30697 , 4 /13 / 2005 13 :52 , 05 NEWDELHI2792 , Embassy New Delhi, CONFIDENTIAL,, " This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available. ","C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 NEW DELHI 002792 SIPDIS E.O. 12958 : DECL: 04 /12 /2015 TAGS : PREL, PTER, KISL, IN, BG, India-Bangladesh, Indo-US SUBJECT: DAS GASTRIGHT ENCOURAGES COORDINATION ON BANGLADESH Classified By: PolCouns Geoff Pyatt. Reasons 1.4 ( B, D) 1. ( C) Summary: In an April 18 meeting with MEA Joint Secretary Neelam Deo (Bangladesh), SA DAS John Gastright SIPDIS emphasized that all concerned countries, not just India and the US, should encourage the BDG to improve its governance. Deo agreed that Bangladesh was still at a point where it could reverse some of the negative trends, but expressed deep skepticism about the current situation, and noted GOI concern about the growing influence of radical Islamists. End Summary. Expanding Dialogue ------------------ 2. ( C) Highlighting Bangladesh as the next area for US-India cooperation, DAS Gastright urged that during the April 18 Regional Dialogue with A/S Rocca, we work towards a playbook of carrots and sticks that we can offer the BDG to encourage it to improve governance. DAS Gastright explained that due in part to New Delhi's prodding, Washington has taken a careful look at the situation in Bangladesh and has developed a strategy of working cooperatively with the BDG and letting them know we are paying attention. Dhaka has noticed Washington's stepped-up attention to issues of governance, and has recently taken a number of steps that the donor community has recommended. Deo responded that certainly the BDG was capable of reversing the slide, but the ""real tragedy"" was that despite having the ability, Dhaka has accomplished very little. SAARC Summit: A Possible Indian Carrot -------------------------------------- 3. ( C) DAS Gastright offered the SAARC Summit as an example of something positive India might offer Dhaka as an inducement to better governance. Deo was sympathetic that the BDG had put a great deal of effort, twice, into organizing the meeting, but added that it was not just the ""blasts"" that soured New Delhi on the Summit. Noting ""a real buildup in unfriendly attitude,"" Deo recounted that just prior to the original January SAARC date, a serving general, in a speech cleared by the PM's office, declared the need to ""build alliances to counter the enemy -- India."" 4. ( C) Observing that the US and India already convey the same message on many issues, Deo pointed out that we have both underlined to the BDG the importance of economic ties with India. While there was still dissent in Dhaka on whether or not to work with India on the Burma- Bangladesh-India gas pipeline (an example of how politicized any cooperation with India is, she noted), the Tata Corporation was working towards a June deadline for completing a feasibility study for its proposed USD two billion dollar investment in steel and fertilizer plants. Deo added that the Tata project had generated interest among other Indian companies in doing business in Bangladesh and was helping to improve the atmosphere. However, she noted with concern that the Tata project is being overseen by the BDG Industry Minister Nizami , who represents Jamaat-e-Islami. GOI Sees Lurking Extremism -------------------------- 5. ( C) Zeroing in on madrassas as the source of Islamic extremism, Deo remarked that some of these schools are training jehadis, even though the state itself is not abetting jihadism. While agreeing that Islam in Bangladesh was generally moderate and resistant to militancy, the Joint Secretary argued that there were some organizations, SIPDIS particularly in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, that with foreign funding were "" building something that could get out of control."" Citing this and the Chittagong arms haul, she added that she did not think the BDG was intentionally abetting these groups, but corruption was a huge problem. 