ISLAMABAD: Bilateral relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh received another blow when Bangladeshi government summoned Pakistan's High Commissioner Shuja Alam and lodged strong protest over the statement made by Foreign Office, terming it an interference into internal matters of Bangladesh.
Alam was summoned at the Bangladeshi foreign ministry in Dhaka on Monday to register protest against the statement issued by Islamabad over the executions of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader and Jamaat-e-Islami secretary general — who were both charged with 1971 war crimes.
"Yes, High Commissioner Shuja Alam was called at the foreign ministry," an official at Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka told Dawn.com via phone.
The official further said that Alam was conveyed displeasure of the Bangladeshi government by acting foreign secretary Meezan-ur-Rehman who said executions in connection with 1971 is the internal matter of Bangladesh.
The protest note handed over to Pakistani envoy said that by openly taking the side of those convicted, Pakistan had once again acknowledged its direct involvement and complicity in the mass crimes committed during the separation.
It said the comments were nothing less than brazen interference in the internal affairs of Bangladesh, which was unacceptable.
“Pakistan should no way make biased, borrowed and unfounded comments about the independent judiciary of a sovereign country,” the note stated.
Bangladesh Junior Foreign Affairs Minister Shahriar Alam said a “strongly worded protest note” was handed to Pakistan's envoy saying the criticism was unacceptable.
Islamabad earlier said the men's trials were flawed and that it was “deeply disturbed” by their executions on Sunday.
Pakistani high commissioner assured the Bangladeshi foreign secretary that he would convey the reaction to foreign ministry in Islamabad.
Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury and Jamaat-e-Islami secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid were hanged at Dhaka Central Jail in the nation's capital on Sunday.
Chowdhury had been convicted on of charges of torture, rape and genocide during the 1971 war, while Mujahid was found guilty on charges of genocide, conspiracy in killing intellectuals, torture and abduction.
"We have noted with deep concern and anguish the unfortunate executions of the Bangladesh National Party Leader, Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Mujahid," Foreign Office Spokesman Qazi Khalilullah said in a statement.
The spokesman said Pakistan also took notice of the international community's reaction to the flawed trials in Bangladesh related to the events of 1971.
Jamaat-e-Islami and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party say the trials were politically motivated. Bangaldeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has denied the allegations, but acknowledged that she faced international pressure for trying opposition figures for war crimes.
Human Rights Watch said the tribunal allowed the prosecution to call 41 witnesses, while Chowdhury's defense was limited to four witnesses. The New York-based group said Mujahid was sentenced to death for instigating his subordinates to commit abuses, although no subordinates testified or were identified.
Khalilullah said there is a need for reconciliation in Bangladesh in accordance with the spirit of the Bangladesh, India, Pakistan Agreement of April 9, 1974, which he said calls for a forward-looking approach in matters relating to 1971.
The spokesman addressed hope that such an action would foster goodwill and harmony.