Bangladesh on Tuesday summoned the Pakistani envoy to lodge a strong protest after a Bangladeshi official in Islamabad went “missing” for several hours, amid a worsening diplomatic spat between the two countries.
Bangladesh’s acting foreign secretary Khurshed Alam summoned Pakistan high commissioner Shuja Alam to the foreign ministry in the afternoon and handed over the formal note of protest. Alam remained in the ministry for almost an hour, officials said.
Alam spoke to reporters briefly after emerging from the foreign ministry but did not elaborate on what had transpired inside.
A foreign ministry official told Hindustan Times Alam was summoned to express Bangladesh’s concern over reports that Jahangir Hossain, a personal officer of the press counsellor at the Bangladesh high commission in Islamabad, had gone “missing” on Monday.
Hossain could not be traced for nearly seven hours and returned home unharmed early on Tuesday.
Bangladesh’s envoy to Pakistan, Suhrab Hossain, confirmed to the media that Hossain had returned home only after the matter was raised with Pakistan’s Foreign Office. Reports suggested Hossain had been detained by Pakistani authorities.
Hossain’s mobile phone was switched off after he went to pick up his daughter from a coaching centre in Islamabad on Monday evening. The incident occurred hours after detectives in Dhaka detained Abrar Ahmed Khan, an assistant private secretary in the Pakistan high commission’s press section, to question him regarding his “suspicious movements”.
Khan was later released and handed over to the Pakistani mission. M Maruf Hossain Sardar, a spokesman for Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said detectives found 3,500 Indian rupees while searching Khan.
The recent developments have added to strains in the relations between the two countries, which were triggered by Pakistan’s reaction to Bangladesh’s ongoing war crimes trials linked to the 1971 war of independence.
Bangladesh says Pakistani soldiers, aided by local collaborators, killed 3 million people and raped 200,000 women in 1971, when the country gained independence after a nine-month bloody war.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina set up a tribunal in 2010 to try suspected war criminals, many of whom are known to have close connections with Pakistan. Some 25 people, including senior leaders of the opposition Jamaat-e-Islami party, have been convicted by the tribal.
Pakistan officially protested the execution of two influential Bangladeshi opposition leaders –Jamaat-e-Islami’s Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and Bangladesh Nationalist Party’s Salhuddin Quader Chowdhury – for crimes against humanity.
Bangladesh strongly warned Pakistan not to interfere in its domestic affairs. Subsequently, Bangladesh expelled Pakistani diplomat Fareena Arshad for her alleged involvement in helping members of the banned Jamaat-ul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB).
Pakistan retaliated by expelling Moushumi Rahman, a counsellor at the Bangladeshi mission in Islamabad.