Awami League’s Pakistan bashing 

bengali womenBy S. M. Hali 

The Awami League (AL) of Bangladesh was founded in 1949 by Bengali nationalist leaders Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani, Yar Mohammad Khan, Shamsul Huq and later Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, who also served as Prime Minister of Pakistan. Originally AL was created as a counterweight to the Muslim League, which was prevalent in West Pakistan but later became the lynchpin to lead the struggle against the perceived domination of West Pakistan.

Despite the fact that Bengalis were in the forefront for the struggle for Pakistan, subsequent policies framed in West Pakistan alienated the Bengalis and ultimately led to the secession of East Pakistan in 1971 to become Bangladesh. In 1948, Bengalis became disconcerted because Bengali script was omitted from newly minted coins and postage stamps. During the agitation, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah visited Dhaka and declared that Urdu would be the sole official language for Pakistan. This further incensed the feelings of being marginalized and irate Bengalis took to the streets in protest. Bengalis felt discriminated because despite being in ethnic majority, they got the short end of the stick in government, industry, bureaucracy and the armed forces.

Sheikh Mujib, who was then a student leader, led the revolt, which was quelled by use of brute force. The feelings of deprivation paved the way for his leading the AL in a struggle for independence. After the emergence of Bangladesh in 1971, Mujib became the first president but disgruntled forces overthrew his government in 1975 and assassinated the father of the Bengali nation along with his family. Only two daughters of Sheikh Mujib, Hasina and Rehana survived. Sheikh Hasina Wajid found asylum in India while the AL was left in the doldrums. She returned to Bangladesh to lead AL, which in 1996 won the general elections and Sheikh Hasina became the Prime Minister but owing to her lackluster performance, she lost the next elections. Sheikh Hasina recouped and led her party to electoral victory in 2008 and in 2014, although the latter polls were deemed controversial because most of the opposition parties boycotted them.

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The second and now third tenure of Sheikh Hasina’s government have significantly been marked by Pakistan bashing campaigns. Perhaps under the tutelage of her Indian mentors or to divert attention from her misrule and alleged corruption, Sheikh Hasina is maintaining an anti Pakistan posture. This is rather unfortunate because the scars of the bloody secession had started to heal and the two nations were drawing closer. The camaraderie expressed by Bangladeshis and Pakistanis was much to the chagrin of India, which is perhaps manipulating Sheikh Hasina to rake up old wounds and rekindle the animosity.

To stab Pakistan in the back, Sheikh Hasina introduced the “Friends of Bangladesh Liberation War Honour” medal, in which thirteen Pakistanis were also named. Five of the recipients’ wards received the honour at Dhaka but they were coerced to blame Pakistan and its armed forces for committing genocide and rape of Bengalis, for which they urged the government of Pakistan and its armed forces to seek pardon from the people of Bangladesh.

The fresh round of baiting Pakistan gained momentum at the eve of the 2014 general hpw elections. In a hate campaign, the armed forces of Pakistan were again alleged to have conducted mass rape of Bengali women and genocide. AL demanded an apology from Pakistan and its armed forces for their alleged atrocities against Bengalis, despite the fact that independent and neutral historians and analysts presented evidence based on thorough research that both charges are farfetched and the figment of imagination of the AL and other detractors of Pakistan.

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Remaining oblivious to the truth, Sheikh Hasina, either to appease her mentors or to mask her misgovernance, is indulging in the use of abusive and unparliamentary language against Pakistan.

There is method in the madness, as the Bangladesh ruling party AL in pursuit of a well planned strategy to spew venom against Pakistan, and its leadership are targeting those Bangladeshis, who were against the dismemberment of Pakistan in the 1971 war of secession, when India supported the secessionists and attacked Pakistan, overwhelming it.

After targeting the Jamaat-e-Islami and sentencing four of its leaders to death for abetting Pakistani armed forces during the 1971 crisis, now AL is conjuring trumped up charges against the armed forces of Pakistan. In her latest preposterous and baseless allegation unfolded during her February 4, 2014 address to the Bangladesh parliament, Sheikh Hasina Wajid declared that fresh investigations would be launched to ascertain whether Hawa Bhaban (her political rival Begum Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s headquarters) was involved in smuggling 10 truckloads of arms. She cast aspersions on Pakistan and its armed forces, stating that Pakistan’s premier intelligence agency, ISI was involved in a plot to destabilize her government.

Despite the fact that Pakistan Armed Forces were repatriated to Pakistan under a tripartite agreement between Pakistan, Bangladesh and India in 1974, AL and its leadership is hell bent upon trying 195 Pakistan Army officers in an International Crime Tribunal for alleged crime of genocide of Bengalis.

Ruling Government of AL led by Hasina Wajid is pro-India and follows an anti Pakistan agenda prepared by Indian masters. Hence, it is India which actually desires to see Bangladesh locking horns with Pakistan. The current government in Pakistan is maintaining an eerie silence on Sheikh Hasina’s anti Pakistan policies through a well though-out combined plot of India and Bangladesh. There should be a limit to anti-Pakistan rhetoric. Continued silence Pakistan on the issue of war crimes has emboldened AL regime further and they come up with new anti-Pakistan strategy. The real perpetrator is India which desires to see that a rift between Pakistan and Bangladesh must go on. In the currently in progress World 20/20 Cricket tournament, India was irked to see Bangladeshi fans cheering for Pakistan. It has urged the Bangladesh government to impose a ban on Bangladeshi citizens from waving Pakistani flags at the match venue. What could be more myopic and conceited? 

Bangladesh PMThe people of BD must introspectively think who is behind this machination and driving a wedge between Bangladesh and Pakistan. AL would be better advised to serve its people and solve their domestic issues rather than inculcating hate. Sheikh Hasina should heed the words of Madeleine L?ngle: “Hate hurts the hater more’n the hated.”

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