friends of liberaion war

There are quite a few reasons, other than the one he has come forth with, why the Pakistani journalist Hamid Mir may have decided to hand back to Bangladesh the Friend of Bangladesh Liberation War award conferred posthumously on his father a few years ago. Of course, Mir does not state those reasons, a major one likely being the severe criticism he has been under over his position in Pakistan regarding the role of his country’s army in Bangladesh in 1971. Mir has been politely critical of the army’s action that led to the dismemberment of Pakistan. On several talk shows he has exposed the roles of such men as Lt. General AAK Niazi during the war. And he has been one of those Pakistanis who have publicly called for an apology from Pakistan to Bangladesh over the tragedy of 1971.

In deciding to return his father’s award to Bangladesh, however, Hamid Mir made no mention of these facts. Neither did he refer to the opprobrium he has encountered from many of his countrymen, who have variously referred to him as an enemy of the Pakistan army and indeed of the Pakistan state itself. Perhaps he felt the pressure was growing too much on him around his Bangladesh-related thoughts, given especially that diplomatic relations between Dhaka and Islamabad are today at the lowest ebb since the Bengali victory in 1971. Perhaps the pressure came from those who really matter in Pakistan, individuals and institutions that have looked at him with suspicion over the past many years and that have always harboured ill will toward Bangladesh.

hamid mir

Mir did not mention this pressure factor when the other day he made that rather sudden statement on Geo TV, where he has been for years, on the award issue. But he did link his decision to return the award to Dhaka to a pretty spurious and therefore untenable reason. The explanation comes with holes in it. He had thought, said he, and so had other Pakistanis regarded as friends of Bangladesh when they were invited to Dhaka that Sheikh Hasina intended to improve Bangladesh’s relations with Pakistan by her gesture. Hamid Mir has now stumbled on the discovery that the awards for his father and for the other Pakistanis was a trick — he uses the Urdu term ‘dhoka’ — by the Bangladesh Prime Minister who, he has come to believe, does not want better ties with Pakistan. The reality, for Mir, is that Sheikh Hasina has presided over a deterioration of her country’s relations with Pakistan and is keen on breaking off all links with Islamabad.

And so Hamid Mir feels he should give the award for his late father back to the Bangladesh government. We will not be surprised if some other Pakistanis, similarly honoured by Bangladesh, follow in his footsteps. If and when that happens, we will know more definitively what has been going on in Pakistan around the issue of these awards from Bangladesh. But for us here in Dhaka, it is important to note the fallacy in Hamid Mir’s rationale for repudiating the award. He has chosen not to remember that the Friend of Bangladesh Liberation War awards have nothing to do with the Bangladesh government’s exercise of diplomacy, especially in relation to Pakistan, at present. But they have everything to do with the contributions of those individuals abroad, around the world, who drew attention to the sufferings of the Bengali nation in the face of the genocide being committed in Bangladesh between March and December 1971. Such Pakistanis as Khan Abdul Wali Khan, Air Marshal Asghar Khan, Ahmad Salim, Waris Mir and Malik Ghulam Jilani braved the odds to demand an end to the military action in Bangladesh.

Hamid Mir missed the point, perhaps deliberately. In his condemnation of the Bangladesh Prime Minister, he conveniently stayed clear of making any reference to the fundamental reason why Bangladesh-Pakistan relations have plunged so badly in the last three years or so. That fundamental reason is of course the Pakistan government’s interference in the war crimes trials in Bangladesh. The Pakistan federal cabinet condemned the trials and executions of the ageing collaborators of the Pakistan occupation army. Pakistan’s interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, in patent violation of diplomatic norms, introduced a resolution condemning the trials in the Pakistan national assembly. Once the resolution was adopted, it was not hard to predict the way Bangladesh would react.

Of course, Hamid Mir did not cite these facts in his award-return statement. Neither did he refer to the move by Sartaj Aziz, Pakistan’s foreign affairs adviser, not long ago to influence the Commonwealth at a meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) into condemning the war crimes trials in Dhaka. Aziz did not succeed, but his efforts to humiliate Bangladesh only contributed to a worsening of Dhaka-Islamabad ties. As the good journalist he has always been, Hamid Mir should have made these facts known to his audience. He did not. Or could not.

Postscript: Every 16 December for the last few years, Hamid Mir has been hosting a programme on Geo TV on the anniversary of the Pakistan army’s surrender in Bangladesh in 1971. He refers, as do other Pakistanis, to the anniversary of the surrender as Sakoot-e-Dhaka, or Fall of Dhaka. Civilian and military veterans who had roles to play in the conflict as part of the Pakistani establishment appear on Mir’s programme, where everything except the killings and rape of Bengalis by the army is discussed. And, yes, Hamid Mir remains guilty of referring to the Mukti Bahini a few years ago as a force which introduced cross-border terrorism in the subcontinent. So much for dispassionate historical analysis.

Syed Badrul Ahsanis a columnist.

13 Responses to “What the Pakistani journalist did not say . . .”

  1. Rubo

    Hamid Mir has learnt the hard way. It is impossible to live in Pakistan safe and peacefully by criticizing their mighty army. The award was given to his father, not him, for siding against the brutal Pakistani government. By returning the award he may be changing his stand under pressure but it will in no way change the stand his father took in 1971.

  2. Reaz Shaheed

    Personally, I have never quite warmed up to the fact the such awards were ever handed out a Pakistani individual. To me, a few voices here and there were never enough to raise the awareness among the West Pakistanis about the heinous atrocities their Army was carrying out in the then-East Pakistan under the pretext of saving Pakistan or Islam. Till this day, majority of Pakistanis considers the liberation of Bangladesh as an Indian game plan and refuses to even discuss the decades of economic disparity, social oppression of the people of East Pakistan. The so called “Friends of Bangladesh” in Pakistan failed miserably getting these facts across to their countrymen.

