15 August 1975 – the day Bangladesh went back to Pakistani fold
August 15th, 2020 at 12:01 am
15 August 1975 – the day Bangladesh went back to Pakistani fold

by Nadeem Qadir ;

The 15 August 1975 coup, which was based on lies against the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and patronised by slain General Ziaur Rahman with his Pakistani “father” late General AAK Niazi, opened the doors to Islamabad for wiping out our glory of 1971 Independence War.

The evidence of a pro-Pakistani regime after the assassination of Bangabandhu was evident by Dhaka getting closer to Islamabad and distancing from India by harping on anti-India sentiments among the people.

The mood in both civil and military bureaucracy changed and treated Freedom Fighters and families of the martyrs’ as a burden of the state. It was only symbolic honour on specific national events.

One of the greatest lies spread against Bangabandhu by Zia was that the country’s founder did not want a strong armed forces and wanted India to handle Bangladesh’s security issues!

In fact, Bangabandhu started to build strong armed forces from day one and had said that one day Bengali soldiers would be strong enough to defend the country from any adversary.

“I love you as the Father of the Nation (but) maybe I could not do as much as I would have wanted to in three years …I had always wanted to do something for the armed forces,” he said in a speech at the passing out of cadet officers of the first batch of Bangladesh Military Academy (BMA).

After the 15 August 1975 coup the Bengali nation became rudderless and found in the grip of Pakistani influence. 

In and out of jail, Bangabandhu never stopped fighting for the Bengalis and their land called “Bangladesh.” I put Bangladesh in quotation marks as that was the name he thought well before the 1971 elections which gave him a landslide to claim the office of Pakistan’s prime minister.

Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as Prime Minister of Bangladesh inspect the exit parade of the Indian Army stationed in Bangladesh on March 12, 1972- Photo courtesy Bangladesh government

Bangabandhu had made friends overseas to sound them out as to why Bengalis needed to be free from the chains of Punjabis ruling Pakistan and also planned a military option, if needed.

The emergence of General Ziaur Rahman, under suspicion since the war of having Pakistani connection, became a reality when Bangladesh taken back to Islamabad’s fold and India made the top foe. He also made friends with China as its ties with India were strained and recognised Bangladesh only after the killing of Bangabandhu.

It has been proved that Zia had a hand in Bangabandhu’s killing as the 1975 coup leaders Col. Faruq Rahman and Col. Abdur Rashid told the world what happened days before the putsch. They said that Zia instead of reporting the conspiracy to the intelligence told these wayward officers to go ahead with the plans.

Thus he never respected Bngabandhu by calling him the Father of the Nation or his two daughters. He never spoke of Bangabandhu and tried to take his place, which was only a fool’s wish.

One proof came from no other than retired army colonel Oli Ahmed who is a stout supporter of Zia and then his widow, Khaleda Zia.

One news agency reported sometime back that Oli Ahmed “showered the Pakistan occupation forces with praises for ‘maintaining their culture and standards during the war.’”

“Pakistani soldiers did many things, but they did not abandon their culture, standards. They showed Ms. (Khaleda) Zia respect. But she is not getting that much respect from the people of her own country,” he was quoted as saying by bdnews24.com.

Bangladesh politics, liberation
Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman delivered his inspirational speech on March 7, 1971 ahead of Bangladesh’s liberation war against Pakistan

Oli Ahmed gave information that would make our understanding of the Zia-Pakistan friendship further clear. He said “the then governor general of erstwhile East Pakistan Lt. General AAK Niazi always considered the wives of his subordinate officers like Khaleda … as his daughters.”

“I want to tell the people that Mr. Niazi was here. He was the first commanding officer of (slain) president Ziaur Rahman. First commander is like a father. So, the other officers of a battalion are like his (commander’s) sons and the officers’ wives are like his daughters,” he said.

The retired officer was decorated for his valour during the war and now heads the minor Liberal Democratic Party which is a strong backer of the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

Zia rewarded the coup leaders by posting them abroad in Bangladesh missions and killed freedom fighter officers in the army by hatching conspiracies. They were replaced by repatriated officers from Pakistan as many of whom had strong allegiance to Islamabad.

One army major, sacked by Bangabandhu for collaborating with the Pakistani army and died few years back, celebrated the 15 August 1975 coup and told friends “Now (General) Zia will make Bangladesh a confederation of Pakistan.”

The officer maintained the slain general always maintained close contacts with Islamabad and the confederation plan was to “thwart Indian hegemony and control over Bangladesh given by their agent (Bangabandhu Sheikh) Mujib.” 

Bangabandhu in his 1974 speech to the first batch of army officers, who graduated from the Bangladesh Military Academy, said that he set up the academy to have quality soldiers to protect the country’s independence and sovereignty. “The academy will be further modernised as one of the best in the world.”

Bangabandhu said, “I wanted to set up a military academy in Bangladesh during Pakistan days, but could not – I feel proud now as the BMA has been set up.”

He got tanks, fighter aircraft and other weapons from friendly countries mostly as “gifts” which were the first step towards building strong and professional armed forces. Many were sent abroad for training including his son Sheikh Jamal. 

After coups and counter coups as well as in-fighting, the armed forces started to get a breath of fresh air with total professionalism under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who also holds the defence portfolio.

In recent days, a lot of being written and said about China’s friendship with Bangladesh and Pakistan’s efforts to strengthen ties with Dhaka. India’s Telegraph newspaper cautioned New Delhi that China was possibly playing the middle-man role. Other reports said pro-Pakistani elements were active in Bangladesh’s corridors of power, which is an unwelcome news.

Bangladesh celebration
Bangladesh flag

The strength of the Freedom Fighters and families of the martyrs of the 1971 war is Bangabandhu’s worthy daughter Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as they know whatever it may be she will not abandon them in favour of Pakistan unless it “apologises” for the genocide it carried out in 1971. She has never sought to build ties with Islamabad, rather slammed it on different occasion.

She knows who is Bangladesh friend and foe. How can we shake hands as we do with others as Pakistan carried out genocide and then it had in the murder of Bangabandhu.

On this Mourning Day we must reaffirm not to allow Pakistani elements to have any influence on the state. May Bangabandhu and others who were slain on this day in 1975 rest in peace.

Nadeem Qadir is a senior Bangladeshi journalist, writer and a Dag Hammarskjöld fellow— photo newsnextbd.com