Bangladesh ex­e­cutes JI chief

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIALS & COMMENTS - Mo­ham­mad Jamil Email: mjamil1938@hot­

HEAD of the banned Ja­maate-Is­lam Motiur Rah­man Nizami was ex­e­cuted early on Wed­nes­day for so-called war crimes com­mit­ted dur­ing the 1971 war of ‘in­de­pen­dence’, af­ter the Supreme Court rejected his fi­nal plea against a death sen­tence im­posed by a spe­cial tri­bunal. Phil Robertson, deputy di­rec­tor of Hu­man Rights Watch’s Asia di­vi­sion, said: “Nizami’s trial was nei­ther free nor fair, as the tri­bunal cut cor­ners on fair-trial stan­dards.” He is the fifth se­nior of­fi­cial from op­po­si­tion par­ties to have been ex­e­cuted since 2013 for al­leged war crimes dur­ing the 1971 war. Five op­po­si­tion politi­cians, in­clud­ing four Ja­maat-iIs­lami lead­ers, have been ex­e­cuted since late 2013 af­ter be­ing con­victed by the tri­bunal. Clashes erupted af­ter the hang­ing of Motiur Rah­man, and po­lice used rub­ber bul­lets, and ar­rested scores of JI work­ers. Pre­vi­ous sim­i­lar judg­ments and ex­e­cu­tions had trig­gered vi­o­lence that killed around 200 peo­ple, mainly Ja­maat ac­tivists and po­lice.

A spe­cial tri­bunal in Bangladesh had sen­tenced Motiur Rah­man Nizami, the head of the coun­try’s Ja­maat-i-Is­lami party, who was tried on 16 charges in­clud­ing geno­cide, mur­der, tor­ture, rape and de­struc­tion of prop­erty. Sheikh Hasina con­tin­ues with the pol­icy of ha­tred and re­venge against her op­po­nents. Even be­fore elec­tions in 2013, more than 500 peo­ple were killed in po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence. For­mer ruler mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor Hus­sein Muham­mad Er­shad, who leads the coun­try’s third largest party Jatiyo Party, a key ally of the Awami League grand al­liance, had also boy­cotted the elec­tion. He was “de­tained” as part of the gov­ern­ment’s ef­forts to force him to par­tic­i­pate in the Jan­uary 5 polls, but he re­mained firm in his de­ci­sion of elec­tion boy­cott. Jama’at-i-Is­lami was al­ready out of the field, as it was banned and not al­lowed to par­tic­i­pate in the elec­tions on the grounds that its re­li­gious char­ac­ter breaches Bangladesh’s sec­u­lar con­sti­tu­tion.

There is a per­cep­tion that ex­e­cu­tion of Molla Ab­dul Quader of Jama’at-i-Is­lami was done to ex­ploit the anti-Pak­istan feel­ing among cer­tain seg­ments of the coun­try. If she con­tin­ues to push JI against the wall, its lead­ers and ac­tivists may go un­der­ground and cre­ate prob­lems for the regime. Bangladesh has been prop­a­gat­ing that Pak­istani sol­diers, aided by lo­cal col­lab­o­ra­tors, killed 3 mil­lion peo­ple, raped 200,000 women and forced about 10 mil­lion peo­ple to take shel­ter in refugee camps across the bor­der in neigh­bor­ing In­dia dur­ing the nine-month war. In­de­pen­dent ob­servers, Hamood-urRehman Com­mis­sion and many re­searchers have de­scribed these fig­ures as grossly ex­ag­ger­ated. One could not un­der­stand as to why Hasina Wa­jed de­cided to in­voke the pol­i­tics of ha­tred and vengeance when it had been agreed be­tween her fa­ther Sh. Mu­jib-ur-Rehman and Z A Bhutto that no­body would be tried for the acts that took place dur­ing civil war, or what Awami Lea­guers call war of lib­er­a­tion.

UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Ban Ki­moon, hu­man rights or­gan­i­sa­tions, and US Sec­re­tary of State John Kerry and other for­eign no­ta­bles’ had asked Sheikh Hasina to stop ex­e­cu­tions of JI lead­ers. As she had failed to per­form well dur­ing its term of gov­er­nance, she had tried to win elec­tions on the ba­sis of hate-vote and vin­dic­tive pol­i­tics. How­ever, there is strong po­lar­i­sa­tion in Bangladesh, and an­tiIn­dian sen­ti­ments have surged due to var­i­ous rea­sons. With the tur­moil and an­ar­chy, In­dia stands to gain, as Sheikh Hasina would largely de­pend on In­dia’s sup­port to re­main in power. The fact is now ad­mit­ted by the writ­ers and in­tel­lec­tu­als through­out the world that Pak­istan was dis­mem­bered through an in­ter­na­tional in­trigue, In­dia hav­ing played an egre­gious role by cre­at­ing Mukti Bahini force that stirred chaos and an­ar­chy. And when civil war erupted, In­dia in­vaded for­mer East Pak­istan.

Over the years, peo­ple of Pak­istan and Bangladesh have for­got­ten bit­ter­ness of the past and wish to move for­ward to play their role for peace and pros­per­ity in the re­gion. Pak­istan and its peo­ple have been con­grat­u­lat­ing Bangladesh on its in­de­pen­dence day, and wished it all the very best. But Sheikh Hasina al­ways tried to roil the re­la­tions be­tween Pak­istan and Bangladesh some time by ex­ag­ger­at­ing the fig­ures of those killed in civil war and at other by be­stow­ing awards on those peo­ple who sup­ported Awami League six points and the sep­a­ratist move­ment. She cre­ated so-called In­ter­na­tional Crimes Tri­bunal, which is be­ing crit­i­cised for negat­ing in­ter­na­tional obli­ga­tions and in­ter­na­tional agree­ments in­clud­ing the In­ter­na­tional Covenant on Civil and Po­lit­i­cal Rights. She does not re­al­ize that dur­ing the civil war, law en­forc­ing agen­cies through­out the world and the gov­ern­ments take ac­tion against those chal­leng­ing the writ of the state.

When civil war erupted and hos­tile In­dia had in­ter­vened in for­mer East Pak­istan, it was in­deed the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the then Pak­istani gov­ern­ment to act. Ac­cord­ing to the Bangladesh gov­ern­ment, about three mil­lion peo­ple were killed and thou­sands of women were raped dur­ing the 1971 war. But ma­jor­ity of writ­ers and his­to­ri­ans re­ject the claims of Awami League and In­dia that three mil­lion Ben­galis were killed in 1971. Sarmila Bose, a noted British aca­demic and se­nior re­search as­so­ciate at the Cen­tre for In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies at Ox­ford Univer­sity, wrote a book ti­tled ‘Dead Reck­on­ing: Mem­o­ries of 1971 Bangladesh War’ pub­lished in 2011. She at­tempted to quan­tify the deaths in the Civil War by in­ter­view­ing the par­tic­i­pants on both sides. She had met re­tired Pak­istani of­fi­cers in the west, sur­vivors of rel­a­tives who were killed as well as mem­bers of the non-Ben­gali and non-Mus­lim mi­nori­ties.

She had laid bare the na­ture and scale of atroc­i­ties com­mit­ted by the ‘na­tion­al­ists’, which had been edited out of the dom­i­nant nar­ra­tive. The au­thor reck­oned the deaths were 100000 in­clud­ing ca­su­al­ties of nonBen­galis killed by Mukti Bahini. Au­thors, Richard Sis­son and Leo Rose in their book pub­lished in 1990 ti­tled ‘War of se­ces­sion: Pak­istan, In­dia and cre­ation of Bangladesh’ gave an ac­count of the events that took place from 1970 to 1971 in for­mer East Pak­istan. The au­thors wrote that “In­dia had planned in­ter­fer­ence in the in­ter­nal af­fairs of Pak­istan, and in­vaded the then East Pak­istan when three mil­lion Ben­galis mostly Hin­dus fled to West Ben­gal, As­sam and Tripura.” Hav­ing that said, Mukti Bahini and In­dian agents had let loose the reign of ter­ror, and killed many in­no­cent peo­ple. Since In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi is at the helm, Sheikh Hasina has been in­stru­men­tal in fu­el­ing hate cam­paign against Pak­istan. — The writer is a se­nior jour­nal­ist based in Lahore.

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