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Saturday, November 10, 2012
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PM to visit Pakistan to attend D-8 summit

Dhaka seeks Pak apology for 1971 genocide; Hina for moving ahead turning back to the past

Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar calls on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at Gono Bhaban yesterday to deliver the Pakistan president's invitation to Hasina for the upcoming D-8 summit in Islamabad. Photo: BSS

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has decided to pay a three-day official visit to Pakistan to attend the D-8 summit in Islamabad scheduled for November 22.

Hasina goes to Pakistan against the background of her government asking Islamabad to settle all pending post-independence issues. Dhaka has demanded an unconditional apology from Islamabad for the genocide Pakistan carried out during the Liberation War in 1971.

This will be Sheikh Hasina's first visit to Pakistan since she returned to power in 2009. She will leave on November 21 and return home on November 23 after taking part in the eighth D-8 summit.

She last visited Pakistan in 1998 in her first term as prime minister.

Press Secretary to the Prime Minister Abul Kalam Azad last night confirmed to The Daily Star that Hasina was going to Islamabad at the invitation of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari. The invitation was delivered to her by Pakistan's Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar yesterday.

Azad said the Pakistani foreign minister handed over the formal invitation letter to Hasina at her Gono Bhaban residence yesterday afternoon.

Diplomatic sources in Dhaka consider Hasina's decision to visit Pakistan very significant as Dhaka and Islamabad have had strained relations for the last four years.

Official sources said her visit to Pakistan became uncertain after Khar postponed her scheduled visit to Bangladesh on October 25.

Following hectic diplomatic efforts, Khar arrived in Dhaka yesterday to hand over the invitation letter.

A special flight carrying the Pakistani minister landed at Shahjalal International Airport at 10:15am. Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes received her at the airport.

Before meeting Hasina, Hina Rabbani Khar met Foreign Minister Dipu Moni at the foreign ministry for 20 minutes.

During the meeting, Dipu asked Islamabad to settle pending post-independence issues, emphasising especially an unconditional apology from Pakistan for the genocide it had carried out during the Liberation War.

She said Pakistan should come forward in this regard.

Bangladesh sees an apportionment of pre-independence assets and liabilities and repatriation of stranded Pakistanis as pending issues with Pakistan.

During the meeting, Hina Khar reiterated that Pakistan had regretted its actions of 1971 on different occasions since 1974 and called for the two countries to move ahead together by turning back to the past, said Quayes quoting Hina Khar after the meeting.

The Pakistani foreign minister said Islamabad valued its relations with Dhaka and wanted to advance existing cooperation in the economic, political and cultural arena and through people-to-people contact.

She also spoke about her “personal commitment” to promoting bilateral ties and cooperation with Bangladesh.

Dipu Moni expressed similar views on expanding bilateral relations by settling unresolved issues.

Dipu presented Khar with a copy of “The Unfinished Memoirs” of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Hina Khar also invited Dipu Moni to attend the meeting of council of ministers to be held prior to the D-8 summit.

The summit will be preceded by senior-official-level and foreign-minister-level meetings from November 19 to November 21.

After the meeting, Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes told reporters that the Pakistan foreign minister had appeared “sensitive” to the Bangladesh's legitimate concerns.

Quayes termed the visit of the Pakistan foreign minister important but not one too concerned with bilateral issues as she had come to hand over the invitation letter.

The meeting was not comprehensive but Bangladesh raised all pending issues, including the matter of an apology on the part of Pakistan for genocide in 1971, and other matters related to bilateral, regional and international issues of common concern, he said.

The foreign secretary said Bangladesh had stressed the need for settling the issues through regular holding of joint economic commission meetings and the establishment of a joint commission for foreign minister-level meetings.

Both sides pledged to inject fresh impetus to bilateral relations.

Quayes said all issues of bilateral concerns could be addressed at the joint secretary-level meeting. Before the secretary-level meeting, a director-general level meeting could take place.

Quayes said Bangladesh would again seek an official apology from Pakistan at one stage of such bilateral discussions.

