Dhaka asks Islamabad not to interfere in internal affairs
Pakistan’s criticism of executions ignite anger
NEW DELHI: Bangladesh accused Pakistan yesterday of interfering in its internal affairs by criticizing the execution of two opposition leaders for alleged war crimes during the country’s 1971 war of independence. Bangladesh Junior Foreign Affairs Minister Shahriar Alam said a “strongly worded protest note” was handed to Pakistan’s envoy saying the criticism was unacceptable. Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry earlier said the men’s trials were flawed and that it was “deeply disturbed” by their executions on Sunday. Bangladesh was the eastern part of Pakistan until the 1971 war in which it became independent. Two war crimes tribunals set up by the government in 2010 and 2012 have convicted 18 people, mostly leaders of an opposition Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami. There has been international concern about the legal process.
The party openly campaigned against independence for Bangladesh during the war. Bangladesh’s government says Pakistani soldiers, aided by local collaborators, killed 3 million people and raped 200,000 women during the fighting. Bangladesh was on high alert yesterday against any violence in response to Sunday’s hangings, with thousands of security personnel patrolling its cities.
Jamaat-e-Islami called for a nationwide strike to protest the executions of its general secretary, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, and opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury. Mujahid, 67, was found guilty of genocide, conspiracy in killing intellectuals, torture and abduction during the independence war, while Chowdhury, 66, was convicted of torture, rape and genocide.
Few were expected to heed the call to strike. The Islamist party has only about 3 percent of the country’s vote. While traffic was lighter on Monday, government offices and services remained open. Nevertheless, authorities said they were increasing vigilance after a series of killings claimed by Islamist extremists this year, including the murders of four secular bloggers, a publisher and two foreigners.
A reporter was also shot and wounded Sunday after covering Chowdhury’s funeral in Chittagong district. The journalist for Mohana TV, Rajib Sen, was on his way back from the funeral when his car was sprayed with bullets, the station said. Three other journalists in the car were unhurt. It was not immediately clear who attacked the car.
The TV station is owned by a member of the ruling Awami League party. Jamaat-e-Islami and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party say the trials were politically motivated, an allegation Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has denied. Two other senior Jamaat-e-Islami party leaders have already been executed. — APP