29 March 2021:: Brussels::
Referring to the general elections of 1970 in the then Pakistan and the Pakistan military, internationally renowned scholar from Pakistan, now living in the United States, Mr. Husain Haqqani, who served as Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United States from 2008 to 2011, said, “The military’s reaction in the form of imprisoning Sheikh Mujib and initiating Genocide against the Bengalis …”. Ambassador Haqqani also said, “To this day, no apology has been forthcoming and I think the people of Pakistan should urge the government of Pakistan to offer a formal apology to the people of Bangladesh for all the atrocities that were committed in 1971 … an apology is the most courteous thing …”. He made these remarks in a virtual talk on ‘‘Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman: An Iconic Leader of People’s Struggle for Freedom’’ organized by the Embassy of Bangladesh to Belgium and Luxembourg, and Mission to the European Union in Brussels on 29 March 2021.
Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, Dr. A K Abdul Momen, MP, joined the event as Chief Guest while Bangladesh Ambassador in Brussels, Mahbub Hassan Saleh, moderated the event.
Ambassador Husain Haqqani, currently a Senior Fellow and Director for South and Central Asia at Hudson Institute, a top think tank in Washington, D.C., United States, said that Bangabandhu is not only the greatest Bengali of all time, he is one of the greatest leaders emerging out of South Asia and a great leader in the history of the world, and an iconic figure of struggle for freedom that the world has seen throughout the 20th century. He said that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is in the same league of great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela.
Ambassador Haqqani divided the struggle of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s into five distinct phases: 01) struggle of the young Sheikh Mujib against the British colonialism; 02) post-1947 protest against the imposition of Urdu as the only state language of Pakistan and movement to establish Bangla as one of two the state languages and then the electoral victory of ‘Jukto Front’ in 1954; 03) Dissolution of the ‘Jukto Front’ Government and Bangabandhu’s continued struggle for secular and inclusive approach on the part of the state; 04) Imposition of martial law by Pakistani rulers and Army Chief Ayub Khan taking the control in 1958; 05) Genocide committed by Pakistan military from 25 March 1971 and Bangabandhu’s image, ideas and words were inspiring the Bengali people to fight the War of Liberation. He said that Bangabandhu had created the sense of freedom among the Bengali nation during his long struggle for independence and gave all the directives to his people to prepare for a war in his historic speech on 07 March 1971 in Dhaka.
He added that the then East Pakistan was the ‘Golden Goose’ to the Pakistani ruling elites as most of the foreign exchange was earned from the eastern part (Bangladesh). He also said that the feudal Pakistan rulers never considered Bengalis as equals and were not ready to hand over the power to the elected representatives of then East Pakistan after the electoral victory of Bangabandhu’s party, Awami League, in the national elections of 1970.
Ambassador Haqqani said that now Bangladesh is one of the fastest growing countries in the world and the most successful country in South Asia. Today’s prosperous Bangladesh is the contribution of Bangabandhu and his able daughter, the current Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Foreign Minister Momen said it was expected that Pakistan would apologize formally for the Genocide committed by its military in 1971 on the occasion of the Golden Jubilee – the 50th Anniversary of Independence of Bangladesh this year. Though Prime Minister of Pakistan sent a message at the last minute on the occasion but unfortunately, he did not apologize for the Genocide committed by Pakistan military on the unarmed Bengali civilians of Bangladesh in 1971. He highlighted that Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Shiekh Mujibur Rahman was a peace-lover during his entire struggle for freedom and Independence, and even today Bangladesh is promoting the culture of peace in every aspect all around the world under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina including introducing a resolution on “Culture of Peace” every year in the United Nations General Assembly, which is adopted by all the members states.
Dr. Momen expressed his hope that Bangladesh would realize the dream of Father of the Nation – the ‘’Golden Bengal’’, a prosperous, happy and non-communal Bangladesh, a developed Bangladesh by 2041.
Ambassador Saleh said that 2021 is a momentous year in the history of Bangladesh as the country is celebrating the Birth Centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and the Golden Jubilee – the 50th Anniversary of Independence of Bangladesh. He added that the words of Ambassador Haqqani would help the friends in the international community, academics and researchers to understand better the struggle for freedom of Bangabandhu.
The event was organized at a virtual platform (Zoom webinar) following the local Covid-19 local guidelines. The virtual event was live-streamed on the Facebook page of the Embassy. A large number of participants from Europe and different corners of the world joined the virtual event. The event will remain available on the Facebook page of the Embassy (https://www.facebook.com/bangladeshembassybrussels/ ).