Pakistan's former president, Gen Pervez Musharraf, who came to Bangladesh on July 29, 2002, visited the national memorial in Savar to pay homage. Earlier, in June 1974, Pakistan's prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto visited the memorial, though he caused quite a stir by his inappropriate behaviour there. In 1985, President Ziaul Haq visited the national memorial and told Bangladesh's media persons, "Your heroes are our heroes."

Gen Pervez Musharraf wrote in the visitors' book at Savar: "Your brothers and sisters in Pakistan share the pain of the events of 1971. The excesses during that unfortunate period are regrettable. Let us bury the past in a spirit of magnanimity. Let not the light of the future be dimmed. Let us move forward together.”

Quayes, on the D-8 summit, said it was important since the summit planned to adopt the charter of the group 16 years after its inception.

After meeting Dipu Moni and Hina Khar called on Sheikh Hasina at Gono Bhaban. Later, the Pakistani minister met opposition leader Khaleda Zia at her Gulshan home before leaving Dhaka around 3:30pm.

The D-8 consists of Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Indonesia and Malaysia. The second summit of the group was held in Bangladesh in March, 1999.

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1. Pakistan must apologize for the atrocities done in Bangladesh in 1971.

2. Pakistan must put the 1971 perpetrators on trial.

3. Pakistan must compensate Bangladeshi victims of the atrocities in 1971.

4. Pakistan must repatriate all Biharis from Bangladesh.

5. Pakistan must give share of the wealth before 1971 plus interests to Bangladesh.

Only then, we can move forward.

: Truth Teller

Pakistan's FM remark that we should move forward,is not only arrogant but demeaning.I fully endorse Truth Tellers list of what needs to be done before we can move forward,& PM's visit .We have nothing to lose.

: niloufar sarker


  • Anonymous
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 01:23 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    If Bangladesh does want to go forward without apology from Pakistan, it may have it. It is better to move forward without looking back. But the main policy of AL is to dig the past, waste time and remain stagnant.

  • Md Zamal
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 01:35 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    It is not fair that in every step of meeting with Pakistan the repatriate issue to raise, to raise this issue it's mean spoiling the generation of Urdu Speaking Peoples. Please stop this topic.

  • Shah Deeldar
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 02:36 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Pakistan is not really an important country that we need to forget everything and go forward as if nothing has happened. Why would anyone take a Pakistani prescription pill right at this moment and feel great? What would be our urgency?

  • basudeb dey
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 02:41 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Apology from Pakistanis not enough. Pakistan Government should be tried in International Court of Justice for the 1971 massacre. Its not tolarable. By the way, there is no Statute of Limitation for this kind of crime.

  • M. Emad
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 03:09 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Pakistan's all-powerful army make all the vital national decisions. The President / Prime-Foreign ministers / Parliament etc are just 'showpieces'. Hasina should talk directly to army chief General Kayani in Islamabad.

  • Sharif
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 03:24 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    USA has faught with England to get independence. There were many wars faught between the European countries. Has USA asked England for apology? They are the closest allies now and the most advanced nation. This is because of the nature and mindset of the people of these countries. On the contrary, we always dig our past bruises and keep ourself injured mentally. If the intention of the Pakistanis are good and if we feel that the relationship will be beneficial for us, we should move forward.

  • Jumana Sarwar
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 04:24 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    These are some issues of diplomat that do not speak or demand publicly for a number of reasons. 1) When you demand something and the other country is not prepared to honor that, you invite for a strained relations where you lost the opportunity and necessary flexibility to maneuver and advance relationship keeping pending issues pending for sometime. 2) Once you open mouth publicly, your ability to limit the damage control becomes difficult.

    Now if Bangladesh thinks we don't care about Pakistan, then our PM should not even visit that country. Living with some disagreement is better than no relations.

