Instead of avoiding an escalation, Pakistan once again has got entangled in a diplomatic row with Bangladesh. A tit for tat policy is being pursued by Pakistan in response to the Bangladesh government’s lacklustre response in accepting the New High Commissioner from Pakistan.
The relations between both countries have not been on good terms since the government in Bangladesh led by Prime Minister Hasina Wajid has initiated the prosecution of those who were convicted of crimes against humanity during the 1971 war. Pakistan’s foreign office has publicly criticised these executions in Bangladesh reminding 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 separation. Bangladesh carried out execution f war criminals through the war crimes tribunal that were established in 2010.
A reference by Pakistan to the tripartite agreement further offended the incumbent government in Bangladesh. The present leadership of Bangladesh alleges that Pakistan intelligence agencies played a key role in the coup of 15 August 1975. The coup had resulted in the assassination of the country’s president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and all the members of his family except his two daughters who were in Germany at that time. The tripartite agreement has lost its validity after Pakistan’s alleged interference in Bangladesh.
A reset in ties between both states has become mandatory. The prime ministers of both countries should come forward and play their due role in reducing tension. Pakistan needs to adopt a forward-looking approach while dealing with Bangladesh. Bangladesh has been a sovereign country since its independence in 1971 and Pakistan should accept this reality. Bangladesh should not be treated on the basis that once it was a part of larger Pakistan. The execution of war criminals is an internal issue of Bangladesh. Islamabad can express its reservations but it should not escalate tension with Dhaka. Any interference in the internal affairs of another country results in the souring of bilateral relations. Pakistan should not interfere in those matters that offend the other state. If there is any human rights’ violation, the UN and other world bodies are there that can intervene and take Bangladesh to the task but Pakistan should not get involved in any controversy. On the contrary, Pakistan should develop friendly relations with Bangladesh that is also in the interest of regional peace.
It is high time Pakistan reviewed its foreign policy and worked on improving relations with neighbouring countries. East Bengal played a key role in the creation of Pakistan and its separation was a heart-rending story. The latest diplomatic controversy can only serve to freshen old wounds. Pakistan needs to avoid such diplomatic adventures. The government needs to take the Bangladesh government into confidence and resolve the diplomatic row in an amicable way instead of adopting a tit-for-tat response.