Pakistan recalls woman diplomat in Bangladesh amid 'terror link' row

DHAKA: Pakistan today recalled a woman diplomat posted in Dhaka amid an uproar over her suspected links to Islamist terrorists, nearly a year after Bangladesh expelled another Pakistani national on identical charges. 

The move came two days after Bangladesh asked Pakistan to recall the diplomat, Fareena Arshad. 

"She has been recalled by Pakistan," a foreign ministry official here told PTI. 

Immigration officials at Dhaka's Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport confirmed that Arshad, who was the second secretary at the political section of the high commission here, left Dhaka on a Pakistan International Airlines flight this afternoon. 

The development came as media reports quoting investigators said a detained operative of outlawed Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) told them that the outfit maintained links with Arshad, who provided them money. 

According to the reports, the detained JMB operative identified as Idris told police that he travelled with the diplomat in her car in the city when she gave him Taka 30,000 ($382) while he made 48 trips to Pakistan in the past two years. 

The Pakistan High Commission earlier this week issued a rejoinder, claiming the media report over Arshad's militancy links were "baseless" and the reported police claims were "imaginary".

"It has been learnt that the 'story' was leaked to the press by the Detective Branch of police, and a section of the press published the same, without any verification worth the name," the Pak mission statement read. 

Later, a police spokesman told reporters that they did not provide the media with any information naming any specific country or any diplomat or official stationed in Bangladesh. 

Several government leaders including ministers lashed out at Pakistan for 'promoting militancy' in Bangladesh, with the shipping minister, Shahjahan Khan, saying: "Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka has become a den of militants." 

In January, a Pakistani High Commission staffer in Bangladesh was asked to leave the country after being found indulging in terror financing including circulating Fake Indian Currency Notes. 

Dhaka-Islamabad ties have soured over Islamabad's reactions following execution of two top 1971 war crimes convicts, who were found guilty of carrying out atrocities during the Liberation War siding with the Pakistani troops. 

Last week, the premier Dhaka University also scrapped ties with all Pakistani varsities amid continued outrage.



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