Bangladesh summons Pakistani diplomat to lodge protest after official detained in Islamabad

DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh on Tuesday (Feb 2) summoned Pakistan's high commissioner to lodge a protest after a Bangladeshi official in Islamabad was detained for four hours, two Dhaka officials said, amid a worsening diplomatic row between the two countries.

Weeks of rising tension in the relationship were sparked in late November by the executions in Bangladesh of two opposition leaders convicted of crimes against humanity during the 1971 war when Bangladesh broke away from Pakistan.

At the time, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry expressed "deep concern and anguish" at the executions, describing the trials of those involved in alleged atrocities during the 1971 war as"flawed".

The Pakistani high commissioner was summoned after the Bangladeshi official in Pakistan was detained for hours on Monday, hours after police in the Bangladeshi capital detained an official of the Pakistan High Commission, citing his"suspicious movement".

Both officials were released within a few hours. "We have summoned the Pakistan high commissioner to lodge the protests on the missing incident," said a senior official at the foreign ministry in Dhaka, who asked not to be identified in the absence of authorisation to speak to the media.

Television channels broadcast images of the Pakistani diplomat leaving the foreign ministry.

Phone calls to the Pakistani High Commission in Dhaka went unanswered and Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesman could not be reached by phone .

Last month, a Bangladeshi diplomat in Pakistan was expelled in what Dhaka officials called "an act of retaliation" after a Pakistani diplomat in Dhaka was expelled after being accused of spying.

In late December, Pakistan withdrew Ms Farina Arshad, a diplomat at its high commission in Dhaka, after the Bangladeshi authorities accused her of spying and involvement in financing Islamist groups.

Bangladesh used to be part of Pakistan and was formerly known as East Pakistan, after the end of British colonial rule in 1947. But nationalists led a successful war of independence from what was then West Pakistan in 1971.

Bangladesh set up a tribunal in 2010 to prosecute people accused of crimes during the 1971 war. Most of those on trial had opposed the break with Pakistan.

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