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Najma Minhas|

Pakistan and Bangladesh relations have dipped to another low point in the last several months, with an increasingly hostile attitude shown by the Hasina Sheikh’s government. After ignoring a number of slights by the Bangladeshi government towards Pakistan’s initiatives, on Thursday, Pakistan finally decided not to participate in the 136th Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly which was due to begin April 1, 2017 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Ayaz Sadiq Pulls out of Parliamentary moot in Dhaka

The 10-member parliamentary delegation was to participate in the international parliamentary moot under the leadership of National Assembly Speaker, Ayaz Sadiq.

In a statement, Pakistan’s Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq said, “The members of the National Assembly and I have noted with dismay and disappointment the continuing actions and negative public statements of the leadership, public officials and media of Bangladesh despite Pakistan’s restraint and overtures to the country. I have, therefore, decided not to travel to Bangladesh; as a visit at this point will not serve the purpose.”

Video Game features a character, Aneela, a good looking female guerilla fighter who frees herself from Pakistani captivity, and goes around like any good indian movie destroying the ‘enemies’ supply lines, saving women from prison camps, and takes down Pakistani soldiers one by one.

He pointed out how Pakistan had gone out of its way again and again on different occasions to ensure better relations with Bangladesh. It was a particularly bitter pill for the speaker to swallow, since it was Pakistan’s parliamentary delegation that had unanimously voted in favor of the current Speaker of Bangladesh, Dr Sharmeen Chaudhary, for the post of the chairperson of the executive committee of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in Cameroon in 2014. Pakistani support had helped her win to it. Dr Chaudhary won this election with an extremely narrow margin of four votes, 82 votes in favor and 78 against. It was not possible without Pakistani support.

Ayyaz Sadiq’s statement went on to say “However, it is noted with much regret that the friendly gestures were never reciprocated in the same coin. The speaker of Bangladesh did not visit Pakistan despite repeated invitations. The parliament of Bangladesh also boycotted all international parliamentary moots, organized by the parliament of Pakistan during the last two years despite personal requests by the highest parliamentary leadership to the speaker of Bangladesh. This includes the SAARC Young Parliamentarians Conference in August 2016, the International Women Parliamentarians Conference 2017 and the Asian Parliamentary Assembly in 2017.”

Read more: Bangladesh Politiking to Commemorate March 25 as ‘Genocide Day’

Bangladesh since Sheikh Hasina won elections in 2008 

It was Pakistan’s parliamentary delegation that had unanimously voted in favor of the current Speaker of Bangladesh, Dr Sharmeen Chaudhary, for the post of the chairperson of the executive committee of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in Cameroon in 2014. Pakistani support had helped her win to it. Dr Chaudhary won this election with an extremely narrow margin of four votes, 82 votes in favor and 78 against. It was not possible without Pakistani support. 

Since the 2008 election victory, Sheikh Hasina Wajid has acted to keep her party in power by taking a strident tone against Pakistan.  This year her government passed a motion declaring that March 25th each year would be commemorated as ‘Genocide day.’

As the Economist recently wrote, “It is in the League’s interests that no one should forget the war: independence, after all, is the party’s raison d’être.” The Awami League since coming in power in December 2008, has maintained an increasingly authoritarian control in the country. It has persecuted its opposition party and its supporters, as well as the Bangladeshi Jamaat-Islami, under the garb of prosecuting the perpetrators of the mass murders and rapes during the 1971 civil war. To do so her government had formed a Bangladeshi tribunal court named ‘international crimes tribunal’ to prosecute surviving Bengalis who did not support the Bangladesh independence cause in 1971.

read more: SAARC’s failure: held hostage to whims of India?

Bangladesh government funding violent video games for the Youth to imbibe hatred against Pakistan

Dr. Bose in her book, ‘Dead reckoning’ had argued that what happened in 1971 was not a planned or orchestrated genocide (as Hasina Sheikh claims) but an uncontrolled civil war, in which several sides fought and killed each other – including Indian supported guerrillas.

