The Financial Express

‘Pak PM’s phone call part of diplomatic norms’

Increasing ties with China not to affect Indo-Bangla relations

| Updated: July 28, 2020 09:29:52

‘Pak PM’s phone call part of diplomatic norms’

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s telephone call to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, and growing economic cooperation with China have nothing to do with Indo-Bangladesh ties, said Foreign Minister on Sunday.  

Terming the concern totally irrational and unnecessary hype, Dr AK Momen pointed out that Imran Khan’s phone call and his meeting with the Pakistan High Commisioner, were ‘just part of the diplomatic norms’.

 “The Pakistan PM’s call was part of diplomatic norms. We did not have Pakistani High Commissioner in Dhaka for around two years. He had a meeting with me which is also a part of the diplomatic process” said the minister.

“And I told the Pakistan High Commissioner that Bangladesh-Pakistan ties will not be normal unless the Pakistan government formally seeks apology for the genocide, they had committed in Bangladesh during our liberation war” added Momen.

He further said that the Indo-Bangladesh ties are role models for neighbourhood relations and this unique tie is based on blood, confidence and solid trust mentioning that all major disputes were resolved through discussions.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister, however, mentioned that sometimes one or two minor incidents on border caused problem for the government.

‘When, a person is killed on the border due to a sudden and minor accident, it hits the headline in our media. Many also exaggerate these incidents which causes problem for us’ he said.

Many in India and Bangladesh, have recently, expressed concerns that China has initiated a behind the scene move to bridge the gap between Pakistan and Bangladesh in a bid to undermine the Indo-Bangladesh ties.

Influential Indian dailies like the Hindu and Deccan Herald carried reports saying that China is planning to create distance between India and Bangladesh.

Quoting Bangladeshi sources, the Hindu also said that despite repeated request, Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Riva Ganguly Das could not meet Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the last fpur months due to the interference from the pro-Chinese lobby within the government.

On the other hand, a Deccan Herald report said, a phone call between the Prime Ministers of Pakistan and Bangladesh earlier this week ‘stirred unease in New Delhi, which suspected China's hidden hand behind the rare outreach’.

New Delhi suspects that Beijing is trying to play the role of a mediator to bring its “all-weather ally” Islamabad and Dhaka closer, leaving behind the five-decade long bitterness, which has its origin in Pakistan Army’s atrocities in erstwhile East Paksitan, says a report run by the Deccan Herald.

When his attention was drawn, Foreign Minister said none be should compared between Bangladesh and India ties and Bangladesh and China ties.

 “If there is any issue between China and India, it is not our headache. It is their headache. Both of these countries are good friends of Bangladesh” Dr Momen said.

China and India both are contributing to the development of Bangladesh, he said.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan there is a strong perception that Pakistan government has geared up efforts to reset its ties with Bangladesh.

Pakistan is quietly making efforts to mend its ties with Bangladesh after certain developments in the region have provided a window of opportunity to both countries to seek rapprochement, said leading Pakistani newspaper The Express Tribune.

Diplomatic sources familiar with the development believe that the current regional environment has compelled Islamabad and Dhaka to seek reengagement, it said.

Dhaka is already part of Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). Recently, Beijing allowed Bangladesh to export goods to China with zero tariffs. Similarly, China has been assisting Bangladesh dealing with Covid-19 pandemic.

“As a result of this cooperation, Bangladesh surprisingly kept quiet over the recent military standoff between India and China. Dhaka even did not offer condolences to India over the killing of its 20 soldiers including a Colonel during a bloody fight with China in the high altitude Ladakh region” reported the Pak daily.

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