More than three decades after Pakistani occupation troops carried out genocide during Bangladesh Liberation War, President Pervez Musharraf on Monday regretted the 'excesses' and called for burying the past.
Musharraf, the first Pakistani army ruler to visit Bangladesh since the independence of this country in 1971, chose ironically to record his expression of regret while paying homage at a memorial, about 50 km from Dhaka, for those who laid down their lives for Bangladesh's liberation.
"Your brothers and sisters in Pakistan share the pains of the events of 1971. The excesses committed during the unfortunate period are regrettable," Musharraf wrote in the official visitors' book after laying a wreath at the National Martyrs Memorial at Savar.
"Let us bury the past in the spirit of magnanimity. Let not the light of the future be dimmed. Let us move forward together," Musharraf said, adding that 'courage to compromise is greater than to confront'.
An estimated three million people were killed and nearly 300,000 women raped by the Pakistani Army and their local henchmen, comprising mainly fundamentalist groups, during the nine-month liberation war of Bangladesh.
The Pakistani president, according to official BSS news agency, also spoke of the sincere greetings and good wishes he carried from the people of Pakistan for 'their Bangladeshi brothers and sisters'.
"We wish this land and its people peace, progress and prosperity," he said and expressed confidence that with 'our joint resolve, the friendship between Pakistan and Bangladesh will flourish'.
Earlier Musharraf on his arrival in Dhaka was given a red carpet welcome and a 21-gun salute. He was received at the airport by Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia and acting
President Jamiruddin Sircar.
Begum Zia's assassinated husband and Bangladesh's former military ruler Zia-ur Rahman had himself fought against the Pakistani troops during the liberation war.
A number of Bangladeshi political parties, particularly the leftist groups, have opposed Musharraf's visit and the student front of main opposition Awami League, headed by former premier Sheikh Hasina, called a country-wide strike on Tuesday protesting the Pakistani military ruler's tour.
Awami League cancelled a proposed meeting with Musharraf protesting his usurping a democratically elected government.
Two years ago, Musharraf had called off a scheduled meeting with Hasina, the then prime minister, on the sidelines of the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the United Nations in New York after she had made a veiled attack on him in a speech at the world body for overthrowing an elected government.
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