Indian foreign policy expert Pinak Ranjan Chakraborty considers Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s four-day visit to India as a milestone in the relationship between the two countries. He served as High Commissioner of India in Dhaka. Currently working as an expert on foreign policy with a research center in Delhi. In an interview given to Voice of America, he said that the election of Bangladesh is an internal matter of Bangladesh. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit cannot be ‘linked’ to Bangladesh elections. Naeem Nizam conducted the interview on behalf of Voice of America.
Voice of America: How do you evaluate Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India overall?
Pinak Ranjan Chakraborty: India-Bangladesh relations tested. The visit of the heads of government of the two countries…it has been going on for a long time. Nothing new can be said. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently visited Dhaka during the Covid-19 pandemic to attend Bangladesh’s golden jubilee and Mujibvarsha celebrations. He was invited as a guest on that visit. Such visits by the Prime Ministers of both the countries further deepen the relationship. They get the opportunity to discuss and solve each other’s problems. The effect of which falls completely on the people.
Voice of America: Around the Bangladesh Prime Minister’s visit to India this year, there was some media, especially social media campaign that the visit is related to the upcoming elections in Bangladesh. Because after one year the work of voting will start. What is your opinion?
Pinak Ranjan Chakraborty: Sheikh Hasina’s visit cannot be linked to the upcoming elections of Bangladesh in any way. I have heard that some people are doing this kind of campaign, this is being done to make the Bangladesh government unprepared. Votes of Bangladesh are their country’s own affairs. The people of Bangladesh will take their decision in this regard. There should be no talk of any other country’s involvement with it. And besides, no other country has anything to worry about.
VOA: You know about Bangladesh. Been here for a long time. What do you think was the message of solving many things inside this tour?
Pinak Ranjan Chakraborty: As I have already said, Bangladesh and India took another step in the development of relations during this visit. Seven new agreements were signed in the meeting between the two Prime Ministers. We have seen the commitment to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement. Seven MoUs have been signed. India has offered transit facilities to Bangladesh. If this proposal is accepted, the export products of Bangladesh can be taken to any third country using Indian land ports, airports and sea ports. Bangladesh will not have to pay any customs fee for this. Apart from this, the two countries have reached an agreement on food products, energy and transit facilities. Bangladesh and India have agreed to reduce border killings to zero. Indian industrialists have expressed interest in investing in Bangladesh. They had a meeting with the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. spoke Many good aspects have emerged from this visit.
VOA: Bangladesh reiterates plea for Teesta Treaty How do you see India’s position in this regard?
Pinak Ranjan Chakraborty: Both the countries should resolve the existing crises by agreeing. Bangladesh has asked for Teesta water. India has shown interest in Feni River. A solution may be found in the discussions of the coming days. Bangladesh has sought implementation of commitments in the import of essential commodities. Bangladesh and India have agreed to sign the Integrated Economic Partnership Agreement. Which is very positive. I would like to say that these agreements made in small and big should be implemented. Both countries have to work together to implement the agreement. Because some of these projects have been slow in implementation. Bureaucrats often create obstacles in the implementation of projects, creating crises. Now these issues should be taken care of through high level monitoring. You have to pay attention to the current reality. Bureaucracy will do nothing. Pre-contracted projects need to be implemented first.
Voice of America: India’s Narendra Modi said, India-Bangladesh will go step by step (step by step) to realize Bangabandhu’s dream of a stable, prosperous and progressive Bangladesh. Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has said that relations with India, which always stands by Bangladesh in times of danger, will remain intact. How optimistic are you about the future?
Pinak Ranjan Chakraborty: Optimistic of course. I believe that the relationship between the two countries will increase through this visit. It will go a long way further. Now a milestone has been created. That milestone must be maintained. Everyone has responsibility in this regard. I saw the light of hope in the speech of the two Prime Ministers.