Pakistan on Friday said it will boycott an international meeting of parliamentarians scheduled in Dhaka from Saturday, alleging a “malicious propaganda” by Bangladesh against it.
A 10-member delegation led by national assembly speaker Ayaz Sadiq was due to participate in the 136th Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) assembly in Dhaka.
But the government decided to boycott the meeting because of the “continued malicious and uncalled for propaganda and unfriendly attitude of the Bangladesh government against the people and the state of Pakistan.”
The IPU is the focal point for worldwide parliamentary dialogue and works for peace and co-operation among peoples and for the firm establishment of representative democracy.
Sadiq in a statement said the national assembly members had noted with disappointment the actions and “negative public statements” coming out of Bangladesh despite Pakistan’s “restraint and overtures” to the country.
“I have, therefore, decided not to travel to Bangladesh as a visit at this point will not serve the purpose,” he was quoted as saying by The Express Tribune.
The boycott of the IPU in Dhaka is another sign of strain in Pakistan-Bangladesh ties. Pakistan has previously commented on the sentencing and hanging of Jamaat-e-Islami leaders for warcrimes committed during the 1971 Liberation War.
Bangladesh has said Pakistan’s reactions to the judicial verdicts were tantamount to meddling in its internal affairs and also said Islamabad was yet to apologise for atrocities committed by its army.
However, speaker Sadiq said the parliament had sincerely laboured to harness good ties with Bangaldesh.
“It was in this spirit that Pakistan’s parliamentary delegation had unanimously voted in favour of the speaker of Bangladesh Sharmeen Chaudhary for the post of the chairperson of the executive committee of commonwealth parliamentary association in Cameroon in 2014.”
Chaudhary had won the election with a narrow margin of 82 votes in favour and 78 against.
Sadiq cited another instance when Pakistan voted a Bangladeshi candidate to become the president of the IPU in 2014. “However, it is noted with much regret that the friendly gestures were never reciprocated in the same coin,” he said.
Bangladesh, too, has boycotted all international parliamentary meets organised by Pakistan in the past two years, including the SAARC Young Parliamentarians Conference in August 2016, the International Women Parliamentarians Conference 2017 and the Asian Parliamentary Assembly in 2017.