Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in a meeting with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has asked Islamabad for an apology for the wrongs of the 1971 war. Much time has elapsed but since the Bangalis still vividly remember the brutal episode, the painful memory of the injustices are still fresh.It is natural for them to be looking for a balm to heal the scars of war and atrocities. But where Islamabad also fully understands their pain, and as the Foreign Minister Khar explained to Ms Hasina that the government has from time to time been expressing remorse over the tragedy, this means that we are profoundly sorry. Hence a small aspect of diplomatic niceties should not be allowed to mean that an apology has not been tendered and that no remorse is felt. She has now requested the PM to bury the past and look forward to a new era of ties, words that are gentle enough to be well received within Dhaka particularly if their underlying spirit is to be understood. There is no arguing that the 1971 war was a result of many developments that had its roots in the long drawn persecution of the Bangali people over a span of years. It would be an exaggeration to say that there was a certain single event or a conspiracy hatched by anyone from the Western part meant to specifically target the people. But ultimately when years of resentment made its presence felt, it led to events that assumed their own trajectory; there was untold chaos at whose receiving end were the hapless Banaglis. The sense of bitterness kept rising where our own short-sighted leaders subscribing to farcical strategic notions that the ‘defence of the East lay in the West’ and kept using the resources on the western wing at great detriment to the popular feeling in East Pakistan. Things further deteriorated with the Indians jumping into the fray. The Pakistan army was called in as a last resort and the rest, as they say, is history.All conscientious Pakistanis feel a great deal of regret over what happened, that under no circumstances should have happened and can never be condoned. The bond of friendship and brotherhood still exists between the two countries evident in warm reception invariably accorded to tourists and general visitors. This needs to be strengthened. As Islamabad has already made its position clear that it also feels the pain of the Bangali people, it is definitely time to look forward to a new era of friendship.