A Pakistani woman diplomat has been withdrawn from Bangladesh following allegations in a militant’s judicial statement that she was involved in terror financing, according to a media report.
Farina Arshad, the second secretary (political) at the Pakistan high commission in Dhaka, left by a PIA flight on Wednesday afternoon after Bangladesh asked Pakistan to recall her in 72 hours, diplomatic sources were quoted as saying by The Daily Star newspaper.
This was the second instance of a Pakistani diplomat being withdrawn from Bangladesh this year. On January 31, Pakistan recalled Mazhar Khan over his alleged links with terror financing and a racket involved in producing and distributing counterfeit Indian currency.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office said in a statement on Thursday that the charges against Arshad were “baseless and fabricated”. It said Arshad was “constantly being harassed by the Bangladeshi authorities” and Pakistan had twice summoned the Bangladeshi envoy in Islamabad to lodge a strong protest.
“Lately, an incessant and orchestrated media campaign was launched against her on spurious charges linking her with so called terrorists,” the statement said.
But the sources quoted by The Daily Star said Bangladesh’s foreign ministry opted to have Arshad withdrawn instead of going in for harsher measures such as deportation.
Bangladesh acted against Arshad after an arrested operative of the banned Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) told a Dhaka court on December 6 that he had links with the diplomat.
JMB operative Idris Sheikh, arrested on November 29, told the court he got a ride in Arshad’s car from Baitul Mukarram to Fakirerpool and received 30,000 Taka from her.
Referring to Sheikh’s statement in court, an official of the detective branch said the JMB operative spoke to Arshad on mobile phone several times between June and July. The official said Sheikh did not disclose details of his dealings with Arshad and why she had given him the money.
According to Bangladesh intelligence sources, Arshad was allegedly involved in setting up a “terror financing network” in Bangladesh.
Following media reports on Arshad’s alleged involvement in terror financing, the Pakistan high commission issued a rebuttal on December 16 that said the allegations against her were “utterly baseless”.
A foreign ministry source told The Daily Star that the ministry had on December 20 communicated to the Pakistan high commission that the government had found out about Arshad’s links with terror financing.
“It was an informal communication…there was no written communication with the Pakistan authorities,” the source said.
Quoting the JMB operative’s statement, an official said Sheikh got acquainted with Pakistani citizen Kamal, who identified himself as “an ISI agent”, through another person who had settled in Pakistan.
When Kamal left Bangladesh in 2012, he gave Sheikh a mobile phone number and said the holder of the number would look after all his business dealings. When Sheikh called the number, he learnt it belonged to the diplomat.
Monirul Islam, joint commissioner of the detective branch, said Sheikh had made 48 trips to Pakistan in the past two years.