There was some buzz again last week that Dr Manmohan Singh was contemplating a visit to Pakistan next month, before he hangs his boots. It is one of those rumours which in the past nine years has been neither denied by the foreign office nor confirmed. And the ‘news’ gained ground when a visiting bunch of Pakistani journalists reported that all that was left was a fixing of dates. Meanwhile it appears that the Prime Minister might instead be traveling to Myanmar to attend the summit of BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation). The interesting grouping consists of Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal. Look East Sir, look East.
Pakistan is too occupied with ‘peace talks’ with the Taliban — which it calls a stake holder in its domestic political process — to bother with the Indian Prime Minister. Try figuring this out: the Taliban has asked Imran Khan to negotiate on its behalf in the peace talks with the government!
Last week, that Pakistani ‘social worker of repute’ Hafiz Saeed, no wait, ‘Professor’ Hafiz Saeed said in a rally that India was exerting pressure on the Bangladeshi government to hang Jamaat leaders. He was referring to the death sentence handed down by a Chittagong court to 14 men, including Bangladesh Jamaat chief Motiur Rahman Nizami, in the sensational 10 truck arms smuggling case of 2004. ULFA chief Paresh Barua was also given the death penalty in absentia.
In April 2004, Bangladesh police had seized 4,930 types of sophisticated firearms, 27,020 grenades, 840 rocket launchers, 300 rockets, 2,000 grenade launchers, 6,392 magazines and 1,140,520 bullets when they were being loaded on to 10 trucks headed to North East India. Barua, then in Bangladesh, worked closely with the ISI and the BNP, especially Khaleda Zia’s son Tarique Rehman. Both Barua and Tarique fled Bangladesh when the Awami League government came to power.
The ISI has always maintained its links with the Jamaat in Bangladesh, either through Bangladesh’s National Security Intelligence during BNP rule or lately through various non-state actors. Three Myanmar born Pakistani Taliban operatives were caught in Dhaka last month on a ‘jihad mission’.
Not just the ISI, Pakistan’s politicians too are vocal in their support for trans-national jihadi terrorists. Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Chaudhary Nisar described the capital punishment to Bangladesh’s war criminal Abdul Qadir Mollah as ‘judicial murder’. Mollah, known as the ‘Butcher of Mirpur’, and his Al Badr cohorts smashed to death a two year old on the floor, slit the throats of his pregnant mother and two sisters, and raped his two other sisters, one of whom died from her wounds. The one who survived testified against Mollah. 43 years later, Mollah was convicted and hanged for killing 344 civilians in 1971. A few days later, Pakistani politician Javed Hashmi (PTI) called Mollah as Shaheed-e-Pakistan. These are the kind of men that Pakistan’s leaders call heroes.
More than four decades after losing half of its country, Pakistan has still not come to terms with the fact that Bangladesh is systematically going ahead with bringing to trial the war crimes accused of 1971. And during that process, historical facts are coming to the fore once again. Pakistanis have been fed on a diet of lies about their history and their leaders are quite content to perpetuate that state of ignorance.
The denial runs deeper as evidenced from a report in Pakistani newspaper, The Nation (Jan 24, 2014) which denounces a Bollywood film to be released this month as an Indian conspiracy to defame Pakistan rather than an artistic interpretation by a private Indian film producer. The article says, “Based on anti-Pakistan propaganda, ‘The Bastard Child’, (now renamed ‘Children of War’) a Hindi language movie, has recently been released in India to tarnish the image of Pakistan and its armed forces around the world.”
“The movie, which has been made on the subject of 1970-1971 events in East Pakistan, depicts Pakistan Army in East Pakistan as an occupation army. It screens alleged atrocities committed by Pakistan Army personnel in East Pakistan, which ignited flames for its separation… Notwithstanding, peace endeavours initiated by government of Pakistan, India does not spare any opportunity to prick Pakistan. It quotes “sources” saying “This propaganda movie is an attempt to bring bad name to Pakistan.” If the YouTube trailers of the film provoked this extreme reaction, it is quite clear that the film will be banned in Pakistan, depriving yet another generation from knowing the truth about 1971.
First published in Mid-Day, India, January 3, 2014
Smita Prakash is Editor, News at Asian News International. You can follow her on twitter @smitaprakash