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     Volume 8 Issue 59 | February 27, 2009 |

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Bygones cannot be Bygones

If flouting the apparent intentions of a government is considered a major diplomatic goof-up, the attitude, bearing and utterances of the most recent envoy to Bangladesh of the Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari shall stand among the worst since the norms of government were being scripted on the cold marble of ancient Greek parliaments. Most importantly, an envoy cannot be cold.

If, which we hope is not, the Pakistan president sent his envoy to test the nerve of the Hasina government on the issue of 1971 war criminals then his fingers must be badly scorched. Our hearts have been burning for decades.

If the envoy was referring to only the 195 war criminals of Pakistan origin, and not the war criminals in Bangladesh, which is the opinion of some analysts, then he should have framed his sentence very carefully, a written statement was a minimum requirement. After all, he is an envoy.

If on the other hand, Zardari's purpose was to apply ointment on the wounds suffered by the anti-Liberation forces within and outside the country on 29 December, much at the hands of first-time voters, whose frame of mind has been shaped by facts and figures despite the gruesome efforts of the politically ambitious to distort our glorious history, based on our simple desire to conduct our day-to-day affairs in our God-gifted mother tongue, in that too he has failed, because the hakims are yet to invent such a concoction. Why should they?

We will perhaps never know what qualifications led to the nomination of Mirza Zia Ispahani as the Pakistan president's envoy but he presented a very poor example of goodwill, tact and mediation.

While many of us would have followed the story in the local media, allow me to quote hubuhu from Pakistan's Daily Times, which headlined the story 'Pakistan urges BD to forgive war crimes':

“DHAKA (18 February): A Pakistani envoy has urged Dhaka to let “bygones be bygones” as he rejected Bangladeshi calls for help in prosecuting alleged war criminals.

“Bangladesh's new government has said it will try suspected war criminals for murder, rape and arson committed in 1971.

“Mirza Zia Ispahani, a special envoy of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to Bangladesh, said on late Monday both nations should now look to the future.

“Ispahani said former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf apologised for the war when he visited Bangladesh during his tenure.

“The Pakistan envoy's comments came after Bangladeshi police arrested two men on Saturday suspected of war crimes in the 1971 conflict. They were the first arrests since 1975 when thousands of suspected war criminals were pardoned.

“The plan to try the suspects follows pledges by newly elected Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and appeals by veterans of the conflict.

“War crimes were a big factor in December's general elections, when veterans addressed a series of nationwide rallies telling young voters that this was the “last chance” to try suspects.

“A private War Crimes Fact Finding Committee recently unveiled a list of 1,775 people it alleges were war criminals. AFP”

The envoy's comment smacks of the agreement signed in New Delhi 1974 by Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr Kamal Hossain, Indian External Affairs Minister Sardar Swaran Singh and Pakistan State Minister for Defence and Foreign Affairs Aziz Ahmed, which considered Pakistan Prime Minister's appeal to the people of Bangladesh to 'forgive and forget' the mistakes of the past.

Let me concoct a story for Mirza and all other Pakistanis who harbour in their bosoms the wrong notion about Ekattur. It is called, Operation Searchlight. That should ring a bell, unless the brain is located in the knees.

The story: Some Bangladeshis, all Muslims, have gone to Pakistan for whatever reason. There they engage in raping Pakistani women, Nisho, Uzma, Saba... you name them; they resort to killing innocent Pakistani children in front of their parents, Munna, Nanna, Guddu... you name them; they go on to loot banks and businesses, Habib, Al Falah, Ispahani... you name them; bomb Tarbela Dam, light up PIA aircrafts. End of story.

Would you, Mr. Envoy, as a human being, Allah's highest creation, even dare to whisper on the streets of Karachi, Lahore, and Gujranwala, "We should not go into this issue at the moment. Because, there are so many other issues we like to cooperate with Bangladesh. I think we should move forward." That is what you said in Dhaka. Cry Mirza cry.

Would you defy mankind and urge Pakistanis to let “bygones be bygones”? Cry Zia cry.

Would you say that this was not the right time to talk about war criminals? Cry Ispahani cry.

Go on, Mr. Envoy, avenge the crimes on those Pakistanis by 195 Bangalees for they are your kith and kin, for that is justice.

We too have been crying for so long, looking for justice. The time is right now.

Whatever the confusion in the Pakistan envoy's statement, the trial of Bangladeshi war criminals shall have to be held, and held soon, because the people of independent and liberated Bangladesh voted decisively for Awami League's election manifesto. Now that we are reminded of the 195 criminals, why not include them too?


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