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Servile Diplomacy of Bangladesh benefits India Review on Hasina’s Delhi tour -By Md. Kamruzzaman Bablu

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In real sense mere friendship has little space in diplomacy. The highest courtesy in diplomacy may be ensuring self-interest without harming others. But serving others compromising national interest in the guise of friendship can never be the part of diplomacy; rather it’s verily an act of treachery. Unfortunately this hateful practice of deceit is being performed by the ruling Bangladesh Awami League (BAL) just for power. Some biased media and its yellow journalists, so-called intellectuals and greedy politicians and bureaucrats have also been the ingredients of this mal-practice of the government. Bangladesh must be grossly compensated for this in near future.

People having minimum concept about the political philosophy of the ruling BAL have the long prediction that on the eve of the upcoming 11th parliamentary election the party would desperately try to gain Indian back-up once again as it enjoyed before and after the one-sided 5 January election in 2014 and still in power due to that blind blessings of India. One the other hand, it’s very natural that a country like India will use this opportunity. So the potential issues of Bangladesh like the Teesta Water Sharing Agreement have little significance to Sheikh Hasina; rather attaining Indian secret signal of supporting another 5 January-style election is more important to her. So it was believed that all Indian demands would be fulfilled by Sheikh Hasina during her four-day Delhi trip whether Teesta treaty signed or not. Ultimately people’s perception became truth.

From external point of view, Indian attitude seemed to be full of flattering elements from the very first day of Hasina’s trip. Even, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi welcomed his Bangladeshi counterpart at the airport setting aside the protocol. Media of both countries highlighted the issue with huge coverage as if Indian love and honor pushed Bangladeshi Prime Minister to the sky.

The 7th April (2017) headline of the online version of Indian English daily “The Hindu” was “PM sets protocol aside, receives Sheikh Hasina at airport”. The report says, “Setting aside protocol, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today went to the IGI airport here to receive his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina. The Prime Minister travelled through normal traffic without any route restrictions, official sources said.”

On the same day the headline of the online version of another Indian English daily entitled “The Tribune” was “PM Modi sets protocol aside, receives Sheikh Hasina at airport”. The report says, “In a special gesture, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday drove to the IGI airport here to receive his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina and expressed confidence that bilateral ties would be taken to a new level.” The report also highlighted two tweets of Norendra Modi on the occasion of Hasina’s trip. The two tweets of Modi records: “Delighted to welcome H.E. Sheikh Hasina, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, on her State Visit to India,” and “PM Sheikh Hasina and I are determined to take the relationship between our nations to a new level.”

Thus from the very beginning India wanted to amaze Bangladeshi Prime Minister through different activities that actually have no national interest for Bangladeshi people and no economic loss for India. But the issue of Teesta Water Sharing Treaty, one of the most important and fundamental facts for Bangladeshi people, was ignored by India very tactfully. So what is the ultimate value of such protocol breaking? Why will Bangladeshi people not consider it as mere eyewash? Actually this is the trick of Indian diplomacy to gain self-interest ignoring others in the name of so-called friendship.

Moreover, the overwhelming utterances of the Indian politicians were as if knew no bounds. Even, former Indian Deputy Prime Minister and BJP leader LK Advani sought Bangladeshi Premier Sheikh Hasina’s mediation to meet the political and border conflict between India and Pakistan. In a reception organized by India Foundation in honor of Sheikh Hasina at New Delhi on 10th April (2017) Bhartia Janata Party (BJP) advisory council president LK Advani proposed this.

Advani said, “Sheikh Hasina can help to develop India’s relation with Pakistan.”  The headline of the first online news portal of Bangladesh “The BD News 24” on 10th April was “BJP leader Advani calls for Hasina’s effort to improve Indo-Pak relations”. The report says, “Former Indian Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani has sought Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s help to fix his country’s fraught relations with Pakistan.”

In fact, the cunning and veteran politicians of India threw Sheikh Hasina in a deep ocean of colloquial commendation. Anyone having knowledge about world politics know that Bangladeshi Prime Minister is not in a position to mediate the ongoing tension between India and Pakistan. It is nothing but Indian trick of soaking the tongue with the mere words. Otherwise, India never ignored the long-standing demand of Bangladesh for signing Teesta treaty. What a cruel diplomacy India applied to its nearest neighbor in the guise of friendship!

The most crucial and vital question here is that whether Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina failed to understand the tricks of India. I firmly believe that Hasina thoroughly realized the policy of India but unfortunately kept her mouth closed. She tolerated all the stupidity of India just for the sake of power. She wants to hold power again through another one-sided election like that of in January 5, 2014 and she badly need India in fulfilling such aspiration. If the sovereignty of Bangladesh is damaged due to such submissive policy of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India, she must be tried before the public court as a betrayer. But the most alarming issue is that country might be in a dangerous destiny in the meantime.

Even, Sheikh Hasina’s submissive attitude was criticized by the high ups of the government though they tried to brand West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee as the main culprit. The headline of the English national daily “The Daily Star” dated 11th April (2017) was “Mamata spoiled Hasina’s India tour: Menon”. A few parts of the report are as follows:

“Referring to Mamata’s no change of stand on Teesta water sharing, Menon said Teesta has no alternative to save desertification in the northern region of the country. ‘Tears cannot make a river, likewise, Torsa cannot replace Teesta,’ Menon, who is also the president of Workers’ Party….‘Teesta is an international river. Its water is our right. It is not up to anyone’s pity to give us the water. It is our right,’ he asserted.”

