Crowd-sourcing an apology to Bangladesh | Pakistan Today

Crowd-sourcing an apology to Bangladesh

In 44 years, the state of Pakistan has failed to make an official apology for the war crimes committed by its armed forces against the people of Bangladesh in 1971. With the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ recent denial of atrocities, it is unlikely one is forthcoming.

It is incumbent therefore upon self-respecting patriots to circumvent the official leadership. In the age of the internet, this couldn’t be easier. We have started to crowd-source an apology in order to offer it to the people of Bangladesh.

President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto established the Hamoodur Rahman Commission to understand why the armed forces surrendered in the wake of Pakistan’s defeat in the 1971 war. The Supplementary Report, using information from prisoners of war who had been freed by India stated, ‘it is clear that there is substance in the allegations that during and after the military action excesses were indeed committed on the people of East Pakistan’. It stated that there was ‘evidence to suggest that the words and personal actions of’ a particular general ‘were calculated to encourage the killings and rape’. It mentioned that there ‘were verbal instructions to eliminate Hindus’.

That Pakistan’s armed forces committed atrocities against the people of Bangladesh should not be disputed.

And yet, days ago, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs appallingly stated that ‘the Government of Pakistan rejected insinuation of complicity in committing crimes or war atrocities’.

Prior to this, Pakistan had made motions of goodwill. Under pressure from fellow Muslim nations, Pakistan recognised Bangladesh as an independent state in 1974. Presidents Ziaul Haq and Pervez Musharraf visited Bangladesh’s war memorial at Savar without behaving offensively. (Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who visited in 1974, was heard to hiss, “Enough of this nonsense.”) According to reports, in a handwritten note in the visitor’s book, Musharraf wrote, ‘Your brothers and sisters in Pakistan share the pain of the events in 1971. The excesses committed during the unfortunate period are regretted.’ Later at a banquet, he was reported to have said, “I wish to express to the Bangladeshi people sincere regrets for the tragic events, which have left deep wounds on both our nations.” Whose excesses? Tragic events caused by whom? These in 2002, came closest to — yet still fell short of — explicit official apologies.

However, since 2012, instead of progressing towards this end, matters have regressed. On the 42nd anniversary of the Fall of Dhaka, the Bangladesh government was told by the National Assembly in Urdu — a colonial language for the Bengali-speaking erstwhile East Pakistan — not to rake up the memories of 1971. Further, the National Assembly expressed its condolences for an executed Bangladeshi Jamaat-e-Islami leader convicted of committing war crimes in his support of Pakistan in 1971. While the assembly told the Bangladesh government to resolve cases against the Bangladeshi Jamaat-e-Islami amicably, the Interior Minister was reported to have called the execution ‘judicial murder’. Similar protests by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the past fortnight sparked a spat with their Bangladeshi counterpart ministry that culminated in the Pakistan ministry’s denial of atrocities.

Pakistan’s governments have failed to represent the decent people of Pakistan. Building on the efforts of a handful of intelligentsia in August 1971 and the Women’s Action Forum in 1996, an online apology, open for all to sign at any time in the future, allows for greater enfranchisement as well as hopefully more permanent memorialisation.

The online apology reads: ‘We Pakistanis apologise to Bangladeshis. We the undersigned Pakistanis deeply regret the atrocities committed in our name against the people of Bangladesh in 1970-71. Yours with utter humility.’ Petitioners are welcome to add their own personal comments. The time for patriots to end nationalist denials has come.

The petition is available here. It has already been acknowledged in two Bangladeshi newspapers.

Imaduddin Ahmed

Imaduddin Ahmed is a PhD candidate at University College London. He tweets at @ImadAhmed.


  1. Alex Norman said:

    I wonder why nobody wants an apology from the Mukti Bihanis who had slaughtered hundreds and thousands of Non Bengalis who had nothing to do with the atrocities committed by the Pakistan Army. Unless that is acknowledge by the Bangladesh government, there should not any apology from the Government of Pakistan. As far as the Trials are concerned, the less said about is better. It was a total sham. If you need proof of that, please listen to the Skype conversation between the judge who had gone to Sweden and the Bangladeshi officials who was forcing to the judge to move as soon as possible, and find them guilty.

