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Pakistan Must Apologise For Its Genocide During 1971 Liberation War, Reiterates Bangladesh

The diplomatic ties between the two neighbours have tainted as Dhaka continues to accuse Pakistan of war crimes that it never owns up to half a century later.

[Credit IMAGE: AP]

Bangladesh has renewed its demands for a long overdue apology from Pakistan for the 1971 genocide, killings, and atrocities against the Bangladeshis as the former President General Pervez Musharraf, once charged with high treason, passed away aged 79 in exile. Dhaka has been demanding that Islamabad must immediately accept accountability for the genocide and apologize to the state of Bangladesh for wreaking alleged brutality and massacre during the Liberation War.

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said Bangladesh wants Pakistan to “seek apology publicly with a formal announcement” for the atrocities committed in 1971.

“You first need to seek an apology publicly. Otherwise, I have a political reason….if it (apology publicly) happens first, I can argue for you. Otherwise, it will be very difficult for me. I can’t do that. It’s pure and simple,” he told reporters while sharing what he conveyed to State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan Hina Rabbani Khar, reported The Daily Star.

On March 25, 1971, Pakistan Army launched ‘Operation Searchlight’ to quell the Bengali nationalist movement in former East Pakistan, after refusing the founding leader of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, to come to power after he won the election. Pakistan's then President Yahya Khan, under the pressure of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto's Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), plotted to overthrow Rahman as Pakistan wanted the Bengalis to stay away.

Pakistan's Army then precipitated the 1971 Bangladesh genocide in its efforts to take control of all of East Pakistan in which between 300,000 and 3,000,000 Bengalis were killed, women were brutally raped, and an estimated 10 million fled to India in a mass exodus. The genocide is known to be worse than the 1937 Nanking Massacre of Chinese civilians by the Imperial Japanese Army military during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Pakistan's extrajudicial killings targetted Bengali intelligentsia and Hindus, alongside the Muslim Bengali nationalists during Operation Searchlight. India scrambled to assist Bangladesh in pushing back the Pakistani forces by aiding the Bangladeshi resistance army known as the Mukti Bahini. The Indian military's direct intervention later led to Pakistan's unconditional surrender.

India's ex-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, right, welcomes then Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. [Photo Credit: AP]

Bangladeshi nationalists' collective resistance against then-West Pakistan and Pakistan Army's increased violence led to 3 million deaths as two Muslim-majority South Asian countries fought. Islamabad, however, never issued a formal apology. Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's led administration, on numerous occasions, emphasized that Pakistan must acknowledge the violence of 1971, and the economic, cultural, as well as political discrimination against its citizens.

The diplomatic ties between the two neighbours have tainted as Dhaka continues to accuse Pakistan of war crimes that it never owns up to half a century later. 50 years on, the atrocities committed by Pakistan have been deeply painful for Bangladesh's 1971 war survivors.

In this Dec. 18, 1971, file photo, Bangladeshi guerrillas beat a victim as they torture and execute four men suspected of collaborating with Pakistani militiamen accused of murder, rape and looting during months of civil war. [Credit: AP]

Pakistan must be 'ashamed of its actions': Bangladesh

Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen had earlier stated that Pakistan must be "ashamed of its actions" against its neighbours, as he accused the Pakistani military of committing heinous crimes and genocide of Bangladeshis. He launched a scathing attack on the Pakistani forces, stating that they were responsible for excessive torture and violation of human rights. Momen demanded that Pakistan's government must shun its ignorance and punish those in its armed forces who committed massacres during the Liberation War. He urged the Pakistan's population to "come forward and apologise," adding that such wrongdoings "can recur if Pakistan cannot understand the importance of seeking an apology," Momen was reported by Prothom Alo as saying.

Human Rights Congress for Bangladesh Minorities (HRCBM) also called for the international community to formally recognise war crimes by Pakistan during the 1971 Liberation war as 'genocide.' It asserted that Pakistan's government must start a trial of more than 195 service members of the Pakistan Army for the killings and brutality.


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