Bangladesh and Pakistan may re-establish rail links through India, 39 years after their separation and by Indian standard, 63 years after the subcontinent was divided.

“We would like to have transit and be connected to all South Asian nations, including Pakistan,” Bangladesh foreign minister Dipu Moni told Kolkata-based newspaper The Telegraph.

Islamabad has already said it wants the rail link revived, the paper added.

Last month, while allowing Afghan trucks transit to India, Pakistan had refused to grant Indians passage to Kabul, saying this would have to wait till Delhi gave it transit to Dhaka, the paper reported.

Top Indian railway officials have said they were willing to allow a Lahore-Delhi-Dhaka service — initially with goods trains and later, if politics allowed, with passenger trains.

[cubic:2atrkv38][/cubic:2atrkv38]

Bangladesh until now had not been inclined towards any rail link with Pakistan. Till the 1965 Indo-Pak war, goods trains used to travel between Lahore and Dhaka though.

Moni, who at 53 is Bangladesh’s second-youngest foreign minister, reflects new thinking in Bangladesh that wants to put the past behind and become part of a new fertile “green crescent” in which connectivity may be the panacea of all evils if Thomas Bernett is to be believed.

“We are in favor of the Asian Highway connectivity plans.… We want all countries on board in that project,” the young minister said.

The Asian Highway is a co-operative project among countries in Asia and Europe, supported by the UN and global banks such as the Asian Development Bank. It seeks to link countries in Asia, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China and Japan, with Europe through a 7,000km trans-continental highway and railway system.

The gaps in the railway and highway networks lie mostly in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar. If these can be filled, the “green crescent” can be harnessed, says one South Asian observer.