Pakistan's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar has cancelled her scheduled trip to Dhaka to attend the ministerial conference of the D-8 alliance.
Confirming the development, Wahida Ahmed, a director general at Bangladesh foreign ministry, on Tuesday said Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Pakistan's foreign minister, will instead attend the ceremony virtually.
Though the spokesperson did not elaborate on the sudden cancellation at the last minute, he said that they were confirming Pakistan’s presence virtually since the forum is taking place in a “hybrid format”.
The Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs also confirmed the development.
The 20th Ministerial Conference of the D-8 alliance of eight developing countries will be inaugurated virtually by the current president of the alliance, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey are members of the D-8 alliance.
On Sunday, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said in a press conference that Hina Rabbani will attend this conference in person.
Her visit to Dhaka would have been the first by a Pakistani minister to Bangladesh in a decade. She was the last Pakistan cabinet member who visited Dhaka in an official capacity in 2012.
The relations between the two SARRC countries had remained fraught for the last 10 years over myriads of matters, including war crimes trials and the expulsion of diplomats, who were accused of espionage.
Last year, there were some diplomatic movements from both sides over how the strained ties could be normalised. The then Pakistan prime minister Imran Khan even made a direct call to his Bangladeshi counterpart Hasina.
However, that hard-earned improvement recently took a backseat when Dhaka had to ask the Pakistan High Commission to remove a mashup photo, combining the pictures of both the country’s national flags from the latter’s official Facebook page, which was uploaded on Jul 21.
Bangladesh’s political and social media exploded over the photo, framing it as a “distortion,” and demonstrations followed against the move by the high commission.
Shahriar Kabir, president of the Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee, described it as the “audacity” of the high commission and urged the government to take strict action against it.
On Sunday, Foreign Minister Momen confirmed that the request to take down the photo had been conveyed to the high commission and they subsequently obliged.
Momen also said at the press conference that Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdullahian will lead the Iranian delegation at the conference. An assistant minister of Egypt, a special envoy of Indonesia, deputy secretary general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia, minister of state for Foreign Affairs of Nigeria and deputy foreign minister of Turkey will represent their respective countries at the conference, he said.
D-8 CCI BIZ FORUM & EXPO 2022 KICKS OFF
The D-8 CCI Business Forum & Expo 2022, hosted by the D-8 Chamber of Commerce & Industries (D-8 CCI), was officially inaugurated on Tuesday at a hotel in Dhaka.
The two-day event, organised to commemorate the silver jubilee anniversary of the alliance, aims to develop a strategic roadmap that will enable “value chain integration” among D-8 member nations and propagate exponential economic and trade growth for all nations, according to organisers.
As a response to economic uncertainties and risks due to the COVID-19 pandemic and key global developments, the D-8 CCI is currently working on a strategic roadmap for PTA ratification and engagement in value chain integration across agriculture and manufacturing.
The roadmap and its strategies were discussed during the General Assembly on the first day and it will also be presented during the ministerial conference on Wednesday, subsequently being proposed to the trade and commerce ministries from respective countries, after the event.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi was present as a guest of honour at this event and stated that the D-8 Chamber of Commerce and Industry can work more assertively.
“The combined GDP of D8 members was around $4.86 trillion in 2021 which is 5.17% of world GDP, which is $94 trillion. This platform can effectively contribute to enhancing trade and economic cooperation among the D-8 members by establishing a sustainable value chain,” he said.
He also stressed that the D-8 trade forum should focus on increased cooperation to overcome the current global crisis, as well as an innovative approach to value chain integration.
The Bangladesh prime minister's private industry and investment adviser Salman F Rahman also spoke during the opening ceremony.
“We have 165 million people in Bangladesh and we are one of the most densely populated countries in the world but despite that, we are nearly self-sufficient in food.
“Our agriculture sector has been very successful. We are the 3rd largest producer of vegetables in the world. We are self-sufficient in livestock. So, this has been a very very successful sector for us. Why I’m mentioning this is because I feel that today the world is facing this food crisis,” he said.
Salman also said there is a huge possibility of cooperation between the D-8 member countries as these nations share “common values”.
Foreign Minister Momen, chairman of the D-8 Ministerial, was the chief guest at the event and said that it’s possible to go further if the D-8 nations “work together”.
“In the last 25 years, we increased our trade around 10% from $40 billion to $139 billion. I do not doubt if we are sincere, we can increase our inter-trade volume of $1.3 trillion within the next 10 years,” he said.