Former Pakistani diplomat calls for official apology to Bangladesh for 1971 genocide
A former Pakistani diplomat has said the people of Pakistan should urge the Pakistani government to offer a formal apology to the people of Bangladesh for the atrocities its military committed in 1971.
Hussain Haqqani, who served as Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States from 2008 to 2011, made the remarks during a virtual talk titled "Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: An Iconic Leader of People's Struggle for Freedom".
The talk was organised by the Bangladesh Embassy in Belgium and Luxembourg, and Mission to the European Union in Brussels on 29 March 2021, according to a statement of the Bangladesh embassy in Brussels.
"The military's reaction in the form of imprisoning Sheikh Mujib and initiating Genocide against the Bengalis ... To this day, no apology has been forthcoming and I think the people of Pakistan should urge the government of Pakistan to offer a formal apology to the people of Bangladesh for all the atrocities that were committed in 1971 ... an apology is the most courteous thing ..." said Haqqani, now a senior fellow and director for South and Central Asia at Hudson Institute, a top think tank in Washington DC.
He said Bangabandhu is not only the greatest Bangalee of all time, but one of the greatest leaders of South Asia, a great leader in world history, and an iconic figure of struggle for freedom that the world has seen throughout the 20th century.
Haqqani said Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is in the same league of great leaders as Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.
He divided the struggle of Bangabandhu into five distinct phases: struggle of the young Sheikh Mujib against British colonialism; post-1947 movement for Bangla language; victory of 'Jukto Front' in 1954 and Bangabandhu's continued struggle for secular and inclusive approach, and his ideas and words that inspired the Bangalees to fight the Liberation War.
He said Bangabandhu had created the sense of freedom among the Bengali nation during his long struggle for independence and gave all the directives to his people to prepare for a war in his historic speech on March 7, 1971 in Dhaka.
He added that the then East Pakistan was the "Golden Goose" to the Pakistani ruling elites as most of the foreign exchange was earned from the eastern part (Bangladesh). He also said the feudal Pakistan rulers never considered Bangalees as equals and were not ready to hand over power to the elected representatives of then East Pakistan after the electoral victory of Bangabandhu's party, Awami League, in the national elections of 1970.
Haqqani said now Bangladesh is one of the fastest growing countries in the world and the most successful country in South Asia -- the contribution of Bangabandhu and his able daughter, the current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, who addressed the event as chief guest, said it was expected that Pakistan would apologise formally for the genocide committed by its military in 1971 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh's independence.
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan sent a video message on the occasion but did not apologise.
Bangladesh Ambassador in Brussels, Mahbub Hassan Saleh, who moderated the event, said 2021 is a momentous year in the history of Bangladesh as the country is celebrating the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and the 50th anniversary of independence.