Pakistan’s relations with Bangladesh have always experienced a deep freeze. But in the current stint of Sheikh Hasina Wajid as the Prime Minister (PM) of Bangladesh, ties between Islamabad and Dhaka practically took a nosedive. Of late however, Islamabad is trying to improve its relations with Dhaka. Despite a common history and conformity on major international and regional issues, both states have failed to come out of the bitter shadow of the past.
Today, these efforts to achieve normalcy in bilateral terms are needed more than ever. Therefore, the government deserves appreciation for trying to reset its ties with Bangladesh. Pakistan must undertake all that is needed to initiate a dialogue process to reset its relations with Bangladesh.
The recent meeting between Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen and Pakistan’s High Commissioner Imran Ahmed Siddiqui in Dhaka hopefully suggests the dawn of a new era. The meeting indicates that both sides realise the need for burying the hatchet. The changing regional dynamics demand that both sides come closer to cultivate benefits from the developing geopolitical shifts. With China and Pakistan’s partnership becoming the cornerstone for a regional bloc in Asia, Bangladesh and Pakistan can both gain something out of mutually beneficial trade relations, for a start.
Given the fact that India is not as close to Bangladesh as many imagine—at least lately—and the politics in the region are nowadays focusing more on partnerships and greater cooperation in the economic arena, Pakistan’s overtures to Bangladesh represent a smart foreign policy. Islamabad must offer Dhaka gradual resolution of the outstanding issues and simultaneously continuing to liaise politically, economically and culturally. This approach is a more common and successful one in international relations today. Relying on this strategy will help Pakistan win Bangladesh’s friendship; subsequently, the bond between the two sides will also mean encirclement of India.