India must give due importance to small neighbours: Hasina
CALCUTTA, Jan 26: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has called upon India to give "due importance" to its small neighbours like Bangladesh for promoting better understanding and resolution of bilateral problems, reports BSS.
"Even if we are a small country we are important. As long you (India) do not realised this, you cannot earn our full confidence. Bilateral problems would not longer exist when excellent brotherly relations are established," she said in an interview published here today.
The Prime Minister was speaking to 'Anandabazar Patrika' in Dhaka before her three-day official visit to Calcutta beginning tomorrow.
Replying to a question Sheikh Hasina, however, said that there had been progress in establishing excellent relations between Bangladesh and India.
She said a big country (like India) has no scope for belittling small neighbours.
Sheikh Hasina categorically said there was not even a single Bangladeshi infiltrator in India.
On bilateral trade gap which is heavily in favour of India, she said it was huge before her government came to power, but now the situation is improving gradually. India should import more commodities from Bangladesh to reduce the existing trade imbalance, she added.
Sheikh Hasina said India could import various items from Bangladesh such as potato, jute goods, other agricultural items, silk and Jamdani sarees.
On the Dhaka-Calcutta bus service, she hoped it would start soon, adding that both the communication and foreign ministries of the two countries were discussing the matter.
Replying to another question on the Calcutta-Dhaka train service Sheikh Hasina said there was no obstacle when the two countries have air and waterway communications.
About the transit facility sought by India, the Prime Minister said that the problem would be automatically resolved with the introduction of trans-Asian railways and highways. There is no cause of concern for India on this, she added.
On cross-border insurgency and terrorism, the Prime Minister made it clear that Bangladesh would not allow any insurgency activity on its soil.
Hasina called for concerted efforts of the two neighbours to take steps to check arms smuggling, child and women trafficking and drug trafficking. If it is done, insurgency activity would also come to an end, she observed.
Replying to a question on the reported activities of the Pakistan Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) in some areas of Chittagong Hill Tracts, Sheikh Hasina said there were some activities of the fundamentalist forces for quite some time in the past.
She said her government was trying to come out of that and added that she had discussed the matter with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who said he himself was against such activities.