Winning and losing are parts of all games. The World Cup Cricket 2019 is going on. A few days ago India lost a match to New Zealand in the semi finals. Many Bangladeshi people trolled India on social networks after this match. Sports should not be mixed up with politics. It is not at all acceptable if someone makes fun of India.
Being amicable on social media is one of the most vital things. India is one of the most trusted allies to Bangladesh.India is our development partner too. I wrote an article titled "Perils of social media" which appeared in The Asian Age on 6 February 2019. This article sounds quite relevant when we write or talk about the abuse of social networks.
India broadly cooperated with Bangladesh during the Liberation War of 1971. Twenty million Bangladeshi refugees were sheltered by India at that time. A lot of Indian soldiers got killed while fighting for Bangladesh's independence during 1971.
Pakistan army surrendered to General Jagjit Singh Aurora, who was commander of allied force, in Dhaka on 16 December 1971 which is how Bangladesh became independent. India is Bangladesh's most reliable friend. We should always value our affiliation with India which stands on tested and proven grounds.
When Bangladesh was an underdog team a few decades earlier, at that time foreign coaches did not want to train up Bangladesh. During that crucial time Indian coach Mohinder Amarnath trained up Bangladesh cricket team for a few years. We should remain ever grateful to India for this cooperation.
The sentiment of opposing India is very close to a communal outlook. It sounds ominous and alarming. People who dislike India have profound support for Pakistan.
These people who harbor an anti-Indian attitude are against secular principles. Disliking India is a part of welcoming religious fundamentalism.
It is an undeniable fact that the mythological aspects and rituals of Hindu theology have broadly enriched our cultural resources. Across South Asia the influence of Hindu religion on longstanding traditions and social practices is immense and comprehensive.
For this reason the cultural arena of Bengali-speaking people is inseparably bonded with the rituals of people believing in Hinduism. There are signs and symbols of Hindu philosophy and religious practices in almost all forms of Bengali creed which the people of our country have accepted gladly since time immemorial.
At the same time Hindu monarchs played significant roles for driving forward the civilization of our country and adjacent nations which is still studied and evaluated by scholars all over the world including the western states. We can make references to towering Hindu kings like Chandragupta, Dharma Paul, Harsh Vardhan who ruled the Indian subcontinent for many years and under whose reign this region became highly affluent and strong.
To judge from a geopolitical point of view, the leaning towards China is also responsible for the growth of anti-Indian mindset among some Bangladeshi people in the present time. History shows that China opposed the independence of Bangladesh while the glorious Liberation War of 1971 was going on. China has always been the closest ally to Pakistan. Thus getting closer to China ideologically contradicts with the essence of 1971.
China even did not recognize Bangladesh while Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was alive. China acknowledged Bangladesh after Bangabandhu was assassinated.
It may be recalled that an offensive remark by Imran Khan in June 2017 about Bangladesh cricket team triggered much hue and cry on social networks. It reminds us of an incident of 1980.
Pakistan cricket team visited Bangladesh on a short tour for playing two friendly cricket matches in Dhaka and Chittagong in 1980. It was Pakistan cricket team's first visit to Bangladesh after Bangladesh's independence. That Pakistan team's captain was Asif Iqbal. Imran Khan was in that squad too.
As the airplane carrying Pakistan cricket team landed at the Dhaka airport, a lot of young girls thronged that place to catch a glimpse of Imran Khan. It was a sensational thing for them to see Imran Khan who was at that time a heart throb for youngsters, particularly for girls. Imran Khan waved his hands at his female fans. Girls were thrilled to see Imran Khan and to hear his greetings.
To look back on history, Pakistan army killed three million people of Bangladesh during the Liberation War of 1971 and raped a great deal of Bangladeshi women at that time. Those gruesome memories still haunt the elderly citizens and historians of our country who witnessed the war.
Those girls who gathered at Dhaka airport during Pakistan team's tour in 1980 to see Imran Khan did not for a single moment recall the vices Pakistan army committed against the people of Bangladesh during 1971. However, some newspapers of Bangladesh got hold of this point and some spirited Bangladeshi youths vehemently condemned the Pakistanis.
Some media agencies interviewed some of the Pakistani cricketers too. Pakistani cricket players like their ancestors, undermined Bangladesh, Bangladesh's history and Bangladeshi people in their interviews. Perhaps they could not imagine what would happen consequently.
On 2nd January 1980 some Bangladeshi youths entered the Pakistan dressing room. They gave a sound beating to the Pakistani cricketers for their audacious remarks about Bangladesh. Some players got seriously injured. That tour was abandoned immediately following this incident.
After that occurrence, Bangladesh had a very cold relationship with Pakistan for several years. Pakistan cricket board or players did not apologize for the offensive comments they had made about Bangladesh like the Pakistan government did not apologize for the atrocities and genocide their army committed during 1971.
Why did Imran Khan deny the carnage of 1971? Imran Khan was in Dhaka during March 1971. He visited Dhaka during that time as a special guest. He left Dhaka on 25th March night for Pakistan. He left Dhaka with Yahya Khan who was the mastermind of genocide on Bangladeshi people during 1971.
Imran Khan's uncle General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi stayed back in Dhaka under whose command the massacres all over Bangladesh including the murders of intellectuals were conducted.
Imran Khan is the nephew of General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi who committed the most heinous war crimes by killing millions of civilians in Bangladesh during the Liberation War of 1971. For this reason, Imran Khan does not hesitate to condemn Bangladesh in his remarks.
Imran Khan also opposed the war crimes tribunal of Bangladesh. He also criticized Bangladesh government for executing infamous war criminals who killed innocent Bangladeshis during 1971. He also sent a letter to Bangladesh government to excuse war criminals.
It shows Imran Khan harbors an intense anti-Bangladesh spirit. It must be remembered that the blood of General Niazi runs in the veins of Imran Khan. That's why he cannot forget Pakistan's disgraceful defeat to Bangladesh during 1971. So, it's quite natural that Imran Khan would make offensive comments about Bangladesh cricket.
Bangladesh and India possess a lot of commonalities in culture, heritage, traditions and social customs and these similarities have been prevailing for thousands of years.
Utilizing this friendship with Indian government and the Indian people would be the most powerful instrument for Bangladesh to overcome all challenges. Boosting Bangladesh's coherence with India on all grounds is the most convenient way for Bangladesh to hold its head high regionally as well as globally.
The writer is a diplomat, entrepreneur, author, Chairman of Editorial Board of The Asian Age and a CIP
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