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Why Pakistani media now lavishes praise on Bangladesh

While the Pakistani media is now asking its government to follow the Bangladesh model, it remains a sore point that Bangladesh was an exploited colony of Pakistan, writes Pathik Hasan for South Asia Monitor

Pathik Hasan Jan 15, 2022
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Pakistan and Bangladesh

The Pakistani media has published excellent articles praising Bangladesh’s economic model. Normally, Pakistani media outlets don’t publish positive content related to Bangladesh. The state-run Sri Lankan media has also lavished praise on Bangladesh and its economic success. 

At age 50, Bangladesh is going to be a South Asian economic miracle. Although Bangladesh was once a part of Pakistan, it has surpassed Islamabad in almost all socio-cultural and economic indicators. That is the attraction Bangladesh now holds in Pakistan. Rare praise from Pakistan is the highest recognition for Bangladesh.  

Pakistani writer Shazia Anwer Cheema says that Dhaka is on the right track to achieving a middle-income status nation and integrating economic growth with social betterment. 

Sri Lanka’s Daily News has had some excellent articles appreciating Bangladesh’s success story. One focused on how Bangladesh has improved its quality of life, economic strength and improved education and research. Today, even countries in Africa are being urged to look towards Bangladesh.  

Another article in the Sri Lankan media spoke about how Bangladesh inherited a shattered economy and a completely broken infrastructure when it became a free nation in 1971. Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger had called it a “basket case” in 1974. Today, the world is both surprised and delighted to see a phoenix rising from the ashes. 

An article in Pakistan Today noted how Bangladesh has now given assistance to Sri Lanka and Sudan from its foreign exchange reserves. It argued that South Asia can learn a lot from Bangladesh. 

Dawn, a prestigious newspaper in Pakistan, had an article by Israt Hossain, a former Governor of the State Bank of Pakistan. He wrote: “The Bangladesh story is an attractive one. How can a country so vulnerable to natural calamities outperform its much larger, better-endowed neighbours — India and Pakistan — in most socio-economic indicators?” 

Pakistan Today felt that Bangladesh may miss being a middle-income country by 2024 but mega infrastructure projects like Padma Bridge, Karnafuli Tunnel and Metro Rail could help it become a developed country by 2041. But this will require an uninterrupted development environment and strong leadership.  

Pakistan’s The News International published an article by Mosharraf Zaidi comparing the Bangladesh model of economic growth with Pakistan’s. Other Pakistani English dailies also spoke highly about Bangladesh becoming the next South Asian economic superstar.  

While the Pakistani media is now asking its government to follow the Bangladesh model, it remains a sore point that Bangladesh was an exploited colony of Pakistan for so long. Had Pakistan not exploited Bangladesh economically for 24 years (1947-71), it would have progressed further ahead.  

(The writer is a Dhaka-based NGO activist and researcher-writer on international relations. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at pathikhasan1141@gmail.com) 

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