Bangladesh PM shuns Pakistan summit invitation
14 November, 2012
DHAKA: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has turned down an invitation to a summit in Islamabad next week, officials said on Tuesday, despite a recent olive branch from the Pakistan government.
"The prime minister is not going to attend the summit," Syed Masud Khundoker, a director general in Bangladesh's Foreign Ministry, told AFP. An official in Hasina's office, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the prime minister would not be joining the eight-nation D8 group of developing nations summit on November 22, and said Foreign Minister Dipu Moni would instead represent Bangladesh.
Neither official explained Hasina's decision not to attend. Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani had issued the invitation to Hasina in person last Friday on a rare visit to Bangladesh by a senior Pakistani. Relations between the two sides remain extremely delicate with Moni asking Rabbani last week for Pakistan to apologise for war crimes committed by the army.
The Daily Star, a Dhaka-based newspaper, said that policy advisers had told Hasina that it would be unwise to visit Pakistan unless Islamabad offered a formal apology to Dhaka for what it regards as a "genocide". Ties have been particularly strained since Hasina's Awami League party came to power in 2009 as it had led the freedom struggle against Pakistan. However Hasina did visit Pakistan in 1999 in her first stint in office, in a bid to ease escalating tensions between India and Pakistan.