Recently, a video game went viral in Bangladesh in which players kill Pakistani soldiers. Economist, prestigious publication from London, pointed out that Sheikh Hasina’s government had partially funded this video game. App deliberately targets the Bengali youth with narrative shaping in mind; guerilla leaders kill Pakistani soldiers in a replication of 1971 events.

It features a character, Aneela, a good looking female guerilla fighter who frees herself from Pakistani captivity and goes around like any good Indian movie destroying the ‘enemies’ supply lines, saving women from prison camps, and takes down Pakistani soldiers one by one. Players even have a chance to punish other ‘bad guys’ the East Pakistanis who did not support the liberation movement. The motivation for this game is simple – to reinforce the version of history that suits Hasina Sheikh’s party, Awami League, by glorifying the party’s role in the civil war and show anyone who did not support it as a traitor and worthy of being killed.

Read more: “Heroes” of 1971: Bloodthirsty Video Game Killing Pakistani Soldiers Goes Viral…

Dr. Bose had done meticulous forensic research to point out that the number of people killed in the 1971 Civil War could not have been more than 150,000 – and that Indian backed guerrillas – Mukti Bahni – did massive atrocities against the west Pakistanis and Bihari populations. But these are facts, if accepted or even told, weaken Hasina’s narrative. 

Interestingly, Sheikh Mujeeb –ur Rehman, Hasina’s father, after taking over power went on creating a “one party state”; by 1975, he had dissolved parliament and went on to rule the new nation by decree by declaring himself president. He went on with a brutal crackdown on all other political parties and nationalized most of the press. Civil disobedience and anarchy in the country increasingly prevailed reaching a state of polarization under which junior army officials assassinated him. After a period of turbulence, General Zia- ur Rehman, took over; his wife Khalida Zia is still the leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, BNP, the major opposition political party to Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League party.

Hasina targeted Jammat -e-Islami because it helped to destroy the electoral chances of Khalida Zia who won the last election with Jammat’s support. Be delegitimizing Jammat-e-Islami from Bangladesh’s politics, Hasina get a freed hand in managing the deck.

Bangladesh has recently also announced that it would not send its cricket team to Pakistan’s T20 matches. Last year, it supported India to torpedo SAARC meetings that were due to be held in Pakistan in October. Recently, it instructed its Ambassador in Pakistan, to complain to Pakistan’s Foreign Advisor to the Prime Minister, Sartaj Aziz, about the book written by Dr Junaid Ahmed: ‘Creation of Bangladesh: Myths Exploded’ which has challenged Bangladesh’s version of events. Bangladeshi Ambassador apparently claimed that the book has been funded by National Defense University in Islamabad to reinvent history.

Read More: Hasina Sheikh’s Politics: Where the fantastic Fig of Three Million came.from..

The book, a reasonably well-researched work, accepts the Pakistani political mistakes, majoritarian biases of west-Pakistanis against Bengalis but, also expands on the arguments made by Sarmila Bose, the world renowned, respected Oxford scholar of Indian origin. Dr. Bose in her book, ‘Dead reckoning’ had argued that what happened in 1971 was not a planned or orchestrated genocide (as Hasina Sheikh claims) but an uncontrolled civil war, in which several sides fought and killed each other – including Indian supported guerrillas. Dr. Bose had done meticulous forensic research to point out that the number of people killed in the 1971 Civil War could not have been more than 150,000 – and that Indian backed guerrillas – Mukti Bahni – did massive atrocities against the west Pakistanis and Bihari populations. But these are facts if accepted or even told, weaken Hasina’s narrative.

Read More: ‘Let Us Bury the Past, Not the Future’: Pakistan and Bangladesh

Ironically, Pakistan’s relations with Bangladesh, bloomed for over 30 years, until recently. In 1974 when Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto went to Dhaka he was greeted with garlands of flowers. SAARC’s creation in 1985 was because of the push of Bangladesh and Pakistan wanting to create a regional body in South Asia that would increase cooperation and regional connectivity. Even in 2013, Hasina Wajid and Nawaz Sharif seemed to share a bonhomie.

