Krishna visit proves useful
INDIAN External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna's three-day visit to Bangladesh certainly has added fillip to relations between Dhaka and Delhi. The upbeat tenor of the visit, as manifested by the minister's talks with his Bangladesh counterpart and other leading personalities in Bangladesh, now needs to be followed through, given especially the upcoming visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Dhaka in early September.
One of the more concrete aspects of Mr. Krishna's trip was the signing of two deals that reflect a clear intention on the part of both Bangladesh and India to carry their ties to mutually beneficial conclusions. The agreement on the protection of investments could certainly have come earlier. But now that it is finally here, there is the hope in Dhaka that Indian investments in Bangladesh will now contribute to stronger trade links between the two nations. For a resource-strapped country like ours, the deal promises an expansion of the job market for Bangladeshis, a fact that cannot be overlooked or minimised. The second deal, relating to the free movement of Bhutanese vehicles between Indian and Bangladeshi land customs, is surely remarkable in terms of regional connectivity. While it opens up doors for Bhutan, it can also be regarded as a preview of other positive things that could happen within South Asia.
The Krishna visit should be seen as good preparation for the forthcoming talks between the Indian and Bangladesh heads of government. Issues such as transit and a sharing of the waters of the Teesta and Feni rivers now call for solutions that are not only tangible but also mutually beneficial.
The deals that have been reached and those yet to come will acquire meaning through Delhi and Dhaka recognising the principle of full respect for each other. India will surely be making matters easier for everyone by taking cognisance of Bangladesh's sensibilities. For its part, Bangladesh can assure India that as a democratic nation, it stands ready to play its part in promoting a secure, economically sound, peaceful South Asia.