Modi takes dig at Pak, honours 1971 war soldiers

Modi takes dig at Pak, honours 1971 war soldiers

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday took a dig at Pakistan for exporting terror to the rest  of South Asia, saying the policy makers of the neighbouring country prefer terrorism over humanity.

Modi was with Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the Manekshaw Centre in New Delhi to pay homage to the 1,661 Indian Army and paramilitary soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the 1971 war with Pakistan.

The war had led to the birth of Bangladesh, which was earlier a part of Pakistan and was known as East Pakistan. Hasina recalled the role played by India, led by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi, in helping her father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who spearheaded the mass movement in East Pakistan, in the liberation war against Pakistan and in the creation of Bangladesh.

Tribute to Mujibur Rahman

Modi, too, paid tribute to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, but did not mention Indira Gandhi’s role in the struggle for Bangladesh. “Every Indian takes pride in the knowledge that Indian soldiers and the brave Mukti Joddhas (of Bangladesh) fought together to liberate Bangladesh from a reign of terror,” said Modi.

The prime minister said the government’s mantra of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’ was not just restricted to India, but also to its neighbours. The development of India is incomplete without the progress of the rest of South Asia, he said.

“There is a thought in South Asia opposed to the approach of India and Bangladesh to promote development; this thought nurtures and promotes terrorism,” Modi said, taking a jibe at Pakistan.

Both prime ministers also honoured the family members of the Indian Army and paramilitary soldiers who laid down their lives in the 1971 war.

“The Indian army never shied away from its duty and set an example by following the conventions of war. Over 90,000 prisoners of war were released safely after the 1971 war. This humane gesture shown by India is one of the biggest events of the century,” Modi said.

He also referred to the atrocities committed by the Pakistan army on the people of East Pakistan during the liberation war of Bangladesh. “The purpose of this genocide was not just the killing the innocent people, but also to uproot the idea of Bangladesh,” he said.

Hasina thanked India on behalf of the people and government of Bangladesh for providing shelter to a large number of refugees during the 1971 war.

Earlier, after his meeting with Hasina, Modi had complimented the Bangladesh prime minister saying, “We have the greatest admiration for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s firm resolve in dealing with terrorism. Her government’s ‘zero-tolerance’ policy towards terrorism is an inspiration for all of us. We agreed that peace, security and development for our people and for the region will remain central to our engagement.”

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