Apology to Bangladesh could change the region’s current geopolitics

The two countries are both coming closer to China, and thus to each other

Just an apology for Bangladesh can change the region’s geopolitical game. Pakistan’s apology to Bangladesh can and must change the whole regional geopolitics. Pakistan should consider this with special attention.

The 1971 liberation war is a historical truth for both Bangladesh and Pakistan. History is history. Pakistan should understand this truth. We know the history of the United Kingdom, France, and th USA.

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Now, Bangladesh celebrates the 50th anniversary of its journey. The country is moving forward. Its economy is booming. Although Bangladesh and Pakistan were separated, the two countries could work closely in many sectors.

16 December 2021, is knocking on the door. Bangladesh will celebrate the 50th anniversary of December 16 with full spirit. On 16 December 1971, Bangladesh got its independence from Pakistan. Bangladesh was a part of Pakistan from 1947 to 1971. Bangladesh had to separate itself from Pakistan due to various reasons through the prolonged independent movement. After the hardcore struggle, it placed itself on the world map as a sovereign state.

Pakistan should apologize to Bangladesh for the war of liberation in 1971. Apart from some leaders of Pakistan, the common people of the country think that Pakistan should apologize to Bangladesh. If Pakistan apologizes, it has nothing to do with being small. Five decades since the liberation war have passed. The attitude of Pakistanis towards Bangladesh in 1971 has changed a lot. Now the Pakistani people also think that they should apologize to Bangladesh.

On December 16, Bangladesh will celebrate the golden jubilee of her victory day. This is a golden opportunity for Pakistan. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan can visit Bangladesh on December 16 to mark Victory Day and formally apologize to Bangladesh. Imran Khan should offer an apology.  Pakistan’s leadership should give up its egoistic mindset. They have to remember that Pakistan committed misdeeds in Bangladesh at that time. So, it is their responsibility to apologize to Bangladesh. I firmly believe that Bangladesh will take it in a positive way because Bangladesh knows how to forgiveTo some extent, a Pakistan apology could heal Bangladesh’s war wounds. But this time, Pakistan should take it seriously. Pakistan should understand the regional geopolitical scenario.

Why Pakistan should make an apology to Bangladesh? An apology from Pakistan for Bangladesh is a must to strengthen bilateral relations. It will help both Bangladesh and Pakistan melt the ice.

If Pakistan wants to take steps to improve relations with Bangladesh, it must apologize for 1971. Only then is it possible to advance diplomatic and economic relations between the two countries. So, it would be better for Pakistan if Pakistan should seek a state apology to Bangladesh as soon as possible. A Pakistan’s State Apology to Bangladesh could normalize the bilateral relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh. and change the region’s current geopolitical game.

It would be self-purification for Pakistan. Pakistan may think that it would harm its national prestige at the international level. But it wouldn’t happen. Seeking forgiveness to someone after doing wrong does not mean being small, but expressing oneself as a symbol of greatness and humility.

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Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina Wajed always says that Bangladesh can’t forget the past. It is true that no nation can forget the past. Thus, Pakistan and Bangladesh can go ahead with remembering the past. This would be possible if Pakistan makes an apology to Bangladesh.

India is benefitting from the strained ties between Pakistan and Bangladesh. So, Pakistan should take it seriously. Just an apology for Bangladesh can help Pakistan with all regional countries to counter India. India always spread the anti-Pakistan sentiment amongst Bangladeshi people utilizing the issue.

Bangladesh is a Muslim-majority country. The Pakistan-Turkey-Malaysia-Bangladesh bloc would be the stronghold for Muslims around the world. But Pakistan has to bolster its ties with Bangladesh first. As a Muslim country, Pakistan should strengthen its relationship with other Muslim countries.

If France and Germany can apologize to Algeria and Namibia, and Belgium to Rwanda, Burundi and Zaire respectively after all this time, why can’ Pakistan apologize to Bangladesh? If Europe’s two biggest former colonial powers – France and Germany – can do it, then no one else should have a problem doing it. Pakistan should realize this.

