November 09, 2012
By: Agencies | November 10, 2012
AMMAN JI MAAF KARO. AAYENDA AYSEE GHALATEE NAHEEN HOGEE. Hina Khar
DHAKA – Pakistan told Bangladesh to carry forward bilateral ties by 'burying the past' when former East Pakistan demanded a formal apology from Islamabad for the alleged excesses committed by its troops during the 1971 war.Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar, who was on 6-hour tour to Dhaka, also invited Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to attend 8th D-8 Summit to be held in Islamabad on November 22.
The apology issue came up in a meeting of the foreign ministers of the two Muslim South Asian states, which had began their journey of freedom together in 1947 as a single state but were separated in 1971 as a result of Pakistan-India war, preceded by New Delhi-stoked insurgency in the Eastern wing of the united Pakistan.
Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes quoted Foreign Minister Dipu Moni as telling her Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar that Bangladesh expects an apology from Pakistan. "The foreign minister has raised the 1971 issue and expected that Pakistan would apologise at one stage," Quayes told reporters after the meeting.
"There are some unresolved issues between the two governments and she expects that Pakistan would come forward to resolve them," the foreign secretary said, adding that Foreign Minister Moni also underscored the need for resolving other outstanding issues.
In response, the Pakistani foreign minister said since 1974 Islamabad has "at different times and in different manners expressed its regret for the 1971 incidents", the foreign secretary said. "She (Khar) said it is now the time to proceed forward and bury the past," Quayes added.
Later, Hina Khar – the first Pakistani minister to visit Dhaka since the ruling Awami League assumed office three years ago – met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her Ganobhaban residence and handed over an invitation letter from President Asif Ali Zardari to attend the Developing-8 Summit to be held on Nov 22 in Islamabad.
Sheikh Hasina, only founding member of D-8 now in office, thanked Hina for travelling all the way from Pakistan to invite her. As a founding member of D-8 and host of 2nd D-8 Summit in 1999, Bangladesh is keen to work closely with other members of the forum to advance the D-8 process, the prime minister told Hina.
PM's Press Secretary Abul Kalam Azad told reporters that Prime Minister Hasina and Foreign Minister Hina discussed various matters relating to mutual interests in the 20-minute meeting. Hasina said Bangladesh attaches high importance to its relations with Pakistan. This relationship is based on common historical, religious and cultural linkages, she said.
She underscored the need for enhancing people-to-people contact and greater exchange among students, teachers, academics, journalists, professionals, artistes and sportspersons to promote better understanding among the people of the two countries.
Hasina also attached importance to resolve the outstanding issues in order to move ahead with building up healthy and forward looking bilateral relations. PM's younger sister Sheikh Rehana, Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni, Ambassador at-Large M Ziauddin and senior officials of the two countries were present during the call on.
Hina arrived in Dhaka on a special PIA flight at around 10:15 in the morning, when Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes received her at the Hazrat Shah Jalal International Airport. Hina also attended a lunch hosted by her counterpart Dipu Moni and met BNP chairperson and opposition leader Begum Khaleda Zia and left for home after five hours stay in the Bangladesh capital.
About the Moni-Hina meeting, Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes said, "This is not a bilateral meeting, but we took the advantage to raise bilateral issues, especially the pressing unresolved matters that include formal apology from Pakistan for their acts in 1971." Quayes said the Pakistani foreign minister gave 'due attention' to the Bangladesh demand and did 'neither rejected nor accepted' it immediately. She, however, looked sensible to Dhaka's major demand, he added.
The foreign secretary said Dhaka has also discussed multilateral issues that encompass SAARC and OIC, while it has raised major bilateral issues that remained unresolved for decades. The issues, he said, were sharing of resources that Bangladesh deserves from Pakistan, repatriation of stranded Pakistan nationals from Bangladesh, and formal apology for the war crimes.
Quayes said Pakistan showed keen interest in 'marching forward' by burying old bitterness as Islamabad considers Dhaka as an 'important' partner. He said details of the issues would be further discussed in future formal meetings at official, ministerial and head of the government levels.
Muslim-majority Bangladesh, which was formerly called East Pakistan, seceded in December 1971 after bloody battles. Taking advantage of ill-conceived and discriminatory state policies of Pakistan, India had been sowing seeds of hatred among the people of East Pakistan against their brethren in the western part. New Delhi raised and trained insurgent cadres like Mukti Bahni who started terrorist activities in the East Pakistan.
