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If Pakistan wants to be Bangladesh's friend

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fitpOsitive

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On the eve of Bangladesh's 50th anniversary of independence, the issue of Bangladesh-Pakistan relations has arisen again. Both countries have undergone expansive changes in the meantime, but relations haven't moved forward. The major reason for this is the various unresolved issues carefully tucked away behind the scenes. There is also the constraint of nationalistic emotions. The question is whether the political leadership of the two countries can overcome all this and take the new generation along a new path. How can that come about!

Renewal of relations for the days ahead

In 1970, the population of the two wings of Pakistan together was around 130 million (13 crore). Now this stands at 380 million to 390 million (38 to 39 crore), and 88 per cent of the present population did not see 1971. In Pakistan, 89 per cent of the citizens are below the age of 50. In Bangladesh, 86 per cent are in this age group. In both countries, the number of persons who have witnessed '1971' first hand, is dwindling. But nationalism is a fiery emotion that remains alive among the youth. All the unresolved issues need to be sorted out at first in order to normalise relations between Bangladesh and Pakistan.

In the past, when various ways to build ties were sought, the unpleasant issues were simply were brushed under the rug. That model didn't work. A fresh friendship can only be built by addressing the baggage of the past with a give-and-take mindset to reach a consensus on these issues. That will be a matter of relief to the new generation of both countries. Both sides need to draw close for the sake of this youth.

There is no way that 1971 can be forgotten and no need for it to be forgotten. But it is possible to move ahead at the same time. That is essential. That is the call of the day.

Market value of Bangladesh-Pakistan relations

Bangladesh and Pakistan together make up 5 per cent of the world population. The market value of these two populaces is naturally huge. Yet trade between these two countries of 390 million people is only USD 6 million to 7 million. That is hardly a drop in the two countries' exports. In 2019-20, products worth only USD 50 million went from Bangladesh to Pakistan. There is tremendous scope to increase this. The industrial sectors of both countries have expanded exponentially over the past 50 years. The industrialists of the past had a good understanding of the people and the market. The industrialists of the next generation are failing to put that experience to use due to the lack of political measures.

India and China have been on war footing for the past year. And yet amid all this, they have trade between them amounting to around USD 109 billion. Perhaps the example of Pakistan and India is even more relevant. These two countries exchange bullets every single week. They have had three large scale wars between them. Yet the buying and selling of goods continues. Even in the 2019-20 fiscal, goods worth USD 300 million went from India to Pakistan. It was four times more in the previous year and in the future it may increase again. If, despite the fragile political relations between Pakistan and India, business can continues, Bangladesh can do the same with both these countries. It is necessary to do so. It is essential for Bangladesh to build up a market in South Asia in order to shield itself from Europe and America's political dictates.

In 2019, Pakistan kept Bangladeshis on its priority list for visas. Both countries can simplify these things to give export trade added impetus. This will be a boost to Bangladesh's jute, tea and tobacco market and also increase Pakistan's exports of cotton, sugar and other products. But Pakistan's support is required in order to ensure that the trade balance, now leaning towards once side, leans a bit more towards Bangladesh.

After a long interval, Pakistan has sent a high commissioner to Bangladesh, displaying a desire to develop diplomatic ties. They need to come forward further. Many Pakistani policymakers want Bangladesh to make things easier by forgetting 1971 and moving head. But that is not easy for Bangladesh, it is not even possible. It would be more practical to immediately address and resolve the problems created by the 1971 chapter. Those cannot be evaded.

How bold can Imran Khan be?

Since independence, Bangladesh had pursued a foreign policy of friendship towards all. In the global arena, even amid the tensions between the US and China, and in the Muslim world, the cold war between Riyadh and Tehran, Bangladesh continues to maintain fairly balanced relations with all. This has been no easy feat. The creation of SAARC in South Asia was also from proposal of Bangladesh. Pakistan can be drawn into these instances of Dhaka's good sense. Through Pakistan, Bangladesh can spread its reach into the expansive world of Central Asia.

