ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has asked Bangladesh to withdraw one of its diplomats from Islamabad, Dhaka said Wednesday, in an apparent retaliation after the expulsion of a Pakistani envoy who allegedly funded a suspected extremist on trial for espionage.
Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque said Islamabad had on Tuesday asked Dhaka to recall senior diplomat Moushumi Rahman from its high commission in Islamabad within 48 hours.
“The political counsellor and head of chancery in Islamabad has been given till Thursday to leave the country,” Haque told AFP.
The Bangladesh foreign secretary did not offer any reason for Pakistan’s decision to expel Moushumi Rahman. Diplomatic sources in Islamabad told Dawn.com that Rahman indulged in ‘anti-state activities in Pakistan’ and that concerned security agencies continued to monitor her.
This is the first time that Pakistan has expelled a Bangladeshi diplomat.
On December 23, Islamabad had recalled one of its diplomats – Farina Arshad – from Bangladesh at Dhaka’s request, after she was alleged to have financed a suspected extremist accused of spying for Pakistan.
A formal statement from Islamabad dismissed the charges as “baseless”, adding: “an incessant and orchestrated media campaign was launched against her on spurious charges”.
Rocky bilateral relations
Pakistan and Bangladesh have had a rocky bilateral relationship in recent months.
Bilateral relations soured when Bangladesh executed senior Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury and Jamaat-i-Islami’s secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid in November.
The two had been convicted of genocide and rape by a domestic ‘war crimes tribunal’ called International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), which had been set up under a 1973 legislation that was amended in 2009 to resume the trials.
The original 1973 legislation for the establishment of war crimes had been set aside by Hasina Wajid’s father and Bangladesh’s founding father Mujibur Rehman after a tripartite agreement signed in April 1974 for the repatriation of war prisoners. Rehman had then agreed that in the interest of regional peace, no one would be put on trial for alleged crimes committed during the 1971 war.
Bangladesh had felt offended when Pakistan reminded it of its founding father’s promise contained in the 1974 tripartite agreement under which Dhaka had agreed not to proceed against those whom it had accused of ‘war crimes’ during the 1971 war.
In response, Pakistan’s High Commissioner in Dhaka Shuja Alam was summoned by Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Mijanur Rahman to receive a protest over a statement issued by Pakistani Foreign Office in which it regretted executions of the two Bengali leaders. -Agencies