Pakistan asks Bangladesh to pursue forward-looking approach

WEB DESK: Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry on Friday called for a forward-looking approach in relationship between Pakistan and Bangladesh, saying that bilateral relations between the two countries should not be kept hostage to a single issue of the ongoing executions for the events of 1971 on which the country has expressed serious concerns.

According to a Foreign Office statement, the Foreign Secretary was talking to a 10-member Bangladeshi media delegation, currently visiting Pakistan, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“It is time for the two countries to pursue a forward looking approach in the spirit of “forget and forgive” as enunciated in the 1974 Agreement,” Chaudhry said, adding bilateral relations should not be kept hostage to a single issue as it is much broader in terms of trade, culture and people to people contact, and should, therefore, be expanded.

According to the statement, the Foreign Secretary shared with the delegation the deep concern and anguish over the execution of several opposition leaders in Bangladesh convicted for alleged crimes committed before December, 1971.

He further said that ever since the trials began, several international organisations, human rights groups and international legal figures have raised objections on the court proceedings, especially regarding their fairness and transparency, as well as reported harassment of lawyers and witnesses representing the accused.

Under the 1974 Tripartite Agreement, which remains a fundamental reference for the relations between the two countries post-16th December 1971, the government of Bangladesh had “decided not to proceed with the trials as an act of clemency,” he emphasised.

Chaudhry pointed out that the people of Pakistan and Bangladesh are bound by the ties of shared history, faith and culture. There was a need to improve relations, particularly people-to-people exchanges, student scholarships and sporting contacts, he added.

The media delegation’s visit has been arranged by the Government of Pakistan under the Special Assistance Programme for South Asia.

Pakistan has been raising concerns on the ongoing flawed trials of the Jamaat-e-Islami leaders in Bangladesh as according to Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria, the “flawed” trials pertain to the events before December 1971 and these gentlemen are being implicated for upholding the laws of Pakistan. – Business Recorder