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The BBC's Zaffar Abbas in Islamabad
"Observers here say that the latest incident is likely to further strain relations"
 real 28k

Dhaka Daily Star editor Mahfuz Anam
"It boils down to an issue of national pride"
 real 28k

Thursday, 30 November, 2000, 20:30 GMT
Pakistan recalls Dhaka diplomat
A burning Pakistani flag
Protesters in Dhaka burned Pakistani flags
Pakistan has announced that it is recalling its deputy high commissioner from Bangladesh.

The move is the culmination of an increasingly bitter row over atrocities which took place during the 1971 war, when Bangladesh - formerly East Pakistan - gained its independence.

The Bangladeshi Foreign Minister has welcomed the decision, saying Islamabad's hand had been forced by the tremendous pressure from his ministry and the people of Bangladesh.

Why should Pakistan apologise when we lost half of Pakistan

Pakistani deputy high commissioner Irfanur Raja

The deputy high commissioner, Irfanur Raja, alleged on Monday that the ruling Bangladeshi Awami League - and not the Pakistani army - first committed atrocities in the war.

Bangladesh has been pressing Pakistan to take action against those implicated in the events of 1971.

Mr Raja refused to apologise for Pakistani actions at the time.

"Why should Pakistan apologise when we lost half of Pakistan," he said.

His comments sparked demonstrations outside the Pakistani High Commission in the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka.

Protestors burned Pakistani flags and demanded the deputy high commissioner's expulsion.

Rising tensions

The Pakistani foreign ministry said the controversy around Mr Raja's comments was stopping him from doing his job.

"In the circumstances it has become impossible for the officer to carry out his duties and responsibilities as a member of the High Commission," said a spokesman for the ministry.

Sheikh Hasina at the UN
Sheikh Hasina called for action against military rulers

"We regret the controversy surrounding the reported remarks," he added.

The incident has fuelled a long-running dispute between Islamabad and Dhaka.

In an address to the UN Millennium Summit in September, the Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, appealed for action against military regimes.

She also called for war crimes trials against Pakistanis allegedly involved in 1971 atrocities.

As a result, the Pakistani military ruler, General Perez Musharraf, refused to meet her.

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See also:

15 Sep 00 | South Asia
Musharraf criticises Bangladesh premier
12 Sep 00 | South Asia
Hasina surprised by Musharraf 'snub'
30 Aug 00 | South Asia
Bangladesh requests war report
31 Jul 00 | South Asia
Pakistan after the coup: Special report
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