The minimum amount of decency required for Bangladesh-Pakistan relations to able to move forward in any meaningful way has been sorely lacking.
Bangladesh has made the right decision, then, to boycott the 19th Saarc Summit, which was scheduled to be held in Islamabad this year in November.
Recently, relations between Bangladesh and Pakistan have gone from bad to worse, as Pakistan has repeatedly tried to interfere with Bangladesh’s internal affairs, creating a hostile environment that is not conducive to a Saarc Summit.
For a summit to be effective, the Pakistan and Bangladesh relationship needs to be more cordial and fraternal, and show at least base-level cooperation.
This is not possible in the light of the statements issued by Islamadad in recent times.
Not only has Pakistan not apologised or even recognised its crimes of 1971, it continues to deny and downplay them. This disqualifies it from having any right to comment on Bangladesh’s attempts to seek justice for 1971 war crimes.
It is utterly unacceptable for Pakistan to try to tell Bangladesh what to do with respect to the 1971 war crimes trials.
It is imperative that Pakistan recognises the true history of Bangladesh’s Liberation War, apologises for the atrocities committed by the Pakistan army, and supports Bangladesh’s right to try and execute war criminals.
In the past, Pakistan has even suggested that Bangladesh forgive and forget -- an absurd request considering that nothing resembling an apology has come from their end, while it is Bangladesh that has tried to maintain good relations by forgoing reparations and releasing Pakistani officers after the war.
There is no point in staging an insincere display of cooperation at the Saarc Summit at this point, when it is clear that Pakistan needs to answer some serious questions before Dhaka can join them at the table.
This boycott is Bangladesh’s chance to ask those questions.