Khaleda in India, pledges & hopes

Nizam Ahmed

Nizam Ahmed

The interactions between the Indian leaders and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief Khaleda Zia have ushered hope for continuation of good relations between the two countries. But at the same time the assurances of cooperation reportedly extended to the Indian leaders by the former prime minister of Bangladesh exposed that her government in the past was not much cooperative to India.

BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia holding talks with Indian External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid at Hyderabad House in Delhi 30th October ।। Photo: the financial express

“(If elected again BNP chief) Begum Khaleda Zia pledged to the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that Bangladesh would not allow its territory to be used by any group against India,” a media report said. Her pledge comes at a time when a court is prosecuting a gang including a former home minister of Khaleda Zia’s cabinet for trying to smuggle huge arms and ammunition to India through Chittagong in 2004.

pledge comes at a time when a court is prosecuting a gang including a former home minister of Khaleda Zia’s cabinet for trying to smuggle huge arms and ammunition to India through Chittagong in 2004

The weapons and ammunition were being loaded on 10 trucks from two trawlers at a jetty of a state-owned enterprise on the bank of the river Karnaphuli when police made the swoop at dead of night.

The weapons and ammunition were bound to ULFA of Assam across the border in connivance of the high officials of the administration, a police report to the trial court said. The then home minister Lutfuzzaman Babar, now in detention, reportedly ignored the issue and released five people including an ULFA leader detained by police from the spot on that night. However much water flowed down the river Karnpahuli and Babr is now facing the trial.

Following the interactions between the Indian leaders and Khaleda Zia political observers, traders and general people hope that ties between the two neighboring countries will get a boost in the coming days.

Official spokesperson of the Indian external affairs ministry on last Tuesday also gave an identical view about Khaleda Zia’s visit. He said Begum Zia’s meetings with Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid provided an opportunity to exchange views on the matters of mutual interest and would also build positive momentum in relations between the two neighboring countries. “The Indian government has now got a clearer and broader idea about BNP, its leader and its usefulness in the efforts for establishing peace in the region,” said Abdullah Al Noman, a senior vice chairman of BNP.

Through the interaction that has been initiated has greatly removed misunderstanding about the BNP in India, and it will have a great positive impact on boosting bilateral relations between the two friendly countries, Noman added.

On the other hand political observers and analysts are happy as the opposition leader of Bangladesh has been discussing all thorny issues with India. “Bangladesh and its political parties should maintain friendly diplomatic relations with India as both the countries share more than 4,000 km frontiers, 54 international rivers and a more than $5.0 billion annual trade,” said Prof AKM Shahidullah, former chairman of the Department of Political Science, of the Dhaka University.

But Prof Shahidullah, a political analyst expressed the hope that India would demonstrate the spirit of friendship cooperation to Bangladesh administration, political parties and the people to help boost bilateral relations. He felt there was a negative mind-set among Indian leaders towards Bangladesh in the past. This, he said, did not help the relations to go up to the desired level.

“This time India has got confidence that BNP would assist India in its stance against terrorism and extend cooperation in the matters of regional connectivity,” another analyst said.

However, the analyst said, it is the time for India to implement land boundary deals signed between the two countries last year and expedite actions to sign a deal on the sharing of water of the river Teesta and cooperation in other fields including trade and investment.

Observers expressed their satisfaction that the Bangladesh opposition leader has discussed all thorny issues with India and both the sides agreed in extending cooperation in establishing regional peace.

Meanwhile Khaleda Zia also meet Indian opposition leader  Sushma Swaraj and other senior government officials. Khaleda Zia arrived in New Delhi on Sunday October 28 on a seven-day visit at an invitation extended by former Foreign Minister Somanahalli Mallaiah Krishna, who resigned a day earlier on last Saturday from the council of ministers, on personal grounds ahead of recent reshuffle of Indian cabinet.

Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh received her at his official residence in New Delhi and held a luncheon in honour of Khaleda Zia.

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