BEFORE the tragic dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971, Bangladesh (BD) was a part of Pakistan. Since the creation of BD, Pakistan has always endeavoured to maintain good relations with that country. But, India does not let BD to forget the bitter history of 1971, where India had exploited internal political differences of Pakistan and ultimately engineered and backed the separatist war fought by the Awami League (AL) activists, with the then Pakistan military. That bad situation was created due to the mishandling of the post 1970 election scenario by some Pakistani politicians, of both the wings. And, consequently the sentiments of the Awami AL activists in the then East Pakistan were exploited by India, to prepare them to be trained for and fight a separatist guerilla war against the Pakistan government, to be managed by India and also supported through its naked military aggression. Resultantly, Bangladesh had come into being in 1971.
Since about 60 percent East Pakistanis at that time were not in favour of separation, the East Pakistani population of that time was facing a great contradiction. While about 40 percent population was coerced to favour the separatist war willingly or unwillingly, 60 percent people were unwilling to separate, out of which 30 percent were silent supporters of Pakistan and 30 percent people were openly favouring Pakistan and supporting the Pakistan military. Because of that classic contradiction among the then East Pakistanis and their hatred for the separatist war, the Awami League separatists, called Mukhti Bahinis, had carried out mass human atrocities on the Pakistan loving Bengalies and destroyed their properties to terrorise them to compel them to favour the separatist war. And, to hide their atrocities, they blamed Pakistan Army without any credible evidence. As compared with these atrocities, the casualties and losses on both sides in the guerilla war were minimal.
And, the above mentioned blame game of Mukti Bahinies against the Pakistan military was actively supported by India through a well planned and conducted propaganda campaign. In this context the crimes committed by the Mukti Bahinies at that time would have been amply endorsed by the people of Jamait-I-Islami, other Bengalis and Biharis of the then East Pakistan, but they were never given an opportunity to explain the facts, rather they were victimized by the AL Government. The Awami League and India’s blame-game are not believed by the international community as various accounts written even by the Bengaldeshi writers about 1971 events have negated the Awami League’s allegations of that Pakistan’s military had committed atrocities. Sheikh Husina Wajid’s policies are meant to turn Bengalis against Pakistan, she has also victimized other political parties and leaders of Bangladesh to keep them under pressure. In this context, India is fully in League to keep Husina Wajid in power and Bangladesh under its full influence and against Pakistan.
For example, Bangladesh (BD) jail authorities have imposed many restrictions on the visitors who want to meet Bangladesh National Party (BNP) Chairperson, Ms. Khaleda Zia. Every visitor is asked to present his/ her national identity card and to explain the reason of seeing the BNP Chairperson. And, the application for meeting Khaleda Zia should at first be endorsed from BNP high command and then from Ministry of Home Affairs of BD. On the other hand, to create its better image, Awami League government is propagating that it will facilitate all political parties to take part in the upcoming general elections. Also, the Indian and BD governments continue to make efforts to upgrade the Liberation War Museum. India has stated that its advanced Biochemistry Lab will jointly work on “1971 War Fossils” with the Liberation War Museum in Dhaka.
The government of India is already in the process of handing over 1971 war memorabilia to BD for placing the same in the War Museum of Dhaka. Besides, both the governments are also preparing to celebrate BD’s 50th victory day in 2021. India’s objective of this cooperation with the BD is to continuously create hatred among Bengalis about Pakistan by creating and perpetuating misperceptions about 1971 alleged war crimes. In view of the above, it is better that intellectual and researchers in Bangladesh and Pakistan carry out joint impartial research to find out the reality that who was responsible for all those atrocities. And, they should, too understand that India wishes to keep Bangladesh under its permanent control. Sheikh Husina Wajid and Bengalis should also realise that good relations between BD and Pakistan will help lessen India’s domination of BD. Grounded on this realisation, it is better that Pakistan and BD vow to forget their bitter past through a mutually decided agreement and act together to produce deeper and everlasting relations as brother Muslim countries with shared history and destiny.
—The writer, retired Lt Col, is a freelance columnist based in Islamabad.