IN July Prime Minister Imran Khan made a maiden phone call to his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina Wajid in which he underscored the importance of improved ties between the two countries.

Given the acrimonious history since 1971 when the eastern wing of Pakistan broke away to become an independent country, ties between Islamabad and Dhaka have been far from cozy. So under these circumstances, the phone call could be regarded as an attempt at improving relations between the two countries.

Imran Khan reiterated his country’s commitment to deepening fraternal relations with Bangladesh.

Although there had been hardly any regular cultural exchanges between the two countries it is worth mentioning that the Bangladesh cricket team visited Pakistan to play a Test series earlier this year which was unfortunately left incomplete because of Covid-19 pandemic. Earlier, Bangladeshi women cricketers had also toured Pakistan and both teams were warmly received.

Another noted personality to visit Pakistan was the popular film star of yesteryear, Shabnum, who too was enthusiastically greeted by her old admirers. Recently, the passing away of former Bangladesh Air Force ace pilot Saiful Azam, who had served PAF with distinction in united Pakistan, was widely mourned, and his services were applauded by his former PAF colleagues.

Dhaka now needs to move forward for a better future for the people of both countries through the strengthening of bilateral relations. Although the past is bitter, it now needs to be buried.

Fawad Hashmey
Lahore

Published in Dawn, September 6th, 2020

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