ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has decided to boycott the forthcoming session of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) beginning in Bangladesh from Saturday due to uneasy and tense relationship between the two neighbouring South Asian countries.
“It is with regret and disappointment that the Parliament of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has decided not to participate in the 136th IPU Assembly, which is due to begin from April 1 in Dhaka (Bangladesh),” declared National Assembly Speaker Ayaz Sadiq through an official announcement here on Thursday.
A 10-member parliamentary delegation to be headed by the National Assembly speaker was due to participate in this international parliamentary moot.
Sources said the decision had been taken by the speaker in light of the reports of the Pakistan’s High Commission in Dhaka and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs suggesting that the environment was not conducive for the Pakistani parliamentarians to visit Bangladesh at this time.
Bangladesh last week observed ‘Genocide Day’ in the country to mark the launching of a military operation in 1971 by the Pakistan Army when it was a part of Pakistan before its independence. The Bangladesh government has also reportedly decided to formally ask the United Nations to declare March 25 as the ‘World Genocide Day’.
Decision taken in view of Dhaka’s unfriendly attitude ‘against the people and the state of Pakistan’
The sources said there were reports that the Pakistani delegation might face hostile attitude from the Bangladeshi authorities or protest demonstrations during their visit.
“The unpleasant decision has been taken in view of the continued malicious and uncalled for propaganda and unfriendly attitude of the Bangladesh government against the people and the state of Pakistan,” says the speaker in his statement.
“The members of the National Assembly and I have noted with dismay and disappointment the continuing actions and negative public statements of the leadership, public officials and media of Bangladesh despite Pakistan’s restraint and overtures to the country. I have, therefore, decided not to travel to Bangladesh as a visit at this point will not serve the purpose,” Mr Sadiq said.
The speaker recalled that the parliament of Pakistan had most sincerely laboured to harness good friendly and brotherly relations with the parliament and people of Bangladesh. It was in this spirit that the Pakistan’s parliamentary delegation had unanimously voted in favour of the speaker of Bangladesh Dr Sharmeen Chaudhary for the post of the chairperson of the executive committee of Commonwealth Parliamentary Association in Cameroon in 2014. Dr Chaudhary had won this election with a narrow margin of 82 votes in favour and 78 against with 10 votes of Pakistan going in her favour.
These positive actions of friendship, the speaker said, were again repeated when Bangladesh’s candidate Abdul Sabour Chaudhry was voted by Pakistan to become IPU president in 2014 while the same level of cooperation was extended through the platforms of Parliamentary Union of Islamic countries and the Asian Parliamentary Assembly. “However, it is noted with much regret that the friendly gestures were never reciprocated in the same coin,” he said.
Mr Sadiq recalled that the speaker of Bangladesh did not visit Pakistan despite repeated invitations. The parliament of Bangladesh also boycotted all international parliamentary moots, organised by the parliament of Pakistan during the last two years despite personal requests by the highest parliamentary leadership to the speaker of Bangladesh. This includes the Saarc Young Parliamentarians Conference in August, 2016, the International Women Parliamentarians Conference, 2017 and the Asian Parliamentary Assembly, 2017.
The speaker also recalled his meeting with the high commissioner of Bangladesh earlier this month in which he had again conveyed his best wishes to his counterpart and had urged for working together to develop brotherly relations.
“All such dedicated efforts, unfortunately, fell in vain and Pakistan was time and again targeted and maligned. Such hostile environment would not promote the interest of any side. It was, therefore decided, with a heavy heart, not to undertake a visit to Bangladesh at this time,” he said.
The speaker, nevertheless, conveyed his most sincere wishes to the people and the parliament of Bangladesh.
When contacted, Senate Chairman Raza Rabbani said that senators were also part of the official Pakistani delegation. He said the speaker had consulted him before making final announcement in this regard and it was a unanimous decision.
Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2017