By receiving a $7.5 million fund from the Pakistani Intelligence Service to carry out an electoral campaign in 1991, siding with Jamaat-e-Islami, a party formed by a band of convicted war criminals, bringing in the echoes of Pakistan as regards the war crimes trial and casting slur on the supreme sacrifice of valiant war heroes of 1971 with false information, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), under the helm of Begum Khaleda Zia, could not hideits long endured nexus with Pakistan government while the public conception on the alliance has become a common knowledge in Bangladesh.
Now that the HPM Sheikh Hasina led Awami League government has initiated the trials of several war criminals of 1971, and brought a number of them to justice, responding to the long standing call from freedom fighters, war crimes researchers, martyrs' family members, war crimes prosecutors and different pro-liberation organizations, this unholy alliance of BNP-Jamaat and Pakistanhas built up a malicious campaign across the globe to shore up support to bring BNP back in power so that all their war criminal associates can evade justice, disregarding the sentiments and aspirations of the families of 30 million martyred souls.
Just centering the last verdict, as upheld by the Supreme Court, against the notorious war criminal and Jamaat leader Motiur Rahman Nizami, the government of Pakistan lodged a protest with the Bangladesh counterpart, which has caused a wave of fury and rage in the minds of every freedom loving citizen of Bangladesh. By the same token, Pakistan Prime Minister’s Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz pushed an attempt to misguide the Commonwealth to argue the situation of Bangladesh in favour of BNP chief, which faced an outright rejection from the member states.
BNP has never outright denied the involvement of their Jamaat allies in war crimes of 1971,as they know very well the evidence against them. They have however, chosen to remain conspicuously silent after each and every verdict against war criminals, demonstrating their love for these historical criminals and putting a slap on the collective spirit of our nationalism.
This article will show how all actors of this triangular alliance---war criminals, BNP and the government of Pakistan— have replicated one another in their attempts to push back Bangladesh's efforts to address historical wrongs and how the people of Bangladesh did not play in their hands.
BNP’s Support For War Criminals
Since the beginning of the war crimes trial in 2009, all the fire bands of BNP including the party chief Khaleda Zia resorted to an all-out, but failed, campaign by offering public condemnations against the trial as such, demanding release of the war criminals and terming the trial a “mockery of justice”. Their ultimate goal was to make a public revulsion towards the trial. Even the party announced violent agitations including calling for a nationwide hartal to press home for their demand. As their lies, distortion and deception drew an outright public rejection and sparked a wave of protest around the country, the party has taken a step back from defending the war criminals in the public.
However, the party continued to lend its support for the war criminals by refraining from either speaking in favour of the trial, or severing its ties with Jamaat and incorporating the public demand of trial in their electoral promise. Following are some statements as issued by BNP in defence of the war criminals:
On April 2, 2010, the statement offered by BNP says: “The government has stepped away from the trials of war criminals and now they are holding the trials for crimes against humanity, deviating from the election manifesto.”
On October 5, 2010, the BNP chairperson called the trial “a conspiracy to throw the nation into chaos in the name of war crimes trial four decades after the general amnesty to the collaborators.” This was a wilfull deception on part of Khaleda as the general amnesty announced by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was never meant to pardon violent criminals who took part in murder, looting, rape, arson etc but for collaborators who did not engage in such crimes.
In December, 2010, at a press conference, a BNP standing committee member called on the international community “to put pressure on the government to fulfill the commitments Bangladesh had made through signing international covenants on crimes against humanity.” It also concluded: “The BNP has no confidence in this tribunal. It believes that in the existing legal structure, the tribunal is nothing but a servile, rubber-stamp organization.”
On September 27, 2011: At a rally organized by the BNP-led four-party alliance, the BNP chief said “A mockery of trial” is going on in the name of trying war criminals. The international crimes tribunal formed by the government is nothing but a partisan body, and it has no acceptance both at home and abroad, therefore all the arrestees including Nizami, Sayeede and other Convicted Jamaat top brass should be released.”
On November 19, 2015: As regards the supreme court verdict on notorious war criminal from BNP SalauddinQuader Chowdhury, a BNP spokesperson at a press conference asserted that “We are stunned and disappointed, he (SQ Chy) fell victim of persecution due to his political identity. A person should be tried on the basis of his crimes, not political consideration”.
