DHAKA, the birth place of All India Muslim League in 1906, eventually proved to be the centre-stage of united Pakistan’s disintegration in 1971. The elders who struggled hard to create Pakistan became instrumental in its breakup. Sheikh Mujeeb-ur-Rehman, a student activist of the Pakistan Movement in the 40s, led the secessionist movement in the 60s and 70s. This change in the religio-political orientation of East Pakistan’s leadership was nurtured by the Indian establishment and intelligentsia. To that end they spared no effort to undo the creation of Pakistan which, they believe, vivisected the Mother India.
Unfortunately the Pakistan leadership demonstrated a criminal neglect of the Indian designs. It was further compounded by the intellectual dishonesty selectively exercised by some of the intellectuals who supported the Indian propaganda. Resultantly, the Bengali masses developed an anti-Pakistan feeling creating conditions for Indian sponsored armed rebellion from within and an all-out attack from outside East Pakistan. Cashing in on the lifetime opportunity, India organized and trained a 100,000 guerrilla strength of Mukti Bahini under Col Atta-ul-Ghani Osmani for launching the fifth columnist operations on the Pakistan forces in addition to brutally killing their own fellow Bengalis who remained loyal to their motherland – Pakistan.
Under such conditions a few bare handed patriots from East Pakistan came forward to protect their fellow Muslims from the savage onslaught launched by the Indian army and Mukti Bahini. They did so at the peril of their life.
The post-War scenario was marked by a Tripartite Agreement signed by India, Pakistan and Bangladesh on April 9, 1974 at New Delhi. The point to note here is that Bangladesh could only have participated in this agreement on the basis of sovereign equality if Pakistan had recognised its independence. Pakistan did so to bring back normalcy in the region and resolve the humanitarian issue of stranded civil and military personnel in each others’ countries. Responding to the Pakistani initiative, Bangladesh resolved to “forgive and forget the mistakes of the past” vide Clause 14 of the Agreement and not to “proceed with the trials as an act of clemency” – Vide Clause 15 of the Agreement.
This commitment was honoured by all Bangladeshi governments till Hasina Wajid assumed power in January 2009. She is believed to have a definite pro-India tilt because of her father’s sustained covert relations with the Indian establishment. Moreover, India plays a pivotal role to keeping Hasina in the power because of the Hindu population in Bangladesh and an all-round geographic contiguity with Bangladesh.
In this arrangement lies a convergence of interests for Hasina Wajid to remain in power and for India to spoil Pakistan’s repute by propagating alleged atrocities during the war. It will help implement the pre-war Indian narrative of alienating the Bengali Muslims from those residing in Pakistan – especially, the post-war generation. During his last visit to Bangladesh, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not mince his words when he appealed to Hasina Wajid by saying agli peerhi ko batain (indoctrinate the next generation). That can best be done by staging a drama to execute elderly Bangladeshi leaders through sham trials after a lapse of about four decades.
For that, India is said to be directly influencing the decisions of war tribunals through Hindu Chief Justice of Supreme Court of Bangladesh who openly interacts with the Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka. That’s how the Pre-War Narrative is casting shadows on the Post-War Crimes in Bangladesh.
— The author is retired Lt Col associated with National University of Science & Tech, Islamabad.