Thursday, November 24, 2011

Transit-Corridor And Sovereignty Of Bangladesh

Transit-Corridor and Sovereignty of Bangladesh : How Should We Respond.

The recent developments, especially with the unhindered transport of goods from Kolkata (India) to Tripura (India) via rivers and roads using Ashugonj port in Bangladesh, and the proposal for using the Chittagong port for the same purpose have generated extreme controversies and uncertainties in the already divided internal politics of Bangladesh. These issues as well as the proposed Asian Highway routes through Bangladesh are matters of serious concern to the people of Bangladesh.
The former Prime Minister and present opposition leader Khaleda Zia expressed her apprehension very recently (27 October) that by providing transit-corridor to India, the present government is trying to turn Bangladesh into another “Sikkim”. The ruling party as well as the pro-Indian Lobby in Bangladesh would characterize this allegation as another baseless “anti-Indian outburst” by Khaleda Zia, but in reality she has simply given voice to the concerns of majority of the Bangladeshi citizens.
Since the transit-corridor issues have many-fold implications, including national interests and sovereign status as a state, it is imperative to get a clear picture of the issues involved and also how we can respond to the challenges imposed from outside but with the connivance and collaborations of a section of the ruling government.
Transshipment, transit and corridor
There are three modes for regional and international movement of goods – transshipment, transit and corridor. Each form has a different meaning and significance for the parties involved.
Transshipment is the act of shipping goods to an intermediate destination and then from there to yet another destination. Transshipment is normally fully legitimate and widely used for international trade. However, it can be used illegitimately to disguise country of origin or intent of the goods to avoid restrictions and customs duties.
Transit means the transportation of goods and passengers from one country over a particular land or water route of another country to a third country in accordance to specific agreement and regulations. The host country retains the sovereign control of the route. Movement of goods from India to Myanmar, for example, over a route in Bangladesh may be said to enjoy ‘transit facilities’.
Corridor is usually a narrow strip of land connecting one part of a country to another part of the same country, e.g. the Siliguri Corridor (Chicken’s Neck) of India. It also means giving one country full control over a certain part of the territory of another country for transport of goods and for other purposes.
During the last two years, Bangladesh and India have signed several agreements on movement of Indian goods using several points and routes in Bangladesh. While the term ‘Transit’ has been used in these agreements, its nature is more in line with ‘Corridor’ facilities. Bangladesh has not yet given full control to India, but the latter is being given unilateral use of the route.
In recent months, while Indian lorries carrying heavy equipment passed from Ashugonj to Agartala breaking the serial, Bangladeshi trucks carrying exportable goods from Bangladesh to India’s Tripura state were required to wait. Indian lorries had preference and total freedom of movement on the Bangladeshi roads. The facilities for transport of Indian goods from one part of India to its another part (entry and exit points in the same country) are best described as ‘transit-corridor’ facilities. The term ‘transshipment’ used by certain quarters in this context is inappropriate and misleading.

Why does India want Transit-Corridor through Bangladesh?
There are several reasons for which India has been insisting on getting transit-corridor facilities through Bangladesh. Some of these reasons are as follows:

1. Unfettered, cost-effective access to the northeast states.

It is a geographical reality that Bangladesh is ‘India locked’, being surrounded on three sides by Indian territories. In the same sense, the northeast states (Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Tripura) of India are ‘Bangladesh locked’. The so-called Chicken's Neck separating Bangladesh and Nepal is the only narrow strip of land (24 km in width) that connects West Bengal and mainland India with the northeast states. Transport of goods and people through the Chicken’s Neck is very expensive and time consuming. This hinders India’s access to the resource-rich northeast. Transit-corridor facilities through Bangladesh would be easier, less time consuming and also much less expensive (saving about two-thirds of the present cost of US$ 100 billion per year).

2. Eliminating the insurgency threats in the northeast.

India has been fighting insurgency movements in the north east region for several decades without any end in sight. The peoples inhabiting these areas are historically, ethnically, religiously, culturally different from those inhabiting the mainland India. It is only during the British rule (in 1860s) that these areas were incorporated into the ‘Indian Empire’. But the peoples of these lands have always cherished their independence and waged various struggles including armed struggles to realize their demands. These struggles are continuing even today. India considers these movements as threat to its territorial integrity and security, and wants to suppress them at any cost. Movement of armed personnel and armaments through Bangladesh would be much easier for India to suppress these insurgency threats.

