1971 ‘war crimes’: Bangladesh seeks apology from Pakistan

Published: November 10, 2012
Foreign Minister Khar speaks to Bangladesh Premier Haseena Wajid at her residence  Ganobhaban. PHOTO COURTESY: PID DHAKA

Foreign Minister Khar speaks to Bangladesh Premier Haseena Wajid at her residence Ganobhaban. PHOTO COURTESY: PID DHAKA


Bangladesh’s foreign minister on Friday asked his Pakistani counterpart to apologise for “war crimes” committed by the army during the 1971 war, a ministry official said.

Dipu Moni made the request during a meeting in Dhaka with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar following previous discussions about the issue between the two countries, said Bangladesh’s Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes.

“The foreign minister has raised the 1971 issue and expects that Pakistan would apologise at one stage,” Quayes told reporters after the meeting.

“There are some unresolved issues between the two governments and he expects that Pakistan would come forward to resolve them,” Quayes said.

Khar was on a six-hour visit to Bangladesh to formally invite Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to a summit scheduled to be held in Islamabad on November 22.

“The Pakistani foreign minister said that they have regretted in different forms in the past and that it was time to move forward,” Quayes said.

Bangladesh, formerly called East Pakistan, was created in December 1971 following a bloody war. The war began after tens of thousands of people were killed in Dhaka when then-West Pakistan launched Operation Searchlight against separatists who were aided by Indian troops.

The current government says up to three million people were killed in the war, many murdered by locals collaborating with Pakistani forces. It has set up special tribunals to try the collaborators for war crimes.

Musharraf already apologised: official

The long-standing demand by Bangladesh to Pakistan for an apology over the excesses committed by the army against the then citizens of East Pakistan has no justification as Islamabad has already tendered an apology, a senior official in the ministry of foreign affairs told The Express Tribune, requesting anonymity.

Former president Gen Pervez Musharraf during his visit to Dhaka had already tendered the apology in July 2002, the official said.

Musharaf had expressed his regrets twice during his stay in the Bangladesh capital which was welcomed by the then prime minister Khalida Zia. However, the opposition, particularly the Awami League party, did not consider it sufficient and maintained that Musharraf should have specifically asked for apology. The opposition said that Musharraf expressed his regrets in vague terms.

The opposition demanded that Pakistan should specifically ask for an unconditional apology over the excesses committed by its army against the people of Bangladesh during the 1971 independence war. Islamabad claims that the apology tendered by Musharraf should suffice as it was accepted by the then government in Dhaka.

Gen Musharraf visited a war memorial at Savar, near capital Dhaka and left a handwritten note in the visitors’ booth. “Your brothers and sisters in Pakistan share the pain of the events in 1971,” Musharraf wrote. “The excesses committed during the unfortunate period are regretted. Let us bury the past in the spirit of magnanimity. Let not the light of the future be dimmed”. Later he repeated his regrets at an official banquet in Dhaka.


Published in The Express Tribune, November 10th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (48)

  • Nawazish Ali
    Nov 10, 2012 - 3:12AM

    If there has already been an apology given then please move forward.


  • Nov 10, 2012 - 5:33AM

    From BD With Love.

    Foreign Minister Bangladesh Demands Apology From Pakistan.

    TV channels are reporting that Bangladeshi Foreign minister has said that relations with Pakistan can’t be made normal, till Pakistan apologised for killings of 1971 military action, in the then East Pakistan.

    Now, I must say that this BD government of Hasina Wajid, which is a known lackey of India, must first apologise to Pakistan, for
    the massive genocide of Pakistan loving Muslim population in the then East Pakistan, after which the Pak Army had to intervene in 1971, to stop the worst kind of genocide, perpetuated by the then veritable arm of the Indian army, namely MUKTI BAHINI.

    Pakistan must tell in loud and clear words to the Indian footmen, in the current BD government, that the Pak Army acted absolutely legally, under all the international laws and conventions, in the then East Pakistan, to save the lives of the countrymen from the attacking MB mercenaries and safeguarding the geographical boundaries of an independent country, which was duly recognised by the entire world.

