Pakistan, Bangladesh discuss trade in renewed push to mend ties

In this photo, Pakistan's High Commissioner to Bangladesh Imran Ahmed Siddiqui (centre right) speaks during a meeting with the President of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), Rizwan Rahman (centre left) on January 13, 2021. (Photo Courtesy: Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry)
Short Url
Updated 14 January 2021

Pakistan, Bangladesh discuss trade in renewed push to mend ties

  • Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Bangladesh meets Dhaka chamber of commerce president, stresses ‘desire’ to strength economic relations
  • Siddiqui hopes Joint Economic Commission between two countries is activated soon, says direct flights from Dhaka to Karachi need to be restored to promote trade

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s High Commissioner to Bangladesh Imran Ahmed Siddiqui met the President of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), Rizwan Rahman, on Wednesday and stressed Islamabad’s ‘desire’ to strengthen economic and commercial relations with the neighboring country.
Last week, Siddiqui announced that Islamabad had lifted all restrictions on visas for Bangladeshi citizens and now awaited a similar response from Dhaka. In recent weeks, Pakistan has repeatedly said it wants to ‘strengthen’ bilateral ties, particularly after a meeting between Siddiqui and Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence last month.
On Wednesday, Siddiqui told Rahman he hoped the Joint Economic Commission between the two countries would be activated soon, and said direct flights between Dhaka and Karachi needed to be restored in order to promote trade. A direct shipment facility from the Karachi to Chattogram ports also needed to be launched, he said.
During the meeting, the envoy said Pakistan’s fashion industry could also enter into a “useful partnership” with Bangladesh’s textile sector.
As India’s relations with its neighbors in the South Asian region deteriorate, old foes Pakistan and Bangladesh are making a push to build diplomatic, economic and cultural ties that could upend decades of historic configurations in the region.
A number of recent diplomatic developments have hinted at a thaw in the long-troubled equation.
Prime Minister Imran Khan invited his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina to visit Islamabad in a rare call in July that came just weeks after a ‘quiet’ meeting between Pakistan’s high commissioner to Dhaka and Bangladeshi Foreign Minister A. K. Abdul Momen.
Relations between the two countries have never recovered from the 1971 war when Bengali nationalists, backed by India, broke away from what was then West Pakistan to form a new country.
Ties reached a new low in 2016 when Bangladesh executed several leaders of its Jamaat-e-Islami party on charges of committing war crimes in 1971. Pakistan called the executions and trials “politically motivated,” arguing that they were related to the pro-Pakistan stance of the convicts during the war.
But now, officials on both sides say it’s time for a reset.
In a statement issued by the Bangladeshi Foreign Ministry last week, Bangladesh’s State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam was quoted as saying: “We look forward to engaging with Pakistan.”
Both sides agreed on the need to hold long-pending foreign office consultations that were last held in 2010, the circular added.
Alam also urged Pakistan to grant access to more Bangladeshi products under the South Asia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA), relax the negative list and remove trade barriers.
“The current trade balance tilts toward Pakistan,” he said, adding that the Pakistani side emphasized that it would address all non-trade barriers in order to establish “productive commercial relations” with Dhaka.


Pakistan says looking forward to future ‘high-level’ engagements with UAE

Updated 12 min 24 sec ago

Pakistan says looking forward to future ‘high-level’ engagements with UAE

  • Foreign minister Qureshi meets UAE ambassador, appreciates support for Pakistan’s Expo 2020 pavilion covering 3,500 square meters
  • UAE ambassador reaffirms desire for ties with Pakistan based on “mutual respect, understanding and common interests”

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi received the ambassador of the UAE to Pakistan, Hamad Obaid Ibrahim Salem Al Zaabi, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday and conveyed his hope for enhanced “high-level” engagements between the two nations in the future.
The UAE is Pakistan’s largest trading partner in the Middle East and has supported Pakistan in the areas of education, health, energy and infrastructure development over several decades. It is home to more than 1.6 million Pakistanis — the second largest Pakistani expatriate community abroad.
Recalling his successful visit to the UAE in December 2020, Qureshi underscored the importance of frequent high-level visits from both sides, “which serve to continually provide impetus toward deepening and diversifying bilateral relations.”
“He looked forward to enhanced high-level engagements with the UAE, as soon as the global health situation improved,” the foreign office said in a statement, quoting the foreign minister referring to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Qureshi paid tribute to late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who he said had “contributed immensely toward strengthening bilateral ties between the two countries.”
He acknowledged that the UAE and its leadership had “steadfastly” stood by Pakistan in its times of need.
“He stressed that the relationship benefitted from the warm sentiments between the leadership of the two countries, as well as the strong people-to-people linkages rooted in shared faith, values and culture,” the foreign office said.
Qureshi also appreciated the UAE’s support for Pakistan’s pavilion at the Expo 2020, a world expo to be hosted by Dubai originally scheduled for 20 October 2020-10 April 2021 but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers have kept the name Expo 2020 for marketing and branding purposes.
Pakistan’s pavilion at the Expo will cover an approximate area of 3,500 square meters and exhibit Pakistani culture, investment opportunities and tourism potential in the largest exhibition ever staged in the Arab world in which 190 countries and 25 million people are expected to participate.
The UAE ambassador “hailed the strong UAE-Pakistan relations and pledged to work toward further strengthening and diversifying them in all sectors for the benefit of the two countries and their peoples. He acknowledged the positive contribution made by Pakistani Diaspora toward the progress and development of the UAE.”
The ambassador reaffirmed the UAE’s desire to develop bilateral ties with Pakistan on “the basis of mutual respect, understanding, and common interests.”