Sunday, October 20, 2019 | ePaper

Pakistan-Bangladesh Bilateral Relations

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Shah Faisal Kakar :
Pakistan and Bangladesh are two important Muslim countries and enjoy brotherly relations which are rooted in common religion, history, cultural heritage and united by a joint struggle for independence.  Foundation of the All India Muslim League was laid down in Dhaka in December 1906, when Nawab of Dhaka moved a resolution for establishing a Muslim organization to be called the All India Muslim League.  Sher e Bengal AK Fazlul Haque inspired the minds of millions of Muslims of the subcontinent with his historic demand for an independent homeland for the Muslims in 1940 in the form of the Lahore Resolution.
As sovereign independent States, relations between Pakistan and Bangladesh started in 1974 when, forgetting the bitterness of the past, Prime Minister of Bangladesh Sheikh Mujibur Rahman visited Pakistan on the invitation of Prime Minister of Pakistan Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to attend the second Summit of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) held in Lahore from 22nd to 24th February, 1974. It was on this historic occasion that Pakistan formally recognized Bangladesh as a sovereign independent State, thus, facilitating its entry into OIC. This visit of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to Pakistan and the reciprocal visit of Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to Bangladesh in June 1974 set the stage for the future warm relations between the two brotherly Muslim States. The warmth showed by the people of Pakistan and Bangladesh during these visits and the statement of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman that "he wanted the people to forget the past and to make a fresh start" had certainly raised the expectations that momentary differences might separate the brothers, but their hearts continued to throb together.    
Today, the love of the people of Pakistan and Bangladesh for each other can be seen on the cricket field. Both Pakistani and Bangladeshi spectators celebrate the victory of each other's team against a third country as their own victory. Shakib Al Hasan, Mushfiqur Rahim, andTamim Iqbal have the same number of fans in Pakistan as in Bangladesh and likewise Wasim Akram, and Shahid Afridiis as popular in Bangladesh as in Pakistan.
  Not only the social bonds are strengthening mutual ties, especially between the younger generations. Likewise, economic and commercial relations have also shown positive upward trajectory in recent years in the form of bilateral trade that has gone up to the US $ 790 million from 685 million dollars in 2016-17. Bangladesh ranks amongst top export destinations of Pakistan. Still, there are huge opportunities for improvement in bilateral trade to the mutual benefit of both. Pakistani exports - raw cotton, electronics, and electrical goods, motorbikes, CNG Rickshaws, etc. - have a huge potential in Bangladesh that could be imported at very competitive rates. Cooperation in economic and trade will not only alleviate poverty which is the common problem of both the countries but will also go a long way to rejuvenate business potentials.
Pakistanis are jubilant at the success stories of Bangladesh, like the recent graduation of Bangladesh from the Least Developed Country (LDC) category to a developing nation.
Also, Pakistan appreciates the generosity shown by Bangladesh government to the hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas Muslims fleeing violence in Rakhine by providing them shelter. Pakistan supports Bangladesh at all international fora such as OIC, in its efforts for a peaceful solution to this humanitarian crisis. It is high time for the international community to pay heed to the plight of the most prosecuted community on the earth.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has expressed his desire to promote good friendly relations with all neighbouring countries, especially the Muslim States. This would surely give a fresh impetus to the ties between Pakistan and Bangladesh.
The gravity of growth has shifted to Asia and now it is the turn of people of this region to see development and prosperity leaving behind the past and looking forward to a bright future. Pakistan wishes to have enviable relations with Bangladesh and pray for a peaceful, prosperous, stable and strong Bangladesh because we believe that a vibrant Bangladesh is vital for a peaceful and stable South Asia.

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