December 21, 2015: The BNP chief, in a public address said, “There are controversies over how many were martyred in the Liberation War. There are also many books and documents on the controversies.”
Pakistan’s Support For War Criminals
While issuance of official protest have become commonplace from the part of that government, the Jamaat-e-Islami of Pakistan and other political parties, including the ruling party Pakistan Muslim League went hell bent on defending their allies of 1971. Jamaat-e-Islam of Pakistan has carried out countrywide programmes protesting the execution of Abdul Quader Mollah, in their words a leader of their Bangladesh branch who supported Pakistan during 1971, and called him a 'martyr.' Ministers, MPs and political leaders have also condemned the execution because the war criminals have, in their words, been executed for supporting the unity of Pakistan in 1971. Centering the execution of Mollah, the Pakistan Parliament went a step further by expressing grief in this regard. This is quite habitual. Right after the execution of the Al-Badr death designer Nizami, Pakistan shed its tears for the mass criminal in their highest levels of state and government.
Following is a set of statements issued by the Pakistan government:
Nizami Verdict: A day after Supreme Court dismissed Motiur Rahman Nizami’s review plea against death penalty, Pakistan Foreign Office expressed concern, terming the trials “controversial” “We have noted with deep concern and anguish the dismissal of the review application on the death sentence by the Supreme Court of Bangladesh for Nizami, the leader of Jamaat-e-Islami,”
Execution of Kamaruzzaman (April 11, 2015): “We have taken note of the execution of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami leader Mr. Muhammad Kamaruzzaman. As stated earlier, we have also noted the comments by the international community on the ongoing trials in Bangladesh. We are carefully monitoring the situation with regard to internal developments in that country.”
On the execution of BNP leader, Salauddin Quadir Chowdhury and Mr Ali Ahsan Mojaheed: “We have noted with deep concern and anguish the unfortunate executions of the Bangladesh National Party Leader, Mr. Salauddin Quadir Chowdhury and Mr Ali Ahsan Mojaheed. Pakistan is deeply disturbed at this development. As emphasized earlier, we have also been noting the reaction of the international community on the flawed trials in Bangladesh related to events of 1971.”
Nizami's Review Dismissal: “We have noted with deep concern and anguish the dismissal of the review application on the death sentence, by the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, for Mr. Motiur Rahman Niazami the leader of Jamaat-e-Islami. We have also been following the reaction of the international community and human rights organizations to the controversial trials in Bangladesh, related to events of 1971.”
Pakistan’s Support For BNP
As all their efforts, i.e. lodging condemnations, issuing protest with the Bangladesh counterpart, using the fear of violence anddemonising the trial process,yielded no gain, a new tactic has been waged by the government of that country; this time to shore up support for the beleaguered BNP chief Khaleda Zia at international forums on the pretext of questioning the Awami League government in Bangladesh. According to media reports, the government of Pakistan has encountered a strong rebuttal at the last meeting when their representative attempted to mislead the commonwealth body about the state of life in Bangladesh and to draw statement in favour of widely rejected Khaleda Zia.
It should be noted that, as evidenced by media report, the former ISI chief AsadDurrani has admitted providing BNP chief with $7.5 million during the 1991 parliamentary elections. Whenever BNP has been in state power (1991-96) and later during 2001-06, reports have surfaced the ISI has been active in Bangladesh to destabilize the country's northeast by patronizing and providing logistic support, including funds, to the insurgent groups operating from Bangladesh.
Political language, as George Orwell observed in 1946, is "designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind". Seven decades later, consider the way in which the one most progressive and popular regime led by HPM Sheikh Hasina is depicted by BNP, allied by one of the world’s notorious extremist parties, Jamaat.
While the entire nation in Bangladesh have sworn its allegiance to the trial, the BNP-Jamaat alliance and their foreign allies like Pakistan tried to hinder and halt the trial till the last minute. BNP has always been trying to protect and promote Jamaat since Zia's regime. It is a shameful fact that the two marked war criminal Jamaat leaders, Nizami and Mojaheed, were appointed as ministers in Khaleda Zia's last cabinet.