India should show more generosity
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has termed India a 'trusted friend' and said New Delhi, despite its goodwill, could show more generosity in solving the water-sharing issue.
Before her trip to India, in an interview with ANI Editor Smita Prakash released yesterday, she also touched on a number of topics ranging from personal to bilateral issues.
When asked about water-sharing, the PM said New Delhi has the scope to do more.
Urging more generosity from India, she said the lack of water from upstream sometimes causes sufferings for people here. She said both the countries will be beneficiaries if such a deal can be achieved.
Noting that the Indian PM Narendra Modi is also "eager" to solve the issue, she, however, said the problem lies with India.
"Only Ganges water we share. … We signed the treaty. But we have another 54 rivers. Yes... So it's a long-standing problem, so it should be solved," she said.
In the interview, Sheikh Hasina acknowledged the Rohingya crisis as "a big burden" on Bangladesh and said the country is reaching out to the international community to ensure they return to their homeland.
The PM also said that India could play a major role in resolving the issue.
"… for us, it's a big burden. India is a vast country, you can accommodate (Rohingyas), but you don't have much.… On humanitarian grounds, we give them [Rohingyas] shelter and everything, but how long will they stay here?" she asked.
Hasina also asserted that Bangladesh's economy is strong and in a position to repay debts on time. She rejected the possibility of an economic crisis, the likes of which Sri Lanka saw earlier in the year, hitting Dhaka.
She also thanked Modi for India's Vaccine Maitri programme, and termed India's role in the evacuation of Bangladesh nationals who were stuck in war-hit Ukraine a "friendly gesture."
Hasina also praised the decades-long relationship between the two countries. "Even in 1975, when I lost all my family members, the then-Indian PM gave us shelter in India," she said.
When asked about Dhaka's relationship with China as well as India, Hasina said that her main goal is the country's development. "Our foreign policy is very clear — friendship to all, malice to none. If there's a problem, it's between China and India. I don't want to put my nose there," she said.
Sheikh Hasina also urged bilateral solutions to any issues between the two countries.
"When you are living side by side, some problems will come up or remain or you can solve them. We still have issues but I think we will continue our dialogue. For our development, we need cooperation from any country which is suitable for our country," she told ANI.
On being asked about the possibility of her son Sajeeb Wazed joining politics, the PM said that she has left it up to him to decide.
"He's working for the country. Digital Bangladesh is his idea and he is assisting me with this. But, he has never thought of taking any position in the political party or any ministry," she said.
Referring to the incidents faced by Hindus in Muslim-majority Bangladesh, the prime minister said that hers is a secular country and the government has always taken immediate action against such incidents.
The PM is scheduled to visit India between September 5 and 8, during which she will meet with Indian President Droupadi Murmu and Vice-President Jagdeep Dhankar, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
She last visited India before the coronavirus pandemic in October 2019.