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The apology issue


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IT is a welcome sign that, despite the deep grudge many in Bangladesh still bear against the West Pakistani military action of 1971, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has reportedly accepted Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar’s invitation to attend the D-8 summit in Islamabad this month. Dhaka would like a proper apology from the Pakistani government for the large-scale killing of Bengalis. It was not satisfied with then president Gen (retd) Musharraf’s expression of “regret” in 2002. According to the Bangladesh foreign secretary, “some unresolved issues” still exist although, he says, Ms Khar stated that Pakistan had “regretted in different forms and … it was time to move on”. The debate by academicians and propagandists on both sides will continue; they will fight over the actual number — in thousands for some, millions for others — of Bengalis killed while resisting the injustices perpetrated on them by an insensitive western wing. What cannot be denied is that brute military force was used to exterminate activists, intellectuals and ordinary supporters of what was united Pakistan’s largest political party, and that consequently led to Indian action and the creation of Bangladesh.

On its part Pakistan must recognise the wrongs committed by its leadership during those days, and issue a full-fledged apology — not just expressions of regret — that is acceptable to Dhaka. In doing so, it would be joining the ranks of other countries and institutions that have been courageous enough to admit the historical wrongs they have committed in order to give both themselves and the victim nation a chance to move on. The Vatican has apologised for the actions of Catholics who persecuted non-Catholics, and expressed sorrow over the attack on Constantinople during the Crusades. Japan has apologised to Koreans for wartime aggression. It is time for Pakistan, too, to come to terms with its past.