6. ( C) Deo also reiterated the GOI assertion that the Pakistani foreign intelligence agency, ISI, has been active in Bangladesh. Among the GOI's concerns that the MEA has previously expressed, Deo placed particular emphasis on the extent to which the Islamic parties were dampening social and cultural life in Bangladesh, especially for female athletes. She cited recent analysis by the ""Friday Times'"" Khaled Ahmed as evidence that Bangladesh was following an Islamist trajectory similar to Pakistan in the 1980 s. In response to Deo's inquiry about US involvement in the Kibria investigation, DAS Gastright clarified that ours was an advisory role. Elections? Why Bother? ---------------------- 7. ( C) Noting the possibility that opposition leader Sheikh Hasina would not run for office, Deo was not hopeful that there would be anything resembling free and fair elections in Bangladesh. The Joint Secretary commented that the BNP was willing to tamper with the electoral system to ensure a victory. DAS Gastright told Deo that along with the EU's USD 25 million for election monitors, the US was committing USD 10 million for elections, to convey to the BDG that the international community is watching closely, and that the US is emphasizing a closely scrutinized process, instead of personalities. Deo welcomed this observation, reiterating that India wants to coordinate closely with the US on Bangladesh. MULFORD --------------------------------------------- -------------------------------- 26366 , 02 /03 / 2005 04 :16 , 05 DHAKA503 , Embassy Dhaka, CONFIDENTIAL,, "This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available. ","C O N F I D E N T I A L DHAKA 000503 SIPDIS E.O. 12958 : DECL: 2 /3 /2015 TAGS : PREL, BG, IN, PK, NP, SAARC SUBJECT: BDG ANGRY REACTION TO SAARC POSTPONEMENT Classified By: P/E D. Mccullough, Reason(s): 1.5 ( b), (d) 1. ( C) BDG cabinet members, opposition and civil society expressed anger with India over the SAARC cancellation announced February 2. Cabinet members told ambassador that Delhi made the announcement without giving Dhaka prior notification and after telling them earlier in the day that the conference was still on. India's decision to not only cancel but to lump Kathmandu's end of democracy with the deteriorating law and order situation in Bangladesh did not sit well with the BDG cabinet members. The ministers said that the previous two SAARC summits were held in Nepal and Pakistan despite the threat of Maoist violence and bomb blasts. 2. ( C) Comment: The Awami League must be pleased, but we expect more generally a muted reaction given the general embarrassment and anger in Dhaka. GOI's decision will confirm to the PM and many in the Bangladesh military that India is Bangladesh's long-term adversary. End Comment. THOMAS --------------------------------------------- ----------------------------------- 26786 , 02 /10 / 2005 12 :56 , 05 NEWDELHI1075 , Embassy New Delhi, CONFIDENTIAL, 05 NEWDELHI878 , "This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available. ","C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 NEW DELHI 001075 SIPDIS E.O. 12958 : DECL: 02 /09 /2015 TAGS : PREL, PTER, ECIN, ENRG, BG, IN, India-Bangladesh SUBJECT: INDIA: SAARC DECISION SENT A MESSAGE TO DHAKA REF : A. NEW DELHI 878 B. NEW DELHI 877 C. NEW DELHI 876 D. NEW DELHI 874 Classified By: DCM Robert O. Blake, Jr. for Reasons 1.4 ( B, D) 1. ( C) Summary: The GOI remains unapologetic about the last minute cancellation of the SAARC Summit and the resulting unhappiness in Dhaka. In this context, on February 9 , the MEA urged PolCouns not to underestimate the extent to which developments in Bangladesh influenced India's decision not to attend the SAARC Summit. With no apparent sense of urgency to make things right with Dhaka, the MEA explained that the GOI's decision was intended to send a message to the BDG. Despite India's strong stand, our interlocutor reiterated the Foreign Secretary's unconvincing line on the importance of SAARC to New Delhi, and added that other interactions would continue. In support of this assertion, press reports indicate that the Indian Cabinet has given the Petroleum Minister approval to enter into gas pipeline negotiations with Bangladesh. Dhaka's High Commissioner complained to the DCM about Indian mistreatment. We should look for opportunities to continue this dialogue and press for real information sharing. End Summary. A Message for Dhaka ------------------- 2. ( C) MEA Director (Bangladesh, Sri Lanka) Taranjit Singh Sandhu told PolCouns and Poloff that in light of increasing intolerance in Bangladesh and ""sustained anti- India sentiment"" there, India needed to bring pressure to bear on Dhaka. Describing a "clarity of thought"" on Bangladesh throughout the GOI, he urged PolCouns not to ""lessen the importance"" of events there in New Delhi's decision not to attend the SAARC Summit. Sandhu underlined that the King's takeover in Nepal was not the sole motivator for India's change of heart, asserting that developments in both countries took place independent of each other. The Director added to his list of Bangladeshi offenses that ""sitting ministers"" and senior politicians have made statements against India recently, with the intention of raising passions, and concluded that this is not the ""SAARC spirit."" 