After years of strained ties between Pakistan and Bangladesh, recent contacts between leaders of the two countries are a rare glimpse of hope. Possibly, if not yet probably, Islamabad and Dhaka might break the ice between them.
Since 1971, the two have seen many ups and downs between relations. Jamaat-e-Islami and main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party leaders contributed to it in the recent past. On accusations of committing atrocities during the 1971 War of Independence, the International Crimes Tribunal was called upon.
Bangladesh’s new foreign policy
“Our foreign policy is friendship to all and malice to none,” Bangladeshi Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told Anadolu Agency.
There are no permanent friends or enemies when it comes to foreign policy said Momen. He added that no country, its people, or its media should do anything that may create an adverse impact over the bilateral ties between two states. With Dhaka pursuing a foreign policy as such, bilateral ties could continue to improve.
There was a courtesy meeting between Momen and Pakistani High Commissioner in Dhaka, Imran Ahmed Siddiqui, earlier this month. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan made a telephone call to his Bangladeshi counterpart, Sheikh Hasina.
Pakistan’s take on matters
Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, Aisha Farooqui, said her country “has a keen desire to see bilateral relations and peoples’ relations with Bangladesh improve and strengthen.”
“We have a very strong historical connection and we want to have cooperative relations between us,” Farooqui told Anadolu Agency
“As founding members of SAARC [South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation] and for the mutual objective of forwarding movement towards economic prosperity and fulfillment of development goals of the people of South Asia we believe both Pakistan and Bangladesh can play an important role to strengthen SAARC processes for regional cooperation,” she maintained.
Bad patch in India-Bangladesh ties
India helped the Bangladeshi militarily in the 1971 war, which resulted in a strong bond between Dhaka and New Delhi. However, increasing deaths of Bangladeshi nationals at the hands of Indian border forces, diversion of water on common rivers, and the Citizenship Amendment Act and the NRC have all contributed to sour ties.
Bangladesh’s growing relations with India’s arch-rival, China is also a concern for Delhi. Bangladesh says it’s personal affairs, and foreign policy is none of anyone else’s business. The intolerance and the harsh reaction by Indian media are being frowned at.
Terming recent moves “encouraging,” analysts, however, see the developments with cautious optimism.
Imran Khan’s initiative to make a phone call to Bangladesh’s Prime Minister is a step in the right direction in mending fences with Dhaka.
He mentioned that insurmountable obstacles lay ahead. The issue of the apology casts a dark shadow on the relationship between Islamabad and Dhaka. It is too early to celebrate developments yet. Nevertheless, the happenings are a welcome sight.