Anger Mounts in Bangladesh as Pakistan Denies 1971 War Crimes

Anisur Rahman/Dhaka
Anger Mounts in Bangladesh as Pakistan Denies 1971 War Crimes

Civil society members and mainstream media in Bangladesh today asked the government to sever ties with Pakistan as anger mounted over Islamabad's denial of committing war crimes during Bangladesh's independence conflict in 1971.

The two countries have been engaged in a war of words following the executions in Bangladesh last week of senior opposition leaders convicted of war crimes during the conflict.

Pakistan on Monday "rejected insinuation of 'complicity in committing crimes or war atrocities'." It also voiced "deep concern and anguish" over the execution of war criminals.

Dhaka University's Vice Chancellor Professor AAMS Arefin Siddique joined several distinguished people yesterday to oppose Pakistan's "blatant inference" in its internal affairs as the country began the month-long celebration marking the 44th anniversary of December 16, 1971 Victory Day.

"Its (Pakistan) statement over the ongoing trial of the war criminals is blatant interference in our domestic affairs," he told a rally.

"After this (statement), there is no scope to maintain the diplomatic relation with Pakistan and our government should sever diplomatic ties with the country unless they seek unconditional apology".

Sector Commanders Forum, the grouping of liberation war commanders, made the identical demand.

The forum's chairman and Bangladesh's 1st army chief General Safiullah in a statement said, "Bangladesh should not maintain any diplomatic relations with Pakistan after the way it expressed concern, issued a statement and protested over the war crimes trial".

Mass circulation Prothom Alo in an editorial said, "after the execution of two convicted war criminals Pakistan continued to show "audacious attitude one after another".

"But they (Pakistan) exceeded the limit at last by denying the responsibilities of genocide committed during the liberation war after summoning the Bangladesh’s acting high commissioner in Islamabad," the Alo editorial read.

The Samokal newspaper ran a report titled 'Sever all links with Pakistan: reaction of distinguished figures'.

The Star newspaper in a report said "even in Pakistan's own version of the war, the ugly face of its atrocities comes out (and) these are found in Pakistan's top military leaders' memoirs of the war..."

Several Bangladeshi newspapers carried post-1971 statements by Pakistani army officers admitting the atrocities carried out by their troops to negate the Islamabad’s denial.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina last week had described as "unacceptable" Pakistan's reaction against Bangladesh's 1971 war crimes trial and execution of convicts while the foreign office handed down a "strong" protest note summoning Islamabad's envoy in Dhaka.

Pakistan described as "baseless and unfounded assertions" the contents of the protest note over the trial of its own nationals who carried out atrocities siding with Pakistani troops in 1971.

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