Bangladesh and Pakistan are both large Muslim nations that share a history together now they need to share a vision together to progress and enable their people’s wellbeing. But will this be possible as long as Hasina continues to rule Dacca via Delhi? This remains the provocative difficult question for Islamabad. Ayyaz Sadiq’s boycott finally affirmed these fears. 

Hasina’s government has always been under New Delhi’s influence from the very beginning. Her party, Awami League, founded and orchestrated by her father, was always aligned with India. Hasina targeted Jamaat -e-Islami because by doing so, it helps to destroy the electoral chances of Khalida Zia who won the last election with Jamaat’s support. By delegitimizing Jamaat-e-Islami from Bangladesh’s politics, Hasina gets a freed hand in managing the deck. Last elections in 2014 were thus mere optics where half the members of the national assembly were elected unopposed even before the actual elections. Her politics has been hugely rewarded by New Delhi that settled all old contentious issues like border disputes, and water sharing on rivers and extended credit facilities for her government helping with Indian investments from Calcutta. New Delhi was never so generous politically and financially with the previous governments of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh, thus under Hasina Sheikh, views Pakistan from India’s strategic lens. Whatever is emanating from Dhaka is an extension of Indian policy in the region. India is trying to manage the same in Kabul.

Bangladesh and Pakistan are both large Muslim nations that share a history together now they need to share a vision together to progress and enable their people’s wellbeing. But will this be possible as long as Hasina continues to rule Dhaka via Delhi? This remains the provocative difficult question for Islamabad. Ayyaz Sadiq’s boycott finally affirmed these fears.

Najma Minhas is Director Governance and Policy Advisors. She is an analyst and appears on many national Pakistani TV channels. She has contributed pieces for The Foreign policy, The Diplomat, Islamic, The Nation and other newspapers.

Najma Minhas is Managing Editor, Global Village Space. She has worked in New York and London with the National Economic Research Associates and with the Investment Bank, Lehman Brothers and Standard Chartered Bank. She is an analyst and appears on many national Pakistani TV channels. She has contributed pieces for The Foreign policy, The Diplomat, Islamic, The Nation and other newspapers. She has Masters degrees in International Relations from Columbia University and in Economics from the London School of Economics.

4 COMMENTS

  1. This debate on Bangladesh Desh is meaningless. She is Puppet of RAW . Raw is ruling Bangladesh from RAMNA RAW HQ.

  2. The replacement of Modi by jogi Aditya will change scene soon. The Hindu fundamentalistism now leading hindu version of extremism andcinternational terrorism under Hindutva. Every country has a right to choose its leadership. PML N and Ayaz Sadiq had been foolishly milking the snake by voting for Bangladesh and Afghan puppets. Its BD who opposes PAK in all the time in trade agreements and regional conferences.

  3. Whyn’t……Mr.Wazid,Imtiaz&Tariq?….First of all Pakis spell Bangladeshi Kale,chote,moslikhor,toilets under banana tree Mus’s to Indian pocket when they try to uproot Bengalis from the grass root to kill and rape millions of them.What was their guilt?They want a govt. what the majority of so called Pakis 56% wanted.Why you shouting like this?Please read the CJ Hamudur Rahman’s (who was a prominent Pakistanis) report and if Bangladeshi people were not win then by the help of India….Allah only knows I could”ve answer these to you long,white,strong Pakis or not?What’s going on to UP now….I/we think its fully responsible those reports to kill innocent Hindus by Pakis in Bangladesh’71 and how a nation can give order to uproot a whole Bengali Nation….(as they said…we want soil,not so called men) and to kill Hindus in thousand places here in Bangladesh like Chuknagar(go to google and see)….nothing to say more…Pakis have got atomic power to once kill themselves by their these kind of vale sins and it’ll must happen if they don’t apologize to Kale,chote Mus’s and Hindus(I think they’ll never do it before to be ruin)…..please don’t shout more….India is a friend in need of us…..they are not uprooting us….they’re doing some anti-Mus propaganda to win election or to defeat Congress as it their own matter….please save from self detonated bombs next what’s happening almost every day…….still have little time to be good…Jajakallah Khair…….

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