ISLAMABAD - Diplomatic row between Pakistan and Bangladesh deepened yesterday after Islamabad asked Dhaka to withdraw one of its diplomats, sources said.

Even though Foreign Office remained tightlipped about development and did not give any official account, credible diplomatic sources confirmed that Pakistan has asked Dhaka to recall senior diplomat Moushumi Rahman from its High Commission in Islamabad within 48 hours.

They said that the move is apparently in retaliation to expulsion of a Pakistani diplomat Farina Arshad last month who allegedly funded a suspected extremist on trial for espionage, a charge vehemently rejected by Pakistan.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque said Islamabad had on Tuesday asked Dhaka to recall senior diplomat Moushumi Rahman.

“The political counsellor and head of chancery in Islamabad has been given till Thursday to leave the country,” Haque told AFP.

The secretary did not offer any reason for Pakistan’s decision to expel the diplomat, but experts believe it was a retaliatory move.

“It is unsurprising and of course a tit-for-tat measure by Islamabad,” Delwar Hossain, professor of International Relations at Dhaka University said.

Idris Sheikh, a suspected member of the banned Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), told a Dhaka court last month that he received 30,000 taka ($380) from Pakistani diplomat Farina Arshad, according to police detectives.

A formal statement from Islamabad dismissed the charges “baseless”, adding: “an incessant and orchestrated media campaign was launched against her on spurious charges”.

Bilateral relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh soured after serious reaction evoked in Pakistan over Dhaka’s execution of senior Bangladesh Nationalist Party leader Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury and Jamaat-i-Islami’s Secretary General Ali Ahsan Muhammad Mujahid in November.

Pakistan Interior Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan criticised the executions on the floor of the National Assembly after widespread reaction from political parties including Jammat-e-Islami.

This followed a strong official protest by Islamabad with Dhaka regarding the execution as violation of the bilateral agreement accord between the two countries.

The Bangladeshi leaders had been convicted of genocide and rape by a domestic ‘war crimes tribunal’ called International Crimes Tribunal (ICT), which had been set up under a 1973 legislation that was amended in 2009 to resume the trials.

The original 1973 legislation for the establishment of war crimes had been set aside by Hasina Wajid’s father and Bangladesh’s founding father Mujibur Rehman after a tripartite agreement signed in April 1974 for the repatriation of war prisoners.

Mujibur Rehman had then agreed that in the interest of regional peace, nobody would be put on trial for alleged crimes committed during the 1971 war.

Bangladesh had felt offended when Pakistan reminded it of its founding father’s promise contained in the 1974 tripartite agreement under which Dhaka had agreed not to proceed against those whom it had accused of ‘war crimes’ during the 1971 war.