    Furthermore, the current BD government leaders should also be tried for the genocide of all those muslim refugees (declared by the UN as the most persecuted minority on earth), migrating from Myanmar, to avoid being massacred, were refused entry as per international laws, were all killed subsequently, either by drowning in the river while being turned back by the BD authorities or by Myanmar killer gangs. In this regard, a U.S. senators delegation also severely reprimanded the BD government for not allowing to seek refuge in BD, the fleeing Muslims from Myanmar. Shame on Indian bootlicking Hasina Wajid and her cronies.

    It will not be out of place to mention that majority of the BD population is peace loving; and they love their Pakistani brethren like blood relations.


  • Khurshid Alam
    Nov 10, 2012 - 5:39AM

    This is 41 years ago. The Banglas should get over this. Bangalis committed many atrocities you do no see Pakistani demanding appologies. Recommend

  • Pan Mat
    Nov 10, 2012 - 6:26AM

    There is a section of Pakistani media that will label Dipu Moni as RAW agent. Something like this, Dipu is a Hindu name and Moni’s are Hindus that converted to Islam so their allegiance has always been border line. This is a RAW-CIA-MOSSAD conspiracy to de-fang Pakistan of its nukes.

    At some stage this theme starts becoming more tragic than comical ;-)


  • Tausif
    Nov 10, 2012 - 6:49AM

    How can we the Bangladeshi people move forward if we can’t look back in the past??? Philosophically speaking, out present is the sum of our past! Regretting is not the same as rendering official apology. I think Pakistani military officials is of the view that if the apology is tendered officially then it may pave the way for the trials of those military officials, like that of Nazi war criminals, who were involved in the so-called “excesses” that Mr. Musharraf had written in the visitors’ book. The excesses had been committed no doubt, if anyone has any, then look at the situation of Balochistan! Present day Balochistan is nothing but a reflection of Bangladesh in 1971!!!


  • Tausif
    Nov 10, 2012 - 7:18AM

    @Syed Nayyar Uddin Ahmad:
    “the massive genocide of Pakistan loving Muslim population in the then East Pakistan, after which the Pak Army had to intervene in 1971, to stop the worst kind of genocide, perpetuated by the then veritable arm of the Indian army, namely MUKTI BAHINI.”
    If this is the case then why Mr. Musharraf had written in the war memorial visitors book that, “The excesses committed during the unfortunate period are regretted” ?????Recommend

  • Muhammad Faheem Khan
    Nov 10, 2012 - 7:47AM

    First apologize to 1 million slaughtered biharis by mukti bahini, infact you miss hasina should personally apologize for your father’s treason against Pakistan remember Agartala conspiracy?


  • Moosa Khan
    Nov 10, 2012 - 8:15AM

    They should apologize for conspiracy, treachery, working with India, breaking up the country, killing of numerous own people, etc. The list goes on..


  • idiot bangali
    Nov 10, 2012 - 8:16AM

    no apology for backstabbers


  • Polpot
    Nov 10, 2012 - 8:21AM

    Recently Gen Kayani referred to several past mistakes.
    Military action of 1971 in the then East Pakistan was the worst.

    And in true tradition, not a single soldier or general was ever prosecuted.

    Never too late to apologise.


  • Polpot
    Nov 10, 2012 - 8:24AM

    So was the Nov 22 Summit Invitation accepted by Bangladesh?
    ET’s talent in incomplete reporting is colossal!


  • Javed
    Nov 10, 2012 - 8:26AM

    What Musharraf said is not an apology. He just expressed regret, and has not even acknowledged that atrocities committed by Pakistani security forces. The Bangladeshi people demand a formal apology from the President of Pakistan.Recommend

  • 1984
    Nov 10, 2012 - 8:41AM

    to stop the worst kind of genocide, perpetuated by the then veritable arm of the Indian army, namely MUKTI BAHINI.”