3. Preparing for any future military confrontation with China in the Arunachal Pradesh.

India has longstanding territorial disputes with China, in the northwest and northeast regions of the Himalayan mountain range. In the northeast, the dispute over in Arunachal Pradesh (which the Chinese call Zhangnan or South Tibet (83,743 sq km or 32,333 sq miles in area) is yet to be resolved. Whether the issue would be settled amicably and peacefully can not be foretold, but India is not taking any chances. It has been strengthening its military preparedness (both defensive and offensive) in these regions for many years now, especially after the disastrous 1962 border war with China. In recent years India has been allocating huge resources for the modernization and expansion of its armed forces. In the northeast, plans are being implemented to expand the existing capabilities by raising an additional 100,000 forces including two divisions for mountain warfare and special operations.

4. Easy access to Myanmar resources and market.

Myanmar is located to the east and south east of both Bangladesh and India. The country is full of natural resources including oil and gas both on the land and in the sea. It has also tremendous potential for harnessing hydroelectric power. Because of these resources, and also for strategic reasons, direct links and access to Myanmar is very important to both China and India, the two economic and military giants of Asia. China already has direct land routes to Myanmar, but India has none at the moment. India wants to offset this disadvantage by having direct land routes from its northeast to Myanmar, but by opposing the route via Cox’s Bazar and Teknaf of the proposed Asian Highway.

None of these requirements as well as India’s geo-strategic ambitions in the East can be easily fulfilled without an extensive transit-corridor system through Bangladesh.

Transit-corridor: India-Bangladesh agreements 2010-11

For the last four decades, India has been trying to get unilateral transit-corridor facilities through Bangladesh without giving anything signifycant in return. India’s response to Bangladesh needs and legitimate demands (expected out of any deal between friendly countries) has always been one of double-talk, deception, excuses and backtracking. India did not do anything positive to produce an environment of trust and friendship with Bangladesh. That is why no government from 1972 to 2006 granted transit-corridor facilities to India.

The scenario changed in 2007, when the foreign-backed Moeen-Fakhruddin semi-military government agreed in principle to grant unilateral transit-corridor facilities to India, but the regime did not have enough time to sign the necessary agreements and protocols. However, once the Sheikh Hasina government came to power in 2009, granting transit-corridor facilities to India became her highest priority of all national issues (apart from hanging those found guilty of killing her father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman).

For some unexplained reasons, Sheikh Hasina became too willing to give in to Indian demands especially on the security and transit issues. High profile visits to Dhaka and New Delhi by government ministers, officials and policy makers on both sides became too frequent, accompanied by intense public relations campaign on the necessity and benefits of allowing transit facilities to India. Those questioning the deal to be made in secret and in a haste were criticized in derogatory terms such as ‘ignorant’’, anti-India, anti-liberation’, etc.

Different agreements and protocols were signed initially during Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Delhi on January 12, 2010, and finally during Manmohan Singh’s visit to Dhaka on September 6, 2011. These were hailed as historic success by India and die-hard pro-Indian elements in Bangladesh, but heavily criticised by others for granting unilateral facilities to India without reciprocal and concrete returns.

Full details of the Hasina-Singh agreements have not been published. However, according to various media reports, the main points of the agreements are as follows:

(1) Bangladesh would allow Indian container cargo by rail, road and river transport (no restriction on air traffic).

(2) It would provide India access to Ashugonj Port for transport of heavy machinery (Over-Dimensional Cargo, ODC) for construction of a power plant in Tripura.

(3) It would allow the use of Chittagong and Mongla seaports by India.

(4) India would allow Bangladesh the use of Tin Bigha Corridor for 24 hours a day for access to the Dahagram and Angarpota enclaves.

(5) Reopen Sabroom-Ramgarh trade point.

(6) Open land route at Demagiri-Thegamukh on Mizoram border.

