Bangladesh on Thursday expressed its dissatisfaction over Pakistan asking for the withdrawal of one of its diplomats from Islamabad, adding to the already strained relations between the two countries.
Bangladesh’s state minister for foreign affairs, Shahriar Alam, told Hindustan Times that Pakistan failed to show “any valid reasons” for asking Bangladeshi diplomat Maushumi Rahman to leave the country.
Alam said Pakistan’s “request” to withdraw Rahman, who was the counsellor (political) at the high commission in Islamabad, would not be good for relations between the two countries.
“There’s been no explanation. They couldn’t give us any valid reason,” he said.
Rahman left Islamabad for Dhaka on a flight on Thursday morning. Pakistani media reports quoted sources as saying that she was asked to leave within 48 hours because she had indulged in “anti-state activities”.
The move was an apparent retaliation for the expulsion last month of Pakistani diplomat Fareena Arshad, who was accused of having links with radical Islamists, including members of the banned Jamaatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh group.
Alam said Bangladesh could foresee that there might be an act of “retaliation” by Pakistan. “We knew that something was being cooked up,” he said.
“We were prepared,” he said, adding that preparations helped Bangladesh make a quick decision about giving Rahman a fresh diplomatic assignment in another nation while “upholding the country’s image”.
Alam said he did not see any possibility of relations with Pakistan being officially downgraded though there could be a discussion in parliament on the current state of ties.
Bangladesh will show patience to maintain relations with Pakistan as the two sides have many common interests, he said.
At the same time, Bangladesh will not spare anybody if there is an attempt to tarnish the country’s image and create trouble using diplomatic immunity, he said. “We didn’t spare anybody in the past too,” he added.
The diplomatic spat comes amid strained relations between the two countries over Pakistan’s strong reaction to the execution of Jamaat-e-Islami leader Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid and influential Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury for crimes against humanity during Bangladesh’s independence war of 1971.
The two leaders had aided the Pakistani military, which is blamed for killing tens of thousands and raping some 200,000 women during the nine-month war.
Pakistan had recalled another diplomat, Mazhar Khan, from Dhaka last year after he was accused of having links to a terror financing and currency forgery network.