Dhaka asks Pakistan to say sorry for genocide
Foreign minister Dipu Moni has urged Pakistan to apologise for the genocide its army had committed in the Bangladesh's war of independence from that country in 1971.
She raised issue on Tuesday when Pakistan high commissioner Alamgir Bashar Khan Babar met with her at her office, according to the foreign ministry.
The foreign minister also stressed that Islamabad should take millions of stranded Pakistanis back and settle disputes over sharing of resources.
"During the meeting the foreign minister raised the issue of resolving the unsettled matters pending for last 38 years between the two countries.
"These included sharing of assets, seeking formal apologies by Pakistan for the genocide in 1971, repatriation of stranded Pakistanis and others," the ministry said in a press statement released after the meeting.
The envoy had come to hand over a message condoling the death of prime minister Sheikh Hasina's husband Dr M A Wazed Miah. The high commissioner said the foreign secretaries would take up the issues at the meeting. The date of the foreign secretary-level talks is yet to be fixed.
Foreign ministry officials said Dipu Moni raised the apology issue for the first time since she took office in Jan 6. The ruling Awami League, which led the war, has been demanding apology for the killing of three million Bangladeshis and rape of 300,000 women by the Pakistan army during the bloody nine-month war.
Pakistan does not recognise the killing of three million Bangladeshis, though. Its former president Gen Parvez Musharraf during his trip to Dhaka in July 2002 apologised to Bangladesh for "developments in 1971".
Dipu Moni emphasised launching direct shipping services between Chittagong and Karachi ports to
boost the bilateral trade.
"Bilateral trade and commerce, zero-tariff for export of products from Bangladesh to Pakistan, abolition of visa system for diplomatic and official passports and information sharing for combating terrorism were discussed in the meeting," the statement said.The current volume of trade between Bangladesh and Pakistan is around $600 million. Bangladesh imports cotton, yearn, fruits and other garment raw materials from Pakistan, while it exports mainly jute and tea. Businesses say the absence of direct shipping facilities is one of the main obstacles to increasing trade.
They say the small volume of cargo would not make the direct shipping service "profitable". Both countries at its foreign secretary-level talks have earmarked increasing the volume to $2 billion.
Direct shipping service between the two port cities will help enhancing the trade volumes, businessmen say. The envoy sought Bangladesh's support for Pakistani candidature for international bodies like OIC, IAEA, UNDP and UNFPA, according to the statement.
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