Dhaka: Bangladesh on Sunday honoured 13 "Pakistani friends" for their outstanding moral support during its nine-month long liberation war, 42 years after they defied risks of persecution by the then military junta.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina handed them over the honour at a state ceremony along with 56 others at the Bangabandhu International Conference Centre while the first group of recipients of the Pakistani `Friends of Liberation War Honour` included politicians, rights activists, poets and journalists.
"It was very difficult to protest against genocide and demand freedom of Bangabandhu staying inside the ring of Pakistani military," Shariar Kabir, one of the members of the committee which was tasked to name the 1971 foreign friends told PTI.
Kabir, a liberation war researcher, said some of these Pakistanis even were canned, had to suffer imprisonment and pay fines or were exposed to threats for standing for cause of Bengalis as the Pakistani military troops and their Bengali collaborators were carrying out genocides.
"They were treated as traitors in Pakistan for protesting Bangladesh genocide," Kabir said.
Officials on the sidelines of the ceremony told PTI that more Pakistanis would be conferred with the honour in phases as the today`s ceremony was the fifth of its kind since July 25, 2011 while some 300 foreign friends mostly Indians were honoured as `Friends of Liberation War Honour` or `Bangladesh Liberation War Honour`.
Sunday`s Muktijuddho Moitri Sammanana recipients from Pakistan are politician Begum Nasim Akhtar, Late Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, Malik Ghulam Jilani, Qazi Faiz Mohammad, Lawyer Zafar Malik, Philosopher late Dr Eqbal Ahmad, human rights activists Ahmad Salim and Begum Tahira Mazhar Ali, poet and journalist Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Janab Anwer Pirzado, poet and politician Habib Jalib, politician and filmmaker of Pakistan Shamim Ashraf Malik, professor and journalist Waris Mir.