"I must compliment the leadership here, particularly the chief minister, for the wonderful work in transforming the lives of ordinary people.
"We have followed the story of Bengal and we appreciate and applaud the great progress the state has made," the outgoing Pakistani high commissioner to India told mediapersons after a hour-long meeting with Banerjee.
Applauding the state leadership, Bashir acknowledged Banerjee's commitment towards enhancing India's ties with Pakistan.
"I am touched and impressed by her commitment for working towards greater interaction and better relations between India and Pakistan," he said.
Bashir invited the chief minister to visit Pakistan.
"She has never been to Pakistan and expressed her desire to visit the country and I welcome her and hope we will have more exchanges in various fields which will enhance the relations between West Bengal and Pakistan," he said.
Banerjee later said Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has invited her to visit his country.
In a post on her Facebook page, she said Bashir "has conveyed to me the invitation of the prime minister of Pakistan to visit their country at a convenient time".
Describing Bengal as "special to Pakistan and its people", Bashir asserted that his country's government and people have a deep desire to bond with the state.
"Pakistan and Bengal have a lot of shared history, culture affinities that make us so closely bonded. We have similar challenges and opportunities and can learn from our mutual experiences," he said.
Affirming his country's intent to strengthen ties with India both at the federal and the state level, Bashir said Pakistan will persist and pursue reaching out to Bengal and called for exchange programmes in various fields including industry, agriculture and education.
--IANS (Posted on 30-12-2013)