Bangladesh–Pakistan relations

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Bangladesh-Pakistan relations
Map indicating locations of Pakistan and Bangladesh

Pakistan

Bangladesh
National emblem of Bangladesh.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Bangladesh
State emblem of Pakistan.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
Pakistan
Constitution

Bangladesh and Pakistan are South Asian countries.[1][2] Following the end of the British Raj, the two countries had a 24-year union. The Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971 resulted in the secession of East Pakistan as the secular democratic republic of Bangladesh. Pakistan (formerly West Pakistan) recognized Bangladesh in 1974 after pressure from across the Muslim world.[3]

Bangladesh continues to call on Pakistan to acknowledge the 1971 Bangladesh Genocide and apologize for crimes against humanity.[4][5] The execution of a Jamaat-e-Islami leader in 2013 was opposed in Pakistan and led to strained ties.[6] In 2015, two officials of the Pakistani High Commission, visa officer Mazhar Khan[7] and second secretary Farina Arshad,[8] were named by banned Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh operatives as having financed terrorist activities.[9] In January 2016, Islamabad had asked Dhaka to recall senior diplomat Moushumi Rahman from its high commission in Islamabad within 72 hours. Diplomatic sources in Islamabad told the media that Rahman was indulged in 'anti-state activities in Pakistan' and that concerned security agencies continued to monitor her. [10]

The two countries are both founding members of SAARC, as well as members of the Developing 8 Countries, the OIC and the Commonwealth of Nations. Both are classified as Next Eleven emerging economies. Bangladesh has a High Commission in Islamabad. Pakistan has a High Commission in Dhaka.

History[edit]

Liberation war and independence[edit]

After the partition of British Indian Empire in 1947, Bangladesh was integrated in Pakistan which was known as East Bengal until 1955 and thereafter as East-Pakistan following the One Unit program.

Bilateral relations between the two wings grew strained over the lack of official recognition for the Bengali language, democracy, regional autonomy, disparity between the two wings, ethnic discrimination, and the central government's weak and inefficient relief efforts after the 1970 Bhola cyclone, which had affected millions in East Pakistan. These grievances led to several political agitations in East Bengal and ultimately a fight for full independence. In March 1971, the Pakistan Armed Forces began "Operation Searchlight," which targeted intellectuals, political activists, Hindus and other minorities.[11] The figure of people killed by Pakistani forces remains disputed, with estimates ranging from 300,000 to 3 million.[12][13] About 8-10 million people became refugees in India.[14] Many Bengali policemen and soldiers mutinied and nationalists formed a guerrilla force, the Mukti Bahini with Indian and Soviet Union support. When a declared war broke out between Bangladesh and Pakistan in December 1971, the joint forces of Indian Army and Mukti Bahini later known as Bangladesh Armed forces defeated Pakistani forces in East Pakistan and the independent state of Bangladesh was created.[15]

1974–2012: Establishment and growth of bilateral relations[edit]

The left-oriented Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) led by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who had been the main political opponent of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, came into power in the aftermath of Bangladesh's separation from Pakistan. A heavy lobbying staged by Pakistan, other states such as the People's Republic of China, Saudi Arabia and some other Middle Eastern nations, refused to recognize Bangladesh. In 1972, Pakistan left the Commonwealth of Nations after it extended membership to Bangladesh. For its part, Bangladesh demanded an apology from Pakistan for war crimes committed by the Pakistani military and reparations. Bangladesh's development of close ties with India, which had played a role in securing its independence, also angered Pakistan.

On the issue of Bangladesh's application for membership to the UN, China, on Pakistan's request, exercised its veto power for the first time to stall the move, which helped Pakistan to secure in a bargain the release of its POWs and the return of troops to their prewar positions.[16]

In 1974, the relationship between Bangladesh and Pakistan thawed. Sheikh Mujibur Rahman withdrew the bans on some pro-Pakistan organisations that had operated before Bangladesh's independence. Rahman visited Lahore for an Organization of the Islamic Conference summit, and in return the Parliament of Pakistan authorised Bhutto to extend recognition to Bangladesh.[17] In June 1974, Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto visited Bangladesh and paid homage to Bangladesh's war memorial at Savar Upazila.[18] Both nations discussed an agreement in 1975 in which Bangladesh agreed to take up half of Pakistan's pre-1971 external reserves provided Bangladesh received half of the country's pre-1971 assets and credit went unresolved.[19]

Relations improved considerably under the governments of Ziaur Rahman and Hossain Mohammad Ershad in Bangladesh, which had grown more distant from its usual allies, like India and Russia.[19][20] Five Pakistani heads of government have made official visits to Bangladesh since the 1980s and numerous trade and cultural agreements have been signed.[21] Common concerns over terrorism have influenced strategic cooperation leading to a gift of several squadrons of F-6 fighter aircraft to the Bangladesh Air Force in the late 1980s although there was no serious effort to maintain them as they were later left to be destroyed by a cyclone.[21] Trade between the two countries currently stands at $340 million which was described by the Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh, Ruhul Alam Siddique as 'negligible when taking into account the combined population' (of both countries). Areas he hoped would induce investment from Pakistan to Bangladesh included the textiles and energy sectors.[22]

