Most parties, intellectuals laud talks outcomes
Leaders of different political parties and intellectuals yesterday welcomed the strides made in Bangladesh-India talks in New Delhi last week.
BNP and its ally Jamaat-e-Islami were major exceptions. They accused the government of “misleading the nation by giving false information” about the talks' outcomes.
Most of those interviewed by The Daily Star lauded the government and its foreign minister.
They said Bangladesh will benefit economically and politically once agreements are signed on issues like land connectivity with Nepal and Bhutan, import of 100 megawatt power, and mutual legal assistance on combating terrorism and organised crime.
They also observed Foreign Minister Dipu Moni's visit to India and achievements would help deepen the trust between the two neighbours.
During September 7-10 talks, India agreed to facilitate connectivity with Nepal and Bhutan, provide at least 100MW power on a priority basis and increase trade and communications facilities.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, talked about allowing India to use the Chittagong port and designating Ashuganj as a new port of call under the Inland Water Tsransit and Trade Agreement.
The two sides also agreed to resolve the matters regarding Dahagram and Angarpota enclaves and Tin Bigha corridor. Besides, they recognised the need to finalise an agreement on sharing the water of river Teesta.
BNP Secretary General Khandaker Delwar Hossain said Dipu Moni is misleading the nation by spreading falsehood that Bangladesh will get access to Nepal and Bhutan if transit is given to India.
“She is saying all this to conceal the facts. Instead of shielding national interests, she is working to serve the interests of others,” Delwar told reporters at BNP headquarters at the city's Naya Paltan.
"Nothing can deter us from waging a movement to protect the interests of the country," he cautioned the government.
Jamaat's Assistant Secretary General Muhammad Kamaruzzaman said Bangladesh has gained nothing positive from the talks.
He said the foreign minister had failed to get her counterpart to discuss more pressing issues like India's proposed construction of Tipaimukh dam, maritime boundaries and death of Bangladeshis in BSF firing.
Prof Sirajul Islam Chowdhury said, “I'd say the outcomes in general seem nice for us. Bangladesh will benefit if the two countries sign agreements on the issues they have agreed on."
On the prospect of allowing India to use Chittagong port and designating Ashuganj as a port of call, the noted academic said, “I don't see any problem if India is allowed to carry machines or equipment from Ashuganj.”
He observed that Bangladesh will also benefit from transit to Nepal and Bhutan.
Prof Chowdhury however expressed concern over the Tipaimukh issue.
“Confusion reigns though they [India] have said they won't do anything harmful to us," he added.
He said agreement-signing is not enough as implementation is what matters most.
Akbar Ali Khan, former adviser to caretaker government, said Bangladesh will gain politically and economically once the two countries finalise agreements on the issues discussed.
He noted that Indian top echelons had said many good things in the past, but their promises did not materialise for bureaucratic tangles at lower levels of their administration.
Akbar Ali said he believes things will get much clearer once the treaties are concluded.
Imtiaz Ahmed, professor of international relations at Dhaka University, said there's no doubt the talks have produced some good results for Bangladesh.
“One thing is clear that India has taken a 'give-and-take' approach to its relations with our country.”
He said the two sides may be seeking to touch the long-standing bigger issues after building trust through resolving the smaller ones.
Jatiya Party lawmaker Anisul Islam Mahmud said the government and the foreign minister deserve kudos for the breakthroughs in the talks.
Bangladesh Workers Party President Rashed Khan Menon praised the outcomes of the foreign minister-level meeting.
He said the connectivity with Nepal and Bhutan will certainly contribute to the country's economic progress.
“But I don't understand why our foreign ministry did not raise the Tipaimukh dam issue,” Menon, also a lawmaker, added.
About the decisions to re-open the Sabroom-Ramgarh trade point and a land route along Demagiri-Thegamukh through Mizoram border, he said these bode well for economy.
Mujahidul Islam Selim, general secretary of Communist Party of Bangladesh, welcomed the progress in the latest round of negotiations and said these are positive signs.
He however expressed disappointment at no discussion on Tipaimukh dam. “Newspaper reports say our foreign minister did not talk about the proposed dam. It is frustrating for us,” he added.