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Comments (19) Closed

M. Asghar Nov 11, 2012 11:11am
Let us apologise in all humility for this disaster in Bangladesh and move on in mutual harmony.
ashiq rahman Nov 12, 2012 02:23pm
Pakistan should immediately seek apology.i personally think,in case of diplomacy,no party can be a permanent enemy.we have to consider the relationships amongst countries centering the economic & geopolitical aspects,rather egos in the boundary.since emotion of Bangladeshis are mingled with this issue,i think a sincere apology can be an ice-breaking step.
Farjad Nov 12, 2012 09:16am
As a Bangladeshi, it is indeed heartening for me to see such an editorial on an influential paper like The Dawn. I was also equally touched, yet not surprised, by most of the comments where there appears to be a consensus that Pakistan should apologize for the 71 genocide - it is not easy to own up to your past atrocities. Whether the death tolls were 3 million, or 3 thousand, is of secondary consequence; what is of consequence is, that a wrong was committed, and it is time that Pakistan comes clean with that past, and for Bangladeshis to embrace that olive branch of apology.
Mohammad Zahinul Islam Nov 12, 2012 05:44am
I would like to thank Dawn for taking a stand and putting forward a just cause "Apology: Being a Bangladeshi I am waiting for that to happen and many of my countrymen are waitng too. Till Date we have not received an official apology from Pakistan. This is the minimum that Bangladesh can expect if we really want to have real honor value restored between the two countries Bangladesh and Pakistan. If the official apology doesn't happen not much will be achieved between Bangladesh and Pakistan. I am looking forward to hear the civil society of Pakistan who have already spoken about this and they must create pressure on their respective government in order to make this happen.
ahmed41 Nov 12, 2012 03:14am
If one has done a wrong to a subsection of humanity, there is no harm in an apology ~~~and a change of our ways.
Shimanta Quayser Nov 12, 2012 03:15am
Thanks dear Editor. Its better late than never. Its time for Pakistan to seek apology to Bangladesh for the genocide in 1971 and also to initiate the process of wealth distribution legally. then only we can say, " lets move ahead"
Sue Sturgess Nov 12, 2012 02:26am
Apologies do not mean much, unless they come from those who actually did the wrong thing. Very few people responsible for a decision made in 1971, would still be in positions of power, and it is not appropriate that one person should apologise for the wrong-doings of another. Look through history, almost everyone has over-run / conquered everyone at some point in time. Races have blended, national boundaries have shifted. Perhaps we should be asking for apologies from Rome for the Roman Empire? Not sure which current country should now apologise for the Ottoman empire. Should Germany be apologising to most of Europe? Sadly wars and atrocities have happened since time immemorial, and will probably continue to happen. No-one will be brought back to life by an apology. We need to look forward, not back.
sk Nov 11, 2012 10:25pm
justice must prevail
David Salmon Nov 11, 2012 10:02pm
Not if the forces joined in the apology.
Taskina Yeasmin Nov 11, 2012 02:23pm
Its really good sing That, Now Some Pakistani also feels my countries ( Bangladedshi's) emotion. In Saturday, when I take my countries expert's comments about a full-fledged apology after finished Pakistani foreign ministers visit , they said we need Pakistani peoples support. Except Pakistani peoples support their govt. never want apology. In 1971, Pakistan was government of east Pakistan, But they didn't follow their duty properly, They broke their rules very brutally. Some times, I think, That time which Pakistani people was leader of govt. they became mad. otherwise, never-ever any countries govt. can't their kill their own people. In, 25 March,1971, they killed our general people & their govt. officer, ( police, fire service man, govt. official, teacher, Doctor, scientist, journalist, activist) & oll type of Bangladeshi people. In 1971, within 9 month, Pakistani soldiers & their general heinous crimes. It's not only my historian's speech, Pakistani Captain also said about this, in his one interview. My question to all Pakistani people, when any brutal raped or harass your family's women member, your mother, daughter, sister, wife, What are you doing that time? If, your Govt. now formally want apology to my country, countries people. are we should give them apology? I am speechless... I think it's time for Pakistan, to go Forward. If they feel it, of course they should want apology in my countries people, My country & our that women & mother - parents who lost their child & relatives. If Pakistan want apology, they will got a bright future. But, now, In all international humanitarian field their position is very lowest. If, Pakistan want apology, it will help their future generation. they will be a humanitarian country.
V. C. Bhutani Nov 11, 2012 02:05pm
This is the most gracious editorial that Dawn has written in a long time. I couldn?t agree with you more. Certain events of the past are done with and over and cannot be revisited or modified, much as one may wish to. We are content to let historians deliver their judgment on the question of the action of the Pakistan army in East Bengal before and during the 1971 war. It only remains for today?s actors in several places to put the past out of reckoning as a dead weight that must pull countries back. We didn?t expect Ms Hina Rabbani Khar to offer at all a response to Sheikh Hasina: Ms Hina is so young and surely she is not expected to deal with matters of history off the cuff. But perhaps the powers that be in Pakistan may like to address the question and put it out of reckoning with expressions as gracious as Dawn?s editorial. V. C. Bhutani, Delhi, India, 11 Nov 2012, 1935 IST
Tajul Nov 11, 2012 01:53pm
Many many thanks for such a courage editorial! I have Pakistani classmate who also believe that military action on our people was wrong so it will give both the nation work more closely.
Sartaj Hussain Nov 11, 2012 06:22am
Pakistan should come out of the fabricated IDEOLOGY OF PAKISTAN and accept the facts and leave the so called National Interest and go for appology to Bengali s and make a Pakistan under the lines of the speech of Quaid e Azam August 11 1947.this is the duty of the parliamenterians to remove all the laws and amendments inducted by General Ziaulhaq and General Perwaiz Musharraf and put both under clause 6 of the constitution in the court of law otherwise Pakistan will be uncertainity and why elected parliament is scared of not ready for trial of the usurpers while the courts are free and not accepting any pressure and media can not go against the will of the people only politicians are hurdle to activate article 6 of the con otherwise appology in Baluchistan former East Pakistan etc .is not a solution only political trick to keep the matter under the cover of appology . this trial should begin from the military take over of july 5th. 1977and the 12th october 1997. thats not a matter of hundreds or thousands years this is our present because the authority is still in the hands of Establihment an elected prime minister can be hanged by these adventurers but they enjoy all powers with in service and after retirement too though they thrown the constitution through their boots and crushe the will of the people .Sartaj Hussain
Kamal Hussain Nov 11, 2012 04:35am
The editor failed to mention that Japan is yet to apologize to China for the Rape of Nanking in 1937 when the invading Japanese Imperial army killed 300,000 people and raped 20,000 women in the province of Nanking. The Chinese are still protesting sometimes violently as in the month of September causing damage to Japanese businesses.
pir shabbir ahmad Nov 11, 2012 04:22am
An apalogy would bring shame to our defence forces. Hmm
Kamal Hussain Nov 11, 2012 04:19am
Apology to Bangladesh may be too late. Pakistan now has to apologize to Balochis for excesses committed in Balochistan for making the same demands like the Bengalees - autonomy and control over resources.
Zain M Nov 11, 2012 11:20am
Its time we do it, it will give us courage to move forward.
farmerdr Nov 11, 2012 10:25am
The overwhelming winner of the 1970 Pakistani elections was jailed and the largest group of voters disenfranchised. If this was not regrettable enough, brutal military action was taken by an army against the majority section of its country's civilians. Of course we West Pakistanis must apologize to the aggrieved East Pakistanis now Bangladeshis.
Iftikhar Husain Nov 11, 2012 12:47pm
It is very nice that Bangladeshi prime minister has agreed to come to Pakistan. We must promote good relation with our brother country.