Hailing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent visit to Bangladesh as “really successful,” Bangladesh Premier Sheikh Hasina has expressed optimism that her country will be able to work out the Teesta water sharing agreement with India.
India and Bangladesh had inked various pacts during Dr. Singh’s visit early this month but could not sign a deal on the Teesta water sharing issue.
Ms. Hasina said she was not disappointed that the two sides could not sign the Teesta water sharing deal during the visit.
“I am not that much disappointed because I feel we can solve this problem bilaterally and I am very much optimistic about it,” Ms. Hasina, who is in New York to attend the 66th U.N. General Assembly, said at the Asia Society.
She said Bangladesh and India have developed an interim plan on sharing water.
Bangladesh “had a problem with India” over sharing of the Ganga waters but the countries resolved the issue and signed a 30 year treaty, she said, referring to the comprehensive bilateral treaty signed in December 1996 establishing a three decade long water-sharing arrangement.
Friendship and bondage
On her country’s relations with India, Ms. Hasina said the two share a common legacy through the legendary Rabindranath Tagore, who wrote the national anthems for both countries.
With India, Bangladesh has a “friendship and bondage” and “we should continue that,” she said.
Expressing gratitude over Dr. Singh’s generosity to agree with the establishment of connectivity of Bangladesh with Bhutan and Nepal, Ms. Hasina said this would help create a conducive atmosphere in the region.
Ms. Hasina pointed out that Bangladesh has good relations with countries in its neighbourhood, including Pakistan, with which she described Dhaka’s relations as being “very good.”
“We try to improve our relationship with every country and especially every neighbouring country,” she said.
“Who is our main enemy? Our main enemy is poverty.” On the issue of terrorism, Ms. Hasina said her country “almost became a safe haven for terrorists.”
However thanks to Dhaka’s “zero tolerance” policy towards terrorism, Ms. Hasina said, that it was ensuring that no one used its territory to launch any kind of insurgent or terrorist activity against any country in the neighbourhood.