Neither in the Framework Agreement on Cooperation for Development between India and Bangladesh signed on Sep 6 in Dhaka by Indian Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, nor in the Indo-Bangladesh joint statement on his official visit to this country there is a single word on the flow of the river Padma, not to speak of the dismal condition of this once mighty river and the resulting disaster in its basin.
There is no sign at all in these documents of whether the Bangladesh prime minister or her colleagues conveyed to the visiting Indian delegation that the long barbed wire fence set up by India on three sides of her country is considered ever-humiliating by Bangladeshis, that Indian BSF continues to kill unarmed Bangladeshis at the border and that India continues to allow drug-dealers to smuggle huge quantity of the scourge-like substance Phensydil into Bangladesh every day. Nor is there any mention of any kind of protest made by Bangladesh’s PM against Indian dumping of yarn manufactured in that country because of which textile factories around Dhaka are shutting down.
The Bangladesh team also failed to mention that India’s Calcutta port be used for transportation of goods to their country from third countries. These examples demonstrate that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her advisers refrained from raising urgent issues of Bangladesh with the Indian head of government. The Bangladesh side to the bilateral summit meeting must have remained silent on Indian actions that are hurting us while at the same time they have agreed to do India’s bidding in all important fields, the Framework
Agreement and the joint statement show. So, Indians should rejoice at the success of their prime minister in his Bangladesh visit. He has got much while giving very little. Among his little gifts are opening the Din Bigha corridor day and night, lifting duty on a number of garments made in Bangladesh and granting one more point for rail transit between Bangladesh and Nepal.
It is being said that Bangladesh has refused to give transit from one point of India to another over Bangladesh because India failed to deliver the Teesta water sharing agreement. But this is not correct. Here note that Article 1 of the FAC states in part, “Both parties will encourage the development of appropriate infrastructure, use of sea ports, multi-modal transportation and standardisation of means of transport for bilateral as well as sub-regional use”. “Road, rail, inland waterways, air and shipping” are stated in the preceding sentence as the modes of transportation. Then paragraph 41 of the joint statement says, “The Prime Ministers directed that necessary formalities for the use of Chittagong and Mongla seaports for movements of goods to and from India through water, rail and road should be completed urgently.” If this is not the transit (BNP says it is corridor) that India is seeking then what is? Here, one should also note that the FAC has already become operational. Indeed, what India has done by way of the Mamata Banerjee drama is to delay the Teesta accord till Bangladesh completes the formalities in accordance with para 41 of the Indo-Bangladesh joint statement.
The Framework Agreement on Cooperation, which is an invention, has firmly placed Bangladesh in a subservient position where it will have to accept dictates of India on its economic development activities and trade relations. The FAC will compel Bangladesh to move away from regional or international. This document keeps harping on bilateral and sub-regional cooperation. It aims at linking Bangladesh’s every development and economic activity to India. In other words, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her inner circle have placed Bangladesh under Indian hegemony.
The FAC is a document intended to remain in effect for ever because there is no mention in it about when will it expire. This agreement can be terminated only if one party wants to terminate it and the other party agrees to it. It may be mentioned here that the Indo-Bangladesh Friendship treaty of 1972 was for 25 years. It expired automatically in 1997. Prime Minister Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had to accept that agreement being in a very difficult situation. Sheikh Hasina could end it in 1997 because Bangladesh had become much stronger, but what now.
It is good that BNP Chairperson and Leader of the Opposition, Begum Khaleda Zia, has told Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh when she called on him that agreements which are being signed between India and Bangladesh now should be such that can be amended in future. She has kept a door open, politically, so that Bangladesh can come out of the uncomfortable, may be dangerous, situation in which it has been put by the present weak, corrupt and autocratic regime in Bangladesh.
By - Ataus Samad.