It was BNP as expected. The opposition led by Khaleda Zia has shown aggressive reaction to agreements signed and accords reached in the just concluded visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India. During the visit all the existing bilateral issues between the two SAARC neighbours came up for discussion. Three agreements were signed and two MOU were initialled. Most media of India and Bangladesh as well as some leading global media highlighted some milestone achievements from the summit and acclaimed the break through of the impasse in some areas. But BNP chairman have warned earlier not take anything for granted even before the Premiere have left the country and accordingly has shown aggressive reactions and vowed to take tough stance against all the agreements. Mr Khondkar Delawar Hussian, the Secretary General of BNP stated that PM Hasina signed agreements which did not protect the interest of Bangladesh. Some other leaders mentioned that Bangladesh got nothing from the visit except Indira Gandhi Award for the PM.
We are sure PM will make it all clear in the next session of the Parliament. She has already briefed some points to the press on her return home. But judging from the hue and cry BNP and their pet intellectuals are trying to raise, let’s try and assess what can be the impacts of the agreements and discussions of two PMs in the recent meet.
Agreement to Exchange Convicted Criminals.
Bangladesh and India share extensive porous border. Criminals and killers committing crimes and murders easily cross the borders and stay there away from the justice for years. From across the borders they continue controlling unsocial activities. Some of them do get the punishment in absentee, and that’s it. So it’s obvious that these convicted criminals could not be taken home without any extradition treaty. There are reports that several listed top terrors of Bangladesh are hiding in India. Some of them are even in Indian jails. There are reports that at least two killers of Bangabnadhu who got death sentence are also jailed in India, so are two alleged criminals of 21ST August Bangabandhu Avenue grenade carnage. On the other hand several Indian top leaders of ULFA, Laskar-E Tayeba are in Bangladeshi jail. Can any agreement which will pave the way for exchange of these sentenced criminals and crime suspects to face justice in their own land be considered anti state activity?
BNP-Jamat during their rule made Bangladesh safe heaven of Indian and Pakistani terrorists groups. Several ULFA, Laskare Tayeba, HUJI top leaders were protected, sheltered and allowed to operate from Bangladesh. Deadly Arges Grenades smuggled from Pakistan were used in 21ST August carnage in other areas to kill innocent civilians and popular political leaders. There are allegations that these were sponsored by the then Government ministers, Intelligence services and BNP policy makers. So when that party start protesting this extradition treaty, some would assume that behind this weird reaction actually lies the fear, and that is of the consequence of bringing back these criminals who may in turn leak the secret ally of the BNP leaders with them. On the other hand return of Indian ULFA leaders and their trials by India may expose the secret links of BNP – Jamat linkage with them.
Bangladesh and India vowed neither country will allow their land to be used for carrying out any subversive activity against other .This effectively means no Indian separatists insurgents of the 7 sisters will get safe hideouts in Bangladesh and same will happen to those Bangladeshi insurgents of Chittagong Hill Tracts will not get shelter in India. Wonder what faults BNP is finding here. They off course allowed Bangladesh as corridor for passage of deadly weapons for Indian separatists. The ten truck arms fiasco is already awaiting the trial.
Indian government has categorically committed that nothing that harms Bangladesh will be done at Tipai Mukh.The PMs also vowed to work positively to reach an agreement regarding sharing of Teesta river water. The JRC meeting to expedite this and also on issues related to Feni, Muhuri, Khowai, Dharala and Dudkumar rivers will be held at a convenient time in the current quarter of 2010. Actions on Dredging of Ichamati River and protection of Mahananda, Karotoa, Nagar, Kulik, Atrai, Dharala and Feni rivers were also agreed to be worked out. India appreciated the urgency of Bangladesh government to regenerate required water flow in all rivers and agreed to support Bangladesh initiatives to dredge rivers for flood control, navigation and access to ports. India agreed to provide dredgers on urgent basis.
How can any one of the above be considered against the Interest of Bangladesh?
Bangladesh as India has also agreed to create some facilities as part of regional connectivity. Ashuganj, Bangladesh and Silchar Assam will be port of Call. India, Nepal and Bhutan may use port faculties at Mongla and Chittagong to transport goods in Roads and Rail. Bangladesh will use Indian Corridor to trade much more freely with Nepal and Bhutan. Can anyone analytically demonstrate how these will go against the interest of Bangladesh? Our port facility will improve, the roads and Railway infrastructure will improve, and Bangladesh will have huge economic gains.
Bangladesh and India will link their power grids facilitating power trading. In appreciation of present power crisis in Bangladesh India agreed to supply 250MW power immediately at their off peak. Once Power grids are linked in future this links Bangladesh can use to trade power with Nepal and Bhutan as well. The power trading will be done under cover of sovereign government agreement. The power tariff will be transparent and properly structured. Power trading and energy trading is well established phenomenon in S North and South America, East and West Europe and even in South East Asia. Once there is grid connectivity there will fresh enthusiasm in joint venture development of power generation utilising untapped energy resources in region.
Before criticising this BNP must see their ugly face in the mirror as they in the 5 years rule of last term failed to add the new power required to meet growing demand. The present power crisis is due to BNP-Jamat mismanagement and plundering of resources through massive corruption in power sector.
India has pledged providing 1billion US$ soft term 1.9% interest payable in 20 years loan to Bangladesh. These will be used in communication infrastructure. Compared to loans from WB and ADB this is much more attractive. How does it harm Bangladesh interest?
India will assist Bangladesh in river dredging and will provide 9 dredgers immediately. Does it harm Bangladesh or go against our interest?
India and Bangladesh have agreed to resolve maritime boundary disputes through discussion. They have also agreed to resolve boundary issues within the spirit of 1974 agreement. Does these in anyway harm Bangladesh?
We have found that PM Sheikh Hasina has done wonderful job. Government must discuss the full text of agreements, MOU in the parliament. Press and media must print authentic reports. Peaceful co-existence respecting each other’s sovereign rights will be so very useful for the countries of the region. People of Bangladesh must not be dodged by cheap anti Indian slogans by failed BNP Jamat anymore.
Kh. A. Saleque (Saleque Sufi) is the ex-Director (Operation) GTCL and writes from Australia.