    Your 90,000 brothers should be happy with the fact that Indian forces helped their skins from the wrath of the Mukthi Bahini forces and arranged a safe route to travel them back to Pakistan alive,without serving the sentence of perpetrating the worst genocide after holocaust that the ambassdor of your then-ally US sent a telegram to ask their govt to stop this massacre



  • mr. righty rightist
    Nov 10, 2012 - 8:51AM

    I don’t understand the apology business.

    You murder 3 million people and in return give an apology?!!!

    If you murder 3 million people you should hang all those responsible for these murders and rapes. Not issue an apology.

    Bangladesh should demand justice and not apology.


  • Thinker
    Nov 10, 2012 - 9:26AM

    highest number of illegal migrants coming to Pakistani are Bangalis.Govt shoult expel them back to Bangladesh.


  • Tausif
    Nov 10, 2012 - 9:29AM

    What did you mean by 90,000 brothers???


  • Shams Khan
    Nov 10, 2012 - 9:42AM

    Apology is due by both sides they are equally responsible for killing.


  • Nov 10, 2012 - 9:55AM

    @mr. righty rightist: Yes! You are one hundred percent RIGHT. This ‘regret’ and ‘apology’ business is farcical and supercilious. It does not remove the pain, suffering, and humiliation suffered by an individual.
    The citizens of Bangladesh can get together and form an association demanding UN recognition, reparation, and reimbursement of damages. This will put a dampener on all military and civilian extra judicial issues settled by the gun. Salams


  • sajida
    Nov 10, 2012 - 10:16AM

    i think we need to forget the bad memories and instead look forward towards a brighter tomorrow,otherwise there will just be more and more hatred and destruction .Apologies,will lead nowhere because if there has to be any ,than both the countries and those who were affected in both countries should be apologised to.The radical elements in Bangladesh need to come out of their apology syndrome and the ever exuberant PCB needs to cool down a bit in its invitations to BCB.Let them be,cricket will thrive in Pakistan no matter who comes or not.


  • Jamil Akhter Bihari
    Nov 10, 2012 - 10:21AM

    Musharraf or General Kiyani were not there , my ancestors were , who fought for Pakistan out there in 1971 .
    The apology business has to be a two way process or naught .


  • true picture
    Nov 10, 2012 - 10:43AM

    FM of Bangladesh, Dipu Moni, talk about your war crimes committed by the Mukti Bahini’s against the Bihari Muslims, Bengali Muslims & Muslims from west Pakistan. Secondly, your government has denied Rohingia Muslims to migrate into your country who are suffering from persecution in Myanmar. Lastly, please give citizenship to Bihari Muslims who are still stranded in the camps to this date! so miss Dipu, first you need to rectify your actions & your government needs to apologies to all of us, its not we who have to apologies its your PM who needs to apologies for her action & her father’s actions. Peace out.


  • Introspection
    Nov 10, 2012 - 12:30PM

    “A much-commented-on, but poorly documented conflict – with faceless statistics…and Bengali Nationalism!” Yes Injustices were committed, but, SARMILA BOSE, a must-read for all Pakistanis to get a FAIR and OBJECTIVE picture of what really happened…! THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO THE SAME COIN-ALWAYS!!!

    [Sarmila Bose is a Senior Research Fellow in the Politics of South Asia at the University of Oxford. She was a journalist in India for many years. She earned her degrees at Bryn Mawr College (History) and Harvard University (MPA and PhD in Political Economy and Government.)]


  • nomi
    Nov 10, 2012 - 12:47PM

    Syed Nayyar Uddin Ahmad

    East Pakistanis were generally treated with contempt by the self proclaimed martial races of Pakistan.

    West Pakistanis started the military operation when power should have gone to Bengalis. Same attitude with the Baloch and Sindhis.

    You are least qualified to even ask for apologies.


  • farooq
    Nov 10, 2012 - 1:11PM

    the problem is with haseena she is just not ready to move on.


