Islamabad - Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday called his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina and extended condolences on the loss of lives due to COVID-19 in Bangladesh.

The Prime Minister commended measures taken by the leadership of Bangladesh to contain the spread of the virus. The two leaders exchanged views on their respective steps to deal with the myriad challenges posed by COVID-19.

Imran Khan apprised Sheikh Hasina of his government’s measures to save lives and livelihoods. The Prime Minister also apprised his Bangladeshi counterpart of his Global Initiative on Debt Relief for developing countries.

Imran Khan extended commiserations on the material and human losses due to recent flooding in Bangladesh and prayed for early recovery of the people affected by the natural calamity.

In the bilateral context, Prime Minister Imran Khan underscored the importance Pakistan attached to closer ties with fraternal Bangladesh and highlighted the significance of regular bilateral contacts and people to people exchanges.

He said Pakistan was committed to deepening relations with Bangladesh on the basis of mutual trust, respect and sovereign equality.

Reaffirming Pakistan’s commitment to SAARC, Prime Minister Imran Khan underlined the importance of both countries working for enhanced regional cooperation for sustainable peace and prosperity.

Imran Khan shared Pakistan’s perspective on the grave situation in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and stressed the importance of peaceful resolution of Jammu and Kashmir dispute for a safe and prosperous region.

The Prime Minister reiterated his cordial invitation to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to visit Pakistan.

Earlier this month, Pakistan’s High Commissioner Imran Ahmed Siddiqui held a rare meeting with Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen in Dhaka. The meeting raised eyebrows in New Delhi, which viewed the development with suspicion.

Relations between the two countries have remained tense for the last many years. The two countries have yet to overcome the bitter memories of 1971 that led to the creation of Bangladesh.

What led to the current low in their ties was the decision taken a few years ago by the incumbent government of Shaikh Hasina Wajid to try and execute several leaders of Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami on charges of committing war crimes in 1971.

Pakistan was against such motivated trials. It also accused Dhaka of violating the 1974 trilateral agreement between Pakistan, India and Bangladesh. Under the agreement, all countries including Bangladesh had agreed not to pursue cases against people involved in the 1971 events.

Relationship between the two countries worsened to the extent that Pakistan’s National Assembly in 2016 passed a unanimous resolution condemning the execution of JI leaders.

Not just that the Bangladesh government refused to approve the appointment of Pakistani High Commissioner for 20 months, Pakistan eventually had to make the fresh proposal for the appointment of Imran Ahmed Siddiqui as envoy to Dhaka.

His name was finally approved by Dhaka in November last year. Siddiqui joined the Pakistani mission in Dhaka in January, raising hopes of a thaw in their ties.