In 1985, Pakistani President Ziaul Haq visited the Bangladeshi war memorial, and said "Your heroes are our heroes."[18] Bangladeshi President Erhsad visited Islamabad in 1986.[19] In 1998, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited Pakistan.[18] In July 2002, Pakistani General Pervez Musharraf also visited the war memorial and said "Your brothers and sisters in Pakistan share the pain of the events of 1971."[18]

2013: War crimes tribunal[edit]

In December 2012, several members of Pakistan Parliament sought a Parliamentary resolution that would apologize to Bangladesh for the 1971 atrocities. This initiative was also supported by Hamid Mir.[17]

In December 2013, following the execution by Bangladesh of Bangladeshi Islamist leader, Abdul Quader Molla, dubbed the "butcher of Mirpur"[23] for war crimes, the lower house National Assembly issued a statement condemning execution, claiming it to be politically motivated.[24] Pakistan's Interior Minister expressed sadness that Molla was executed for his "loyalty towards Pakistan".[25]

Following Pakistan's reactions, Bangladesh summoned the Pakistan envoy, conveying its displeasure at Pakistan's interference in its internal matters.[24] Bangladesh conveyed its displeasure at the National Assembly statement, Punjab Provincial Assembly statement, as well as the remarks by Pakistan's Interior Minister.[26]

Protesters in Bangladesh took the streets to express their displeasure by marching towards the Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka.[27]

Bihari refugees issue[edit]

An issue of continuing controversy is the status and return of Biharis, also called Stranded Pakistanis to Pakistan.[28] Numbered around 540,000, these communities had migrated to what became East Pakistan from the Indian state of Bihar after the partition of India in 1947.[19] During the liberation war, these communities supported the Pakistani government and later wanted to emigrate to Pakistan, which stalled and hesitated.[19] By 1982 about 127,000 had been repatriated, leaving about 250,000 people still demanding repatriation.[19] In 1985 there was some progress in this area when Pakistani president Zia-ul-Haq agreed to accept the "stranded Pakistanis."[19] In a 2002 visit to Bangladesh, Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf signed numerous bilateral agreements but said he could not allow the emigration of Biharis to Pakistan for the time being.[28]

Defence cooperation[edit]

Defense cooperation improved considerably under the military regimes of Ziaur Rahman and Hossain Mohammad Ershad in Bangladesh, which had grown more distant from its war ally, India. Common concerns over India's regional power have influenced strategic cooperation leading to a gift of several squadrons of F-6 fighter aircraft to the Bangladesh Air Force in the late 1980s.[29]

Trade[edit]

Bilateral trade between the two countries has been growing slowly over the past years. During the eleven-year period between 2000–01 and 2010–11, Pakistan export to Bangladesh grew at an average annual rate of 27.6 percent and imports from Bangladesh grew at the rate of 9.2 percent. The total value of trade (export plus import) between the two countries in 2010-11 was about $983 million. To give a boost to bilateral trade between Pakistan and Bangladesh both countries have decided to finalise a bilateral Free Trade Agreement. FTA will pave the way for opening trade opportunity and will help expansion of trade between the two countries.[30]

The two way trade current stand at $340 million which was described by the Deputy High Commissioner of Bangladesh, Ruhul Alam Siddique as 'negligible when taking into account the combined population' (of both countries). Areas he hoped would induce investment from Pakistan to Bangladesh included the textiles and energy sectors.[22]

2015 incidents: Diplomatic Rifts[edit]

In two separate incidents officials of the Pakistani High Commission in Dhaka, were alleged to be financing the terrorist activities of the banned Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh organization. Diplomatic official Mazhar Khan was charged by Bangladesh's foreign ministry of running an illegal Indian currency business in Dhaka beside alleged links with militants. However, Pakistan's foreign office maintains that Allegations against him are baseless and the incident is unfortunate.[31]

In December 2015, Pakistan withdrew the diplomat Farina Arshad after Bangladeshi authorities asked the diplomat to leave for reportedly having "extended financial support to a suspected militant who faces spying charges.". Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) operative Idris Sheikh, who also holds Pakistani nationality had claimed he had received money from her and was in contact with her for some time.[32] Pakistan has withdrawn one of its diplomats from Bangladesh after “harassment”, the foreign ministry said. A formal statement from Islamabad dismissed the charges as “baseless”, adding: “an incessant and orchestrated media campaign was launched against her on spurious charges” [33]

