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Pakistan denies ‘crimes’ during Bangladesh conflict in 1971

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Pakistan has denied committing war crimes during Bangladesh’s independence conflict in 1971, in what analysts said Tuesday was an unusually strong statement signalling worsening ties. The move follows the executions in Bangladesh last week of senior opposition leaders convicted of war crimes during the conflict.

Pakistan has engaged in a war of words with its former eastern wing, which broke away in 1971 following the rise of a separatist movement and genocide as well as rape by Pakistani forces of Bangladeshi civilians.

In a statement by the foreign office on Monday, Islamabad “rejected insinuation of ‘complicity in committing crimes or war atrocities’.” “Nothing could be further from the truth,” the statement added. Badar Alam, editor of Pakistan’s Herald magazine, said the statement was a “stiffening of Islamabad’s stance” that marked a retreat from former Pakistani military ruler Pervez Musharraf’s 2002 statement of regret for “excesses committed during the unfortunate period”. Bangladesh has been roiled by violence for much of the last three years since a domestic tribunal began delivering its verdicts on opposition figures accused of orchestrating massacres during the 1971 war. (AFP)

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