Pakistan must apologise for 1971 atrocities
Pakistani cricket legend Imran Khan has said his country must apologise for the 1971 atrocities its troops carried out on Bengalis as he joined overnight a TV talk show in Geo Television.
“Yes, yes, yes . . . We must apologise,” Khan said as anchor of the show reputed journalist Hamid Mir asked him if he thought this was time for Pakistan government to seek apology of Bangladeshis for the atrocities committed by “our Army in 1971”.
The legendary cricketer called Pakistani operations “a blunder” and “we must learn lesson from our past mistakes (and) stop operations in Baluchistan and Fata areas.
Khan comments came as Bangladesh is set to observe the 40th Independence anniversary today amid a protracted demand seeking an official Pakistani apology for the 1971 atrocities by their army.
Contacted, for the background of the talk show in Pakistan's Geo TV on Wednesday night, Mir said they discussed politics and 1971 just for few minutes as the show was focused on Pakistan-West Indies match in Dhaka's Mirpur Stadium.
But, he said, Khan's comments drew massive appreciation from both the younger and older Pakistanis who thanked him for the question while The News International newspaper Thursday carried a report on the issue.
Khan told the show he still remembered that he played a match of National Under-19 tournament in March 1971 with Under-19 team from Dhaka in Lahore.
“The players from Dhaka told me that situation is very bad in the Eastern part of Pakistan but we were not aware (as) there was no independent media (at that time in West Pakistan),” he said.
He added: “We just ignored the concerns of our (cricketer) friends from Dhaka. We were too young. We never understood what was going on in Dhaka”.
Khan recalled that after few months he went to England for higher studies and there my Bengali class fellows in Oxford told me that our Army committed lot of atrocities.
“That (1971) operation was a blunder. We must apologise,” he added.
Khan said being a cricketer he personally had “very good past experience in Bangladesh” as the people of Bangladesh love cricket very much.
“I think now we must give more preference to Bangladesh, we must improve our relations with Bangladeshis. You will see the difference when our team will play Semi Final in India on 26th . . .You will miss Bangladeshis,” he said.