In recent developments, Islamabad asked Dhaka to recall senior diplomat Moushumi Rahman from its high commission in Islamabad within 48 hours. Diplomatic sources in Islamabad told the media that Rahman was indulged in 'anti-state activities in Pakistan' and that concerned security agencies continued to monitor her [10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Geography and Map of Bangladesh". About.com Geography. 
  2. ^ "Political Map of India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh". Atlapedia Online. 
  3. ^ Ali, Syed Muazzem (2006). "Bangladesh and the OIC". Bangladesh & The World. The Daily Star. Retrieved 2015-07-09. 
  4. ^ Anam, Tahmima (27 December 2013). "Pakistan's State of Denial". The New York Times (Editorial). 
  5. ^ "Bangladesh fumes as Pakistan denies genocide, war crimes in 1971". Hindustan Times. 17 December 2015. 
  6. ^ Chowdhury, Syed Tashfin (22 December 2013). "Pakistan-Bangladesh relationship strained". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 2015-07-29. 
  7. ^ Khan, Mohammad Jamil (12 August 2015). "Bangladesh a transit hub for fake rupee smuggling". Dhaka Tribune. 
  8. ^ Panda, Ankit (24 December 2015). "Pakistani Diplomat With Terror Links Recalled from Bangladesh". The Diplomat. 
  9. ^ "'Terror financing': Pak diplomat withdrawn from Bangladesh". The Daily Star. 23 December 2015. 
  10. ^ a b "Pakistan expels senior Bangladesh diplomat as 'spy' row escalates". Dawn. 6 January 2016. 
  11. ^ Bose, Sarmila (8 October 2005). "Anatomy of Violence: Analysis of Civil War in East Pakistan in 1971". Economic and Political Weekly. Archived from the original on 2007-03-01. 
  12. ^ Matthew White's Death Tolls for the Major Wars and Atrocities of the Twentieth Century
  13. ^ "History : The Bangali Genocide, 1971". Virtual Bangladesh. Archived from the original on 2010-03-10. 
  14. ^ Rummel, Rudolph J., "Statistics of Democide: Genocide and Mass Murder Since 1900", ISBN 3-8258-4010-7, Chapter 8, Table 8.2 Pakistan Genocide in Bangladesh Estimates, Sources, and Calculations: lowest estimate 2 million claimed by Pakistan (reported by Aziz, Qutubuddin. Blood and tears Karachi: United Press of Pakistan, 1974. pp. 74,226), all the other sources used by Rummel suggest a figure of between 8 and 10 million with one (Johnson, B. L. C. Bangladesh. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1975. pp. 73,75) that "could have been" 12 million.
  15. ^ Heitzman, James; Worden, Robert, eds. (1989). "The War for Bangladeshi Independence, 1971". Bangladesh: A Country Study. Washington, D.C.: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. pp. 30–31. 
  16. ^ Fazal-ur-RAHMAN. "Pakistan's Evolving Relations with China, Russia, and Central Asia" (PDF). Slavic-Eurasian Research Center. 
  17. ^ a b "Pak MPs to propose for apology to Dhaka". The Daily Star. Dhaka. BSS. 7 December 2012. 
  18. ^ a b c d Karim, Rezaul (10 November 2012). "PM to visit Pakistan to attend D-8 summit". The Daily Star. 
  19. ^ a b c d e f g Heitzman, James; Worden, Robert, eds. (1989). "Pakistan". Bangladesh: A Country Study. Washington, D.C.: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. pp. 191–193. 
  20. ^ Heitzman, James; Worden, Robert, eds. (1989). "The Zia Regime and Its Aftermath, 1977-82". Bangladesh: A Country Study. Washington, D.C.: Federal Research Division, Library of Congress. pp. 37–41. 
  21. ^ a b Ali, Mahmud (29 July 2002). "Bangladesh's emotional scars". BBC News. 
  22. ^ a b Zaheer, Farhan (28 September 2010). "Dhaka offers Pakistani businessmen multiple visas". The Express Tribune. 
  23. ^ Nelson, Dean (12 December 2013). "Bangladesh hangs 'Butcher of Mirpur' for 'war crimes'". Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-12-18. 
  24. ^ a b "Bangladesh grills Pakistan envoy over Molla resolution". Dawn. 18 December 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-18. 
  25. ^ "Jamaat leader's hanging in Bangladesh 'saddens' Nisar". Dawn. 13 December 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-18. 
  26. ^ Zaman, Sheikh (18 December 2013). "Dhaka summons Pakistan high commissioner over Molla resolution". Dhaka Tribune. Retrieved 2013-12-18. 
  27. ^ "Dhaka demonstrators protest Pakistan's reaction to Molla's execution". Express Tribune. 18 December 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-18. 
  28. ^ a b "Musharraf wraps up Bangladesh visit". BBC News. 31 July 2012. 
  29. ^ Singh, RSN (2005). Asian strategic and military perspective. New Delhi: Lancer Publishers & Distributors. ISBN 9788170622451. 
  30. ^ "Indian shares post best week since mid-June". Business Recorder. 10 October 2015. 
  31. ^ "Diplomat back from BD after terror funding allegation". Dawn. 5 February 2015. 
  32. ^ Star Online Report. "'Terror financing': Pak diplomat withdrawn from Bangladesh". The Daily Star. Retrieved 8 January 2016. 
  33. ^ "Pakistan withdraws diplomat from Bangladesh: foreign ministry". The Indian Express. 25 December 2015.