Pakistan shows no reason yet
Maushumi Rahman, counsellor (political) at Bangladesh High Commission in Islamabad, left Pakistan last night for Lisbon to take up her new assignment in the country's Portugal mission.
This comes amid Dhaka's deep anger over Islamabad's "request" to withdraw her, without citing any reason.
The move appears to be a counter-action from Pakistan following the withdrawal of its diplomat Farina Arshad from Bangladesh on December 23 last year after she was accused of terror financing.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam says Pakistan's action may affect relations between the two countries.
"What they did is not understandable to us ... This is not going to help the relations," he told a select group of reporters at his office yesterday afternoon.
"No explanations were given. They could not cite any valid reason," he said, adding that Bangladesh was closely observing the situation.
About Maushumi, the state minister said, "She has done a great job."
Shahriar said Dhaka could "foresee some sort of retaliation" following withdrawal of the Pakistan diplomat.
"We knew that something was being cooked ... We were prepared and that helped us make the quick decision to send her [Maushumi] to a fresh diplomatic assignment ... upholding the country's image."
Maushumi left Pakistan last night and is expected to reach Lisbon this afternoon, foreign ministry sources confirmed.
"She will join in the mission very soon," Imtiaz Ahmed, Bangladesh ambassador to Portugal, told The Daily Star yesterday.
The Pakistan foreign ministry summoned Bangladesh High Commissioner to Pakistan Suhrab Hossain on Tuesday afternoon and asked for Maushumi's withdrawal in 48 hours, without showing any reason.
Dhaka is yet to decide on Maushumi's replacement but will most likely to change the incumbent high commissioner when his contractual appointment expires in April, the state minister confirmed. "We have decided to appoint a new high commissioner there."
Asked if Bangladesh was considering severing or downgrading ties with Pakistan, Shahriar Alam said there is no such plan at the moment, but he did not rule out the possibility.
Dhaka would show patience in maintaining the bilateral ties but no one would be spared if they tried to tarnish the country's image or create trouble in Bangladesh using diplomatic immunity, he said. "We didn't spare anybody in the past either."
Responding to another query, he said there might be a discussion on Bangladesh-Pakistan current relations in parliament.
Diplomatic ties between Dhaka and Islamabad have soured after Bangladesh started executing the war criminals who had actively collaborated with the Pakistan army in the genocide of some three million Bangladeshis and the rape of no less than two lakh women during the 1971 Liberation War.
Pakistan's parliament and a provincial assembly adopted resolutions after executions of the war criminals while senior government ministers and the Pakistan foreign ministry launched a propaganda campaign by distorting the established truths of the war.
Following the execution of top Jamaat leader Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed and BNP leader Salauddin Quader Chowdhury, Pakistan summoned the Bangladeshi envoy there to lodge a formal protest on Nov 30.
It was Moushumi Rahman, acting high commissioner in Islamabad back then, who had met the Pakistan authorities.
Bangladesh last year asked Pakistan to take back two of its diplomats stationed in Dhaka for their direct involvement in terror financing and circulating fake Indian currency.
Farina Arshad flew back home on December 23 after the intelligence agencies of Bangladesh uncovered her close connections and financial transactions with some militant groups, including Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh.
On January 31, Pakistan recalled its diplomatic official Mazhar Khan from Dhaka for his alleged links with terror financing and currency forgery rackets.
BILATERAL MEETING UNCERTAIN
The annual Foreign Office Consultation (FOC) between Bangladesh and Pakistan has become uncertain due to the ongoing diplomatic tension.
Diplomatic sources said Pakistan Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry was scheduled to visit Dhaka late February to join the FOC with his Bangladesh counterpart Md Shahidul Haque.
The last FOC between the countries was held in Islamabad in 2010.
Foreign ministry officials said Pakistan's recent statement on war crimes trials, summoning of Bangladeshi envoys and finally asking for Maushumi's withdrawal have seriously affected the bilateral ties.
"The Pakistan foreign ministry has made it very difficult for Dhaka to engage with Islamabad," said a highly placed source in the ministry.