Row deepens between Pakistan, Bangladesh over execution

WEB DESK: Pakistan and Bangladesh summoned each others ambassadors on Thursday to register “strong protest” in connection with a row over the execution of JI leader in Bangladesh this week, both sides said in statements.

Bangladesh has in the past few years been prosecuting people accused of carrying out crimes during the war, and has executed five of them, the most recent one, Motiur Rehman Nizami, on Wednesday.

Pakistan said Nizami’s hanging was “unfortunate” and attempts by Bangladesh to malign Pakistan were “regrettable,” though it was not clear what Bangladeshi statement Pakistan was referring to.

Bangladesh summoned the Pakistani ambassador in Dhaka to register its “strong protest” over statements by Pakistan. Relations between the two countries have never recovered from the 1971 when Bangladeshi insurgents, backed by India, broke away from what was then West Pakistan.

“The government of Bangladesh deeply regrets that despite Bangladesh’s repeated overtures, the malicious campaign by Pakistan against the trials of the crimes against humanity and genocide in Bangladesh is continuing,” Bangladesh said in a statement.

International human rights groups say the tribunal’s procedures fall short of international standards but Bangladesh rejects that and the trials are supported by many Bangladeshis.

BR staff reporter Ali Hussain adds:

Pakistan on Thursday summoned top Bangladeshi diplomat who was lodged a strong protest over the unfortunate execution of Motiur Rahman Nizami, Jamaat-e-Islmai chief.

“Chargé d’affaires of Bangladesh was called in to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs today by Director General (South Asia & SAARC) and a strong protest was lodged at the unfortunate hanging of Motiur Rahman Nizami on the alleged crimes committed before December 1971 through a flawed judicial process,” Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria told his weekly press briefing.

He said the attempts by the government of Bangladesh to malign Pakistan, despite our keen desire to develop brotherly relations with it, are ‘regrettable’. He stated that the 1974 Tripartite Agreement is the cornerstone of relations between the two countries.

“It needs to be emphasised that, as part of the Agreement, the government of Bangladesh “decided not to proceed with the trials as an act of clemency”, he said, adding Pakistan reiterates its desire for friendly relations with Bangladesh.

However, he said that summoning of the top Bangladeshi diplomat was not a “tit for tat” response to the Bangladeshi government’s move when Pakistani High Commissioner in Dhaka was summoned twice in the last four days.

“This was not a tit for tat response. Rather it is a matter which is of serious concern to Pakistan as well as the international community. Human Rights Organisations have also raised concerns on the flawed trials and the death penalties handed down,” he added.

Pakistan’s High Commissioner Shuja Alam was earlier summoned on Monday and again on Thursday in Dhaka soon after the Bangladeshi top diplomat was called in Islamabad.

Commenting on Bangladeshi minister’s statement that Pakistan should not interfere in Bangladesh’s internal affairs, the spokesperson said “it is not an internal matter of Bangladesh”, adding it is a flawed trial pertaining to the events that took place before December 1971 and people like Motiur Rehman are being implicated for upholding the laws of Pakistan.

About the tension on Torkham border with Afghanistan, he said that Pakistan has decided to implement measures at Torkham to effectively manage the porous border and to monitor illegal border crossing, which are major challenges for both the countries.

“To address the situation, the government of Pakistan has decided to implement border control measures at Torkham for effective border management. It is in the interest of both the countries to have a well-regulated border,” he said, adding there were differences between the two sides on implementation of measures to manage and regulate the border, due to which the border has been temporarily closed.

However, he said that both sides are in contact with each other through a military-to-military channel to address the issue. About any progress in the efforts at Quadrilateral Co-ordination Group (QCG) level towards Afghan peace process, he said that after the last QCG round, it was “expected” that talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban would take place before the next round.

“This was an “expectation”, and not a “compulsion”. The responsibility of bringing the Taliban and other groups to the table is a shared responsibility of the QCG members.Bringing parties in conflict to the negotiating table is an arduous task, requiring patience and persistence,” he said.

He stated that all QCG members were of the view that the Taliban and other groups would gain more through negotiations than otherwise. “The fifth QCG meeting is tentatively scheduled to take place in May. In the meantime, efforts will continue to bring the Taliban and other groups to the negotiation table,” he added.

To Afghan allegations, he said that negative statements do not serve any purpose and only strengthen the hands of troublemakers and detractors of the ongoing efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

“We believe instead of indulging in the blame game, we should focus our efforts on strengthening bilateral engagements and institutional cooperation,” he added.

About the issue of acquiring F-16 fighter jets from the US, he said that Pakistan has a strong collaboration with the US in the context of counter-terrorism, adding the US has realised what Pakistan has achieved in this context and the requirements in this regard. – Business Recorder/Reuters