Pak, B'desh summon each other's envoys over Nizami's execution

Pak, B'desh summon each other's envoys over Nizami's execution
In a tit-for-tat, Pakistan and Bangladesh both summoned each other's envoys today, as the row over execution of Jamaat-e-Islami chief Motiur Rahman Nizami for 1971 war crimes escalated.

"A strong protest was lodged at the unfortunate hanging of Mr Motiur Rahman Nizami on the alleged crimes committed before December 1971 through a flawed judicial process," Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) said in a statement.

Bangladeshi envoy Nazmul Huda was today summoned to the Foreign Office a day after Pakistan issued a statement expressing sadness over the "unfortunate hanging" and National Assembly passed a resolution condemning the execution.

The Foreign Office said the attempts by the government of Bangladesh to malign Pakistan, "despite our keen desire to develop brotherly relations with it, are regrettable."

FO further said that the 1974 Tripartite Agreement is the cornerstone of relations between the two countries.

It needs to be emphasised that, as part of the Agreement, the Government of Bangladesh "decided not to proceed with the trials as an act of clemency." Pakistan reiterates its desire for friendly relations with Bangladesh, it added.

Hours later in Dhaka, Pakistan's High Commissioner Shuja Alam was called at the Foreign Office where he was handed over a strong note verbale.

"Pakistan’s High Commissioner Shuja Alam was called at the foreign office where our secretary for bilateral affairs Mizanur Rahman handed him over a strong note verbale," a Bangladesh foreign office spokesman told PTI.

73-year-old Nizami's execution is linked with Pakistan as he was convicted for supporting Pakistan army in 1971 crackdown on dissidents in then East Pakistan.

Bangladesh's Foreign Ministry later in a statement said it conveyed a strong protest against a press release issued by Pakistani foreign office and consequent adoption of a resolution in parliament condemning Nizami's execution.

"Bangladesh has conveyed its strong protest against the (Pakistan foreign office) press release...subsequent passing of a resolution at the National Assembly of Pakistan on the execution," the statement said.

It said that by taking side of "those Bangladesh nationals who are convicted of crimes against humanity and genocide, Pakistan has once again acknowledged its direct involvement and complicity with the mass atrocity crimes committed during Bangladesh's Liberation War in 1971".

"So doing, it is also relentlessly opposing Bangladesh's efforts to ensure justice and break the culture of impunity for the crimes committed 45 years ago," it said.

The Pakistani envoy in Dhaka was summoned for the second time in a week. The statement said Dhaka "strongly repudiated Pakistan's version of Nizami's 'only sin', as mentioned in the Pakistan Foreign Office's press release was to uphold the Constitution of Pakistan, whereas it was in abeyance at that time".

"In fact, he (Nizami) was tried for specific crimes he committed during the war of liberation of Bangladesh," the note verbale said.

It said during Nizami's trial, the court took solely into consideration the crimes against humanity and genocide he had committed in 1971 and the trial was "not at all based on his political identity or affiliation" while it was mere a coincidence that he belonged to some opposing political party.

"It was made clear to Pakistan High Commissioner that he (Nizami) not only cooperated with the Pakistani occupation force in committing various crimes against humanity including genocide but also masterminded the formation of Al-Badr Bahini which had gained particular notoriety for executing the prominent progressive Bengali intellectuals," it said.

The statement said Nizami's election to parliament through a "flawed and widely rigged voting, did not exonerate him from prosecution for such crimes".

It, however, acknowledged that "a die-hard anti-liberation person like Nizami became a Minister in Bangladesh" incidentally but added that the incident "would remain as one of the darkest and the most shameful episodes of Bangladesh's history".

The note verbale noted that Pakistan continued to "present a misleading, limited and partial interpretation of the underlying premise of the Tripartite Agreement of April 1974 which is totally unacceptable to Bangladesh".

The essential spirit of the agreement was to create an environment of good neighbourliness and peaceful co-existence for ushering in long term stability and shared prosperity in the region, it said.

"(But) the 'clemency' mentioned in the agreement never implied that the masterminds and perpetrators of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide would continue to enjoy impunity and eschew the course of justice," it said.

It added: "The Tripartite Agreement in no way restricted Bangladesh from prosecuting its own nationals for war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity".

The envoy, it said, was also reminded that Pakistan had "systematically failed" in its obligation to bring to justice, "in compliance with relevant international norms and standards, those of its nationals identified and held responsible for committing mass atrocity crimes in 1971".

On May 9, Bangladesh had summoned the Pakistani High Commissioner over Islamabad's reaction to its Supreme Court judgment rejecting Nizami's final appeal.

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