In worsening row, Bangladesh lodges protest with Pakistani diplomat


DHAKA: Bangladesh summoned on Tuesday Pakistan’s high commissioner to lodge a protest after a Bangladeshi official in Islamabad was detained for four hours, two Dhaka officials said, amid a worsening diplomatic row between the two countries.

Weeks of rising tension in the relationship were sparked in late November by the executions in Bangladesh of two opposition leaders convicted of crimes against humanity during the 1971 war.

At the time, Pakistan’s foreign ministry had expressed “deep concern and anguish” at the executions, describing the trials of those involved in alleged atrocities during the conflict as “flawed”.

The Pakistani high commissioner was summoned after the Bangladeshi official in Pakistan was detained for hours on Monday, hours after police in the Bangladeshi capital had detained an official of the Pakistan High Commission, citing his “suspicious movement”.

War crimes tribunal sentences two more men to death

Both officials were released within a few hours.

“We have summoned the Pakistan high commissioner to lodge the protests on the missing incident,” said a senior official at the foreign ministry in Dhaka.

Television channels broadcast images of the Pakistani diplomat leaving the foreign ministry.

Phone calls to the Pakistani High Commission in Dhaka went unanswered.

Last month, a Bangladeshi diplomat in Pakistan was expelled in what Dhaka officials called “an act of retaliation” after a Pakistani diplomat in Dhaka was expelled after being accused of spying.

In late December, Pakistan withdrew Farina Arshad, a diplomat at its high commission in Dhaka, after Bangladeshi authorities accused her of spying and being involved in financing Islamist groups.

Sentenced to death

The Bangladeshi war crimes tribunal sentenced on Tuesday two more men to death after finding them guilty of killing, kidnapping and looting during the 1971 war.

The three-judge panel in Dhaka ruled that Obaidul Haque Taher and Ataur Rahman Noni were involved in the deaths of seven people.

Prosecutors said they helped soldiers attack a village in Netrokona district on Oct 19, 1971. The men had pleaded not guilty.

The tribunal was established by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in 2010. Since then it has convicted 25 people, sentencing 21 of them to death.

Four people, including three leaders of the opposition Jamaat-i-Islami, have been hanged.