    It looks like it is a fashion in Pakistan to say that we should apologies to the Bengalis for the Atrocities committed by the Army without knowing the whole story.

  2. Alex Norman said:

    Go an read the book "Dead Reckoning by Sarmila Bose" (She is an Indian Author). Once you read the book, then let me know what you thnink of how many people were killed in this civil war and how many were killed by those terrorist Mukti Bahini.

  3. Pakistan said:

    Publish such trash against what Bengalis did and this man or whatever will be hanged. Bengalis do not deserve a separate country. They have excelled only when kept on leash not otherwise.

    • Karm Shahryar said:

      Totally agree you with brother. This man who calls himself a patriotic pakistani isn’t even a pakistani at all. Born in the UK, educated in the UK, with entirely English mentality and way of thinking, who hasn’t been taught a single word of Pakistan’s history during his school days. All his knowledge about pakistan’s history has been acquired from western sources. He isn’t representing Pakistan here because he isn’t even a Pakistani.

    • Fakharuddin said:

      At would to to advice you to know about Bengalis properly from your Father or Grandfather.

  4. Karm Shahryar said:

    It says on wikipedia that the Pakistan army killed 3 million Bengalis in the 1971 war and raped 0.4 million women. This is way to much of exaggeration. Lahore’s population would have been around 3million during those times. Does this mean we killed an entire city’s population? And a city equivalent to Lahore? Doesn’t I sound ridiculous. The author should first try to present the world with correct statistics and then the people of Pakistan will will offer their apology on official level.

    • Rafay said:

      The statistics are probably inflated but there is no denying the casualty was large.

  5. Alex Norman said:

    I think you should divert your energy towards Rwanda and get an apology from the French people for the murder of 800000 Tutusi under the watch of the French rather than wading into Pakistan and Bangladesh conflict which is very controversial. If you want apology then there should be a demand from the people of Bangladesh to apologize for the murder of hundreds and thousands of Non Bengalis whose only crime was that they did not speak Bengali

  6. Pingback: Crowd-sourcing an apology to Bangladesh | connecting the dots

  7. Muhammad Ghyasuddin said:

    I had earlier suggested my Bangladeshi friends not to re open this issue. As I was in East Pakistan during that period, so I can write with my complete sincerity that atrocities were committed from both sides. The book ' DEAD RECKONING' by an Indian author Sharmila Bose is very much close to reality. After reading this book, I am sure, my Bangladeshi friends will change their opinion about Pakistan and Pakistan Army.
    Lastly, I would advise both the parties to forgive one another and move forward for the betterment of this region. Joy Bangla and Pakistan Zindabad!

    • jamal mahmud said:

      yes mr. ghyasuddins comments are fair and true. whether 1 or million were slaughtered, whether bengali or non-bengali, whether hindu, muslim, buddhidt or christians were killed – atrocity will remain atrocity. i am a bengaliand a pakistani; may jinnahs pakistan be realised.

  8. Rafay said:

    They were indiscriminately killing our people and raping our women (even taking them from the universities or their homes and keeping them as sex slaves). The article was written well and with good and sincere intent. Why did you have to ruin this nice gesture with your idiotic opinion. The war was caused by the arrogant pakistani government of the time and no doubt the mukti bahini killed people. But that does not in the slightest compare to the pakistani army did to us. You seem to have a prejudice against bangladesh otherwise you would have emphasised the fact the pakistani atrocities far outweighed those of the mukti bahini (who incidentally were mostly trained only during the war and consisted of civilians). Did you know that some islamic clerics issued fatwas declaring rebels as hindus and said the women could be claimed as "booty of war" as they dubbed it a holy war. know your history before you blabber about it.

  9. Rafay said:

    Go on and read the countless other books which timeline the genocide that was committed by the pakistani army. I can't belive sympathisers like you still exist.

  10. Rafay said:

    Hundreds of thousands?! Are you just plain stupid? Pakistan evacuated most of their people that were there in fear of violence. This was before the war started. The others were pakistan sympathisers who supported the genocide. No doubt innocents may have been killed but nowhere near the scale of that of the pakistani army. and you say they were killed because they didnt speak the language. i could say the same about pakistan. they could've just recognised bengali (which is their only language) instead of forcefully imposing urdu on them

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