‘Pak’s role prompted B’desh to pull out of SAARC summit’

paks-role-prompted-bdesh-to-pull-out-of-saarc-summitDHAKA: Bangladesh today said “repeated interference” in its internal affairs by “a SAARC member country” prompted it to pull out of the grouping’s summit in Islamabad, a day after India decided not to participate in the event amid heightened tensions with Pakistan.

“Bangladesh decided not to take part in the (SAARC) summit because of repeated interference of a member state in its internal affairs,” state minister Shahriar Alam told a media briefing at his office in an oblique reference to Pakistan.

Alam said Dhaka has already conveyed its decision to the eight-member South Asian grouping’s current chair Nepal – and “we will take part in the SAARC summit in future if conducive atmosphere is restored”.

He added: “But being a founder member of SAARC, Bangladesh is committed to the spirit of the forum and its activities to promote connectivity and regional cooperation.”

Asked if India’s decision to pull out of the summit influenced Dhaka to stay away from it, Alam said “it was entirely our own decision”.

The minister did not directly name Pakistan though Dhaka-Islamabad ties have witnessed strains in recent months over trial and executions of some Bangladeshi perpetrators of 1971 war crimes for carrying out atrocities during the Liberation War siding with Pakistani troops.

Asked if Bangladesh would sever ties with Pakistan, he said “time will say what will happen” but “we will never compromise with issues involving Bangabandhu ((Bangladesh’s Father of the Nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman), 1971 war criminals trial and our independence and sovereignty”.

“We will take the decision (regarding Dhaka-Islamabad ties) in view of the extent of their activities,” he said.

The development came a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided not to attend the SAARC Summit, which was scheduled to take place in November, due to “the prevailing circumstances”.

Besides India and Bangladesh, Bhutan and Afghanistan have also decided not to participate in the summit. -PTI

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