  3. Anwar A. Khan

    Mir Kashem Ali, a dreaded griffin whose acts still send a shiver, was the 6th executed war criminal. When this griffin was about to walk the gallows, this Asma Jahangir sided with him and condemned this execution in her harshest language. We cannot and shall not forget it.

  4. Anwar A. Khan

    Six dreaded war criminals were so far executed because of their flagitious roles for mass murdering, raping, and looting of our unarmed people. Each war criminal, if he was executed 100 times (though not possible) even then his punishment would have been too low because of the order of magnitude of evil acts, he had committed. Pakistan’s authorities did never offer any forgiveness to us for their unspeakable criminal offences to our people. But they are still so horrendous and shameful that they passed resolutions in their national parliament condemning those executions. Not only that, they imperiled to carry out further action against us. The thing is that as one commentator has commented here, as if; Bangladesh has to cede to the devil Pakistani bureaus.

    “He is a very honest and upright journalist. He is a well-wisher of Bangladesh and was proud to accept the award given to his late father” and if that is so, he should not have glorified the worst war criminal Golam Azam as “saint-like” and he can’t say to return the “Foreign Friends of Bangladesh Award” conferred on his father, Waris Mir by the Bangladesh government, terming it as “deception.”

  5. M. Emad

    In March 2016, four ‘unknown’ gunmen on motorcycles opened fire on Hamid Mir near Jinnah International Airport in Karachi. Unconscious Hamid Mir received three bullets to the stomach and legs and taken to a hospital for emergency treatment. Before this attack Mir said openly that if he is attacked, Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), “and its chief Lt General Zaheerul Islam will be responsible”.
    Previously, in March 2014, another noted Pakistani columnist and TV anchor Raza Rumi — critical to the role of 1971 Pakistan Army/ ISI/ Jihadi B-team and their policies-activities — was attacked in Lahore. Rumi escaped with a minor bullet injury but his driver and bodyguard died. Rumi fled Pakistan after this incidence.
    In last one year many (ISI-sponsored) talk shows in Pakistani (and Western Urdu) TV channels and newspaper articles denounced Asma Jahangir and Hamid Mir for receiving the ‘Friend of Bangladesh Liberation War award’ (conferred posthumously on their fathers) from Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina.
    Hamid Mir buckled under strong pressure.

  6. Anwar A. Khan

    Hamid Mir is not a befitting human being like Waris Mir or Khan Abdul Gaffer Khan and the likes of them. His new revelation spells his own delusory as tawdry whatever he averred in the yesteryears. He has now uncloaked his own debilitating cheap and shoddy grapheme. Like all other Pakistani malefactors, except a few, he has also cross-filed his name as a snotty-nosed.

    The author has aright limned why the relations between the two countries have turned combative, Pakistan has since been committing unrighteous acts to our own internal affairs. Not to speak of their 1971 butchery of our people, these creatures of the hell unleashed on our people. An old adage reminds us that Pakistan like the devil state, Hamid Mir like unprincipled people “would not listen to the Scriptures.” He has resorted to misleading falsehood anew like his country’s brutish forerunners.

    Once I read a news item in, I have taken Hamid Mir as a crude uncouth ill-bred person lacking culture or refinement. When you pull back or look back, you may remember that this Hamid Mir boastfully described Jamaat-e-Islami supremo and a gangster of 1971 human tragedy-Golam Azam, as a saint-like or cherubic person. Look at this man’s inward heart.

    We can at once safely say deceit thy name is Hamid Mir. But I venerate Waris Mir.

  7. Shelley Shahabuddin

    I think Hamid Meer is doing it just to stay alive.
    Anyone who knows Pakistan and its Army should be able to see this clearly.

    • A F Mujtahid

      I agree with Shelly Sahabuddin that Hamid Mir is simply trying to to stay alive by deciding to return the ‘Friend of Bangladesh Liberation War award’ given to his father.
      Bangladesh should take it back if he decides to return it.
      Hamid should try raise his voice and demand that the Pakistan Government makes public all the govt. decisions its leadership have taken about East Pakistan/Bangladesh since 14th August 1947 till 16th December 1971.

  8. Kayes Ahmed

    Badrul Bhai:

    What really galls me is this, why does anyone give itty-bitty rat’s arse about what happens in/to Pakistan, its people, and especially its intellectuals! I stopped thinking about them around June of 1971.

    It is a failed state with failing institutions. They really deserve to be back to the 7th century and live in the darkness of, um, Saria!


  9. Abdur Razzaque Khan

    This is nation is a cancer for the whole world. Bangladesh should cut off all sorts of relations with this nation.

  10. Abdu

    I disagree with writer about Hamid Mir. He is a very honest and upright journalist. He is a well-wisher of Bangladesh and was proud to accept the award given to his late father.
    The present government of Bangladesh is following India’s footsteps. They refused to attend SAARC conference as soon as India declined to attend. Now the cricket team is refusing to come. This show clearly that Bangladesh has no interest in increasing bilateral relation and friendship, which Hamid Mir had thought. He now believes the award has given as a political stunt.

  11. Shadier

    Congratulations to Mr. Badrul for a hard hitting expose of Pakistani hypocrisy. Mir is yet another example of the pathetic hypocrites, populating the Land of the Pure. Let us face it, Pakistan is a failed state and they will never accept the creation of Bangladesh and the fact that 93, 000 of their martial soldiers surrendered on the soil of Bangladesh, the largest surrender of a military after World War II.


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