Bangladesh’s Foreign Ministry has announced that his country will not attend a key South Asian summit in Pakistan scheduled for November, a day after a similar decision by India, the largest member of the regional bloc.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs M. Shahriar Alam attributed the Wednesday decision to boycott the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit to his country's "domestic engagements," without elaborating.
Diplomatic tensions between Dhaka and Islamabad have soared in recent years, with each country summoning the other’s envoy after Bangladesh executed people convicted of involvement in the country's 1971 war of independence from Pakistan.
Bangladesh claims Pakistani soldiers, backed by local associates, killed three million people and raped 200,000 women during the war, an allegation Pakistan denies.
The development comes a day after India’s Foreign Ministry declared that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (shown below) would not attend the regional summit in response to an attack on an army base that New Delhi blames on Pakistani militants.
Tensions have been on the rise between the two arch-rivals since an attack on an Indian military base in Kashmir killed nearly 20 Indian soldiers on September 18.
India says the attackers were from a militant group based in Pakistan, with Modi accusing Pakistan of "exporting terrorism." Islamabad has rejected India's claims as "unfounded and premature."
The disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir has already witnessed a rise in mass protests over the killing of a pro-independence figure in July. Tens of thousands of Indian government troops have been deployed to Indian-administered Kashmir and over 80 people have lost their lives in the ensuing crackdown.
India and Pakistan have claimed Kashmir in full since they won independence from the British rule in 1947, but they only have partial control over it.
Thousands of people have been killed in the unrest in Kashmir since the early 1990s.