on the 50th year of Bangladesh's Independence FM says Pakistan should have acknowledged past mistakes
‘Pakistan failed to show remorse’
On his country’s 50th Independence anniversary, Momen said that Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had written to PM Hasina Thursday but did not express any remorse for events leading up to the Bangladeshi liberation.
“Pakistan would be smart if they expressed their sadness, if they gave an apology to the people of Bangladesh,” Momen said.
“Yesterday, Prime Minister of Pakistan (Imran Khan) sent a message for [Bangladesh’s] golden jubilee. I was expecting him to say he felt bad about the past. Unfortunately, that was missing.”
Bangladesh declared independence on 26 March, 1971, a day after the Pakistan Army allegedly killed several unarmed civilians. It triggered a liberation war that allegedly killed nearly three million people.
On 16 December 1971, the Pakistan Army surrendered to Bangladeshi freedom fighters and Indian soldiers, marking the formation of what was then East Pakistan as the new nation of Bangladesh.
In the interview, Momen said that while he hopes Pakistan will punish war criminals responsible for the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman one day, the country must look forward.
Mujibur Rahman, a leading figure of the Bangladesh freedom movement, was assassinated four years after the liberation, in 1975. Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina is his daughter.
India, Bangladesh exemplary neighbours
The foreign minister also mentioned that Bangladesh and India are an example of how neighbouring countries could resolve all difficult issues, such as those concerning land boundaries and river water-sharing, “without shooting a single bullet”.
New Delhi and Dhaka signed a boundary agreement on 6 June 2015, facilitating a land swap between the two countries to address issues stemming from an undemarcated land boundary. In 2015, Modi had committed to setting up a river water sharing mechanism between the two countries, especially to address the contentious Teesta River issue, however this is yet to be resolved.
Momen also mentioned that the two prime ministers will unveil the Haldibari–Chilahati cross-border rail link as well as other projects during Modi’s visit.
‘Islamic fundamentalism is over’
Asked about Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh such as the 2016 Holey Artisan cafe terror attack, Momen said, “This happened a few years ago. This is over. Since then, there has not been this sort of terrorism.”
In 2019, seven Islamists were sentenced to death for the attack on the cafe in Dhaka, which killed 22 people, most of whom were foreigners.
Momen, however, said that there is still “venom and hatred” in the South Asian region. “You should look at our next door neighbour, Myanmar,” he said, citing the example of the displaced Rohingyas who have fled Myanmar to take refuge in Bangladesh in recent years.