ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s new high commissioner to Bangladesh Imran Siddiqui on Wednesday said he would seek to strengthen people-to-people ties between the two countries.

“In addition to government-to-government ties, my endeavour will be to promote and strengthen people-to-people contacts, as well as economic, commercial and cultural relations between the two countries,” High Commissioner Siddiqui said while talking to Dawn from Dhaka by phone.

Relations between Islamabad and Dhaka have remained largely tense since 2009, when Prime Minister Hasina Wajid’s government resumed trials of the alleged 1971 ‘war crimes’ that had been suspended after a 1974 tripartite ‘clemency’ accord between Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.

Pakistan’s mission in Dhaka has remained without a high commissioner for over 20 months before Mr Siddiqui assumed the responsibility.

In 2018, the Bangladesh government had refused to accept Pakistan’s high commissioner-designate Saqlain Sayedah. Later in 2019, the Bangladesh High Commission in Islamabad briefly halted its visa services for Pakistani nationals.

High Commissioner Siddiqui, earlier on Wednesday, presented his credentials to Bangladesh President Abdul Hamid at a ceremony at the Presidential Palace (Banga Bhaban). Mr Siddiqui said that he conveyed to President Hamid greetings and good wishes of President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2020