(7) Start border Haats at the Bangladesh-Meghalaya border.

(8) India would assist Bangladesh in the expansion and modernization of railways and in river dredging.

(9) Problems of all enclaves and disputed border lands would be solved by joint surveys.

(10) Both countries would conduct Joint Hydrological Observations for water sharing treaty of Teesta and other rivers.

(11) A system of joint border management would be put in place for prevention of cross-border crimes, smuggling of arms and goods, drug- and human-trafficking and of illegal movement of people.

(12) Bangladesh would provide assistance to the Indian security forces for suppression of the insurgency movements in the seven sister states.

(13) Both countries would collaborate for security, stability and counter-terrorism in the region.

(14) Both countries would collaborate on healthcare, education, cultural, scientific and other issues

(15) India would allow some Bangladeshi products entry into the Indian market without any duties and by removing the existing tariff and non-tariff barriers, to reduce the huge trade gap.

The above points do suggest that the transit-corridor issues are the main emphasis of the Hasina-Manmohan agreements. And what hurts the people of Bangladesh more is that in the so-called friendly agreements there is no mention of some of their most pressing concerns. For example, there is no mention of indiscriminate border killings by India’s Border Security Force (BSF), India’s unilateral construction of barbed wire fence and security outposts within 150 yards of the common land border (no-man’s land) and the use of Indian soil by some anti-Bangladesh criminals and terrorist gangs. Further, there is nothing significant to address the water issues such as India’s controversial Tipaimukhi dam, its unilateral diversion and withdrawal of waters from international rivers including the Brahmaputra and Treesta, dysfunctional joint rivers commission, its non-compliance of the Ganges Water treaty, and the damages done to Bangladesh by the Farakka barrage (about US$ 140 billion in the last 35 years).

Proposed Transit-Corridor routes.

Although media reports have suggested a possible 15-17 transit-corridor routes for India, we do not yet know exactly how many land and river routes would be used under the recent (and any future) agreements and which would be the exact entry and exit points. What is known, however, is that 2-3 routes would be used for now and other routes would be opened up gradually.
A map published in the Daily Star on July 25, 2011 shows some of the possible transit routes. This map indicates very graphically and clearly that most routes would crisscross Bangladesh from west to the east and from south to the north. All the east-west, and some of the south-north, routes are surely for easy transport between two areas of India. A few south-north routes are proposed to be used by land-locked Nepal and Bhutan (no objection from any quarters of Bangladesh), but considering India’s hyper-sensitivity about its own security, the implementation of this part of the transit process may be a very difficult task.

Map of possible transit routes (Daily Star, July 25, 2011)

The Asian Highway: another transit facility for India.
The proposed ESCAP-led Asian Highway through Bangladesh would also provide additional transit facilities to India.
The present government has also signed agreement on the proposed Asian Highway to pass from India to Myanmar and other east Asian countries. This project when implemented in the present form would also serve India’s transit requirements. The main part of the route (AH1) as favoured by India enters into Bangladesh at Benapol (from West Bengal) and via Dhaka exits at Tamabil (Sylhet) to enter into India’s northeast. The other main route (AH2) enters into North Bangladesh at Banglabandha and also via Dhaka exits at Tamabil into India.
The last BNP government (2001-6) did not sign the Asian Highway agreement because it catered for only Indian interests and did not accept Bangladesh’s proposal for the main route (AH1) to exit at Teknaf (southeastern tip of Bangladesh, rather than Tamabil). Many analysts believe that the country was denied direct road links with Myanmar and other countries in the East including China, mainly due to Indian objections. India objected to the Teknaf route probably out of its fear that with direct highway links with Myanmar, China and other east Asian countries bypassing India, Bangladesh would have a greater choice and freedom of action outside what India considers its own ‘sphere of influence’. Those familiar with the writings of the Indian strategic analysts might have noted that some of them are quite blatant in raising the bogey of Chinese military presence in Chittagong port areas. 

