Pakistan lauds role of Bengali Muslims in its creation

Rare words of praise signal thawing of relations between South Asian nations

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In a rare move, Pakistan’s top diplomat in Bangladesh on Friday praised the contributions of the Muslims of Bengal in the creation of Pakistan.

Since July 22 when Prime Minister Imran Khan and his Bangladeshi counterpart Shaikh Hasina spoke by telephone, the media landscape has been rife with speculations about a new political alliance in the region and picturing both the countries taking steps to improve ties in the near future.

Warming relationship

With the rare telephonic talk, political and economic compulsions appear to be taking the prime minister of Pakistan and Bangladesh towards rapprochement between the two countries. However, the process of reconciliation did not just begin with the phone call as quiet efforts to rebuild ties between the two countries have long been in motion.

Islamabad’s initiative for mending fences with Dhaka was launched after current high commissioner Imran Siddiqui assumed office in February this year.

Observers were caught by surprise when Mr Siddiqui earlier this month met Bang­ladesh’s Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen.

The Pak-Bangladesh relationship took a nosedive after Ms Wajed started her second tenure as the prime minister in 2009 and she resumed the so-called 1971 trial of the ‘war crimes’.

Pakistan has always considered the bitter past of the 1971 dismemberment as a closed chapter in view of the tripartite agreement signed in April 1974 for repatriation of war prisoners.

The government of Pakistan has included Bangladesh in List ‘A’ countries from October 2019 which has facilitated the travel of Bangladeshi businessmen to Pakistan.

In addition, it revealed that the issues regarding restricted visa regime by Bangladesh for Pakistani businessmen and maintaining a separate counter for registration of Pakistani businessmen on arrival before the immigration process were taken up with the relevant authorities in Bangladesh and, consequently, some positive development were witnessed towards this end.

The ministry maintained that the trade promotion measures ensuring effective participation in trade-related events by TDAP have resulted in first-ever participation of Pakistan Tanners Association’s (PTA) in trade shows like the “Leather Tech” in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 2018 and again in 2019.

Ms Wajed’s father and Ban­gladesh’s founding father Mujibur Rehman had after the accord agreed that in the interest of regional peace, no one would be put on trial for alleged crimes committed during the 1971 war.

“Their efforts are very well documented both in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Today, we remembered all our leaders and prayed for their souls,” Imran Ahmed Siddiqui, Pakistan’s high commissioner in Dhaka, told Anadolu Agency while speaking on the occasion of the 74th Independence Day of the country.

Pakistan’s High Commission in Dhaka on Friday also celebrated the day through recitation from the Quran and raising the country’s national flag to the tune of the national anthem.

Mr Khan, in his conversation, underscored the imp­ortance Pakistan attached to closer ties with Bangla­desh and highlighted the significance of regular bilateral contacts and people-to-people exchanges.

He also reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to Saarc and underlined the importance of both countries working for enhanced regional cooperation for sustainable peace and prosperity.

Mr Khan discussed Pakistan and Bangladesh’s fight against Covid-19 pandemic and extended commiserations on the material and human losses due to the recent flooding in Bangladesh.

He reiterated the invitation to Prime Minister Wajed to visit Pakistan, the PMO said.

Program on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic

Due to the prevailing coronavirus pandemic in Bangladesh, the program, however, was held with limited participation.

Pakistan got independence from the British on Aug. 14, 1947. Until 1971, Bangladesh was a part of Pakistan.

Read more: What happened to those who broke up Pakistan in 1971?

Recalling the struggles of the Muslims in the then Bengal province, Siddiqui added: “The leaders of Bengal – Nawab Sir Saleemullah, Hussain Shaheed Suhrawardy, A. K Fazlul Haq, Moulvi Tamizuddin, among several others, are part of glorious history of our struggle for Pakistan.”

Referring to relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh, he added that both countries “share unbreakable bonds of history, religion and culture. I am sure these bonds will become even stronger in the days ahead.”

Read more: Fall of Dhaka 1971: Questioning the Iconic 3 million

Frosty relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh have only recently begun thawing, with observers saying China has a role in mediation.

Last month, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke to his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina over the phone.

Anadolu with additional input by GVS News Desk

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