Though the Government of Bangladesh and the ruling Awami League (AL) have faced considerable flak from neighbouring Pakistan, human rights groups and opposition Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) leaders and activists for going ahead with the decision to execute JeI Amir and former cabinet minister Matiur Rahman Nizami, there is no doubt in the minds of the majority that his ties withPakistan were deep-rooted in both nature and fact.Nizami was sent to the gallows by the International Crimes Tribunal of Bangladesh on May 10 this year on charges of committing various war crimes during the nine-month-long 1971 Liberation War that eventually led to the bifurcation of Pakistan and the creation of the new nation of Bangladesh towards the east. That war for independence from Pakistan left around three million people dead and hundreds of thousands of women raped, and several hundred deprived of their properties and homes.Nizami was sentenced to death on the basis of the courtdelivering four death sentences, five life terms and eight acquittals in the 17 war crime-related charges brought against him, and most of these charges or acts that he was accused of appear to have had the backing of Pakistan and its stamp of authority.
If we have a look at a fact sheet on the late JeI leader, we come across several instances where it is clear as daylight where his loyalties lay. Every aspect of his persona, development and emergence as a fundamentalist leader had a link to Pakistan.Nizami’s party Jamaat-e-lslami actively opposed the Liberation War and Bangladesh’s secession from Pakistan and collaborated with the invading forces of the Pakistani Army by forming militias.He was inspired by the political preaching of Sayyid Abul A’la Maududi, who founded Jamaat-e-lslami Hind at Lahore in 1942, and joined its student wing, the Islami Chhatra Sangha (ICS) (1966-69) and was its president between 1969 and 1971.In 1971, he took the extraordinary step of converting the ICS into the Pakistan Army’s infamous auxiliary force Al-Badr and was widely known to have spearheaded the execution of the intellectual elite in East Pakistan, ranging from doctors, journalists, teachers, writers, composers and many more, just days before the December 16, 1971 victory and the creation of the new nation of Bangladesh was declared.Both Nizami and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, the General Secretary of Jel, were dubbed as ‘Angels of Death’ for leading the much dreaded Al-Badr activists into universities and college hostels with ‘kill lists’ figuring intellectuals and professors committed to the cause of secular Bengali identity and murder them.
It was genocidal rampage to cleanse the Bengali nation-in-the-making. Some of the best brains who formed the spine of secular nationalism that undermined Pakistan’s race-based founding principles were eliminated.According to the charges brought against him, Nizami conspired with the Pakistan Army, planned and incited crimes; was complicit in murders, rapes, looting and destruction of property; ordering the murders of young freedom fighters and instrumental in the formation and running of the Razakar and Peace Committee forces to help Pakistan’s generals.H e was widely regarded as a stooge of the Pakistan establishment and this gained credibility with Islamabad repeatedly marshalling its resources to obstruct trial of all war criminals, including Nizami, since the process began in 2009.A case in point is the press release of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan expressing concern on the May 5, 2016 dismissal of the review petition against Nizami by the Bangladesh Supreme Court against the death sentence which paved way for his hanging.Pakistan was even accused by Bangladesh of interference in its internal matters, and its reaction to Bangladesh violating the 1974 Tripartite Agreement (not to proceed with the trials as an act of clemency) was described as “misleading, limited and partial interpretation of the underlying premise.”
Bangladesh maintained that the essential spirit of the agreement was to create an environment of good neighbourliness and peaceful co-existence.Pakistan’s repeated statements on the issue and the Punjab Assembly condemning the execution and terming Nizami as martyr is enough to acknowledge Islamabad’s direct involvement and complicity in the genocide of 1971.The Jel is known to have had and still does have long standing deep-rooted ties with Pakistan and the ISI, and these links were maintained through the likes of people like Nizami.Pakistan has become increasingly desperate to gain foothold in Bangladesh through the ISI, as it sees the 1971 defeat and the loss of territory as a loss of face.The Jel and its Amir Nizami were anti-liberation, non-secular, islamist, anti-India and pro-Pakistan in both deed and creed, and disliked the idea of Bangladesh having close ties with India. Through persons like Nizami, the ISI had been trying to create a joint Islamic front to counter the pro-liberation and pro-India Awami League-led government in Bangladesh.
Five top Jamaat leaders have already been punished for their 1971 crimes and three other top leaders are being tried in two war crimes tribunals. In November 2015 Jel Secretary General AN Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid was hanged along with BNP leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury for war crimes. Their execution followed that of the Jel’s Assistant Secretary General Muhammad Kamaruzzaman who was executed on 11 April 2015. Another former Jel leader, Abdul Kader Mullah was hanged in December 2013 after also being found guilty of war crimes. Motiur Rahman Nizami was executed on May 10 this year. A sixth JeI leader– Mir Quasem Ali – is also on death row.Bangladesh has maintained that the verdicts handed down were independent, sound, fair, impartial, open and transparent, and without any political interference