By Pathik Hasan
December 16, 2021 is knocking on the door, when Bangladesh will celebrate its 50th anniversary of Victory Day with full spirit. On December 16, 1971, almost 93,000 Pakistani soldiers surrendered in Dhaka, leading to the creation of the sovereign nation-state of Bangladesh.
On this day in 1971, some 93,000 Pakistani soldiers settled for an unconditional surrender to India-Bangladesh joint forces in Dhaka that led to the emergence of a new nation state in South Asia. Prior to this Bangladesh was a part of Pakistan from 1947 to 1971. Bangladesh had to separate itself from Pakistan due to various reasons through the prolonged independent movement. During this period, the people of Bangladesh faced exploitation and genocidal activities committed by the Pakistan army. Consequently, India had to stand a huge influx of refugees. According to the Bangladesh government, nearly 3 million people were martyred and 250,000 women were raped by Pakistani military members and local associates.
After a long and bloody struggle of nine months, East Pakistan emerged on the world map as a completely independent state called Independent Bangladesh. Since then, Bangladesh’s position and acceptance has increased to every country in the world.
Bangladesh is being recognized as a rising star in South Asia. Bangladesh is improving so much today, said an economist in Pakistan. Abid Hassan in an article in The News International, a Pakistani newspaper, that Pakistan may seek financial assistance from Bangladesh by 2030. The former World Bank economist has just predicted the future. If Bangladesh can pay 20 million US dollars to Sri Lanka, waive the IMF’s Bangladeshi share of money from Somalia and Sudan, help Indonesia with Covid-19 medical equipment, shelter a large number of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, it can also help Pakistan financially. Bangladesh is a humanitarian state in South Asia.
Its foreign policy is friendship to all, enmity with none. Pakistan, which exploited Bangladesh for 24 years, today lags far behind in socio-economic fields. In an interview, a Pakistani journalist asked Prime Minister Imran Khan to make Pakistan like Bangladesh. The Canada-based International Forum for Rights and Security, a think tank, recently published a report on Bangladesh and Pakistan. It has been shown there that Bangladesh is ahead in all areas of the index. Many Indian economists have called on all countries to follow the Bangladesh model in the development of South Asia.
Former Pakistani ambassador to the United States Hossain Haqqani said that Pakistan carried out the worst genocide in Bangladesh in 1971. And yet, there is no indication of the Pakistani government apologizing for the genocide. He made the remarks at a webinar organized by the Bangladesh Embassy in Brussels in late March 2021.
The people of Pakistan should call on their government to apologize for all the atrocities that took place against Bangladesh in 1971. The people of Pakistan are sympathetic to Bangladesh that had to bear the genocide during the liberation war, despite the government of Pakistan distortedly presenting history in textbooks and various publications. But in this age of globalization, people are much more aware.
We can also know the views of Pakistani citizens by the welfare of social media. They also want the government of Pakistan to formally apologize to Bangladesh for their brutal deeds. Pakistan should apologize to Bangladesh for the way in which Pakistan attacked innocent Bengalis in 1971 and killed them.
Leaders from all over South Asia came to Bangladesh in March on the occasion of the birth centenary of Father of the Nation and the golden jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence. But no Pakistani leader came. Pakistan has just officially sent a congratulatory message. Pakistan’s highest sincerity was needed here.
On December 16, Bangladesh will celebrate the golden jubilee of her Victory Day. I think this is a golden opportunity for Pakistan. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan can visit Bangladesh on December 16 to mark the Victory Day and formally apologize to Bangladesh. Pakistan’s leadership should give up their egoistic mindset. They have to remember that Pakistan committed genocide in Bangladesh. And Bangladesh knows how to forgive. To some extent, A Pakistan apology could heal Bangladesh’s war wounds.
Bangladesh is going to be recognized as an emerging power in South Asia. Many senior citizens of Pakistan can put pressure on the government of Pakistan in this regard. The time has come to realize the heinous act that Pakistan did. The government of Pakistan should understand why the burden of this past act of Pakistan will carry the future of Pakistan. Although Imran Khan used to talk a lot about this issue before he became the Prime Minister, he has not been able to do anything as the army has a big role in the politics of the country.
Yet it is not good for the military and the civilian government to ignore Pakistan’s public opinion.
Seeking forgiveness is not a sign of weakness, but rather a symbol of greatness and humility. If France and Germany can apologize to Rwanda after all this time, why can’t Pakistan apologize to Bangladesh?
If Europe’s two biggest former colonial powers – France and Germany – can do it, then no one else should have a problem. Pakistan should realize this. The sooner the Pakistani government realizes this, the better for them. If Pakistan wants to take steps to improve relations with Bangladesh, it must apologize for the 1971 war crimes. Only then is it possible to advance diplomatic and economic relations between the two countries. So, it would be better for Pakistan if it apologies to Bangladesh as soon as possible.