'It's an attempt to meddle in internal affairs'
War crimes trial campaigners and prosecutors in Bangladesh reacted sharply to a statement from Islamabad on Thursday's Supreme Court dismissal of condemned war criminal Motiur Rahman Nizami's review petition.
Pakistan once again attempted to intervene in Bangladesh's internal affairs and showed utmost audacity by issuing such a statement, they said.
They also urged the government to lodge a strong protest.
The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed Nizami's petition for reviewing its verdict that upheld his death penalty awarded by the International Crimes Tribunal-1 in 2014.
The Al-Badr leader has now only one option left, seeking presidential clemency by confessing to the crimes he had committed during the nine-month war.
On Friday, Pakistan foreign ministry issued a statement, reported The Dawn of Pakistan.
The statement said, “We have noted with deep concern and anguish the dismissal of the review application on the death sentence, by the Supreme Court of Bangladesh, for Mr Motiur Rahman Nizami the leader of Jamaat-e-Islami.”
“We have also been following the reaction of the international community and human rights organisations to the controversial trials in Bangladesh, related to events of 1971,” the statement read.
“There is a need for reconciliation in Bangladesh in accordance with the spirit of Tripartite Agreement of April 1974 which calls for a forward looking approach in matters relating to the events of 1971,” it mentioned.
After the execution of Jamaat leader Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed and BNP leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury in November last year, Pakistan issued similar statements creating diplomatic tension between Dhaka and Islamabad.
Pakistan even denied committing any war crimes or atrocities during the 1971 Liberation War, triggering a huge outrage in Bangladesh.
About Friday's statement, veteran war crimes researcher Shahriar Kabir told The Daily Star that Pakistan itself has committed genocide in Bangladesh during the Liberation War and now it is siding with the their collaborators, who also committed genocide in 1971.
The ongoing trial of the war criminal is Bangladesh's internal affairs and Pakistani has no right to intervene, said Shahriar, also the acting president of Ekattorer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, an organisation campaigning for the war crimes trial since early 90's.
The government should react to the “audacity” Pakistan had shown by issuing such a statement, he added.
About the tripartite agreement, he said Pakistan itself violated the agreement, as it did not take back the standard Pakistanis living Bangladesh.
Besides, the agreement had no validity as neither Bangladesh nor Pakistan parliament endorsed it, he said.
As per the Vienna Convention, to which Bangladesh is a signatory, there are some crimes that cannot be forgiven by any government, and genocide is one of them, he added.
The 2013 verdict in the case against Abdul Quader Mollah said, “Amnesty shown to 195 listed war criminals are opposed to peremptory norms of international law. It is to be noted that any agreement and treaty amongst states in derogation of this principle stands void as per the provisions of international treaty law convention [Article 53 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of the Treaties, 1969].
“Despite the immunity given to 195 listed war criminals belonging to the Pakistan armed forces on the strength of 'tripartite agreement', the Act of 1973 [International Crimes (Tribunals) Act-1973] still provides jurisdiction to bring them to the process of justice,” said the International Crimes Tribunal-2.
Mofidul Hoque, another veteran war crimes researcher, said Nizami had been sentenced to death for killing intellectuals. The Al-Badr carried out the Pakistan army plan to wipe out the Bangladeshi intellectuals.
So the Pakistani military high command, especially Rao Farman Ali, who is still alive, is deeply involved in the killing of intellectuals and Pakistan has the responsibility to bring him to justice, said Mofidul, also a trustee of Liberation War museum.
“They [Pakistan] should ask for collaboration from Bangladesh in rendering justice for the crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity [committed in 1971],” he added.
Tureen Afroz, a prosecutor of International Crimes Tribunal, said Pakistan has absolutely no right to intervene in the internal affairs of Bangladesh.
“Whether we have to reconcile with local collaborators [of the Pakistan army] that is absolutely our internal matter, unless they [Pakistan] claim the local collaborators were their own people whom they left behind in 1971,” said Tureen.
Another prosecutor, Syed Sayedul Haque Sumon, said Pakistan in no way could make such a comment over the ongoing war crimes trials as Bangladesh, as a sovereign country, is holding trials of its own people.