Tuesday, May 24

Diplomatic row with Pakistan, Turkey



Diplomatic tension has flared up between Bangladesh and two other Muslim countries following Wednesday’s execution of war crimes convict Jamaat-e-Islami chief Matiur Rahman Nizami.

Turkey yesterday recalled its ambassador to Bangladesh Devrim Ozturk for consultations after strongly protesting the execution. However, some international news agencies, quoting the country’s president, reported that the Turkish envoy was withdrawn.

Meanwhile, Pakistan authorities summoned acting Bangladesh High Commissioner in Islamabad Md Najmul Huda yesterday.

In response to Pakistan’s action, Dhaka also summoned Pak High Commissioner Shuja Alam to the Foreign Ministry yesterday and handed a strongly worded protest.

Turkish Ambassador Devrim Ozturk left Dhaka yesterday at around 6pm, said diplomatic sources. The Turkish envoy informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs about his home visit but did not cite any reason or mention any ‘withdrawal’, said the sources.

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam also told a news agency that Turkey has not informed Bangladesh about withdrawing its ambassador in Dhaka over the execution of Jamaat chief Nizami.

“We have no information, officially or unofficially, on this matter. The ambassador has told us that he is going out of the country. He has also informed us who will act for him in his absence,” said the state minister.

Meanwhile, AFP quoting Turkish state-run Anatolia News Agency reported that a diplomatic source in Ankara said the Turkish Foreign Ministry has asked Turkey’s ambassador to Bangladesh to report to Ankara for consultations in the aftermath of hanging of the Jamaat-e-Islami chief in Dhaka.

Meanwhile, the Associate Press reported that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a speech in Ankara yesterday, said his country had recalled his ambassador from Bangladesh in protest. He also strongly condemned the execution of Islamist party leader Nizami. Erdogan also lashed out at Europe for not speaking out against the execution, said the AP report.

On Wednesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry, in a written statement, also strongly condemned the execution of Matiur Rahman Nizami, said an AFP report.

The statement said that Turkey, which has abolished capital punishment, feared that the use of such methods risked creating “rancour and hatred between our Bangladeshi brothers”. Since coming to power in 2002, Turkey’s ruling Islamic-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP) has sought to boost the country’s power in the Muslim world well outside its Ottoman sphere of influence, said AFP.

Meanwhile, Pakistan summoned Bangladesh envoy Md Najmul Huda and handed him a resolution passed unanimously by its parliament yesterday condemning the execution of Jamaat chief Nizami. Pakistan Foreign Ministry Director General (South Asia) Md Faisal called for reconciliation after handing over the resolution to the Bangladesh envoy yesterday afternoon, said diplomatic sources.

Pakistan High Commissioner to Bangladesh Shuja Alam had been summoned earlier, two day’s ago by the foreign ministry and handed over a note verbale protesting the issuance of press release by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan voicing concern over a Supreme Court’s judgment on Matiur Rahman Nizami.

In the note verbale, it was stated that by taking the side with those Bangladesh nationals who are convicted of crimes against humanity and genocide, Pakistan has once again acknowledged its direct involvement and complicity with the crimes of mass atrocities committed during Bangladesh’s Liberation War in 1971.

It is a matter of great regret that Pakistan continues to comment in the misguided defence of this convicted criminal, it said. These uncalled for reactions amount to direct interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign country, which is totally unacceptable, the note added.

The High Commissioner was told to take serious note of the points raised by Bangladesh and bring those to the attention of the competent authorities in Pakistan.

Pakistan Foreign Ministry on Wednesday issued a media release expressing its disappointment at the execution of Nizami for his crime against humanity during the country’s Liberation War in 1971 saying, “His only sin was upholding the constitution and laws of Pakistan.”

Matiur Rahman Nizami, Ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami, was hanged at a Dhaka Central Jail on Wednesday for committing crimes against humanity during the War of Liberation in 1971 including carrying out massacre of intellectuals.

Nizami, a 73-year-old former minister, was the fifth and the most senior figure hanged for war crimes since the beginning of the trial of war criminals at the International Crimes Tribunal in 2010.