LAHORE – Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajid has conferred “Foreign Friends of Bangladesh Award” on five selected Pakistanis at a ceremony in Dhaka.
The recipients of awards from Pakistan are mainly those whose fathers had opposed Army action in then East Pakistan.
Those who are given away gold-plated silver metallic plaques, bearing replica of the National Memorial of Bangladesh and a citation on silk cloth, include Saleema Hashmi, the daughter of renowned poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz; Asma Jahangir, the daughter of Malik Ghulam Jilani; Hamid Mir, the son of Prof Waris Mir; Hasil Bux Bizenjo, the son of Ghaus Bux Bizenjo and the daughter of Habib Jalib. The award of late Faiz Ahmed Faiz was received by Saleema Hashmi who received the “Bangladesh Liberation War Honour Award” at a ceremony held in Dhaka on March 24. At the ceremony Saleema Hashmi said: “The Pakistan government should formally apologize to the people of Bangladesh for the atrocities committed by Pakistan occupation army during the War of Independence in 1971.”
Virtually within days of her statements in Bangladesh, she was selected as a Minister in the interim Punjab government by Najam Sethi, who himself figured prominently in the Baloch insurgency of the seventies.
However, independent analysts observe with concern the lack of attention and condemnation given to crimes committed by India backed militants (Mukti Bahini).
Insiders say that the Indian RSS elements resorted to bickering as they felt they had been ignored in the awards ceremony, claiming that they had arranged training camps for Bengali militants, provided arms, and financial support to fight against their own legitimate government but finally the awards went to others.
Leading anchorperson and columnist Hamid Mir had went to Dhaka to receive the award of his father Prof Waris Mir, who stood for freedom of speech and enjoyed respect in literary circles and in the media.
While all Pakistanis agree that the Awami League having a clear majority in the national assembly should have been given a chance to form the government and Professor Mir was one of them; but one does not know whether, if Professor Waris Mir were alive, would he have gone to Bangladesh to receive such an award.