Apology Day for Pakistanis
Some jamaatees, razakars, al-Badr, al-Shaams, etc in present-day Bangladesh seem not to understand what the fuss about the trial of 1971 war criminals is all about. Others are quietly contemplating. Guilt does catch up.
Their leaders say it is a resolved issue, that there were no crimes committed. Eyewitness accounts say otherwise. Newspaper reports of 1971 are vivid about the nefarious role of the Bangla-tongued anti-liberation elements. There are people still living who harbour the sad memory of the cruel murder of their near and dear ones. Abetting in murder is murder.
How can a crime be a resolved issue until the criminal has been brought to justice? How can no crime have been committed and yet there were killings, rape, arson, loot... 1971 saw one of the worst genocides in history, and now this blatant denial. Crime does not wipe away with time.
It is not only us Bangalee who narrate the tale of the ruthless criminals of 1971. There are Pakistanis too who do likewise. Here follows excerpts from a report filed by a Pakistani journalist.
Hamid Mir is Executive Editor of Geo TV in Islamabad. He received the Saarc Lifetime Achievement Award on March 26 in the Saarc Writers' Conference in Delhi.
Hamid Mir wrote: “Some people hate me a lot in Pakistan. They hate me because I said sorry to Bengalis two years ago in Islamabad Press Club for the atrocities committed by Pakistan Army in 1971.They hate me because I also demanded an official apology from the government of Pakistan to the people of Bangladesh for the genocide of March 1971.
“I was only a young school going boy in 1971 but I heard and read a lot about the genocide. How can I deny my late father, Professor Waris Mir, who visited Dhaka in October 1971 with a delegation of Punjab University students? My father was a teacher of journalism at Punjab University, Lahore.
“I still remember that when my father came back from Dhaka he wept for many days. He told us stories of bloodshed. I remember that my mother cried a lot when my father told her that Pakistan army officers raped many Bengali women.
“My father always said that Bengalis made Pakistan and we Punjabis broke Pakistan. Once he said that March 23rd was Pakistan Day, March 26th should be the apology day and December 16th should be the accountability day. I started understanding the thoughts of my late father when I became a journalist in 1987.
“When I first read the Hamoodur Rehman Commission Report I felt ashamed. This report of a Pakistani commission admitted murder and rape but, despite this documentary evidence, many people still live in a state of denial.
“A senior colleague of mine, Afzal Khan, is still alive. He is 73 years old. He worked with Associated Press of Pakistan (APP), and was secretary general of the Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists (PFUJ) from 1980 to 1985. He was sent to Dhaka on March 28, 1971 for the coverage of the army operation. Once he was staying in Ispahani House in Khulna. An army major once offered him a girl to spend a night with. When Afzal Khan asked who the girl was, the major said that she was the daughter of a local police officer and she could come to Ispahani House at gun-point. After this incident Afzal Khan came back to Lahore in May 1971.
“The name of General Yahya Khan is still like an abuse in Pakistan. His son Ali Yahya always tries to hide from people. General Tikka Khan is still remembered as the "butcher of Bengal". General A.A.K. Niazi wanted to become "tiger of Bengal" but is remembered as "jackal of Bengal". The majority of Pakistanis hate all those who were responsible for the genocide of their Bengali brothers. That is the reason the family members of these army officers don't even mention publicly who their fathers were.
“But still there are some people who are not ready to admit their blunders. These people are a minority but they are powerful. I consider them enemies of the Pakistan... Why should we defend these enemies? Why doesn't our democratic government officially apologise to Bengalis? This apology will not weaken Pakistan. It will strengthen Pakistan.
“I am sure that Pakistan is changing fast. A day will come very soon when the government of Pakistan will officially say sorry to Bengalis and March 26th will become an apology day for patriotic Pakistanis. I want this apology because I want to make a new relationship with the people of Bangladesh. I don't want to live with my dirty past. I want a bright future not only for Pakistan but also for Bangladesh. I want this apology because I love Pakistan and I love Bangladesh. Happy Independence Day to my Bangladeshi brothers and sisters!”
(R) thedailystar.net 2010