The report claimed that Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan of Pakistan has launched an initiative to normalize relations with Bangladesh. He also met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina during the UN Generally Assembly Session last year (2020). With that end in view, both the leaders exchanged views at the personal as well as diplomatic levels, and have remained engaged in efforts to reduce their differences and pave the way for restoring normal relations between the two countries, which before 1971, were one country.
The report said the understanding between the two leaders to narrow down their differences led to a telephonic conversation, during which the Pakistani prime minister invited Premier Hasina to visit Pakistan. The daily predicted that Imran Khan may announce something dramatic before March 26 regarding the restoration of friendly relations that existed before 2008.
The daily Manabzamin report attracted so many readers to comment on it. A glance at these comments printed only on January 21, one can have a fair understanding of the sentiment of common Bangladeshis. Here are a few comments;
Mohammad Nazrul Islam’s comments in English: Pakistan and Bangladesh are siblings. They fought together with the Hindus and the British and got freedom from both. If Pakistan wouldn’t have come into existence, then dream of Bangladesh never could come into existence; example is Kashmir. Sometimes siblings fight and then they reconcile. We Bangladeshis will be very happy to see our lost brother come back. Our prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said: A Muslim mustn’t be angry with his Muslim brother more than two-and-a half day. Our Holy Book (The Quran) also encourages us to forgive our brothers and reconcile with them. Now Imran Khan mustn’t delay, and officially admit whatever Pakistan army did in 1971 with the (people of) former East Pakistanis. Today is better than tomorrow. India doesn’t want, at any cost, any reconciliation between these two siblings.
Akm Nurul Islam: “There is a saying in diplomacy that there is no permanent enemy, or permanent friend. Everything changes. You have to gain something through your diplomatic and negotiation skills. Burning example is North Korea. Keep it in mind, we have Rohingay problem which needs to be resolved immediately, as it may turn to a regional security issue that will affect Bangladesh most. As we know CHINA is the main actor. Again Pakistan is the most trusted and friendly neighbor of CHINA.”
Nazrul Islam who wrote in Bengali said: Most of the people of Bangladesh intensely hate India, but love Pakistan more than India. India has been engaged in destroying Bangladesh since its independence. The India-backed media of Bangladesh never speaks the truth.
Sayed, a Freedom Fighter, wrote in English: We want peace as all are friends, none is enemy. But Pakistan deprived us since the beginning of independence of Pakistan in 1947. They must provide us (Bangladesh) with the proper shares (of assets) and then Pakistan can be a friend.
Mortuza Huq disagreed with the reporter asking (the reporter) it is whose opinion that the people of Bangladesh have strong objections to normalizing relations with Pakistan. He said a referendum could be organized in Bangladesh to examine the sentiment of the people.
Motahar wrote it was the personal opinion of the reporter that the people of Bangladesh have reservations/objections to normalizing relations with Pakistan. Friendship with Pakistan is essential to counter the atrocities of India. The interests of the Muslim Ummah are involved in it.
Riyadh Mahmoud suggested: Pakistan must regret what happened to us (East Pakistanis) in 1971 and it is good for the two countries to create a new relationship for the next generation…. because if a new government may come to power in future and they will have good relations with Pakistan. Awami League should think over the issue.
Anis ul Haq placed some demands to normalize relations with Bangladesh. His demands are: 1. Pakistan must seek an apology for the war crimes of 1971; 2. Pakistan should declare General Yahya Khan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, General A. K. Niazi, General Tikka Khan as posthumous war criminals; 3. All the Pakistani citizens now living in Bangladesh must be repatriated to Pakistan; 4. Share of pre-’71 assets must be given to Bangladesh. If Pakistan accepts these demands, the question of normal relationship of Bangladesh with Pakistan can be considered.
