Today is Victory Day in Bangladesh. It is a national holiday and a cause for celebration because Bangladesh became independent from Pakistan on this dayEmbed from Getty Images
The gulf of misunderstanding between India and Pakistan is unfathomable on most days. But Bangladesh, which became independent on December 16, and counts Bengali as the native language isn’t so much different from it’s amicable neighbour in this regard because relationships with Pakistan also continue to remain unfavourable, for various reasons. It’s tough to pinpoint the arguments against those ideas in the Indian subcontinent but naturally after losing the independence war, Pakistan does exude a friendly-cordialness in some quarters with Bangladesh. Bangladesh has always been the opposite of that: it’s tough to strike a chord in bilateral relations because major trade relations exist with the United States and the European Union, not Pakistan.
There have been sovereign visits from both sides but Bangladesh never engages with Pakistan as much, so it would be safe to assume that all of that cannot be counted as anything more than Bangladesh exhibiting it has ‘civilized bilateral ties’ with Pakistan. Countless leaders from Pakistan visited Bangladesh, after losing the war of independence in 1971. Relations were very strained with the state, right after independence but over the years, from Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to Pervez Musharraf, Pakistani figures have highlighted that it was a tragedy that many Bangladeshis lost their lives during the war.
It’s still not enough because it does not even take those two leaders to change their colours within an instant – if it’s not disrespectful glee for the former, it’s an ill-informed idea of Bangladesh’s role in the independence war for the latter; Musharraf once stated that he feels India played a pretty significant role in Bangladesh’s struggle for independence from Pakistan but that simply is not true at all because what India had done was simply support Bangladesh in it’s efforts to become independent from Pakistan, when the United Nations could do absolutely nothing more than denounce the human rights violations conducted by Pakistan in Bangladesh during the war.
India had chosen to train Bangladeshi freedom fighters and it was just that because the whole war was fought by Bangladesh and only during the last hours of a very long war did India have the possibility (because of Bangladesh’s freedom fighters’ great liberating work) to conduct an intervention in the state to support Bangladesh’s demand for independence. India’s role in Bangladesh’s Liberation War is not an isolated example of support. It is a well-known fact that there were corners of support in the Democratic Party at the time for Bangladesh’s Liberation War, but recently when John Kerry visited Bangladesh he highlighted that he (along with the state of Massachusetts) had supported Bangladesh’s Liberation War, in favour of Bangladesh winning the war.
Naturally, it’s so tough to comprehend how bilateral relations with Pakistan will ever grow positive there both for India and Bangladesh so it really is better to treat all of this cautiousness as a singular norm; India has many reasons to have difficult relations with Pakistan, as well, and one of the primary ones is the Kashmir dispute it has with Pakistan, which is always proving to be very diplomatically unjust for India.