Strained India-Bangla relation can jeopardise neighbourhood plans of Delhi: Former Bangladesh envoy

Tariq Karim. File Photo  

Growing tension between India and Bangladesh can scuttle Indian plans for the South Asian neighbourhood, said a former envoy of Dhaka here on Thursday. Tariq Karim, who served as the High Commissioner of Bangladesh between 2009 and 2014, indicated that the Awami League government of Dhaka is under increasing domestic pressure because of the new citizenship law of India and the National Register of Citizenship (NRC).

"No regional project will take off if the sub-regional India-Bangladesh cooperation falls apart. Sequentially speaking, a lot was achieved because of the cooperation between the the Indian and Bangladesh governments. But Sheikh Hasina is a politician and she will have to face the questions about India that her people will pose before her," said Mr. Karim in comments to The Hindu on the sidelines of a think-tank event held here.

Palpable unhappiness

Mr. Karim said there is palpable unhappiness among the masses of Bangladesh that probably prompted Sheikh Hasina to criticise the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, of India, during a recent visit to Abu Dhabi. "Basically she criticised the internal law of a neighbouring country because she had to send a message to her people who are fulminating," said the veteran diplomat.

The Prime Minister of Bangladesh had given an interview to Gulf News in Abu Dhabi in January where she had acknowledged that the citizenship law is an internal matter of India but termed the move as "unnecessary".

The former High Commissioner to New Delhi in November 2019 had criticised the Indian decision to abolish the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and the NRC process saying these actions validate the "two nation theory" that led to the Partition of India in 1947.

Call for cooperation

On Thursday, he highlighted the need for better coordination among all countries of the region for execution of regional networks like Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) initiative for transport and connectivity and BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation). He pointed out that the Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) of BBIN has failed to materialise despite being signed in 2015.

"The success of BIMSTEC will be in direct proportion to the success that BBIN can demonstrate. If you can't make BBIN successful then why should the other three countries of BIMSTEC have an interest in going forward with that," said Mr. Karim pointing out the shortcomings in the regional initiatives that have received attention from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's foreign policy team. Apart from the BBIN countries, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Thailand are the other members of BIMSTEC.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 10:48:08 PM |

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