious Mukti Bahinis who raped and mercilessly butchered personnel of the armed forces and other left over Pakistanis? Our erstwhile friends of Bangladesh should have taken some time to ponder on the intensity of the trauma that the families of those Pakistanis have to pass through every year who had lost their blood relations in the then East Pakistan at the hands of Indian sponsored Mukti Bahinis before asking their own country to apologize.

Currently, an Indian hired American lobbying firm is working hard wooing US Congressmen to work towards approving a bill that would demand Pakistan to apologize to Bangladesh for the purported atrocities carried out by Pakistan’s armed forces in the Eastern wing of United Pakistan. The ‘friends’ must have felt happy on the move and who knows they may also visit US and meet Congressmen to join hands with them in demanding Pakistani apology. While these Indian sponsored anti-Pakistan moves continue, a huge number of Bangladeshis gathered at Times Square in New York on 13th of this month and protested against the dictatorial moves of Awami League’s leader Sheikh Hasina Wajid, the present head of the government in Bangladesh. The protestors raised their concerns on the brutality of Bangladeshi government against Muslim leaders and the wide range of abuse of human rights being committed by her government in Bangladesh. The participants of the rally carried huge play cards and raised slogans in an effort to bring to attention of the international community on the naked civilian terrorism being carried out by Hasina Wajid’s government against its own people. Some of the slogans read; ‘I have the right to speak, Don’t torture me’, ‘save Bangladesh’, Stop injustices in Bangladesh’ and ‘Bangladesh at war with its own people’. The rally was addressed by various speakers conspicuous amongst which was Nihad Awad { Director of council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)}. In his address on the occasion he pointed out that the existing Bangladeshi Tribunal’s workings were proven tainted with outside influence (India) but still, it meted out death penalties. Other speakers that addressed the rally included representatives from the ‘Muslim Ummah of North America and Dr, Sheikh Ubaid, co-chair of Muslim Peace Coalition, USA.

A Resolution was also passed on the occasion demanding that Bangladesh government; cease crackdown on peaceful rallies in Bangladesh; stop the intimidation campaign against independent journalists and opposition’s politicians; release all the journalists who are in jail immediately particularly Mr. Mahmoodur Rahman, editor of the newspaper, Amar Desh; disband the present war crimes tribunal which in fact is a Kangaroo court; establish a truly independent international tribunal against war crimes to provide justice for both Bengali and Bihari victims and to punish perpetrators from all sides; vacate the death penalty awarded to opposition leaders and Islamic scholars by the Kangaroo court; set up a truth and reconciliation commission so that the great nation of Bangladesh can start the healing process and move forward; form an independent commission to investigate the murder and arson that took place in the last few months and prosecute the perpetrators including those belonging to law enforcement agencies. Para:2 of the same resolution demanded of the US government to force Bangladeshi government to follow the rule of law and appoint a new and true international war crimes tribunal as it was done for Bosnia, Rwanda and Sierra Leon by the UN. Furthermore, a truth and reconciliation commission be established to start the healing process in Bangladesh.

Pakistan needs a proactive approach in convincing Bangladesh to prosecute all those who mercilessly killed Pakistanis including children and women at the fag end of the war in Bangladesh to provide justice to the affected families. We have slept over the issue for far too long. Our failure to pursue the case has provided an opportunity to anti-Pakistan elements inside and outside the country especially in India and Bangladesh that traditionally exploit our soft approach towards the issue. Till the time the case remains pending, the naysayers of Pakistan and Bangladesh amity will only flourish in their grandeur designs to keep both the countries at bay with each other.