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Why Pakistan stayed away

  • Published at 07:31 pm April 5th, 2017
  • Last updated at 07:32 pm April 5th, 2017
Why Pakistan stayed away

The 136th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) assembly has just taken place in Dhaka amid fanfare and congregation of top parliamentarians, despite a last minute abstention by Pakistan citing “hostile environment” in Bangladesh.

Pakistan has made a blunder as it is the only country that stayed away, and has made the situation more hostile vis-a-vis Dhaka-Islamabad ties.

It does not take a genius to understand that it was Pakistan’s tit-for-tat for Bangladesh as it did not join the Saarc summit in Islamabad.

Also, it wanted to jeopardise the mega conference by pulling out at the last moment. The world did not pay any heed to them and has joined the conference, a major achievement for Bangladesh.

The militant attacks just before the conference may also be linked to pro-Pakistani elements or that country’s agents to scare the participants.

I am glad that the world has realised that whatever “hostile” situation Pakistan wanted to point out was rational for Bangladesh, and a bilateral matter. The Saarc summit was a different matter, as many other countries pulled out as well.

I am also glad that the world community has understood that terrorism is not a single-country affair, but a global issue, and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s “zero telerance” is proven and her government has been able to provide fool-proof security.

“Terrorism and militancy are trans-national problems. We all will have to face the challenge collectively,” Hasina told delegates at her five-day conference being held at Bangladesh’s heart of democracy, the National Parliament House.

A total of 1,348 delegates -- including 650 parliament members, 53 speakers, deputy speakers, and 209 women parliamentarians of 131 countries -- are attending the mega event.

My experience in Pakistan says the majority now know the true history of 1971, thanks to the internet, and Islamabad should respect the voice of its own people

Dhaka has not lost anything, but gained more as the world community agrees that the interference of Islamabad in Bangladesh’s internal affairs had crossed all limits.

Every time a 1971 war criminal is executed, Islamabad went as far as taking the issue to its parliament.

It has only given more merit to the issue of war criminals and the genocide they carried out in 1971. Pakistan’s actions have proven that those who have been executed were indeed “important, celebrity collaborators” of the Pakistani army.

The visit to the National Martyrs’ memorial or the Bangabandhu Museum may have been another reason for Pakistan to stay away.

Even though former president Pervez Musharraf had laid wreaths at the Savar memorial and had “regretted” the “incidents” of 1971, the military and top politicians felt embarrassed.

And going to our founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s residence, where their compatriots killed him in 1975, was possibly an important factor too.

I have written before that Pakistan can fix the tension if its leadership listens to its general people, who want them to seek forgiveness for their crimes against humanity in 1971, and stop patronising anti-liberation forces like Jamaat-e-Islami and pro-Pakistani political elements.

You kill my people, you kill my father, you kill my mother, kill my brother, and rape my sisters, just because they were Bengalis and wanted an independent Bangladesh.

A lot has happened, and without repentance, you cannot ever have anything but a “hostile” environment.

My experience in Pakistan says the majority now know the true history of 1971, thanks to the internet, and Islamabad should respect the voice of its own people.

Nadeem Qadir is the Press Minister of Bangladesh High Commission in London.