The Pakistan government’s decision to expel one of Bangladesh’s diplomats in retaliation to having one of their own deported is petty in the extreme; this sort of childish behavior is not the kind of reaction expected from a state. Admittedly, Bangladesh has not really helped things, fueling the conflict by deporting a diplomat in the first place, but responding in kind does not help matters in any way. There is no evidence of Pakistani diplomat, Farina Arshad’s involvement in terror-financing as claimed by Bangladesh. On its part, Pakistan has accused the expelled diplomat of conducting anti-Pakistan activities, an accusation which has not been substantiated in any way either.

Both countries should realize that this fight is senseless. President Hasina Wajid’s antagonistic rhetoric against Pakistan might serve to rouse popular support, but has no real relevance in the present considering Pakistan’s openness to having a meaningful relationship with Bangladesh. At the same time, statements issued by the Pakistani government expressing displeasure at the executions of JI leaders in Bangladesh serves no purpose except to strain a relationship that must be maintained and improved, instead of being dismissed as unimportant. Pakistan on its part, needs to understand that while the 1971 war is just a war for this side, albeit one which it lost, it means so much more to Bangladesh. For Bangladesh, not only is it what 1947 was to both India and Pakistan, but it is also a dark reminder of the people lost as a result of the bloodshed. While Pakistan lost fighters and soldiers, Bangladesh lost ordinary people to innumerable cases of rape, mass murder and state-sponsored terrorism.

While the executions of JI leaders can be considered politically motivated, it also important to understand the very real significance that these play in maintaining Bangladesh’s policy of rejecting extremism. The leaders of JI, including Nizami used religion as a tool to incite their supporters against freedom fighters. And while this is difficult to stomach on this side of the border, executions of this sort also send a very clear message to the new wave of extremists in Bangladesh, with increasing attacks on secular activists, foreigners and places of worship in the country. Bangladesh does not want to make the country a breeding ground for extremism, and if this is the form of deterrence they wish to employ, that is their business. A principle stance against capital punishment is one thing, but weighing in on trials related to the biggest flash-point in the shared history of both countries is something Pakistan should steer well away from. Both countries should also remember the fundamentals of diplomacy, and not accuse each other’s missions of conducting anti-state activities without evidence.