Speaking frankly, Menon said that even under normal circumstances, politics in Bangladesh were often consumed by petty issues.

202615 4/16/2009 10:55 09NEWDELHI753 Embassy New Delhi CONFIDENTIAL 09NEWDELHI578 "VZCZCXRO1306OO RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDBU RUEHLH RUEHPWDE RUEHNE #0753 1061055ZNY CCCCC ZZHO 161055Z APR 09FM AMEMBASSY NEW DELHITO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6205INFO RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA IMMEDIATE 2085RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE PRIORITYRUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 7572RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN PRIORITY 1272RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 6233RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 3312RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 1657RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 6271RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITYRHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI PRIORITYRUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC PRIORITYRUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC PRIORITYRHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY" "C O N F I D E N T I A L NEW DELHI 000753

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/16/2019 TAGS: PREL, PGOV, PTER, BG, IN SUBJECT: FOREIGN SECRETARY MENON FLAGS CONCERNS ABOUT BANGLADESHI INSTABILITY

REF: NEW DELHI 578

Classified By: Charge d'Affaires Peter Burleigh. Reasons: 1.4 (B and D )

1. (C) In an April 15 meeting, Indian Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon shared with Ambassador Burleigh his views on Bangladeshi instability following Menon's two-day visit to Dhaka on April 13-14. Menon characterized the situation there as ""fragile"" and said that following the late-February mutiny by Bangladesh Rifle units, none of the key political players trusted one another. He said the GOI was worried because the current environment would allow extremist groups in Bangladesh to challenge the democratic government and would provide them with a freer hand to launch cross-border attacks on India.

2. (C) Speaking frankly, Menon said that even under normal circumstances, politics in Bangladesh were often consumed by petty issues. He said he was surprised that given the instability created by the mutiny, politicians were focused on matters such as Opposition Leader Begum Zia's housing. India was concerned about a sense of drift in the government and he judged that the government was not functioning in a normal fashion. Bangladesh had a strong sense of identity and a vibrant civil society and parties have grass roots support. Despite this, the instability created by the mutiny and its aftermath were providing an opening for extremist elements in society, which would take advantage of the situation.

3. (C) Pressed by the Ambassador to identify which groups India was concerned about, Menon said that India's worries extended from political parties like the Jamaat-e-Islami to extremist groups like the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, Bangadesh (HUJI, B). Extremists groups would use the even greater than normal chaos on the borders to infiltrate India or even launch cross-border operations. In this context, Menon noted that there were now millions of Bangladeshi migrants in India who had been attracted by economic opportunities.

4. (C) Menon asked for closer coordination on the situation in Bangladesh with the United States. He hoped that the Indian High Commission in Dhaka would have detailed discussions with the U.S. Embassy.

BURLEIGH