`Dhaka seeking apology from Islamabad justified`

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina`s ruling Awami League has sought a Pakistan apology for the atrocities and genocide in 1971.

Last Updated: Nov 23, 2011, 14:18 PM IST

Islamabad: Bangladesh seeking an apology from Pakistan for war crimes committed in 1971 is "justifiable" and the "least our government can do is learn lessons from it", said a Pakistani daily on Wednesday.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni Sunday sought the formal apology from Islamabad for atrocities committed by the Pakistani military in Bangladesh in 1971.

The expression `war crimes` is used to describe offences ranging from rape, loot, arson and killing of unarmed civilians by Islamist militia -- Al Badr, Al Shams and Razakars -- who guided Pakistani soldiers to homes of political workers, artists, writers and Hindus. Bangladesh, formerly East Pakistan, was created after the Liberation War in December 1971.

Calling Dipu Moni`s demand " justifiable", the Daily Times editorially said that "confronting the past and formally acknowledging the inexcusable atrocities committed by the army of Pakistan is a requisite for continued cordial relations between the two countries for the future is understandable".

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina`s ruling Awami League has sought a Pakistan apology for the atrocities and genocide in 1971 when as per official figures three million people were killed and over two lakh women were tortured by Pakistani troops and their Bengali-speaking collaborators.

"...an apology to the Bengalis is not only overdue, but it is also the least that the government of Pakistan can offer to the bereaved nation for all the injustices that it has suffered at the hands of its army. The apology would also help remove the animosity that remains in the hearts of the Bengalis, who are still struggling to come to terms with their violent past," the editorial said.

It went on to say that an apology "cannot be made without an acknowledgement of a colossal national mistake, which has never been a speciality of Pakistani governments".

"While it is impossible to go back in time and change the course of history, the least our government can do is learn lessons from it.

"The government must be mindful of the repercussions of the crisis in Balochistan, a striking parallel to the events of 1971, in which the government alienated its own people, making them the targets of an ethnic cleansing campaign," the editorial added.

IANS