Earlier, Sheikh Hasina also practiced like Menon. She realized that failure to sign Teesta agreement would not be received cordially by the people of Bangladesh. Hasina very tactfully reacted over Mamata but kept oiling Modi. It was focused in a report of an Indian media the NDTV, the topmost English language private television channel of India. The headline of the web version of the NDTV on 10th April (2017) was “’Don’t Know What Didi Will Do,’ Sheikh Hasina On Mamata Banerjee’s Reaction To Teesta Pact”. A few parts of the NDTV report were as follows:

“Expressing anxiousness over West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s reaction on the Teesta water pact proposal, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said that common water resources will act as a uniting force between India and Bangladesh.  ‘I don’t know what ‘didi’ (Mamata Banerjee) will do. Had a talk with didi, she put forward something new. But Modiji has given the assurance that he is there to see what happens,’ said Ms Hasina”.

Sheikh Hasina also tried to pacify Bangladeshi people mentioning the gas and power deals with India. The attitude of Hasina here also seems to be in favor of India. Even she suddenly spoke in Hindi to satisfy Indian part.  Quoting Sheikh Hasina the NDTV report also says, “On electricity, Ms Hasina said, ‘Paani mangaa to electricity mila. Laykin electricity milaa achha hai kutch toh mila naa (We asked for water but got electricity; thankfully we got something)’.”

However, a report with the headline “Bangladesh, India sign multi-billion dollar gas, power deals” published by the English national daily “The Dhaka Tribune” has focused on the agreements between Bangladesh and India over gas and electricity.

The report says, “One of the agreements was to facilitate debt for the construction of 1,320MW Maitree Power Project in Rampal. Other key deals and MoUs between the two nations include an agreement between Reliance Power and the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources for the first phase (718MW) of the 3,000MW power project at Meghna Ghat. A supplementary agreement was signed between NTPC Vidyut Vyapar Nigam Limited and Bangladesh Power Development Board for supply of additional 60MW from Tripura. They also inked an MoU for supplying power from Nepal. Reuters, quoting Indian government presentation, said the deal was worth $3.15 billion.”

However, Teesta Water Sharing Treaty can’t be replaced by anything else and it is a long-standing and pending issue. The NDTV report also says that the Teesta deal was originally to be signed during the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Bangladesh in September 2011, but was postponed at the last minute due to objections by Ms Banerjee. Teesta waters are crucial for Bangladesh, especially in the leanest period from December to March when the water flow often temporarily comes down to less than 1,000 cusecs from 5,000 cusecs.

It is a matter of great regret for Bangladeshi people that the central government of India considered the objections of its West Bengal Chief Minister and till now Teesta Water Sharing treaty has not been signed. But ignoring the national demand of Bangladesh, Hasina’s government signed 22 treaties and MoUs with India including the most controversial defence pact.  Keeping the most demandable issue of Bangladesh, Teesta Water Sharing Treaty, aside India gained all its demands from Bangladesh. It was also focused in the Indian media. The headline of the Wire, one of the powerful and independent online news portals of India, published a report on 9th April (2017) with the headline “India and Bangladesh Sign 22 Agreements, Discuss Water Sharing”.

The report says, “While Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that ‘only’ his and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s governments that could resolve the intractable Teesta water-sharing issue, he offered $5 billion in two separate lines of credit the visiting prime minister. The two leaders also took implicit pot-shots at Pakistan for ‘victimising’ both countries with a ‘terror mentality’…. Twenty-two agreements were signed in the area of defence, nuclear energy, cyber security and media, though the two leaders witnessed the signing of only four pacts – on the judicial sector, a $4.5 billion development assistance line of credit, on outer space and on passenger and cruise services. In addition, India has offered a new $500 million line of credit specifically for defence purchases.”

Meanwhile, ignoring the most crucial issue India continued to allure Bangladesh through different ways. For example, on the second day of Hasina’s India tour the Prime Ministers of both countries released the Hindi translation of the unfinished autobiography of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and also named a road after Sheikh Mujib in the middle of Lutyens Delhi. Modi announced that both countries will jointly produce a biopic on Sheikh Mujib, which will be released in 2020 on his birth centenary. West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee then joined the two prime ministers to launch three new transport links from West Bengal to Bangladesh.

What are the practical benefits of Bangladeshi people through the above functions of India leaving the most crucial Teesta issue aside? Moreover, we know that millions of Bangladeshi people go to India for treatment and other purposes every year and so such transport links also economically benefit India. In fact, it’s clear like daylight that everywhere India gained practically but Bangladesh bagged only external honor through colloquial praises.

It’s really a matter of great sorrow that why Sheikh Hasina agreed on 22 deals and MoUs without addressing the lack of trust that still remains between the two countries, particularly in major issues like sharing the water of Teesta River, and the killing of innocent Bangladeshi citizens by the Indian Border Security Forces (BSF).  There are also issues like the trade gap between Bangladesh and India. The bilateral trade has crossed $6 billion mark, but it is heavily leaning towards India. Annually, we import nearly $6 billion worth of products from India, while our export there is barely above $500 million.
The overall activities of the BAL government seem to be as pro-Indian. What a strange diplomatic policy taken by the BAL government who claims itself as pro-liberation force of Bangladesh! What a naked and shameful submissive state the ruling party currently passes through in serving India compromising national interest! The so-called pro-liberation government is doing this merely to regain power with the blind support of the neighbor by holding another one-sided election.  What is the overall result of it?

Writer: Journalist

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