Prime Minister’s visit to Delhi should not be just a formality 1179916 | The voice of time

Prime Minister’s visit to Delhi should not be just a formality 1179916 | The voice of time
Prime Minister’s visit to Delhi should not be just a formality 1179916 | The voice of time

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is scheduled to leave for a four-day visit to Delhi, the Indian capital, the day after this text goes to the reader. Sheikh Hasina is visiting Delhi for the first time after 2019. The 2019 visit was mainly to attend the World Economic Forum. Although it was not a state visit in the true sense, several bilateral issues were discussed between the Prime Ministers and senior officials of the two countries.


However, many feel that the Prime Minister of Bangladesh was not honored at the Delhi airport following the proper protocol during that visit. Sheikh Hasina was greeted at the airport by a junior minister, which was a surprise to many. However, this time the official press note informed that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself will welcome Sheikh Hasina and she will be given a formal guard of honor with full state status.

Bangladesh and India are two neighboring countries. Apart from the Prime Ministers of these two neighboring states, when the ministerial level meeting of the two countries is also held, it takes on some additional importance, one of the reasons being that these two countries are not only neighbors, but also have several common political and economic interests between these two countries. Along with it are several long-standing unresolved issues, including the water sharing of some common rivers flowing through the two countries, including the Teesta water sharing issue which has been hanging for decades. Every time a high-ranking official of one country visits another country, people hope that this problem will be solved. In the end, nothing happens. People of Bangladesh are disappointed again.

In the last 50 years, the heads of government of both the countries have met several times and due to the goodwill of both sides, many difficult problems that have accumulated for a long time have been easily resolved. Most of the problems of these two countries originated in 1947 when Bengal was partitioned in the name of partition. The debate on how much Bengali partition was justified is still going on. But history cannot be taken backwards. Even then West Pakistan also had major water distribution problems. This problem was solved in 1960 by an agreement (Indus Water Treaty). If this problem is not resolved, the port of Karachi would have become very unusable. A vast area would become a desert. But after the independence of Bangladesh, no attempt was made to resolve any of the unresolved issues between Bangladesh and India. Ever since the independence of Bangladesh, attention has been paid to solving the unresolved issues between the two countries. On March 19, 1972, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and the Prime Minister of India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, signed a 25-year Treaty of Alliance, Cooperation and Peace, and at the same time, a decision was taken to establish the Common Rivers Commission, with the aim of sharing the water of the common rivers flowing through the two countries. It is based on fairness and justice. It was also decided that the two countries will work together on the use of water resources and to deal with various natural disasters including floods and cyclones. When military ruler Zia seized power after killing Bangabandhu, his foreign policy was anti-India. Since then, it has been said that this 25-year alliance is a slave contract. Interestingly, BNP never had the courage to cancel this so-called slavery agreement.

Another agreement was signed between Bangladesh and India in 1974, which stipulated that the Ganges water sharing issue would also be resolved on an equitable basis between the two countries before the Farakka Dam on the upper reaches of the Ganges in India. It was further decided that as an interim measure, India would be able to open a few connecting canals until a final decision is taken. In 1974, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib and Mrs. Indira Gandhi agreed that the two countries would find a speedy solution to the problems of the enclaves between the two countries that had created a situation of humanitarian disaster since 1947. The agreement also stated that the two countries would definitively demarcate their borders. Since the agreement was an exchange of land between the two countries, the approval of the national parliaments of both countries was required for this agreement. Bangabandhu raised this agreement in Parliament in 1974 and got it passed. But after his assassination in 1975, there was no further progress in this matter. Had to wait until Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina took power. In 2015, India passed the Mujib-Indira Pact of 1974 in both houses of parliament, resolving the long-standing inhumane problems faced by enclaves in both countries. This solution was possible due to the goodwill of the top leaders of both the countries.

After the assassination of Bangabandhu, the activities of Pakistan’s military intelligence agency ISI in India’s northeastern border states increased several times. With their help, separatists in this region of India continued to get state patronage in various ways. During the four-party coalition government, 10 truckloads of arms seized in Chittagong were destined for these separatist groups. A senior minister of Khaleda Zia stood up in the Parliament and said that it is their duty to give moral support to these separatist groups, just like India helped us in the liberation war. That minister brought our liberation war to the stage of a separatist movement. Only Sheikh Hasina’s government succeeded in stopping these activities of separatist terrorists. Some separatist leaders staying in Bangladesh were also handed over to the Indian government.

Road, rail and waterways between India and Bangladesh have increased manifold than ever before. Indian goods passed through Bangladesh to Assam and other states using Chittagong and Mongla ports. Ashuganj seaport can be used by Tripura whenever required. Several railway lines have reopened. Akhaura-Agartala railway is expected to be opened in a few days. Chittagong-Agartala flights are also expected to start in a few weeks. In the meantime, several border ports or routes have been opened between the two countries. But regrettably, India has so far been reluctant to provide transit facilities to Nepal and Bhutan using Bangladesh’s Chittagong or Mongla ports through their corridors of several kilometers. What India may not realize is that given the opportunity for unhindered development of communication systems with its eastern countries, the volume of trade in the region could increase almost a hundredfold.

The most unfortunate thing between the two countries at the moment is the lack of Teesta water sharing agreement. As a result of this, Bangladesh is suffering severely year after year. There is no indication that this problem will be solved in this journey of Sheikh Hasina. It can be said that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee is the only obstacle behind solving this problem. In 2011, the then Prime Minister of India Dr. It was confirmed that the Teesta Water Sharing Agreement was being signed during Manmohan Singh’s visit to Bangladesh. But at the last moment, Mamata Banerjee bent it and it did not happen. Solving that problem still seems far-fetched; Although India’s current Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his first term, the problem would be resolved within that term. He is now serving his second term. There is still no sign of a solution to this problem. In India’s federal structure, such an agreement is not possible excluding the respective states. Sheikh Hasina spoke to Mamata Banerjee about this matter whenever she got the chance; But the situation did not change. During this visit to Delhi, he expressed interest in talking to Mamata; But so far no response has been received.

Regional stability, security and defense issues are expected to be given importance during Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Delhi. But the way the international community has failed to suppress the brutality of Bangladesh’s neighboring country Myanmar for a few years, what is the significance of these unspeakable issues? What is more regrettable is that the three friendly countries of Bangladesh, China, Russia and India, are directly and indirectly assisting or supporting the various humanitarian disasters caused by the military junta of Myanmar or they remain indifferent in these matters.

India should remember that Bangladesh is not only their natural friendly state but also a strategic ally. That relationship improved only when Awami League was in the government of Bangladesh. This relationship quickly deteriorates if there is someone else. Past experience says so. It can be assumed that this is Sheikh Hasina’s last visit to Delhi before the upcoming elections in Bangladesh. Now it’s time to see how generous Delhi can be. Bangladesh is still ahead of Delhi in this regard.

Author: Analyst and researcher

The article is in Bengali

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