The government and military of united Pakistan, where people from West wing had monopolised state power, responded with repressive methods, which fanned resentment and hatred among the Bengalis. All this transpired into the 1971 war, which allegedly began after tens of thousands of people were killed in Dhaka in Operation Searchlight – a campaign intended to deter Bangladeshis from seeking separation.
The current Bangladesh government claims up to three million people were killed in the war, many murdered by locals collaborating with Pakistani forces. It has set up special tribunals to try the collaborators for war crimes.
Pakistan tells Bangladesh to 'bury the past'
1971 'war crimes': Bangladesh seeks apology from Pakistan
Published: November 10, 2012
Foreign Minister Khar speaks to Bangladesh Premier Haseena Wajid at her residence Ganobhaban. PHOTO COURTESY: PID DHAKA AMMAAN JI MAAF KARO. AAYENDA AYSEE GHALATEE NAHEEN HOGEE. Hina Khar
Bangladesh's foreign minister on Friday asked his Pakistani counterpart to apologise for "war crimes" committed by the army during the 1971 war, a ministry official said.
Dipu Moni made the request during a meeting in Dhaka with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar following previous discussions about the issue between the two countries, said Bangladesh's Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes.
"The foreign minister has raised the 1971 issue and expects that Pakistan would apologise at one stage," Quayes told reporters after the meeting.
"There are some unresolved issues between the two governments and he expects that Pakistan would come forward to resolve them," Quayes said.
Khar was on a six-hour visit to Bangladesh to formally invite Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to a summit scheduled to be held in Islamabad on November 22.
"The Pakistani foreign minister said that they have regretted in different forms in the past and that it was time to move forward," Quayes said.
Bangladesh, formerly called East Pakistan, was created in December 1971 following a bloody war. The war began after tens of thousands of people were killed in Dhaka when then-West Pakistan launched Operation Searchlight against separatists who were aided by Indian troops.
The current government says up to three million people were killed in the war, many murdered by locals collaborating with Pakistani forces. It has set up special tribunals to try the collaborators for war crimes.
Musharraf already apologised: official
The long-standing demand by Bangladesh to Pakistan for an apology over the excesses committed by the army against the then citizens of East Pakistan has no justification as Islamabad has already tendered an apology, a senior official in the ministry of foreign affairs told The Express Tribune, requesting anonymity.
Former president Gen Pervez Musharraf during his visit to Dhaka had already tendered the apology in July 2002, the official said.
Musharaf had expressed his regrets twice during his stay in the Bangladesh capital which was welcomed by the then prime minister Khalida Zia. However, the opposition, particularly the Awami League party, did not consider it sufficient and maintained that Musharraf should have specifically asked for apology. The opposition said that Musharraf expressed his regrets in vague terms.
The opposition demanded that Pakistan should specifically ask for an unconditional apology over the excesses committed by its army against the people of Bangladesh during the 1971 independence war. Islamabad claims that the apology tendered by Musharraf should suffice as it was accepted by the then government in Dhaka.
Gen Musharraf visited a war memorial at Savar, near capital Dhaka and left a handwritten note in the visitors' booth. "Your brothers and sisters in Pakistan share the pain of the events in 1971," Musharraf wrote. "The excesses committed during the unfortunate period are regretted. Let us bury the past in the spirit of magnanimity. Let not the light of the future be dimmed". Later he repeated his regrets at an official banquet in Dhaka.
AGENCIES (WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY QAISER BUTT IN ISLAMABAD)
Published in The Express Tribune, November 10th, 2012.
Pakistan must apologize for '71 genocide: Bangladesh
PTI | Nov 10, 2012, 05.59AM IST
DHAKA: Bangladesh on Friday demanded a formal apology from Pakistan for the genocide committed by its troops during the 1971 liberation war, but Islamabad said it's time to carry forward ties "burying the past".
During a meeting with her Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar, foreign minister Dipu Moni said, "Bangladesh expects an apology from Pakistan for the genocide carried out by their troops in 1971". Pakistan foreign secretary Quayes said that since 1974 Islamabad has "at different times and different manners expressed its regret for the 1971 incidents". "She (Khar) said it is now time to proceed forward burying the past," Quayes added.
Khar, the first Pakistani minister to visit Dhaka since Awami League took office three years ago, invited PM Sheikh Hasina to attend the Developing-8 Summit in Islamabad on November 22.
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