By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) - Fifty years after Bangladesh was created as a new Muslim-majority country in South Asia, the families of those Pakistanis who opposed military operation to quell disturbances have urged both countries to “bury the bitter past” and move forward to ensure cordial ties.
Several prominent Pakistanis like legendary poets, Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Habib Jalib, former Foreign Minister Sahibzada Yaqoob Ali Khan, educationist and writer Waris Mir, and politicians like Malik Ghulam Jilani, Ghous Bux Bizenjo, and many others had opposed the March 1971 military operation in the then East Pakistan.
Observers say this military operation caused a large-scale reaction and later led to the creation of Bangladesh on Dec. 16, 1971.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency on eve of the 50th anniversary of the creation of Bangladesh, which is being observed on Thursday, Tahira Habib Jalib, the daughter of legendary poet Habib Jalib, hoped that the two nations would move forward and work together for a peaceful and prosperous South Asia, which was a dream of her father.
“Jalib sahib was hurt by two incidents more than any other thing in his life. First, leaving his ancestral village in Hushyarpur district (East Punjab, following the partition of India), and second, dismemberment of East Pakistan,” Tahira said.
She visited Dhaka in 2013 to receive an award conferred to her father by the Bangladesh government.
“He (Jalib) had timely warned the then rulers through his poetry and otherwise of the consequences of their wrong policies in (then) East Pakistan, but unfortunately they did not listen,” she maintained.
Educationist and writer Salima Hashmi, the daughter of Faiz, who too visited Dhaka to receive her father’s award, said the political situation in the then East Pakistan had become complicated long before the army action amid a growing sense of deprivation.
"(I) have vivid memories of 1971 and the turmoil that came before - that matters were heading towards a crisis was apparent long before the army action," Salima told Anadolu Agency.
She said her father was among those intellectuals who strived for talks with all dissenters in the eastern part of Pakistan and strike comprises, where it was possible.
“But it required political wisdom and a genuine democratic understanding of the grave injustices suffered by the eastern wing (now Bangladesh),” she said.
- Faiz’s poetry expresses anguish
Hashmi observed that army dictatorships are traditionally unable to fathom people’s desires --leading to horrific disasters like 1971.
"Faiz stood for the right of the Bengali people to struggle for their equal rights as citizens and was among those who condemned army action as a solution to political struggle - his poetry of the time expresses his anguish at the events unfolding in Pakistan,” she said.
Khurshid Tanveer, a Karachi-based senior journalist, a witness to 1971 events, told Anadolu Agency that the "tragedy" could have been avoided if the "will of the people" had prevailed.
"Hundreds of thousands of innocent people from both sides were killed, who otherwise had nothing to do with politics or army action," said Tanveer, then a 19-year-old college student, who had taken part in famous students' movement against the then military ruler, Gen. Ayub Khan in 1960s.
"Both nations must accept the responsibility for the loss of so many innocent lives," Tanveer said even urging Islamabad to offer a "formal apology" to Dhaka for the 1971 events.
Others like human rights activist Asma Jahangir, whose father Malik Ghulam Jilani was the president of Bangladesh's ruling Awami League for Punjab province at that time, and Hasil Bizenjo, the son of Baloch politician Ghous Bux Bizenjo, also received honors from Bangladesh government to acknowledge the contribution of their parents.