3. ( C) While maintaining that it was about time New Delhi sent a message to Dhaka, Sandhu countered that the signal was not necessarily a negative one, rather it was meant to encourage Bangladesh to be ""introspective."" India is not trying to fault the BDG, but wants them to realize the danger to themselves from leaving certain issues unchecked, he argued. ""The US Doesn't Get It"" ----------------------- 4. ( C) Somewhat incredulous that the USG continues to ask for concrete evidence to support India' s claims regarding creeping "" Talibanization,"" Sandhu said that even a layman could see what has been going on, and cited recent US press coverage of Islamic extremism in Bangladesh, such as the January ""New York Times Magazine"" expose. PolCouns pointed out that the information presented in the reftels had all been reported in the press, which the Director argued only further proved his point. PolCouns noted that an FBI agent for the legatt office in New Delhi was on his way to Dhaka to help on the January 27 attack, and added that we had made very clear US concern about half-hearted investigations of these politically motivated attacks. Sandhu remained skeptical of US investigators' ability to get results in Bangladesh. PolCouns offered, in the interest of maintaining US- India dialogue on this issue, to come back with our further insights on the situation in Bangladesh. Still Neighbors --------------- 5. ( C) While he did not convey any sense of GOI urgency about stopping the backward slide in bilateral relations, Sandhu attempted to express optimism that initiatives already in the works, such as gas pipeline discussions, would continue, and that New Delhi remained committed to regional cooperation in SAARC. Sandhu insisted that economic interaction between the two countries would not stop, but added that India needs to see the BDG pay attention to New Delhi's political and security concerns. While refuting the suggestion that India was at a dead-end with Bangladesh, the Director noncommittally predicted the SAARC Summit would happen "" sooner or later."" Contrary to the criticism that New Delhi had acted in the opposition Awami League's favor in sinking the Summit, Sandhu asserted that India's decision ""had nothing to do with parties."" He added that India should not be seen as a bully, emphasizing that someone needed to call attention to what was going on in Bangladesh. High Commissioner Cries Foul ---------------------------- 6. ( C) In a lunch with the DCM, the Bangladeshi High Commissioner Hemayet Uddin vented his frustration and anger at the way India quashed the SAARC Summit. Uddin claimed that the GOI made its announcement on February 2 without first notifying either the Ministry in Dhaka or the High Commission in New Delhi, and was especially stung that in his statement, Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran singled out Bangladesh as a culprit. Despite his vitriol, the High Commissioner highlighted some positive developments in the relationship, including plans to begin train service connecting Calcutta to India's Northeast, and the TataCorporation's planned USD 2 billion investment in Bangladesh which will include the use of local gas supplies and might ""smooth the way"" for fuel sales to India. Comment ------- 7. ( C) The GOI's official line that SAARC is an important aspect of India's foreign policy is contradicted by the meltdown over the Dhaka Summit. This is unfortunate, not because of the organization's great potential to accomplish regional integration, but because India's commitment to SAARC would demonstrate New Delhi's willingness to sit down with its neighbors and generate some much-needed good will. While the MEA harbors undisguised disdain for the Government of Bangladesh, there are other stakeholders in the relationship, in particular Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar, who has successfully moved the Indian Cabinet to give its blessing to his dialogue on a gas pipeline through Bangladesh. 8. ( C) We will also engage with senior-level MEA SAARC experts on the Summit issue, and expect to hear a more nuanced line from that side of the Ministry. Sandhu accepted PolCouns' suggestion that the US and India continue this discussion at higher levels, and post recommends that we find an early opportunity to revive our SA- led regional dialogue, with a special focus this time on the situation in Bangladesh.