Is Bangladesh prepared for transit-corridor?
The government is committed to giving transit-corridor facilities to India. But the people are apprehensive because of many reasons.
Bangladesh’s road and rail infrastructure is very poor, with inadequate logistics and manpower at Ashugonj and Akhaura ports. It is difficult to support the country’s own transport needs (about 750 trucks a day). How could it accommodate hundreds of heavy Indian vehicles (about 1500 lorries and trucks) using the existing rails and roads? And who will pay for the damages done to the roads and environment?
A dangerous gaping hole on Ramrail Bridge in Brahmanbaria. Railings of the bridge are coming apart. This stretch of road is an integral part of a transit route for India. Infrastructure has not been developed, but transit is on. Inset, this road at Akhaura is too narrow for large vehicles.
An Indian trailer finds it difficult to cross the Anderson canal near Kaotoli in Brahmanbaria, Daily Amardesh, March 29, 2011).
Some Bangladesh officials are so enthusiastic that they are willing to bear all the infrastructure expenses. For example, according to one recent report in the Weekly Probe magazine, merely at the possibility of giving transit to India, the Chittagong Port Authority has already implemented 18 projects at the cost of Tk. 2,100 crore (The Daily Star, December 29, 2010). And simply to facilitate the possible parking of Indian vehicles, a Tk. 150 crore transit yard is being constructed in Chittagong. Residents of the adjacent densely populated area are being evicted for the purpose.
Bangladesh is spending its own resources to facilitate transit for India (Chittagong Port, for example) and providing transit facilities at Ashugonj even without any infrastructure development. Dr. Debapriya Bhattachariya, a leading economist of the country, who was in favour of the transit deal before, said very recently that the current Indian transit is being subsidized by Bangladeshi taxpayers. In Myanmar, however, India is making huge investments to develop the road infrastructure in the hope of winning transit facilities there. 

India’s US$ 1 billion loan to promote its own interests.
Once ‘transit’ begins in full swing, there will be urgent need for regular rail and road renovation which will call for manpower and investment. Over the past decade, India has kept up the pressure for transit-corridor but has only recently agreed (August 10, 2010) to provide about US$ 1 billion loan (on severe conditions) for various projects. Major share of this loan is marked for infrastructure development for transport of Indian goods, but Bangladesh has to pay the loan along with interest.
And while Bangladesh swallowed this loan, the World Bank has cancelled a loan agreement of US$ 1.75 billion with Bangladesh as the funds remained unutilized. For long it had been said that India was giving the US$ 1 billion as ‘assistance’, but it is known now that the ‘assistance’ is in fact a loan with a much higher rate of interest than that charged by the World Bank or other lenders.
China, on the other hand, has made significant investments in the infrastructure sector of Bangladesh. Despite having no direct ‘transit’ interests here, China has constructed about seven or eight large bridges in Bangladesh. India has set no such example. 

Security considerations for the transit process.
Security is a vitally important aspect of the process. But nothing is known about the security set up. Who will provide the security needed for smooth and safe passage of Indian goods and personnel along the routes? Who will pay for the personnel, their training and other logistic costs? Will India send its own security personnel to accompany the trucks or insist on posting them at different points along the routes?
In the case of any security lapse/threat (real or imaginary) to the transit process, would India send its own armed/security forces?
Will Bangladesh have the rights to scrutinize and monitor on regular basis the nature of the goods being transported? Will it have the right to open and inspect the containers to check that the goods are as declared by the Indian authorities prior to entry into Bangladesh? Would some goods be dumped into Bangladesh market? 

Strategic implications
More important, would the containers passing through Bangladesh carry arms, ammunitions and other war materials for India’s ongoing anti-insurgency campaigns in the north east or for potential conflicts/wars with China and/or Myanmar or even against Bangladesh at a future date?
This is a very relevant question to ask since it has great risks for Bangladesh to get involved in somebody else’s conflict/war. Some members in the current government seem very naively to ‘assume’ that India will never wage any war against Bangladesh, but for its own independent and sovereign existence, Bangladesh must have its own defence and security strategies independent of the Indian strategy. It does not mean that Bangladesh adopts a militarily hostile policy towards India, Myanmar or China, but by ignoring these aspects and putting the ‘security and defence’ egg only into Indian basket, the country would invite potential disasters to itself.
Remember that India is a rising economic and military power and its expansionist and imperialistic ambitions are no longer secret. It considers itself as the natural and rightful successor of the British Empire in Asia. To fulfill its imperial ambitions India must ‘control’ the smaller and less powerful neighbours such as Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Pakistan first before it can dominate countries like Myanmar and Afghanistan. A sovereign and successful Bangladesh with an independent foreign policy and a credible defence system stands in the way of India’s economic and strategic domination of the resource rich north eastern and eastern land masses as well as having total control in the Bay of Bengal regions. 

