From the Editor-in-Chief: Bangladesh’s ties with Pakistan

Enayetullah Khan
Thursday, February 4th, 2016
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Foreign Minister A.H. Mahmood Ali’s statement on Bangladesh’s diplomatic ties with Pakistan makes good sense. He has told parliament that there will be no snapping of relations with Islamabad for the time being. We believe it is a positive move, despite all the provocation that has been coming our way of late from Pakistan. In these days of what can safely be called post-modern diplomacy, a severance of diplomatic relations between nations is a hearkening back to a trend that is not fashionable any more. In recent times, the emotional manner in which Saudi Arabia and some Gulf nations went for a snapping of ties with Iran is an instance of poor diplomacy. We are happy that despite all the pressure being brought upon it by various quarters outraged at recent Pakistani behavior to end relations with Islamabad, the government of Bangladesh does not intend to go for such action. That is a mark of sagacity and certainly of an understanding of the compulsions of foreign policy.

 

While we maintain relations with Pakistan, however strained, it is important to make it clear to the Islamabad authorities that their attitude and behavior in the last couple of years toward Dhaka have been a complete violation of the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other states. By consistently criticizing the trials of war criminals in Dhaka and then condemning their executions through resolutions in the Pakistan national assembly, Pakistan’s ruling circles and political classes have contributed to a vitiating of the atmosphere. Besides, despite allegations of the involvement of some Dhaka-based Pakistani diplomats in anti-Bangladesh acts, the Pakistani government has never seen fit to inquire into the allegations. Instead, it has gone for action that cannot be justified under any circumstances. It has angrily had a Bangladesh diplomat moved out of Pakistan in retaliation for being asked to withdraw one of its own diplomats from Dhaka, one against whom charges of terror-financing had been made. The other day, in a demonstration of pique, the Pakistani authorities held an employee of the Bangladesh high commission for hours only because one of their own was being questioned by the police in Dhaka. That is not the way in which diplomacy is conducted. While on our part we would like to know from the authorities in Dhaka about the specific nature of the allegations against the Pakistani man, it should have been for Pakistan to engage with Bangladesh on the issue. Diplomacy cannot be conducted on knee-jerk reactions.

 

One certainly does not question the need for Bangladesh and Pakistan to maintain good, mutually beneficial relations with each other. But that again must be based on a strict application of the policy of respect for each other’s sovereignty. Bangladesh, since it emerged as a sovereign nation in 1971, has never ventured into matters that are strictly of concern to Pakistan. Unfortunately, Pakistan has failed to measure up to such gestures. When Pakistan’s interior minister loudly condemns the execution of war criminals in Bangladesh and praises them as loyal friends of Pakistan, when one-sided propaganda against Bangladesh is all we witness on Pakistani television channels, we cannot be expected to take it lying down. Forty five years have passed since we in Bangladesh freed ourselves of the Pakistani yoke. Pakistan must realize why it lost the war and why it must make amends for its past actions.

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