Tough au­di­ence

Southasia - - Briefing -

Pak­istan’s new High Com­mis­sioner to Bangladesh, Afrasiab Me­hdi Hashmi’s first visit to Bangladesh was not as pleas­ant as an­tic­i­pated. The Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs was taken by sur­prise when upon ar­rival, they were read the Riot Act and ap­proached for a for­mal apol­ogy for the atroc­i­ties and geno­cide com­mit­ted by the Pak­istani army dur­ing the 1971 war. Bangladesh claims that Pak­istani forces killed 3 mil­lion peo­ple, raped 200,000 women and left mil­lions home­less. Pak­istan has dis­puted the al­le­ga­tions though ad­mit­ting to abuses but terming the fig­ures as far-fetched and sen­sa­tional. Adding fur­ther, For­eign Min­is­ter Dipu Moni de­manded that Pak­istan rec­og­nize the out­stand­ing po­lit­i­cal is­sues of stranded Pak­ista­nis, war repa­tri­a­tion and divi­sion of as­sets and reach a for­mal res­o­lu­tion on the press­ing mat­ters.

Pres­i­dent Pervez Mushar­raf, who be­came the first Pak­istani Army ruler to visit Bangladesh, had de­scribed the events of 1971 as un­for­tu­nate and had ad­vo­cated a move to greater co­op­er­a­tion with re­spect and dig­nity ac­corded to the past. He had pressed that the two coun­tries would not be able to move for­ward un­til they didn’t move be­yond their trou­bled his­tory and look to­wards a pros­per­ous in­ter­linked fu­ture.

On the is­sue of waiver from Bangladesh for Pak­istani exports to the EU, Moni stated that while the Bangladesh govern­ment sym­pa­thized with a flood rav­aged coun­try like Pak­istan, ac­cord­ing “trade pref­er­ence to a coun­try based solely on ac­count of nat­u­ral dis­as­ters was un­prece­dented.”

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