  • rch
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 03:05 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Do we need Pakistan's apology? Why can't we better ourselves, have better democracy, better leaders and follow Bangladesh First Policy instead of looking back to Pakistan or looking forward bending backward to India? We must change ourselves and vote for a visionary leader who will put country first instead of their greed of power & corruption. Who cares about Pakistan or India, Bangladesh must learn to act like an adult of 41 years and be independent and chart its destiny employing all resources for future sustainability. Let Pakistan be with what they are with stigma of genocide, intolerance, and arrogance.

  • S Rahman
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 03:13 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Truth Teller pretty much took the words right out of my mouth, could not have explained it better. I am on the verge of being slightly offended.

  • Nisar
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 04:50 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Moving forward can only happen after the issues have been resolved and a satisfactory closure has been drawn. Pakistan cannot simply say 'let's forget and move on.' Bangladesh will never forget until Pakistan formally apologise.

  • Sabir Majumder
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 04:52 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    I am so glad that the Bangladesh FM has asked for the overdue actions from the Pakistan FM. That's the way to go.

  • Reaz Hassan
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 05:00 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Hasina was not supposed to visit Pakistan. Now, she has suddenly changed her mind. Is it due to winds of change in South Asian politics ushered in by Khaleda's recent visit to India? Anyway, it is a positive development, and I welcome it.

  • Anonymous
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 06:35 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    May be the visit is the first step to getting things done -- unless you talk there cannot be any hope of action!! To think all the demands (by truth teller) will fall into our lap without any negotiations is being naive. You have to play the game even if you have a stronger hand -- or else you will never win.

  • Tausif
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 07:54 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    I fully support the demands of Truth Teller. But I think the moment our prime minister has accepted the invitation, our demands of formal apology has lost some weight! Refusing the invitation might have worked well of we want the

    Pakistani government to bow down!!!

  • Reaz Hassan
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 08:27 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    No Hina, I can not be with you even though I still love you. I am what I am today with my share of fortune - good and bad, sores and injuries, ignominy and abuse, trials, tribulations and memories- dark and dingy. How could I reconcile my utter sense of loss and indignity without even a public apology, recompense and restitution?

  • Nabarun Dey.
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 08:58 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Is it a jittery Hina Rabbani's Dhaka dash following somewhat mellowing Khaleda's NewDelhi visit ? Empty promise wouldn't help Khaleda. She has to travel miles to catch up with Sheikh Hasina. However, Pakistan still sceptically about apologising to Bengalees is a shame.

  • M. Ikram
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 09:06 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Please Bangla brothers apologise us, we the people of west part of that Pakistan were kept unaware about the genocide made against your great nation. We love you and respect your independence. May Allah bless all of us.

  • kamal naim
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 09:26 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Well said people of bangladesh. How about India, Do not forget India also committed various crimes against Bangalee people especially against women.Open your head truth teller. Do some research?

  • Salma L.
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 11:07 AM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    How can we move ahead with Pakistan without forgetting our painful past? The nation's wound needs to be healed up first through a proper apology.There should be a 2- way open and honest discussions without denying the truth.

  • Sengupta, Canada
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 01:24 PM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    The people of Pakistan have by now realised what sort of barbarity their savage soldiers had done in Bangladesh. They should beg an unconditional apology to the Bangladeshis for the brutal acts they committed in 1971.That should be silver lining in the dark clouds.

  • Ahsan Shahriar
    Saturday, November 10, 2012 01:53 PM GMT+06:00 (170 weeks ago)

    Off course we will look forward, but not at the expense of our mothers and sisters whom the Pak Military and their local agents and associates violated, which is horrendous at all sense. President Musharraf's note is not simply enough to look forward despite the fact that we want connectivity; want people to people contact, but not keeping just a blind eye to the atrocities and indignity that they did on us. We want regional economic growth and progress, while one of the preconditions in it is to keep peace in the region through downgrading any sorts of religion radicalism and fanatics. We should be mindful that Bihari's offspring those born after 16 December, 1971 got their legitimate naturalisation rights in the country from our court, so there is no point to discuss on that anymore while repatriation of others and our due share in wealth remain legitimate rights to us to raise in all time unless those are resolved.





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