Md. Helal Karim, welcoming the probable normalization of the relation between Bangladesh and Pakistan, opined: It is not true that the people of Bangladesh have strong objections to restore relations with Pakistan. Such a statement is erroneous. This is the reporter’s misconception. Other than a few pro-India people in Bangladesh, everyone wants good relationship between Bangladesh and Pakistan. India is exploiting us in the name of friendship. India kills our people along the Indo-Bangladesh border and deprives us of the legitimate share of (the river) water. They (Indians) are not our friends, rather our foes.
Amir citing the Manabzamin report that quoted the State Minister (for foreign affairs) Shahriar Alam saying if Pakistan wants to improve relations (with Bangladesh), it must first apologize. All unresolved issues must be resolved at once. No relationship with Pakistan is likely to be easy; and while the trial of war criminals will continue, the intervention of any other country is absolutely unacceptable, Pakistan must keep in mind. No one in the world is essential for anyone; it should be understood by all concerned!
Aminul wrote: India, for its own benefit, sided with us during the war of independence. We have fought for our needs. The history of independent Bangladesh was framed at the cost of many lives and chastity. In the truest sense of term India really dominates us. Showing its lordship India threatens us and occasionally gives us gifts sending the dead bodies (killing the Bangladeshis) in the border area. There are many more heart-rending Indian stories of love for us. Pakistan has comprehended their mistake. We are the victims of so many worst conspiracies. In the current context, India causes much more damage than Pakistan did (before ’71). The current ruler of India is acrimonious to the Muslims. We have a Muslim-majority country. So India openly causes various types of damage to us. So my opinion is, our country can develop strategic relations with any country for our own interest. The government can take any kind of action for the better interest of the country and nation. There is no such thing as an eternal enemy in politics.
Mahmud opined: Pakistan is an independent country and Bangladesh is also the same. It is quite natural that there will have good relations between the two independent countries. Since our relationship with Pakistan ended with extreme bitterness, Pakistan must take the initiative to end that bitterness and lay the foundation for a good relationship, if it is possible even saying ‘sorry’.
Amir Hossain felt: I think by making a normal relation with Pakistan, Bangladesh will be the gainer particularly, as under such a situation India will not be so desperate to treat us as their colonial state.
Hassanuzzaman wrote: To ensure the survival of Bangladesh it is the need of the day to build appropriate resistance to deter India’s aggression that continues since independence. In that case, improving relations with Pakistan will add a new dimension to the diplomatic wisdom of the rulers. It is as clear as daylight that most people in Bangladesh want to stop (Indian) aggression.
Monirul Islam citing historical facts wrote: If Japan could enhance its dignity and (protect) interests by developing relations with the United States, why we can’t do the same. Our foreign policy doesn’t prevent it. So we need to take the issue into consideration for the betterment of the country. We have to proceed taking lessons from the past and follow the same path to resolve new challenges whether it is Pakistan or any other neighboring countries. Our national interests are above all other things.
Murari Mohan Mondal, opposing Pakistan-Bangladesh friendship, opined: we are building unity with the anti-independence forces day by day. What could be a worse tool than the public disrespect of the freedom fighters!
Aftab Chowdhury said, other than the India-paid stooges; the people of Bangladesh want a good relationship with Pakistan so that Bangladesh can face atrocious impoliteness (of India).
Mohammad Sirajullah placed three preconditions before Pakistan could have normal relation with Bangladesh. He wrote his preconditions in English as follows: 1. (Pakistan) Apologize to Bangladesh unconditionally for its failure to try the War criminals of 1971; 2. Must settle the unresolved issue of assets; and 3. Imran Khan should come to Dhaka to sign it (the agreement).
Habib, writing in English, said: For Bangladesh Pakistan is better than India. India is a common enemy of Bangladesh, and (there are) many pieces of evidence behind it to prove it.
Bipu believes there is no benefit to Bangladesh in developing relations with Pakistan. Pakistan is the only failed state in the world.
Kazi asserted: the wise politician, the wise Prime Minister worthy of the father of the nation will make the right decision. We have that hope.
Mohammad Zainal Abedin is a Bangladesh-origin American journalist & researcher.
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