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Pakistan lobbies for BNP chief Khaleda Zia in Commonwealth

  • Nurul Islam Hasib,
    Published: 2016-05-09 23:37:33 BdST

The Commonwealth ministerial group has shot down a Pakistan proposal to discuss Bangladesh’s situation in favour of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia.

Pakistan raised the Bangladesh issue at the recent Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group’s (CMAG) meeting in London. The move was “rejected” by the other member states, a highly-placed diplomatic source told

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina also raised the issue at Monday’s cabinet meeting, a minister told

The CMAG is a decision making body which deals with “serious or persistent violations” of the fundamental political values of the 53 member-states constituting the Commonwealth.

It is tasked to assess the nature of “infringements and recommend measures for collective Commonwealth action aimed at speedy restoration of democracy and constitutional rule”.

Sartaj Aziz, the Pakistan prime minister’s advisor on foreign affairs, raised the Bangladesh issue and said the last election in Bangladesh had not been “a proper election” as it was held amid a boycott by the BNP.

In his view, political space was “shrinking” in Bangladesh. He told the CMAG meeting that the government had filed “33 politically motivated” cases against Khaleda.

He also said that the Bangladesh government was influencing the judiciary.

He suggested that there should be a “serious discussion” on Bangladesh’s political situation and law and order issues.

Aziz insisted that the Bangladesh issue be included in the statement to be issued by the Commonwealth.

“The other members present protested the comments of the Pakistan prime minister’s advisor. His views did not find any space in the statement subsequently issued,” a diplomat who asked not to be named told

Pakistan’s latest interference in Bangladesh’s internal matters surfaced through its criticism of the ongoing war crimes trials in Dhaka.

Islamabad has been demonstrating a knee-jerk reaction to the trials ever since the process got under way in 2009.

In its latest statement, it noted with “deep concern and anguish” that Bangladesh’s apex court had upheld the death sentence of Jamaat-e-Islami chief Motiur Rahman Nizami.

The Jamaat, which collaborated with the Pakistan army in the genocide of Bengalis during Bangladesh’s war of liberation in 1971, is a close political ally of the BNP.

The foreign ministry on Monday summoned Pakistan’s High Commissioner in Dhaka Shuja Alam and handed over a note verbale registering its “strong protest” to him over Islamabad’s recent statement.