Pakistan wants reconciliation in Bangladesh under 1974 pact

ISLAMABAD – Pakistan has expressed deep concern and anguish over the executions of Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid – the two political leaders of Bangladesh who were hanged in the central jail in Dhaka.In a statement on Sunday, Foreign Office spokesperson said that Pakistan was deeply disturbed at this development. He said that Pakistan has also been noting the reaction of the international community on the flawed trials in Bangladesh related to the events of 1971.He said that reconciliation was needed in Bangladesh in accordance with the spirit of Pakistan-India-Bangladesh agreement of April 9, 1974. The agreement calls for a forward looking approach in matters relating to 1971 events. He said that this would foster goodwill and harmony.

Both Salahuddin – an influential politician who was elected lawmaker six times – and Mujahid – a former minister and a top leader of Jamaat-e-Islami party – were convicted of ‘genocide and rape.’ Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said that they were hanged after President Abdul Hamid rejected appeals for clemency by the two men.More than 15 people have been convicted of ‘war crimes’ in a series of rulings handed down by two separate tribunals set up by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed in 2010. US lawmakers – overseeing foreign policy – described the war crimes tribunal as very flawed and a means of political retribution. The US State Department said that the executions should not take place until it’s clear the trial process meets international standards.Stephen Rapp, who until August served as President Barack Obama’s ambassador for the war crimes, said it was disturbing that Salahuddin was denied the right to call alibi witnesses, including a former US ambassador, to provide testimony that he was not present in Bangladesh at the time the alleged crimes were committed.

Human Rights Watch said the tribunal allowed the prosecution to call 41 witnesses, while Salahuddin’s defence was limited to four witnesses. The New York-based group said that Mujahid was sentenced to death for instigating his subordinates to commit abuses, although no subordinates testified or were identified.In a letter sent to the top US diplomat for South Asia, leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee voiced concern that democratic space was shrinking amid a growing climate of violence, fear and self-censorship in Bangladesh, which is mostly Muslim but has a strong secular tradition.


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