Islamabad: Pakistan has turned down Bangladesh’s demand for a formal apology over what Pakistan’s troops did in the then East Pakistan during the 1971 war, making it loud and clear that both nations have to look forward to enhance bilateral ties rather than dwelling on the past.
According to sources, a Bangladeshi delegation headed by Foreign Secretary Mohammed Mijarul Quayes, which visited Islamabad last month, put Foreign Ministry officials in a state of disbelief by putting forth a number of controversial demands, The Nation reports.
“Before we could move ahead to enhance our bilateral relations, Bangladesh wants Pakistan to offer a formal apology against its army’s wrongdoings during the 1971 war,” diplomatic sources quoted Mijarul Quayes, as saying, when the officials of two nations met here last month for their annual talks after a lapse of three years.
Elaborating his standpoint, the Bangladesh foreign secretary said that Dhaka believed that a formal Pakistani apology would be helpful in strengthening the bilateral ties.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs officials were again taken aback when the Bangladeshi side demanded the country’s share of the USD 4 billion worth of the pre-independence exchange, bank credit, and movable assets, which (according to the Bangladeshi side) were deposited or protected in West Pakistan during the 1971 war.
In addition to that, the visitors told the Pakistani side that Bangladesh also wanted the settlement of USD 200 million, which Pakistan received from the international community as donation for the 1970 cyclone victims of the then East Pakistan.
However, Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir politely turned down their demand for an apology, and made it clear to them that Pakistan was willing to enhance bilateral ties with Bangladesh, and suggested them to move ahead by burying the past.
“We should explore the opportunities to enhance trade and bilateral ties rather than living in the past,” Bashir said.
Sources privy to the meeting said that both Pakistan and Bangladesh were keen to reinvigorate the bilateral ties and suggested to their present leaderships to undertake bold steps to take the bilateral relations to a genuinely meaningful level, as both nations were “now being run by elected representatives”.