Bangladesh on Saturday accused Pakistan of breaching the post-1971 liberation war agreement by not taking back thousands of its stranded citizens, affecting the validity of the treaty.
“Under the 1974 agreement (among Dhaka, new Delhi and Islamabad), Pakistan was obligated to take back its stranded citizens from Bangladesh. They did not fulfil their obligation over the decades,” Law Minister Anisul Huq said at a discussion.
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He said, Bangladesh on the other hand, complied with the treaty allowing the defeated Pakistani soldiers’ repatriation and in no way breached the agreement by bringing to justice Bangladeshi perpetrators of war crimes who carried out atrocities siding with the invading Pakistani troops.
He added that according to the principle of law, if any party violates a treaty, its validity comes into question while Pakistan itself “clearly defied” the agreement by refusing to take back its citizens over the decades.
Thousands of Urdu-speaking Muslims, dubbed as ‘Biharis’, who migrated to the former East Pakistan after partition in 1947, continued to stay in makeshift homes called Bihari camps in Bangladesh since 1971 and waited for decades to go to Pakistan but the subsequent governments in Islamabad declined to take them.
The law minister’s comments came amid a growing diplomatic row between the two countries as Pakistan recently accused Bangladesh of failure to uphold the commitment of “not to proceed with the trials” in line with the 1974 treaty since Dhaka took initiatives to try the 1971 war criminals among its own nationals.
Pakistan had been upset after fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami chief Motiur Rahman Nizami was executed for war crimes in Bangladesh earlier this week and Pakistani parliament also passed a resolution condemning the hanging.
Bangladesh said Pakistan’s reaction proved that Nizami was a “traitor” when he acted as chief of the infamous Al-Badr militia, an auxiliary unit of Pakistani troops that committed mass killings during the war.
Bangladesh had accused Pakistan of “deliberate misinterpretation” saying nowhere in the agreement was it mentioned that Dhaka could not try its own nationals who had committed war crimes and sided with Pakistani troops during the liberation war.
The two countries in the past week summoned and counter-summoned their envoys issuing statements and counter statements over Nizami’s execution.