Envoy promises step up in momentum of exchanges and a problem-solving approach

Underscoring that the new political leaderships would be business-oriented, Indian envoy to Bangladesh Pankaj Saran has hinted that the Narendra Modi government will be committed to not only maintaining friendly ties with Dhaka but also building a “momentum of the relationship”.

In an interview to an online newspaper, which was telecast by a private TV channel on Friday, he said this was made clear when the Speaker of the Bangladesh Parliament Shirin Sarmin Chowdhury met Mr. Modi on the day he took over as Prime Minister of India.

The High Commissioner echoed this sentiment at a reception he hosted for senior journalists and civil society members the same day in his first public interaction after the new government was sworn in. Mr. Saran said the new government would honour all the sovereign commitments given to Bangladesh, and added that in the coming months “you will see definite see a step up in the momentum of interaction, exchanges and the approach is going to be largely problem-solving.”

The envoy’s comments come as Dhaka prepares to welcome India’s new External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, later this month.

Despite the remarkable progress seen in the India-Bangladesh relationship over the past five years, India’s domestic political dynamics has prevented the country from signing the Teesta water-sharing treaty and ratification of the Land Boundary Agreement.

Resolutions likely

The High Commissioner said decision-making was, despite political will, hampered under the past Congress-led government but “with a strong government with overwhelming majority, hopefully, we will be able to see some resolutions.”

To the query on whether India approved of the proposed Dhaka-Beijing deal for construction of a deep-sea port at Sonadia in Bangladesh, Mr. Saran said: “India will support and welcome any development of infrastructure which helps to revive or to take the Bangladesh economy forward … If it can contribute to regional prosperity...” However, he added, “If we do see a conflict between the aims… and our security aims and our national strategic objectives, then, of course, there will be that line to [not] cross.”

Asked to comment on the pace at which China-Bangladesh ties appeared to moving — Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina recently concluded a trip to China — Mr. Saran said: “My limit goes only to the extent of what I do with Bangladesh. China, India, Bangladesh, Japan — we are all part of the Asian continent. I think it is well understood by now that we all agree that we must move towards a regional cooperative framework in Asia, in which we focus on the issues which are of paramount importance to the people of Asia.”