Bangladesh expects the Modi government to move quickly to ratify the Land Border Agreement (LBA) that has been hanging fire since 2011, Bangladesh’s High Commissioner Tariq Karim told The Hindu on Monday. The agreement, tabled in the Rajya Sabha by the UPA government in February, was blocked by the BJP in opposition.
However Mr. Karim said that on her recent visit to Dhaka, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had assured the Sheikh Hasina government that India would stand by its commitments on both the Land Border Agreement and the Teesta water-sharing arrangement.
“These are early days for the NDA government,” said Mr. Karim, adding, “We have waited 3 years, we can wait another 3 months or 4 months.” He also hoped the Congress party would not reverse its position now that it was in the opposition.
In a strong statement to The Hindu, Mr. Karim warned that the long delay in implementing the agreements promised by former PM Manmohan Singh in September 2011 had eroded the confidence of people in Bangladesh.
“If you let it drag on too long, the internal politics and dynamics in Bangladesh will make it more and more difficult to accept at face value the reassurances from India,” he added. “For us, the LBA and the Teesta agreement are now a litmus test of India’s willingness to have good relations with neighbours.” He also hoped that West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who has opposed the Teesta agreement, would “see the bigger picture now.”
Mr. Karim said that signing the Land Border Agreement would help address India’s long standing concerns about illegal immigration from Bangladesh.
In the exclusive interview on the discussions Ms. Swaraj had on her visit to Dhaka on June 26th, he said the issue of attack on Hindus had not come up but he hoped Ms. Swaraj was reassured by the government’s stand that it would protect all communities.