Bangladesh probes crimes in 1971 war

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    Bangladesh probes crimes in 1971 war
    Published: July 10, 2009, 23:04

    Dhaka: Bangladesh said it will investigate alleged war criminals from the 1971 war with Pakistan that killed three million people and led to the creation of the country.

    Prime Minister Shaikh Hasina Wajed's cabinet on June 6 approved a bill setting up a tribunal to try former paramilitary fighters who helped Pakistani soldiers during the nine-month conflict, Nazrul Islam, a government spokesman, said in a telephone interview from the capital, Dhaka. The government said it won't prosecute any Pakistani nationals.

    "This is going to create some problems with Pakistan," Bhaskar Roy, an analyst with the New Delhi-based South Asia Analysis Group, said in a telephone interview. "It will give Pakistan a bad name as what they have put under the carpet is going to come out."

    Pakistan, divided on its creation in 1947 by 2,001 kilometres of Indian territory between West Pakistan and East Pakistan, sent troops to quell a nationalist uprising in 1971 in the east. India's declaration of war in December that year in support of nationalists led to Pakistan's surrender and the founding of Bangladesh, now a country of 150 million people.

    Pakistan raised local paramilitary forces to fight the nationalists, called Mukti Bahini, who were armed and supported by India.

    Paramilitaries committed rape, murder, looting and arson and must be brought to justice, retired Lieutenant General Harun Rashid, secretary-general of the Bangladesh Sector Commanders Forum, an independent group of officers who fought during the war, said in a telephone interview from Dhaka.

    At least 195 former paramilitary fighters who helped Pakistani soldiers are living in Bangladesh, the forum said.

    The probe "is going to throw up a lot of muck about the 1971 massacre", Roy said. "Lots of faces will get bloodied, including the pro-Pakistan Bangladesh Jamaat-i-Islami party."

    Gulfnews: Bangladesh probes crimes in 1971 war with Pakistan

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