Foreign Secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said that India has expressed its views on Bangladesh “very clearly” at the India-US ‘Two Plus Two’ dialogue in New Delhi. After his comments, the ruling Awami League of Bangladesh breathed a sigh of relief.
At a press conference on Friday (November 10) afternoon, Kwatra said, “We have discussed regional issues extensively and we have made our point of view very clear in the dialogue on Bangladesh.”
He said, it is not our place to comment on the policy of any third country. Elections in Bangladesh are their internal affairs and the responsibility of the people to decide their future.
Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh and External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar participated in the fifth Two Plus Two Ministerial Dialogue with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.
New Delhi’s support for Sheikh Hasina was confirmed by Quatra’s comments that India ‘respects Bangladesh’s democratic process’. Several foreign policy experts believe that India’s comments have sent a message to US institutions, particularly US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas, that they should stay out of the domestic political affairs of neighboring countries.
The Awami League sees the US authorities, especially the Peter Haas-led mission to Bangladesh, as interference in the country’s political process under the pretext of ensuring free and fair elections.
Questions have been raised about the way the last two general elections were conducted in Bangladesh. However, the first move by Washington in the form of a new visa policy for Bangladesh announced last May to hold ‘free, fair and peaceful national elections’ is seen as ‘hand twisting’.
Peter Haas’ behavior over the months – He held several meetings with opposition parties and tried to convince the Election Commission to engage in dialogue with political parties. This has been seen as an ‘indecent act’ by a foreign diplomat. It also raises questions about Washington’s intentions.
Bangladesh’s opposition party, led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its ally Jamaat-e-Islami, reiterated its demand for a caretaker government during the election using the US move.
In this situation, there was speculation among the rulers of Dhaka whether India agreed with the United States. Quatra’s comments on Friday put an end to all that speculation, reiterating what India’s foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said in his weekly briefing.
New Delhi’s message that Bangladesh elections are their ‘internal matter’ is seen as a clear rejection of the US approach towards its neighbor (Bangladesh).
Kwatra said, ‘As a close friend and partner of Bangladesh, we respect the democratic process of Bangladesh and will continue to support the vision of a stable, peaceful and progressive country.’ The comments came in the wake of violent opposition protests on October 28 – in which a policeman was beaten to death, the Chief Justice’s house was attacked and several journalists were beaten up.
Former foreign secretary and current president of Trinamool BNP Shamser Mobin Chowdhury said, we welcome the statement of the foreign secretary of India. Because stability is fundamental for Bangladesh, peace is essential and progressive politics is what the country has always fought for. He said, we hope the message is well received by the US government.
Biplab Barua, office secretary of ruling Awami League and special secretary of Sheikh Hasina said, we appreciate what he (Kwatra) said today.
He said, our country follows the foreign policy of friendship to all, enmity to none, which was formulated by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. We appreciate what he (Kwatra) said.
Report: The Telegraph India