  • Tausif
    Nov 10, 2012 - 1:13PM

    @true picture:
    You are wrong when you said that the Bangladeshi government has to grant citizenship to the Biharis. The Biharis or stranded Pakistanis (as they are known here) have already been granted the citizenship by the Supreme Court of Bangladesh. But a large number of the Biharis have refused to take the Bangladeshi citizenship and kept on insisting going to Pakistan. So, the ball is in their court not my government’s one! I think an apology is a very small thing compared to killing 3 million unarmed people!!!


  • Virkaul
    Nov 10, 2012 - 1:16PM

    @Nawazish Ali: You seek apology or give it with contempt? Rassi jal gayi bal nahi gaya.


  • Virkaul
    Nov 10, 2012 - 1:29PM

    Has Pakistan offered to take back Bihari Muslims who supposedly fought Mukti Bahini? Has Pak offered asylum to Rohingyas? Let us not talk without a basis just for publicity.Recommend

  • Nitish
    Nov 10, 2012 - 1:53PM

    @Tausif: I think his(1984) comment was in reply to the syed nayyar uddin ahmed.


  • Dajjal
    Nov 10, 2012 - 1:53PM

    No special treatment should be given to anyway, if Bangladesh wants an apology from Pakistan they should do what all the other countries and local provinces are doing… Just Shut Up, Get in Line and wait for their turn…


  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Nov 10, 2012 - 2:47PM

    Both should say sorry sorry and move forward. Scratching old wounds which both inflicted on each other should not become stumbling stone in the way of improving bilateral relationship, after all both are majority Muslim countries.


  • Hamid Hassan Khan
    Nov 10, 2012 - 2:48PM

    Why apology... and what for...? world knows that Indian Army, Raw and Mukti Bahni played main role to divide the Pakistan... and thousands of pakistanee soldiers and civilians sacrificed their lives and got Shahadat for the cause of Quid e Azam's Pakistan. During 14 days Indo-Pak war from 3rd Dec,1971 to 17th Dec,1971, Bangali Peoples supported Indian Army as they were already motivated by some politicians for Great Bangla Dash with the help of India.... I request every Pakistani to go through the Neutral History....

    Hamid Hassan Khan


  • Tausif
    Nov 10, 2012 - 3:48PM

    @Jamil Akhter Bihari:
    You are wrong! Mr. Prevez Musharraf was stationed in Chittagong, Bangladesh during the 1971 war. This is what he has admitted in his book In The Line of Fire!!!Recommend

  • true picture
    Nov 10, 2012 - 4:01PM

    The Bangladeshi government has failed to provide help to its neighboring Rohingia Muslims just like the way they ignored the Bihari Muslims & not to forget their persecution led by Mukti Bhaini who were backed by the Indian government, so do some soul searching. PM Hasina has a long history of anti Pakistan sentiment but she should move on now, no point in crying out forever :) Khalida Zia & the other half of Bangladeshi’s think otherwise, they give us respect & they get our respect. time to move on my Indian friends & the Mukti Bhaini supporters :) Pakistan Zindabad.


  • Muntasir
    Nov 10, 2012 - 4:08PM

    In UK I meet so many Pakistanis who always complain about exploitation by the British empire.
    They get money from the UK government fot not working but they say this money compensation for British exploitation. Recommend

  • Virkaul
    Nov 10, 2012 - 4:09PM

    @Khurshid Alam:
    Have Indians and Pakistanis got over 1947?


  • Another Pakistani
    Nov 10, 2012 - 5:25PM

    Thank Indian soldiers for what? India backstabbed us while we were dealing with our INTERNAL insurgency issue violating all international laws. Don’t mix it with Kashmir, East Pakistan was a not a UNSC declared disputed territory.
    P.S. Our 93,000 soldiers with 3 months of ammunition laid down arms, they could have fought for another 12 months and the saga would have continued resulting in loss of thousands of lives on both ends.

