There has been a long walk from freedom for Bangladesh as she is approaching a rather mature age of forty. And talking about maturity, we always expect our people to be more mature politically and our political parties now showing far more maturity in terms of bureaucratic enterprises, to our greater benefit, to say the least. One of the key reasons for that is, we are surrounded by two nations which are two of the most controversial and internationally monitored nations. The other reason is, they both were actively associated with our war of independence, our walk to freedom.
But that bureaucratic flare seems to be a far fetched phenomenon and have been absent in the political leaders or parties, especially when dealing with the issue of demanding and attaining apologies from our very own adversary, Pakistan. After four decades of breaking the shackles off the grip of Pakistan, we are still only competent enough to request Pakistan to apologize for the massacre and hatred displayed by them in the 1971 war, as the recent reports suggests.
According to reports that came in last Friday, Bangladesh is still unmoved from its position of demanding apologies from Pakistan for what they have done during the war 38 years back. And the reply came in immediately as one of Pakistani government official simply but bluntly tried to mediate the issue saying: “Let bygones be bygones”.
First of all, it is a pity, a shame on our part that we just have to or rather can afford to request our attacker to seek pardon from our people. And officials like foreign minister Dr. Dipu Moni or foreign secretary Mr. Towhid Hossain who are responsible to ask Pakistan to apologize, simply managed to reassert their position about the matter. What is more alarming, the foreign secretary himself let the matter slip to the Pakistan side by simply commenting: “They can say anything from their point of view”. Isn’t this an affirmation that Pakistan has the right, or the freedom to say anything regarding the brutal death of 3 million people? Or should we read it as a part of the bureaucratic efforts that are being practiced to make Pakistan beg our pardon for what they had done to us? Maybe Dr. Dipu Moni can answer the questions as she promised to talk about the issue before media when she returns from her visit to Myanmar.
Under the circumstances now; Pakistan gains the upper hand; for obvious reasons. They have successfully and bureaucratically handled the matter as reports were published on the influential Pakistan Dawn newspaper referring to the 1974 tripartite between India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Quoting Pakistan foreign ministry spokesperson Abdul Basit, it says that the apology issues were settled under the April 1974 tripartite. Mr. Basit further demanded that Pakistan has previously apologized for its army’s wrongdoings in Bangladesh. So, he could easily outplay and overpower Bangladesh’s demand for apologies from Pakistan as a nation by this statement whereas Bangladeshi foreign officials could merely manage to facilitate his authority of speech. Mr. Basit, however, managed to drop off the issue to be discussed at a meeting by the Pakistan foreign ministry, the time of which is yet to be specified. So, we can easily match the latest Pakistani mode of apology with the one which President Parvez Musharraf termed as “Developments in 1971” in July 2002 trip to Bangladesh and thereby settled the apology issues that time. He asked to bury the murder of the millions as if it was an excess of aggression in a football field:
“Your brothers and sisters in Pakistan share the pain of the events of 1971. The excesses during that unfortunate period are regrettable. Let us bury the past in a spirit of magnanimity. Let not the light of the future be dimmed. Let us move forward together.”
Evidently then, it has been no real problem for Pakistan to outdo Bangladesh’s bureaucratic endeavor to seek their apologies time and again; whereas Bangladesh always faltered and was left behind. There has been no lack of excuses on their part to avoid our right to ask their pardon, which ultimately proves that they are not sincerely sorry for what they had done to us. As a result, we can still pursue but not demand an apology from a nation which snatched away 3 million lives of our greatest sons of the soil, and encroached the physical jurisdiction of 200000 of our mothers and sisters.
Maybe it is time to refurnish or reconsider our foreign policy; at least towards Pakistan if we really want them to apologize and thereby pay homage to our gallant warriors of independence. And this is in a way indispensable also, because Pakistan would probably never formally apologize for 1971 and take actions for the wrongdoings. We need to make them apologize to uphold our dignity, to live our lives with our heads held high.
Mashfique Habib is a graduate in English Language and Literature from Jahangirnagar University. At the moment, he is doing his graduation in Business Studies from London School of Commerce under the University of Wales.