Pak PM calls Hasina ahead of her India tour

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan. (Reuters Photo)

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday telephoned his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina and exchanged pleasantries in a visibly surprise call a day ahead of her scheduled visit to India, officials said.

Hasina's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim told PTI that during the call this afternoon Khan also inquired about the treatment of her eyes, which were operated recently in London.

"Prime Minister Hasina thanked Khan for inquiring about her eye condition," Karim said.

Officials familiar with the Dhaka-Islamabad ties said this was the first time since Khan came to power last year that he had such talks with Hasina.

The officials, however, said the two leaders had brief unofficial interactions recently during the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation summit in Saudi Arabia as their sitting arrangements were made side by side.

The ties between Bangladesh and Pakistan currently is described to be worst in the recent decades over the trial and execution of several high-profile Pakistani collaborators in the past several years on the 1971 war crime charges. The two sides expelled each other's diplomats after the war criminals executions.

Hasina is set to leave Dhaka for New Delhi tomorrow on a four-day official visit to attend the India Economic Summit of the World Economic Forum (WEF). She will also hold talks with her counterpart Narendra Modi.

Bangladesh in May this year visibly acknowledged that its ties with Islamabad witnessed a fresh impasse over the issuance of visas amid reports that Dhaka stopped issuing visas to Pakistanis.

The diplomatic row between Bangladesh and Pakistan is on the rise since last year when Dhaka denied a visa to the Pakistan high commissioner-designate.

Asked if there was any development over the acceptance of the credentials of Pakistan's proposed envoy in Dhaka, Momen said Bangladesh earlier did not accept the Islamabad proposal for "some reasons".

"(But) this is a quite normal phenomenon (in the diplomatic arena), if they propose someone new, we will definitely consider it," he said.

The Pakistani mission does not have any envoy in Dhaka since last year.

The strained bilateral relations worsened in 2016 when Bangladesh forced Islamabad to take back three of its officials, including a woman diplomat, alleging their links to Islamist militants.

Diplomatic negotiations between the two countries are at a standstill for a few years now over Dhaka alleging Pakistani high commission of financing terrorist activities in the country.

Foreign Secretary-level talks have not taken place between the two countries in the past four years now.

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