    As far as the wrath of Mukti Bahni is concerned, it only fell upon the innocient West Pakistan loyalists living in the country. Otherwise Operation Searchlight of March 25 was enough to show Mukti Bahni where they belong.


  • Kashif
    Nov 10, 2012 - 6:03PM

    In Islam its clear “NO ONE is responsible for others sins” son will not be caught for his father sins…if BD wants apology then ask to those who did crime, do not ask to the innocents for apology.
    It is a game from enemies of PAK n BANG. not to make forward to both countries so they keep fighting on this issue and both countries will suffer…


  • G. Din
    Nov 10, 2012 - 6:11PM

    “They get money from the UK government fot not working but they say this money compensation for British exploitation.”
    In a CBS “60 Minutes” segment, a Pakistani in UK was asked if he felt it was fair for him to accept social welfare monies paid for by British taxpayers without even trying to find work. His reply:”Yes, because we are Mehman-e-Mallika (guests of the Queen)”.


  • BabbarsherKhan
    Nov 10, 2012 - 7:07PM

    What apology, this business of apology is against our culture and we can not go against it, period! If you want couple of missiles or suicide bombers, then let’s know!


  • raj
    Nov 10, 2012 - 9:54PM

    pakistan should apologise to india for sending terrorists to conduct 26/11…..so many innocents lost their life……..pakistan continues to be shameless and denies its role even after handing so much of evidence……………


  • Usman
    Nov 10, 2012 - 11:01PM


    The same terrorists that your government hasn’t even after so many years been capable to provide any solid proof? Every day they come up with ways where they can prove but are never successful? I think its you guys that should be ashamed for having all the world’s help at your disposal yet you cant excel at making up things. Kasab’s confessions dont count. I can imagine what your interrogation must have done to him to force him into “confession”. Tool.


  • Reidi
    Nov 10, 2012 - 11:03PM

    If they are asking for an apology, it has already been submitted. If they are showing the same adamant attitude of the separatist Mujib, we expect it, after all she is her daughter. But we expect a little bit of maturity from Ms. Haseena as a prime Minister of a country to respect the actions of her predecessors. The then Prime Minister Khalida Zia accepted the apology. Madam, we owe you an apology for your father’s treason with his country and for following the foot-steps of Mir Jafar.


  • Nov 11, 2012 - 4:17AM

    It was only pride, prejudice and superiority complex of western Pakistan that Bangladesh was ever created. Pakistan should make an official apology and respect Bengalis who at least stand as a nation.


  • Udaya Bose
    Nov 11, 2012 - 12:06PM

    Well said.


  • Nov 12, 2012 - 5:36AM

    There are so many issues with both countries but Bangladesh should forget the past and move. they are killing their own people but they don’t see that.


  • Tausif
    Nov 12, 2012 - 5:07PM

    How come Bangladesh is killing its own people???Recommend

  • Tahmilur Rahman
    Nov 14, 2012 - 8:58PM

    Reading the comments above, I just can’t but write something about you people who are talking to “forget everything. Lets move forward.” But we are sorry, we can’t. You comments are saying maximum of you are communal in mind and deviated from proper lesson of Islam. If you say you love Isalm, then please show me at which part of Holy Quran allows killing, rape? Just think, somebody is raping your mother or sister in front of you, killing your father, brother. Can you forgive him? You can’t. All of your logic will be dismissed. so whatever, you apologize or not we will not forgive you.

    However, Allah is punishing you people, no peace at Pakistan, Dron attack, suicide attack, government, military, judicial, ISI and general people have no harmony. Talibans are there. Malalas are in attack, Oh I’m tired of writing these things ! How many I will write! It’s totally failure country. You have no sovereignty today (Laden).

    Just wait, the day is not far, we’ve already brought the collaborators of 1971 at trial, after finishing it we will make case at ICJ accusing Pakistan for the war crime in 1971. Pary to Allah that your father may not be accused for that.


  • Nadia
    Nov 15, 2012 - 5:48AM

    some are asking for apology from the bengalis, the victims of the genocide. you people really live in a different universe.


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