In a major embarrassment for Pakistan, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday confronted Pakistan over the atrocities it unleashed against Bangladesh during the 1971 war. Hasina said that human rights violations Pakistani forces unleashed during the war of independence in 1971 are “unshakeable memories” for Bangladesh.
Bangladesh Prime Minister strong remarks against Pakistan came during her meeting with Imran Ahmed Siddiqui, the Pakistani high commissioner in Dhaka.
“Incidents of 1971 cannot be forgotten. The pain will remain forever,” she said as she met Pakistan High Commissioner Imran Ahmed Siddiqui in Dhaka on Friday.
Citing to the volumes of the book titled “Secret Documents of Intelligence Branch on Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman”, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said all can learn many historical facts from 1948 to 1971 from the books.
Pakistan’s human right violations in Bangladesh
During the 1970s, a genocide was carried out by the Pakistan Army in present-day Bangladesh. In early 1971, the Pakistan Army, controlled by West Pakistan, had launched a brutal crackdown on the rebels of erstwhile East Pakistan. The Pakistan Army had engaged in a reign of terror in East Pakistan, unleashing widespread atrocities against the Bengali population.
It is estimated that at least 3 million Bengali Muslims residing in East Pakistan was butchered by the Pakistan Army. Under ‘Operation Searchlight’, the Pakistan Army carried out a genocide against Bengali Muslims and Hindus living in erstwhile East Pakistan, who fought seeking independence from Pakistan to form a new nation Bangladesh.
There was the systematic annihilation of the Bengali people by the Pakistani army during the Bangladesh Liberation War. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, before being arrested by the Pakistani forces on that night, declared independence on 16 December 1971.
Bangladesh PM’s statement comes amidst the tension with pro-Pakistani Islamist groups
The sharp response by Bangladesh Prime Minister to Pakistan reminding them of the worst atrocities during the Bangladesh liberation war of 1971 comes at a time when pro-Pakistan Islamist organisations are exerting their influence in the country.
Recently, Islamic organisations in Bangladesh that are sympathetic to Pakistan have started an agitation against the installation of a statue of the country’s founding father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, at Dholaipar in the southern suburbs of Dhaka.
Hifazat-e Islam, a pro-Pakistan Islamist advocacy group of clerics and madarsa teachers, are now opposing the construction of the sculpture of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to mark his birth centenary, which has now sparked controversy in Bangladesh.
Mamunul Haque, joint secretary-general of the Islamist group, said that they have made it clear that we have full respect for Bangabandhu as a national leader, but are opposed to building his statues. “We’ve said it clearly that our position is against all the statues, no matter if it is of Ziaur Rahman, or my father, or even (Prophet Mohammad),” Mamunul added.
Mamunul has also backed Hifazat’s new chief Junaid Babunagari’s threat to tear down statues. “We’ve learnt words ‘pull-down’ from the prime minister. These are political language. Our people might have picked these up from her,” he said.
Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, perhaps feeling the internal pressure from pro-Pakistan Islamists operating inside the country, trained her guns at Pakistan envoy recently when she reminded the atrocities they committed during the 1971 liberation war.