Pakistan needs Bangladesh’s support in common international regional forums. Bangladesh is going to become a South Asian economic star. Increasing trade ties with Bangladesh would be beneficial for Pakistan. However, Pakistan needs friends in the region.

If Pakistan apologizes to Bangladesh this time, it would be a game-changer for the region. There may be high-level visits of policymakers between the two countries, leading to various agreements which would be mutually beneficial. By forming an alliance, Bangladesh, China and Pakistan can work closely for ensuring the greater interest of the triad to some extent for the region. Pakistan can offer Bangladesh to utilize Gwadar port and CPEC.  Bilateral trade, cultural and religious ties would strengthen.

Bangladesh is going to be recognized as an emerging power in South Asia. Many senior citizens of Pakistan can put pressure on the government of Pakistan in this regard. The time has come to realize the act that Pakistan did. The government of Pakistan should understand why the burden of this past act of Pakistan will carry the future of Pakistan.

Imran Khan used to talk a lot about this issue before he became the Prime Minister, now he should keep his words.  After a bloody struggle of nine months, East Pakistan emerged on the world map as a completely independent state called Bangladesh. Since then, in the long 50 years succeeding, Bangladesh’s position and acceptance has increased to every country in the world.

Everyone around the world is praising the sustainable development of Bangladesh. Bangladesh is improving so much today, said an economist in Pakistan. Abid Hassan said in an article in a Pakistani newspaper, that Pakistan may seek financial assistance from Bangladesh by 2030. The former World Bank economist has just predicted the future. If Bangladesh can pay $250 million US dollars to Sri Lanka, waive the IMF’s Bangladeshi share of money from Somalia and Sudan, help Indonesia with Covid-19 medical equipment, and shelter a large number of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, it can also help Pakistan financially. Bangladesh is a humanitarian state in South Asia.

But seeking an apology from Pakistan to Bangladesh has become an obstacle. To strengthen the strained ties.  Bangladesh has always sought an apology from Pakistan over the past. But Pakistan keeps silent. So, the relations couldn’t be made smooth. The bilateral relations remain strained.

Despite Pakistan’s steadfast stance, many progressives in the country feel that Pakistan should apologize for the misdeed carried out. Hamid Mir is one of the journalists who campaigned for Pakistan’s apology. During a visit to Bangladesh in 2011, he said in an exchange of views in the office that he would continue to work for his cause. He also said that he was collecting signatures of members of national and provincial councils. Before arriving in Dhaka, Hamid Mir interviewed former cricketer and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party chief Imran Khan on 23 March 2011. In the interview on TV, Mir drew Khan’s attention and said, “Didn’t you see that the Bangladeshi spectators supported Pakistan in the match between West Indies and Pakistan on March 23 at Mirpur Stadium in Dhaka.” Don’t you think the time has come for the government of Pakistan to apologize unconditionally to Bangladesh for the genocide of 1971? Imran Khan agrees with the host. The citizens of Bangladesh, expatriate Bangladeshis in Europe, have been protesting against Pakistan since 1971. They have been urging Pakistan to make an apology to Bangladesh. The demand is an apology from Islamabad for the actions of Pakistan during the liberation period.

Yet it is not good for the government to ignore Pakistan’s public opinion. Pakistan should realize this now. The time has come to formally apologize to Bangladesh. Because the cries of losers during the war period are still heard. Since Bangladesh won on 16 December 1971, it was on 16 December that Pakistan could formally apologize to Bangladesh. Still, Bangladesh will get some consolation. This should be realized by the government of Pakistan. Because they need Bangladesh’s help and support in reviving their fragile economy and in various international issues. The sooner the Pakistani government realizes this, the better for them.

If Pakistan wants to take steps to improve relations with Bangladesh, it must apologize for 1971. Only then is it possible to advance diplomatic and economic relations between the two countries. So, it would be better for Pakistan if Pakistan should seek a state apology to Bangladesh as soon as possible. A Pakistan’s State Apology to Bangladesh could normalize the bilateral relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh. and change the region’s current geopolitical game.

Pathik Hassan
The writer can be reached at [email protected]

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