From the Editor-in-Chief: Pakistan’s interference in Bangladesh’s affairs

Enayetullah Khan
Thursday, September 8th, 2016
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Pakistan continues to intrude unabashedly in Bangladesh’s internal affairs. It has once again, through its foreign office, expressed its anguish over the trials of the war criminals of 1971 and the justice meted out them. The Pakistan state goes on believing, even as it periodically expresses its commitment to peace in the South Asian region, that those collaborators of the Pakistan occupation army who in 1971 committed rape and mass murder were patriots being made to walk the gallows by Bangladesh in an unjust manner. It is a grievous mistake the government of Pakistan continues to make, one that contributes to a worsening of tension in the region.

 

In its latest instance of interference in Bangladesh’s affairs, for which the acting high commissioner of Pakistan was summoned by the foreign office in Dhaka the other day, Pakistan has expressed its grief over the execution of Mir Quasem Ali. Given Pakistan’s own record in initiating and perpetuating the genocide in 1971, it would have been wise for Islamabad to maintain a discreet and polite silence on the issue of the war crimes trials. That it has not done that, indeed that it has repeatedly commented on the issue in a negative manner demonstrates not just a lack of adherence to the norms of diplomacy but also reconfirms the murderous role Pakistan’s soldiers played in Bangladesh in 1971. It says quite a few things about the psychological inability of the Pakistani political establishment to come to terms with reality. Pakistan’s failure to express any contrition over its acts during Bangladesh’s War of Liberation has not done it any good. More pointedly, it has prevented diplomacy in South Asia as also people-to-people ties between citizens of Bangladesh and of Pakistan from taking healthy roots.

 

We are happy that the government of Bangladesh as well as its people has been resolute about tackling Pakistan’s attitude vis-à-vis the war crimes trials and that both the government and the people have made it clear that the cause of justice over the atrocities committed in 1971 will be upheld. We certainly do not gloat over the executions of the war criminals, but we surely remember the horrific suffering these men and their friends in the Pakistani military subjected the people of Bangladesh to forty five years ago. It is tragic that for more than four decades these men were able to escape justice, thanks to the anti-state regimes running riot in this country for twenty one years after the assassination of Bangabandhu and the four national leaders. But now that we have, under a patriotic government based on the spirit of 1971 and led by Bangabandhu’s daughter been able to bring these war criminals to justice, we must tell people around the world — in Pakistan and among the human rights bodies unduly worried about the trials — that they must on their own go over the record of the 1971 war before telling us what we must do or should have done on the issue. The course of justice, perverted over long decades, has now been set on the right path. And we are satisfied.

 

We must never allow again the agents and collaborators of foreign powers and their local patrons to undermine the ethos and liberty of Bangladesh. That is the message we have for Pakistan, indeed for anyone who seeks to play truant with our history.

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