The Bangladesh government has strongly protested a video posted on the Pakistan High Commission’s Facebook page showing former president Ziaur Rahman declaring the independence of Bangladesh, which was later taken down.
Kamrul Ahsan, secretary-bilateral (Europe, Africa & Americas) and consular at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, handed the letter to Pakistan High Commissioner to Bangladesh Rafiuzzaman Siddiqui on Tuesday.
The diplomatic note said the message conveyed in the video that it is not the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman who declared the independence of Bangladesh was a blatant lie and sheer fabrication of historical facts.
“The video also mentions that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman did not want Bangladesh’s independence; he sought autonomy. The Government of Bangladesh strongly rebuts such baseless and unfounded narratives,” the letter further said.
Secretary Kamrul stated that this was an instance of purposeful abuse of social media by the High Commission of Pakistan in Dhaka.
Such breach of diplomatic norms and practices and deliberate propaganda to spread shameless lies shall not only jeopardise bilateral relations, but would render a great disservice to succeeding generations of historians, intelligentsia as well as common people who champion the cause of truth and justice, he added.
Nothing can be farthest from the truth than claiming that the architect of independent Bangladesh Sheikh Mujib did not want the country's independence or that Bangladesh’s independence was declared by anybody other than the great leader himself, the secretary said, warning that any such misadventure from Pakistan or for that matter any quarters in Pakistan would threaten normal ties.
The Pakistan high commissioner was reminded that Bangabandhu’s historic speech delivered on March 7, 1971 in which the statement “The struggle this time is the struggle for our freedom, the struggle this time is the struggle for our independence” bears testimony to his intention for Bangladesh’s independence. He was also reminded that Bangladesh’s long freedom movement culminated in the declaration of independence by Bangabandhu on March 26, 1971 and Pakistan’s subsequent surrender in Dhaka on December 16, 1971.
Bangabandhu’s declaration of independence and his clarion call to take up arms against a brutal military were the milestone events in Bangladesh’s liberation struggle that motivated hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshi freedom fighters to fight to liberate Bangladesh. Even some historians in Pakistan in their works have highlighted Bangabandhu’s singular and monumental role in Bangladesh’s war of liberation, the letter said.
Through the letter, the government informed the Pakistan high commissioner that such utterly undiplomatic practices hurt the sentiments of the Bangladeshi people, particularly the families of the three million martyrs and around half a million women who were subjected to wartime rape.
The Bangladesh government also sought a formal note of apology for the video post on Facebook and called for an immediate withdrawal of the footage from the Facebook page reportedly maintained by the Pakistan High Commission.
Kamrul strongly cautioned the Pakistan high commissioner that repeated breach of diplomatic norms by Pakistan only stand to harm bilateral relations between the two countries.
The high commissioner was asked to adhere to established diplomatic norms; in future, the High Commission of Pakistan in Dhaka as well as the Pakistan authorities should act responsibly and refrain from any such uncalled for and provocative activities against the interest of Bangladesh. The Pakistan envoy was also told to bring the matter to the notice of the authorities concerned in Pakistan.