Before pulling out of SAARC Summit 2016, Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina had made a very ambiguous statement.

“The growing interference in the internal affairs of Bangladesh by one country has created an environment which is not conducive to the successful hosting of the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad in November 2016.”

Officially, she hadn’t specified which country she meant by saying “one country”, but it was understood that she referred to Pakistan. But in a press conference called at her official residence Ganabhaban at 4pm on Sunday, she spoke a great deal about the “one country”.

“Pakistan is a defeated force. We defeated them in our Liberation War [in 1971]; as a defeated force they can tell many things which matter little to us … Pakistan’s view is nothing but the aspersion of a defeated party, which people of Bangladesh should consider in that manner. We will be re-evaluating our relationship with Pakistan. But the diplomatic ties will be there … we will face them [Pakistan] diplomatically. Before severing diplomatic relations with Pakistan, people of Bangladesh should consider cutting off links with their local cohorts and boycott them in the social and political arena.”

Her harsh statement is in response to Islamabad’s protests over recent execution of a 1971 war crimes convict. Pakistan reacted to execution of a business tycoon and Jamaat-e-Islami leader Mir Quasem Ali last month saying “the act of suppressing the opposition, through ‘flawed trials’, is completely against the spirit of democracy.” Thus, this “growing interference” by Pakistan “in the internal affairs of Bangladesh created an environment” which was “not conducive to the successful hosting of the 19th SAARC Summit in Islamabad”. Up until now, Pakistani media and analysts were blaming India for pressuring other South-Asian countries for boycott of the summit.

On the need to re-organize SAARC, Ms. Hasina said –

“I will not take an independent stand on it … Such a decision should be taken collectively.”

Her statement clearly shows the stand Bangladesh shall take should re-organisation of SAARC takes place. On the rising tension between India and Pakistan, she said-

“We are closely monitoring the situation. Certainly we don’t want another full-scale war in this region, this will affect us too. I hope the tension and recent escalation of events will eventually end in a peaceful manner.”

 

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