Bangladesh did not skip SAARC due to India's stance against Pak: Sheikh Hasina

Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina also asked India and Pakistan to respect the 'sanctity' of the Line of Control. Photograph:( AFP )

New Delhi, India Oct 14, 2016, 11.43 AM (IST)

Bangladesh pulled out of the SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) summit due to Pakistan's inability to curb terror in its own country and Islamabad's interference in their internal affairs, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina insisted on Friday.

Speaking to Indian newspaper The Hindu, Hasina insisted that Dhaka pulled out of the regional meet not because of the Uri attack in India last month.

"For Bangladesh, the reason (to pull out of SAARC summit) is totally different," Hasina told The Hindu.

"It was over the situation in Pakistan that we decided to pull out. The common people are the biggest sufferers of terrorism there (Pakistan). And that terror has gone everywhere, which is why many of us felt frustrated by Pakistan," she said.

Hasina's comments come a little over a fortnight after Bangladesh, along with Afghanistan and Bhutan, decided to pull out of the SAARC meet.

At the time, it was widely perceived that the three countries skipped the meet to back India's stance against Pakistan. 

A day earlier, India announced it would not attend the SAARC meet due to Pakistan's possible involvement in the deadly attack on an Indian Army installation in Uri, Kashmir on September 18.

India's decision to give the regional summit a skip was part of its diplomatic stratagem to isolate Pakistan in international fora.

Beef about 1971 war crime trials

Bangladesh premier Hasina also expressed her displeasure about Pakistan's stance against the 1971 war crime trials.

"Bangladesh has certain sensitivities over the International Crimes Tribunal [ICT of Bangladesh], where Pakistan showed its dissatisfaction with our processes and even raised the issue in their parliament," she said.

Hasina had initiated a 1971 war crime tribunal after she came to power in late 2008. She decided to proceed against those who were accused of committing war crime during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.

Pakistan has for long been accused by Bangladesh of perpetrating a genocide in 1971, in which several people were killed. Some historians say the number of dead could be in millions, while thousands of women and children were allegedly raped during the nine-month strife.

Islamabad says that Hasina has used the war crime trials as a tool to diminish powers of her political rivals. 

Since the ICT began, several leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami, the largest Islamist party in the country, and Bangladesh Nationalist Party have been convicted and even hanged. 

When asked about her opinion about India 'surgical strikes' in Pakistan-administered Kashmir, she said: "I do feel that both the countries should maintain the sanctity of the LoC (Line of Control) and that can bring peace."

Line of Control is a de facto border dividing India and Pakistan.