Ever since its creation in 1971, the Bangladesh’s relationship with Pakistan has been on a roller coaster. It is cordial and productive whenever political parties other than Awami League is not in power.
But let Awami League come to power, the government in Dhaka would take its cue from New Delhi and adopt an anti-Pakistan posture.
After all but for the active support rendered by India, Sheikh Hasina’s father would not have been Bangladesh’s first president. She owes that debt to India, an undertaking that has acquired added urgency now that one of the Indian volunteers who joined the Mukti Bahini and helped create Bangladesh, Narendra Modi, is in power in New Delhi. Last week, her government observed “Genocide Day” to mark the launch of military operation in 1971 by the Pakistan Army when Bangladesh was part of Pakistan.
She now wants the United Nations to declare March 25 as the “World Genocide Day”. With so much power in her hands, she still sits in India’s shade. On the other hand, Pakistan had been friendly and cooperative. In 2014, it had voted in favour of Speaker of Bangladesh for the post of chairperson of executive committee of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. Bereft of this support the Bangladesh Speaker could not have won that position. And once again Pakistan also helped Bangladesh candidate Abdul Sabour Chaudhry to become president of Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).
But as and when Awami League is in power Bangladesh never responds to all of this positively. Its parliament boycotted all international parliamentary moots hosted by its counterpart in Pakistan during the last two years. So there had to be a limit to this one-sided relationship and that limit was announced by Speaker of the National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq – Pakistan boycotted the IPU session which opened in Dhaka on Saturday.
There was the time when Bangladesh was East Pakistan, not hesitantly, but most willingly. These were the Muslim leaders of colonial Bengal who spearheaded the Pakistan Movement. But Indira Gandhi had to exact revenge on ‘the thousand years of Muslim rule’ in subcontinent. India peddled its influence through its anti-Pakistan proxies and succeeded in creating the client state on its eastern border. But Pakistan government did not take long to accord recognition to what then became Bangladesh.
Reconciliation and cooperative relations between the peoples and countries that were once at war with one another is nothing new in history. Didn’t France and Germany fight two bloody wars, but then became friends. Wasn’t Japan, which now enjoys strategic relationship with the United States, nuked by it in 1945? Unfortunately, Sheikh Hasina has not been able to move out of the anti-Pakistan groove furrowed by New Delhi. The problem in Dhaka seems to be its ultimate ruler whose political strength lies in reliving the past instead of thinking and planning for the future of her people.
If the two, that is Pakistan and Bangladesh, could join hands and help create South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) as counterweight to India’s predominance in the region what is then holding them back from stitching up a cooperative relationship. Pakistan has been dangerously bending backward to please the present government in Dhaka.
Speaker Ayaz Sadiq is then spot on complaining “all such dedicated efforts, unfortunately, fell in vain and Pakistan was time and again targeted and maligned…. It was, therefore, decided, with a heavy heart, not to undertake a visit to Bangladesh at this time.”