Our main export destinations at present are Europe and North America. This can be expanded on a long term basis to Asia's Eurasian Economic Union. There are more countries outside of this region. Even 50 years since independence, Bangladesh still relies on Russia when it comes to Central Asia. Business opportunities await Bangladesh in the other countries of this region. The Muslim majority population in these countries can be an added advantage for Bangladesh.

Bangladesh's ties with Uzbekistan go way back and there is scope to increase diplomatic interaction with the other countries in that region. Good relations with Pakistan will make access to Central Asia easy for Bangladesh. In exchange, Pakistan will gain further foothold in Bangladesh's market.

All this can be done if Pakistan, from its top level, expresses regret for the events of 1971 and seeks apology. The Justice Hamoodur Rahman commission report proves that many members of that country's military were responsible for the oppression, repression and excesses on the civilians of Bangladesh. Many such soldiers are no longer living. Even if the government wants, perhaps they will not be able to put them on trial. But in light of the Hamoodur Rahman commission report, Pakistan's politicians can formally seek apology from Bangladesh. This can melt the ice between the two countries to a great extent.

During his Bangladesh visit in 2002, President Pervez Musharraf did express his regret in this regard. In 1998 Nawaz Sharif referred to the events of 1971 as 'political injustice.' These certainly are due acknowledgements of Bangladesh's pained feelings. But such general expressions of regret will not heal the wounds of 1971. This is not enough. That is why, for obvious reasons, relations did not gain ground. It will be better not to take up the same path in future. The people of Bangladesh expect a bold decision in no uncertain terms from the present leadership of Bangladesh. Pakistan must definitely take the political liability of the army's role in 1971, which clearly will be through an apology, not just an expression of regret. It is not just for those who have lost their loved ones. These two words have a huge difference in significance and impact in diplomacy too. This culture of apologising will give strength to political power and human rights as opposed to militarization throughout Asia.

The progress made in this regard over the past five decades has been, around 50 civil society bodies of Pakistan have sought apology for the events of 1971, making this easier for the politicians. Imran Khan has already been diplomatically lauded for his many unconventional steps. He must break the conventions of his predecessors on the question of Bangladesh. If Pakistan wants to take relations between the two countries forward, it must accept liability for the crimes committed by its armed forces in 1971 and proceed ahead. Then it will be easier for Bangladesh's leadership to take the relations ahead too. The issues than can be raised include taking back the stranded Pakistanis and the sharing of assets and liabilities of 1971. But these are not as sensitive issues to be resolved as is the complicated issue of seeking apology.

Japan's relations with China and Korea are an example before Bangladesh of how to take relations ahead from past brutalities of war. Germany and Israel are another example. The Queen of England apologised for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. All these are nothing but expressions of the sincere desire to take relations forward in light of new realities. In this manner, on the eve of 50 years since 1971, Bangladesh and Pakistan can open new doors for their future generations. Will 2021 be such a year?

Altaf Parvez is a researcher of South Asian history. This column appeared in the online edition of Prothom Alo and has been rewritten for the English edition by Ayesha Kabir

Bengalis want to carry that burden.
 

PAKISTANFOREVER

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But your authority is telling the different thing . Who's word should we take ? Who is more important ? yo0u or your authority ?8-)



So when did the authority officially apologise?.....................:azn:

As per indian and bangladeshi claims, could you please explain how 40,000 lightly armed PA soldiers killed over 3 over million bangladeshis in a little over a month?.............................:azn:
 

Atlas

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So when did the authority officially apologise?...:azn:
Did I say that they officially apologise ? But what if they ( your authority ) don't want us to **** ourselves , as You are demanding ?:azn:

What if they believe that your guys yourselves has been fu.cking yourself off since 50 years , and accept the demand of BAL govt , and at least if they agree on a formal apology ? Will you ( racial supremacists ) leave Pakistan and get the citizenship of India ?:blink:
 

PAKISTANFOREVER

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Did I say that they officially apologise ? But what if they ( your authority ) don't want us to **** ourselves , as You are demanding ?:azn:

What if they believe that your guys yourselves has been fu.cking yourself off since 50 years , and accept the demand of BAL govt , and at least if they agree on a formal apology ? Will you leave Pakistan and get the citizenship of India ?



