Dhaka: As thousands of youth continued their movement at Shahbagh here to press for death penalty for war criminals, President Pranab Mukherjee on Saturday said he believed Bangladeshi youths would determine the country`s future.
"We have recently seen a reawakening of the youth who recall the extraordinary sacrifices that led to the birth of the nation. The youth of this country will determine its future," Mukherjee told state-run BSS news agency on the eve of his visit to Dhaka, starting tomorrow.
He said India did "whatever we could to support the refugees, provide them food and shelter and create awareness in the world about the terrible atrocities being committed against the people of what is today Bangladesh" by Pakistani troops during the liberation war of 1971.
Mukherjee`s remarks about "reawakening of the Bangladeshi youth" came intensified movement by youths demanding death for those who had sided with the Pakistani army and colluded in the killings and rape during the liberation war.
On the other hand, Bangladesh saw stepped-up nationwide violence by fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) to stop the trial of some of its top leaders for "crimes against humanity" and siding with Pakistani troops as the party had opposed the independence of Bangladesh.
Three top leaders of Jamaat, including its vice president Delwar Hossain Sayedee, have so far been convicted by international war crimes tribunals here, drawing waves of violent protests from party cadres across the country leaving more than 50 people dead in less than one month.
Asked to recall his contribution to the liberation war, Mukherjee said "I was already in active politics at that time, and a Member of the Rajya Sabha. At a personal level I remember the events leading to the liberation of Bangladesh".
Mukherjee is set to be honoured as a 1971 foreign friend of Bangladesh during the visit.
He said India was fully committed to developing the best possible relationship with Bangladesh and given the initiatives that have been taken in the last few years and which are in the pipeline "we have made progress on issues that have eluded solution for decades”.
He said the two countries "have broken fresh ground in areas such as trade, power, people to people exchanges and security cooperation".
"There is certainly much more that can and should be done. We are committed to it," Mukherjee added.
Mukherjee said "the compelling logic of geography dictates that South Asian countries find new paradigms of cooperation to deal with the common challenges of development.
He said India was willing to be a catalyst for development based on the principles of equality, partnership and mutual benefit.
He said India has already taken several steps "such as the opening of our market to our LDC neighbours and we are ready to take more steps as best as it could".
"I have no doubt that India cannot prosper alone. Our destinies are inter-linked, and we have to grow and prosper together, he said.