Friends of Pakistan and Friends of Bangladesh and Others
By: Bassam Javed
Thirteen Pakistanis were conferred with ‘Foreign Friends of Bangladesh’ Awards by the Prime Minister of Bangladesh on 24th March 2013 at Dacca, the capital city. The post ceremony remarks of some of those recipients on the 1971 tragic events calling on the state of Pakistan to apologize to Bangladesh, are an eye opener in underscoring as to how our publicity starved nobodies can, out of sheer irresponsibility, loose senses and degrade not only the entire Pakistani nation but themselves also.
Bangladesh routinely honors foreigners in December every year who it thinks contributed in ratcheting a separate homeland for Bengalis. Whereas the month of December is celebrated in Bangladesh being the month when it got independent, it reignites pain in Pakistanis who lost their blood relations defending their motherland thousands of miles away in 1971. In the time leading to the war and till the time it ended, Pakistanis kept on persuading their Bengali brethren not to go along with Indian designs to break up Pakistan, a country for which people of both the Wings of the country had struggled together to win a separate homeland from the British. Despite the scar inflicted on the unity of Pakistan in 1971, Pakistan walks extra miles in trying to redeem old friendships that they were once hall mark of Pakistani polity. But the die hard section of the Awami League that returns to power through Indian intelligence covert maneuvering therein Bangladesh, sticks to ‘Pakistani Apology’ mantra and continues to defy all efforts made by Pakistan to bring the two countries closer to each other.
The war of 1971 was a calamity that was ruthlessly inflicted by India on the state of Pakistan. The Indian intelligence agency ‘RAW’ found willing and convenient connivers in leaders of Sheikh Mujib’s Awami League in its agenda to break up Pakistan. A Bengali officer Col (R) Sakhawat, led a two member delegation to Agartala in 1968 and met ‘RAW” operatives to help create an independent state for them to be named as ‘Bangladesh’. He later acknowledged in an address to the Bangladesh parliament saying that, “The charges against us read out on the first hearing in the conspiracy case were absolutely right”, and that, “it was not a fake case”. A renowned Indian writer Sharmila Bose in her book titled, “ Dead Reckoning: Memories of the 1971 Bangladesh War” countered purported Awami League and Indian perspectives that Bangladesh was created on nationalistic sentiments of the people of the then East Pakistan. She concluded that dominant part of the narrative provided by India was not true as“ many facts had been exaggerated, fabricated, distorted or concealed”.
In Pakistan however, there is a coterie of TV anchors and artists from the art circle that often get overwhelmed on receiving foreign invitations and awards. That state of their nostalgia is often exploited by anti-Pakistan forces to extract statements that have affect on our national interests. A well known anchor of a private TV channel known for his satirical and humiliating approach on personalities, in a write up for a newspaper validated the contents of “Unfinished Memoirs of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman” that mention that Bengalis were massacred and their women raped by Pakistanis in 1971. Glaring omission in his write up was however, incidents of Bangladeshi mobs’ maddening hate attacks, separatist intrigues and bloodshed of Pakistanis under Sheikh Mujib’s patronage using Mukti Bahini as veritable arm of Awami League. The allegations of genocide and rapes by Pakistanis remains a myth as Pakistan, for unknown reasons, never bothers to challenge. It is for this reason that demands of an apology often crop up not only from Bangladeshis but also from few of our own evanescent eminent personalities.
Now that a democratic government has completed its term of five years, a care taker set up is running the country to pave way for the formation of the next democratically elected government post May 11 parliamentary elections. A tremendous national effort was made to appoint clean and uncontroversial care takers to run the governments in the center as well as the provinces. However, the nation has faltered in Punjab. The care takers appointed therein to run the provincial affairs have a dubious record that doubts their allegiance to the state of Pakistan. The care taker Chief Minister of Punjab has a notorious reputation of colluding with foreigners against the national interests for a few benefits. US Consul Generals based at Lahore have been frequent visitors to his house. Why do they do so and what American interests they pursue in talking to him remain secret. He has had strong relationships with his counterparts in India with strong links to ‘RAW’. It was in this connection that he was once taken into custody and grilled by intelligence agencies. He was released from the custody under American pressure. During the second tenure of Muslim League (N) in power, he went to India and addressed a select gathering in connection with ‘Kewal Singh Memorial lecture series’. The session was presided over by the Late Prime Minister of India I K Gujral. While delving on the subject ‘ Pakistan and the 21st Century’ he castigated his own country Pakistan as a failed state. This was not the only occasion when his questionable loyalties to the state of Pakistan came to light. He was earlier arrested also in mid-70s and mid-80s for his anti-state activities.
In the Dacca Award ceremony, besides our adventurist TV anchor, there were others too who took upon themselves to express their views on controversial issues that plague the bilateral relationship between the two countries. That included the daughter of late poet Faiz Ahmad Faiz and wife of TV artist Shoaib Hashmi, who also fell prey to journalists’ queries, some Indian sponsored. She was so over awed with the glitter and feelings of elation in front of the media that she resorted to anti-Pakistan rhetoric and said, “The Pakistan Government should formally apologize from the people of Bangladesh for the atrocities committed by Pakistan occupation army during the war of independence in 1971”. Within days of her anti-Pakistan rhetoric, the lady was selected as a Minister in the care taker set-up in Punjab. The activities and irresponsible statements of such journalist and representatives of art circles against the national interests of Pakistan, especially while being on foreign soils, indicate that they are not friends of their own country and truly reflect their anti-state mind set.
It is a pity that we have failed to pursue the perpetrators of the break-up of Pakistan. Our failure to do so has provided opportunity to India and Bangladesh to incessantly bash Pakistani armed forces on the myths and personal and concocted stories of some. The fact is otherwise. Pakistan army, in the most unfavorable and hostile grounds of the Eastern wing stood its ground and fought heroically till it could to prevent break up of Pakistan. Allegations of rapes and genocide attributed to Pakistan army, continue to remain as myths that off and on are exploited and drummed up in Bangladesh and India to keep a wedge between the two nations. Till the time serious efforts are made to investigate long harbored assumptions and myths, amity will not exist in the bilateral relationship between Bangladesh and Pakistan.