Did I say that they officially apologise ? But what if they ( your authority ) don't want us to **** ourselves , as You are demanding ?:azn:

What if they believe that your guys yourselves has been fu.cking yourself off since 50 years , and accept the demand of BAL govt , and at least if they agree on a formal apology ? Will you ( racial supremacists ) leave Pakistan and get the citizenship of India ?:blink:






Formal apology for what exactly? Could you explain as per bangladeshi/indian claims, how 40,000 lightly armed PA soldiers managed to kill over 3 million bangladeshis in a little over a month? Once you have done that could you then forward the evidence to the International War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague so that the perpetrators of such atrocities can justly be punished?
 
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peagle

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Here is the Pakistani apology to bangladesh for for 1971............. 8-):




"Go FU*K yourselves"
Come on bro,
hardly a mature attitude.

I can see the reasons for this frustration, but, just because certain groups in Bangladesh take a silly stance, does not mean we have to as well.
If some sort of mutual apology to cater for the hurt on both sides helps make peace with our past, so we can look to the future, surely that's a good thing.

How can anyone disagree to such an approach, unless someone is against peace.
 

Atlas

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Formal apology for what exactly?
Because Bangladesh govt is asking for it !
Could you explain as per bangladeshi/indian claims, how 40,000 lightly armed PA soldiers managed to kill over 3 million bangladeshis in a little over a month? Once you have done that could you then forward the evidence to the International War Crimes Tribunal at the Hague so that the perpetrators of such atrocities can justly be punished?
But what if your authority is ready for a formal apology without any evidences we can or want to provide ? What you must do now ? Will start crying ?
 

PAKISTANFOREVER

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Come on bro,
hardly a mature attitude.

I can see the reasons for this frustration, but, just because certain groups in Bangladesh take a silly stance, does not mean we have to as well.
If some sort of mutual apology to cater for the hurt on both sides helps make peace with our past, so we can look to the future, surely that's a good thing.

How can anyone disagree to such an approach, unless someone is against peace.



As far as Pakistan is concerned, the only nation that REALLY matters to us is China and to some extent Turkey as well. Our future and destiny is now intertwined with that of China and to a lesser extent, Turkey too. ALL other nations mean NOTHING to us. We all have superficial interactions with them that ultimately mean NOTHING. bangladesh is a pro-indian citadel that is more than 2700 kms away from us. There is NO need nor any point in having a relationship with them.
Because Bangladesh govt is asking for it !

But what if your authority is ready for a formal apology without any evidences we can or want to provide ? What you must do now ? Will start crying ?



Who cares what bangladesh demands or not? bangladeshi demands are worthless and meaningless?................ :azn:.......if Pakistan can kill indian troops with impunity on the LOC who are the banglaedshis? The indians we kill with ease are the fathers of bangladeshis.......... :azn:
 

Silverblaze

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People dont realize that this apology demand is actually a ploy conceived in delhi. The goal is to legitimize Pakistan as an aggressor and a bad actor further hurting its international standing.

Next india would want Pakistan to apologize for kashmir and afghanistan would want Pakistan to apologize as well.

Bangladesh is violating the trilateral agreement and they know it. This has nothing to do with the sentiments of Bangladeshis. The goal is what I stated above.

Pakistan only needs internal stability and not a political circus undergoing now. Once this is done, there is a strong possibility of Turkey (along with turkic states), possibly Iran and China making a new economic bloc.

The biggest point is internal stability.
 

PAKISTANFOREVER

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Maybe you do not care , but your govt care! .......................... :azn:

The Pakistani Army reguarly kills countless indian soldiers on the LOC with impunity even though india is more than 7× larger than Pakistan and has the full backing of the West and Russia. If we are killing the fathers of bangladeshis with ease, do you honestly believe we care what bangladesh and bengalis think?.........:lol:........... :azn:
 

peagle

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As far as Pakistan is concerned, the only nation that REALLY matters to us is China and to some extent Turkey as well. Our future and destiny is now intertwined with that of China and to a lesser extent, Turkey too. ALL other nations mean NOTHING to us. We all have superficial interactions with them that ultimately mean NOTHING. bangladesh is a pro-indian citadel that is more than 2700 kms away from us. There is NO need nor any point in having a relationship with them.





