Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s letter to Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan, felicitating him on the occasion of Pakistan Day has come as another manifestation of improving relations and growing warmth between the two sides. Recent efforts by both Islamabad and Dhaka to bolster bilateral ties as well as cooperation on issues of mutual interest indicate that in spite of decades-old intrigues and machination, Delhi has failed to weaken the strong bonds of brotherhood and the love and respect the people of both countries have for each other.
It may be recalled here that in early 2020, Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Bangladesh Imran Ahmed had met Bangladesh Premier Hasina Sheikh, with both sides pledging to improve bilateral relations. It was, indeed, a clear sign of thaw in bilateral relations. As a matter of fact, people of both countries comprehend fully that though some misunderstandings have overshadowed their relationship in the past, yet the clouds are now lifting. A new era of cooperation and collaboration in various spheres of life will hopefully begin. They both can benefit a lot by strengthening their bilateral ties – a development that could go a long way in ensuring peace and stability in South Asia.
In her letter, the BD Premier wrote, “On behalf of the government and the people of Bangladesh and my behalf, I would like to extend to you, and through you, to the government and the people of Pakistan, our heartiest greetings on the occasion of Pakistan Day. I believe there are immense potentials for our existing relations to be further deepened and diversified in the coming years. Both our peoples could benefit from the shared journey towards development and peace.”
It is pertinent to note the fact that in recent months, anti-Modi as well as anti-India sentiments are rising amongst the people of Bangladesh, due to the killing of innocent Bangladeshi people by the Indian security forces along the border. The people of Bangladesh are also not unaware of the nefarious designs New Delhi nurses to exploit their country’s abundant natural resources and make Bangladesh a client state.
In recent months, the people of Bangladesh have given vent to their feelings against India by organising a series of protest demonstrations and rallies across the country. The slogans “Go back Modi, Go back murderer of Bangladeshi people” have recently resonated across the length and breadth of Bangladesh, showing which way the wind is now blowing. According to media reports, in the latest protest demonstration, student activists took to the streets in capital city Dhaka to protest against the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to participate in the country’s 50th independence anniversary celebrations.
Weeks ago, after Friday congregations, a large crowd marched outside the country’s main Baitul Mokarram Mosque in downtown Dhaka, with shoes in their hands to express their anger against Modi and his BJP government, which has unleashed a reign of terror on the Muslim minority. They chanted anti-India and anti-Modi slogans, asking him not to land in Dhaka. Separately, about 200 leftwing student activists marched through the streets on the Dhaka University campus where they called Modi “the Butcher of Gujarat”. Also, some demonstrators carried posters inscribed with slogans, like “Go Back Modi, Go Back India” and “Go Back Killer Modi.” The protesters said Modi and his Hindu fascist party, BJP, not only had oppressed Muslims in India but were also directly involved in the killing of Bangladeshis along the border.
The role India had played in breaking up Pakistan in 1971 is a matter of recorded history. Through false propaganda, India sowed the seeds of misunderstanding and distrust among the people of the then East Pakistan, trained the Mukti Bahini and later resorted to military aggression to cut Pakistan into two countries.
The genesis of the dismemberment of Pakistan goes back to the partition of India. Whether it be India’s past leadership of the Congress or the present one of the rightwing Hindu extremist BJP, they never accepted the fact of partition of British India and made plans to undo it by any means possible. They ultimately succeeded in their nefarious designs in 1971.
The leaders of India accepted the partition with the conviction that the new state was not viable and would collapse in a short span of time. The wicked ambitions of the Indian leadership were amply reflected in the political and military plans that were made in subsequent years. Prime Minister Indra Gandhi and Narendra Modi both on record accepted that India had a role in breaking up Pakistan.
However, over the years public opinion in both Bangladesh and Pakistan has increasingly veered towards reviving the old fraternal bonds between the two countries. There is agreement on both sides that forgetting the past, Pakistan and Bangladesh, bound by historical, religious and cultural ties, should begin a new era of fruitful partnership that will strengthen them politically and economically in the South Asian region. Although a little late, yet a beginning has been made in this direction. An immediate need in this connection is to ease the visa regime to promote travel and encourage people-to-people contact between the two countries.