Border deaths a major stain on Bangladesh-India engagement: Shahriar
The death toll of Bangladeshis on the border has become a major stain on bilateral engagement with India, along with the thorny water-sharing issue of transboundary 54 rivers, State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam has said.
“Witnessing rising turmoil all around borders of India and therefore, a stable, moderate Bangladesh as a partner, is India’s natural choice and a long-lasting interest,” he said at a seminar titled “Bangladesh-India Relations: Confluence of Ideologies and Evolving Perspectives”.
Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) organised the seminar.
“As a downstream country, Bangladesh wants more water from the Teesta River. We would also like to have a framework agreement for optimal utilisation of waters from six rivers, namely Muhuri, Manu, Gumti, Khowai, Dudhkhumar, and Dharla,” said the junior minister.
India and Bangladesh have resolved major disputes regarding land and maritime boundary and progressed a lot in terms of trade and connectivity, but some “irritants” are still pending, he also said.
Constructive Indo-Bangladesh ties could be a major stabilising factor for South Asia, he added, insisting on resolving the “irritants” and harnessing the potential of the two countries.
Shahriar Alam said India and Bangladesh are destined to grow together. The bilateral economic ties have huge untapped possibilities, with a trade potential of USD 16.4 billion.
Referring to a World Bank report, he said seamless transport connectivity between India and Bangladesh has the potential to increase national income by as much as 17% in Bangladesh and 8% in India.
Another study indicates a 297% increase in Bangladesh’s exports to India and a 172% increase in India”s exports to Bangladesh if transport connectivity improves and both the neighbours sign an FTA.
Also, both traditional and non-traditional security issues shaping this maritime geography will be implicated in the evolving Delhi-Dhaka dynamic.
“It is the need of the hour to introspect the strengths, retrospect the mistakes, acknowledge the challenges and draw a roadmap to take this relationship to new heights,” said the state minister.
Ravi Kumar Sawhney, Dr Sreradha Dutta of the Vivekananda International Foundation, India, BIISS Chairman Kazi Imtiaz Hossain and BIISS DG Maj Gen Mohammad Maksudur Rahman, spoke at the event, among others.