Who cares what bangladesh demands or not? bangladeshi demands are worthless and meaningless?................ :azn:.......if Pakistan can kill indian troops with impunity on the LOC who are the banglaedshis? The indians we kill with ease are the fathers of bangladeshis.......... :azn:
No yaar, you are so wrong or misinformed, I'm not sure which.

There are 200 countries in the world, one has to be crazy to think we can forget everyone else and deal or rely on just one or two.

In essence you are right, but it does not mean you ignore or forget everyone else, they all matter in their own ways. You are seriously misinformed if you think China gives a damn about Pakistan. Our good relations are purely on the basis of what Pakistan has to offer china, there is plenty, but that's another discussion. They are not glued to us, and neither did we come out of the same womb, in-fact even in blood families, things go wrong.

Your approach would weaken Pakistan beyond anything I can think of, I like and trust China, I love Turkey, but there is not a day on this earth I would trust either of them blindly, or put my future in anyone's hand.
Pakistan is a large country, we need the world, and they need us, it would be a folly to think any country in this world will protect our interests, they will only do so if they need us and we have value. If we follow your advice, you will leave Pakistan with zero value. Less emotions, and more logic and reason will deliver a better and a secure future. Nothing else.
 

PAKISTANFOREVER

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No yaar, you are so wrong or misinformed, I'm not sure which.

There are 200 countries in the world, one has to be crazy to think we can forget everyone else and deal or rely on just one or two.

In essence you are right, but it does not mean you ignore or forget everyone else, they all matter in their own ways. You are seriously misinformed if you think China gives a damn about Pakistan. Our good relations are purely on the basis of what Pakistan has to offer china, there is plenty, but that's another discussion. They are not glued to us, and neither did we come out of the same womb, in-fact even in blood families, things go wrong.

Your approach would weaken Pakistan beyond anything I can think of, I like and trust China, I love Turkey, but there is not a day on this earth I would trust either of them blindly, or put my future in anyone's hand.
Pakistan is a large country, we need the world, and they need us, it would be a folly to think any country in this world will protect our interests, they will only do so if they need us and we have value. If we follow your advice, you will leave Pakistan with zero value. Less emotions, and more logic and reason will deliver a better and a secure future. Nothing else.


To SOME extent I agree with you but China has done MORE for Pakistan than ANY other nation has ever done for another country. That can never be forgotten and must always be valued.

But YES Pakistan needs to be more self-sufgicient, I agree.

There are so many countries in the world that Pakistan can benefit from I don't see the need for Pakistan to have ANY contact with nations we have an enmity with.
 

peagle

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To SOME extent I agree with you but China has done MORE for Pakistan than ANY other nation has ever done for another country. That can never be forgotten and must always be valued.

But YES Pakistan needs to be more self-sufgicient, I agree.

There are so many countries in the world that Pakistan can benefit from I don't see the need for Pakistan to have ANY contact with nations we have an enmity with.
China has, but, lets not over play it, we have done a lot for China as well.
And, a lot of countries have done a lot more for other countries, then China has done for Pakistan, its good to keep things in perspective. If you want examples, I can provide plenty. But, they only helped Pakistan, because we helped them and stood by them when they needed us, it has never been a one way street. because they are bigger, they were able to do more, but please do not think it was out of goodness of their heart.

The only way to make yourself secure and grow wealth, is by reducing the number of enemies, and increase the number friends. Not having friends is less important then not having enemies. You can still work together without being friends, but having enemies means, there is always someone out there actively working against your interests.

Making peace, and working with everyone is the only way forward, there is no other answer, it really is that simple.
America is still the most powerful country in the world, but it has become weaker. Do you know why it has become weaker, because it has hurt its allies, even the most powerful country in the world needs friends to be strong, please remember that. So, friendship with Bangladesh is good for both countries, them and us.
 
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