New Delhi [India]: With four of the eight South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) nations deciding to boycott the November summit in Islamabad, Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Syed Muazzem on Wednesday said the prevailing situation was not conducive for holding a successful meeting, especially after the Uri terror attack.
Muazzem told ANI, “Even before the Uri attack, Bangladesh did not take part at the ministerial level in both home and finance minister’s conference. So, it was almost a fore grown conclusion that our Prime Minister may not attend the SAARC summit in Pakistan. But, we still have kept our options open. But after the Uri attack, the situation as it prevails in the region, we believe is not conducive towards holding a successful SAARC summit. We have to defer the SAARC summit for a better time when peace and tranquillity will be restored in the region.”
Asserting that Bangladesh did not take part in SAARC Home Ministers and Finance Ministers conference, Muazzem said they had merely tried to indicate that Pakistan has been interfering in all internal affairs of its neighbours.
“Pakistan has interfered in terms of our judicial decisions as well as the executive order those relating to the trail of war communists. Pakistani envoy was regularly called to our ministry and we had expressed that they should not meddle, but they have continued. Bangladesh also believes that Pakistan has continued to assist and aide the home-grown terrorists, who from time to tie create problems. Pakistan has been asked time and again to desist from doing such an act, but I believe we still continue to differ from this,” he added.
Holding Pakistan responsible for creating an un-conducive situation for holding the summit at this stage, Muazzem said, “SAARC basically tries to promote regional cooperation and we can promote cooperation when we are at peace with each other. Bangladesh has never harboured terrorists.”
Muazzem said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took a very firm decision on this and she had promised that Bangladeshi territory would never be used for launching any attack against any of the neighbouring countries, adding that she had been very steadfast in the implementation of this.
Asserting that Bangladesh would like to continue with the SAARC process, Muazzem expressed hope that there would be a change in the Pakistani mindset and they would come back to the path of cooperation, instead of confrontation.
“We want the same pledge from other member countries. Pakistan has continued to interfere in the internal affairs. I didn’t see the interference from any other member countries. Basically, I don’t want to jump to a final conclusion at this stage, but as you know, we have tried to side by side promoted sub-regional cooperation…Bangladesh, India, Bhutan and Nepal, so far our sub-region is concerned,” he added.
Dubbing the non-participation of four SAARC members from the summit as a ‘setback’, Muazzem said Bangladesh would like to include Pakistan in order to promote regional harmony and cooperation.
“We would also like them to follow the path of peace and tranquillity. We have communicated this to the SAARC chairman, who will take the final decision. As per the charter of the SAARC, it requests the presence of all heads of states and government to be present at the SAARC summit because all decisions are taken on the basis of unanimity. So, when four-member countries are not going to take part in the SAARC summit, obviously the SAARCS summit cannot take place in Pakistan,” he added.
While pointing out that there had been postponement of the SAARC in the past as well, the Bangladesh High Commissioner to India said on each occasion, SAARC has decided to restore the situation and then it was possible to hold the summit.
“So, we are hopeful that we will be able to restore peace in our region and we will be able to hold the SAARC summit soon,” he said.
Reacting on Pakistan’s interference in the judicial matters of Bangladesh and supporting the home-grown terrorists, Muazzem said, “The war criminals who were tried in the Bangladeshi courts…we had a war crime tribunal and they were given the full opportunity to defend themselves. The tribunals also had the provision for an appeal by the normal Supreme Court review committee. Then it went through the process of clemency and eventually their execution.”
He said the war crimes tribunal process was transparent in accordance with its own Constitution.
“Pakistan has continued to question the trial procedure as well as the impartiality of the tribunal, which we construe as nothing but interference in our internal affairs, because courts are completely free and independent of an executive or any other branch.Basically we have seen during 2013 and 2014 that a lot of home-grown terrorists who were throwing these cocktail bombs, we have reasons to believe they have got supply routes from Pakistan,” he added.
After India said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not be going to Islamabad to attend the 19th SAARC Summit, scheduled to take place in November, Afghanistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh have also pulled out of the meet.
The SAARC summit cannot take place even if one of the eight members withdraws.
India yesterday announced that it would not attend the summit conveying the current SAARC Chair Nepal that in the prevailing circumstances, the Government of India is unable to participate in the proposed Summit. (ANI)