Hasina was recently upset over the manner Islamabad yet again treated her father at a recent meeting. This week when Pakistani High Commissioner to Dhaka met Hasina he presented a gift – a vase with a somewhat unflattering portrait of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on it.
It is understood that following the meeting the Prime Minister expressed to her staff her displeasure about the fact that the Pakistanis have deliberately avoided mention of Sheikh Mujib, which she felt was a deliberate attempt of Pakistan to remove Bangabandhu’s role in the history of Bangladesh, ET has reliably gathered. Pakistan’s role in the run up to the 1971 war and later in assassination of Bangabandhu in 1975 remains a painful chapter in the history of Bangladesh.
This is unlike India which has made several special gestures this year to celebrate birth centenary of Bangabandhu. India has extended unstinted support to the Hasina government since she returned to power in 2008. From connectivity projects to defence related Line of Credit at concessional rates unlike China to liberalisation of visa to investments India has rolled out red carpet for Hasina. The proposed Chinese investments can push Dhaka towards indebtedness.
She on her part has taken special measures to stamp out anti India insurgent groups from Bangladesh territory. The Indian PM will be special guest at Dhaka on March 26, 2021 when Bangladesh celebrates 50 years of independence.
Hasina and Modi are expected to hold a virtual summit on December 17 launching joint celebrations for 50 years of Bangladesh Independence besides concluding key projects, ET has reliably learnt.
Pakistan’s High Commissioner (HC) in Dhaka, Imran Ahmed Siddiqui, called upon Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on December 3. This was the Pak HC’s first call on the Bangladesh Prime Minister following his appointment to the post at the start of this year.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reminded the Pak HC that the pain of the Liberation War in 1971 and atrocities against the Bengali people could “never be forgiven or forgotten” and that “the pain will be there forever”.
She urged the Pakistani side to learn from that history, including by reading the memoirs of her father, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib, as well as published accounts of the erstwhile East Pakistan police intelligence on Mujib’s political activities.
The Pak HC is reported to have said that his PM had advised him to help Pakistan learn from the ‘miraculous development’ of Bangladesh.
The message to Pakistan was consistent, in terms of the focus on 1971, sources from Dhaka told ET, adding it is not new for any envoys to have a first courtesy call.
The remarks by Hasina are significant as Bangladesh celebrates 50 years of independence in 2021 and is currently celebrating Mujib’s birth centenary.
Bangladesh-Pakistan ties have been lukewarm under the Sheikh Hasina government. In 2018 Pakistan High Commission officials in Dhaka came under scanner for hobnobbing with opposition BNP. The ISI-Pak Army have made attempts to revive their plans to support NE insurgent groups. The infamous Pak spy agency was active in Bangladesh when BNP-Jamaat was in power and actively funded NE insurgent groups during that period. LeT was also reportedly active in Bangladesh with support of ISI.
Secularism has been one of the important features of the Constitution of Bangladesh after it was restored by the country’s Supreme Court. The provision was introduced by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman but later removed by pro-Pak leader Ziaur Rehman. In one of his speeches Mujib had said, “There are Hindus, Muslims, Bengalis, non-Bengalis in this Bengal. They are our brothers. It is our responsibility to protect them so that we are not discredited.”