Rejuvenated Pak-Bangladesh Ties
Notwithstanding the historical grievances of the past, Pakistan and Bangladesh look to reconcile their bilateral ties by paving the path of engagement and cooperation in diverse fields
Prime Minister Imran Khan leads Pakistan’s delegation to the 10th Developing Eight (D-8) Summit’ being hosted by Bangladesh in virtual format on April 8. Earlier Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated his Bangladeshi counterpart, Sheikh Hasina, on her country’s golden jubilee and invited her to visit Pakistan. Experts predict that fresh developments open a window of resumption of stalled ties between two states and also offer the opportunity to let go of past reverences and step towards a future of bilateral and regional cordial ties. For both sides, it is also the need for time to overcome shortcomings that went down but also learn lessons from history. Notwithstanding the historical grievances of the past, Pakistan and Bangladesh look to reconcile their bilateral ties by paving the path of engagement and cooperation in diverse fields.
Appraisal suggest that there are many lessons to learn from Bangladesh. In 1970 the GDP per capita was 40% lower than Pakistan however in 2019 Bangladesh’s GDP per capita is 45 % higher than that of Pakistan. This shows that Bangladesh has been jumping far ahead of Pakistan in the economic Realms. Bangladesh has achieved a larger absolute size economy than Pakistan by focusing on its Human Development especially education and women labor force. The stability in economic policy achieved through political stability and good governance is a real matter of pride for Bangladesh. Bangladesh’s resilience and export Lead model of economic development by getting Weavers from International markets especially in the pharmaceutical industry has led to its exponential growth of the economy. A country that once could not have a yard to cover its shrouds now exports more garment than either of its competitors in Asia. The ranking of Bangladesh is much higher on the Human Development Index than that of Pakistan showing that Pakistan can take a few pointers regarding the policy reconciliation from Bangladesh. The governance indicators from World Bank also indicate Bangladesh doing much better than Pakistan. Bangladesh has kept its focus on education health and employment of its citizens. The recent macroeconomic positive trends in Pakistan’s economy can be boosted by opening new frontiers of collaboration and cooperation with Bangladesh.
Weighed down by historical bitterness, Pakistan and Bangladesh have not cooperated majorly however with the recent shift from geo-strategy to geo-economics new pathways are opening for collaboration. Both Pakistan and Bangladesh have not withheld any foreign secretary dialogue for more than a decade now which if resumed can lead to enhancement of economic relations as well as mutually beneficial people-to-people ties of both countries. Just like Gen. Bjawa said on the platform of Islamabad security dialogue that it is time to bury the past and have cordial ties with India, there is an equally urgent need to do so with Bangladesh. During the Bangladesh golden jubilee celebrations president, Dr. Alvi has said while talking to the high commissioner of Pakistan to Bangladesh showing his interest in improving the bilateral ties of the two countries.
If Pakistan and Bangladesh put their better past to rest there is a promising opportunity of emerging bilateral in regional success corridors which will lead to a sum-gain situation of mutual gains. These new avenues of Corporation by burying the hatchet can lead to the formation of a stronger regional unit. Taking the example of other regional blocs such as ASEAN and EU which have reconciled despite their differences for Regional Cooperation, SAARC can also consists of 21 % population of the entire globe if becomes more unified within can become a major global market resulting in economic prosperity.
India has by far maintained its hold over Bangladesh however the recent turn of events by the citizenship Amendment Act and the atrocities faced by Muslims in the form of curfew have led to rising skepticism from Dhaka. The inclusion of the Orakandi Mauta temple visit in Moudi’s itianiry during Bangladesh’s visit has led to wider protests by Bengalis around the country. This creates a vacuum that can be filled by Pakistan.
Pakistan and Bangladesh can collaborate towards disaster management goals especially during times of covid, to have training for personal training for human development and measures to ensure survival during changing environment.
If both Pakistan and Bangladesh agree on moving forward from the ghosts of the past by going towards a better future to join hands and collaborate on multiple fronts they can jointly deter the hegemonic intentions of India. The only way to move forward is by an open apology and acceptance of past mistakes done by the western wing. While Pakistan has been much more focused on its traditional security it is now time to understand the nontraditional security threats as well. It is the need for time to learn the lessons from Bangladesh’s developmental model and collaborate with that through foreign policy and diplomacy to work on human security and Economic Strength. For while bilateral talks can be briefly useful, but Pakistan is right now at an intersection that could prompt the detailing of a futuristic collaboration to build on stronger roots, dependent on common regard and inclusivity rather than politics of otherization. The ability to accept the past and Collective self-reflection is much more likely to help fix the differentiating. The goal post of stronger bilateral and regional relations can be achieved by multi-track diplomacy through collaboration.