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Monday, August 24, 2020

Pakistan’s desperate attempt to come closer to Bangladesh

WEB_ Prime-Minister-Sheikh-Hasina-Imran-Khan
File photo: Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina (left), and her counterpart Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan


"Bilateral synergy between Bangladesh and Pakistan remains a work in progress"

For most journalists, columnists, and academicians in Pakistan, when they write or speak on Bangladesh affairs, it could be understood that they are bashing India and trying to appease Bangladesh by stating or using the term “brotherly Muslim” country.

The Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stated about the delinquent Indian press in undermining the relations of the two neighbours. The government could have warned equally about the Pakistan media writing provocative articles and commentaries that Bangladesh has realized after almost 50 years that India is no friend of Bangladesh, and is instead tilting towards China.

A Pakistani columnist Inam Ul Haque in The Express Tribune has written: “Taking a leaf from post-war European history would do well for both brotherly Muslim countries.”

Bangladesh, even after almost half-a-century, has not forgotten the marauding Pakistan Army launched a “jihad war” against the people. 

Thus, the broadcast of Radio Pakistan aptly said that the people of Bangladesh are “kafirs” and “gaddhars” (traitors) and have joined hands with their arch enemy, the Hindu-India.

Pakistan must backtrack their statement of officially declaring the people of Bangladesh as “kafirs” and traitors which gave them the moral legitimacy to commit genocide and rape as a weapon of war.

An estimated 10 million refugees fled Bangladesh and trekked into neighbouring states of India. They fled when their villages and towns were raided. Their relatives and neighbours were slaughtered by the Pakistan Army and their Islamic henchmen.

The plunders and arson of villages and bazaars and desecrating places of worship, and the genocide by Islamist militia -- these narratives are documented in the history of the Liberation War.

The Pakistan media put up stories on the first page regarding Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s telephone tete-a-tete with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina.

Both Bangladesh and Pakistan’s official statements did not mention that Imran Khan wanted to convince Bangladesh to support Pakistan on the Kashmir issue. PM Hasina in three words silenced Khan when she stated that Kashmir is “India’s internal affair.” Full stop.

What Pakistan media will not publish was that Bangladesh reiterated that Pakistan should provide a public apology to the war crimes committed during the Liberation War.

Barrister Tania Amir says that Bangladesh should muster support from friendly countries to hold Islamabad responsible for flouting the historic 1974 Tripartite Agreement signed in New Delhi which released 93,000 prisoners of war (POW).

In Clause 13 of the agreement jointly signed by the foreign ministers of Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan regarding the governments for reconciliation, peace, and friendship in the sub-continent, “the 195 Pakistani prisoners of war should be held to account and subjected to the due process of law.”

However, the Pakistan minister of defense and foreign affairs in the agreement said that “his government condemned and deeply regretted any crimes that may have been committed.”

Former Foreign Minister Dr Kamal Hossain, a signatory of the agreement in Clause 13, stated that the manifold crimes committed by POWs constituted, according to the relevant provisions of the UN General Assembly Resolutions and International Law, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, and that there was universal consensus that persons charged with such crimes as the 195 Pakistani POWs should be held to account and subject to the due process of law.

The Tripartite Agreement stated that the 195 listed as war criminals will face court-martial under the Manual of Pakistan Military Laws (MPML), 1957.

In the home front, during a live discussion over a TV channel on the relationship between India and Bangladesh and the recent developments in regards to Pakistan, Foreign Minister Abdul Momen said the recent tensions between India and China were impacting ties with Bangladesh of both the nations, and he asserted that both India and China were its “neighbours” and that both the nations always had a big heart for Bangladesh.

Pakistan and Bangladesh need to realize that bilateral synergy can bring tremendous good to their people, wrote columnist Inam Ul Haque in The Express Tribune. Political observers merely scoffed at such wild ideas. 

First published in the Dhaka Tribune on 24 August 2020

Saleem Samad is an independent journalist, media rights defender, and recipient of Ashoka Fellowship and Hellman-Hammett Award. He can be reached at  Twitter @saleemsamad

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