Bangladesh’s first foreign secretary dead

Sunday, December 5, 2010

DHAKA - A.F.M. Abul Fateh, Bangladesh’s first foreign secretary who was appointed after the country’s liberation in 1971, has died in London. He was 86.

Born in 1924 in Kishoreganj, Fateh joined the first batch of Pakistan Foreign Service trainees in 1949 and was sent to Paris as the third secretary in the Pakistani embassy. He received his first posting as ambassador at the Pakistani embassy in Baghdad in 1970.

After the Pakistani military crackdown in March 1971, Fateh on a request from his friend Syed Nazrul Islam, the acting president in the Bangladesh government-in-exile, joined the liberation war.

He fled Baghdad in July 1971 and switched sides to fight for Bangladesh’s cause, being the first Pakistani ambassador to do so.

Fateh went to London, where the British government refused to budge to Pakistani demands that he be extradited, The Daily Star said Sunday.

He returned to Dhaka after its liberation and was the highest Bangladeshi official till the cabinet took charge. He became foreign secretary at the end of 1971.

In 1972, he took up the position of Bangladesh’s first ambassador to Paris where he stayed till 1976. The early part of this posting involved extensive travels to Africa to persuade African governments to recognise the independence of Bangladesh.

In 1975, he was appointed high commissioner to Britain, a post he took up in 1976. The Bangladesh government also approved his dual citizenship.

Fateh retired in 1982, and went to Dhaka where he lived for 10 more years with his wife, before they settled in London.

Filed under: Politics

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