Gains for Bangladesh – a great deception
Indian policy makers and their blind supporters in Bangladesh have been saying for more than a decade that by granting transit facilities to India, Bangladesh would make huge “economic gains”. It was frequently said that Bangladesh would earn many billions of dollars through transit. This view was also advanced by some international organizations like the World Bank. The latest situation, however, does suggest that the talks of ‘billions of dollars’ and ‘Bangladesh turning into a Singapore’ were nothing more than a pro-Indian propaganda to mobilize public opinion for the transit-corridor deal. There is nothing significant and concrete to show as gains from the transit deal. The departing Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka, Rajit Mitter, has said that Bangladesh would gain by having the hiring charges for river vessels and trucks used for the transport. He perhaps forgot to tell that Bangladesh would also get some money by selling ‘tea and cigarettes’ to the Indian truck drivers! 

Dubious role of the Bangladesh Government
We can not blame the Indian side for wanting everything ‘free’ from Bangladesh. It is very natural that they would look after their own interests and try to get maximum benefits from other countries including Bangladesh. Sweet talks, vague promises, deception, bribery, blackmail, etc., are not unacceptable tools in international diplomacy.
The tragedy is: the Dhaka authorities have given in too easily to the Indian demands in the vague hope of some hypothetical gains for the country. They do not seem to have the necessary will, commitment and competence to stand solid for Bangladesh interests. They are too eager and enthusiastic to comply with the Indian demands expecting that India would somehow respond positively to Bangladesh’s needs and reciprocate in kind.
In dealing with India, especially in the transit-corridor issue, the role of the Bangladesh government has been very dubious and mysterious from the beginning. Sheikh Hasina has spoken very little on the issue but two of her senior advisers Moshiur Rahman and Gauhar Rizvi have argued in favour of the deal in a way that is clearly against the interests of Bangladesh.
For example, Dr. Moshiur Rahman said, ‘we can not ask for any transit fees from India because we are not uncivilised’! Dr. Gauhar Rizvi, a hired hand from abroad, with extensive connections in India and the US but with little roots in Bangladesh soil and political landscape has said, ‘we have been waiting for 40 years for such a deal’! Could an Indian negotiator put it better to advance his country’s cause? The pathetic performance of these two advisers has put Bangladesh in a situation of unpredictable dangers
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina loves to talk about democracy, transparency and people’s power, but in dealing with India, she has kept the people of Bangladesh in total darkness. She has relied not on foreign ministry or any elected member of parliament, but only on two unelected advisers for strategic decisions that would have serious implications for the country’s national interests and sovereignty. All the deals have been made in extreme secrecy without any democratic debate and discussion in public or in the national parliament.
There remain serious confusion and lack of policy directives regarding the so-called fees and charges payable for the transit facilities. Different ministries and government officials have made contradictory statements for and against charging fees. There are confusions also about the nature of the ongoing ‘transit’, i.e., if it is ‘trial transit’ (no fee to be charged) or ‘regular transit’ (some kind of fee to be charged). No body knows what is happening and why and who is in charge. Bangladesh custom officers cannot decide anything for lack of clear directives from unspecified ‘higher authorities’. Apparently, no minister or official wants to take responsibility and displease some powerful people who hold the supreme power in Bangladesh today.
Some arguments against the transit-corridor deals
1. Despite the talks of ‘friendship’, India’s water aggression against Bangladesh has continued unabated since 1975. The experiences from the Farakka, Tipaimukh, Teesta and other issues have been very bitter for Bangladesh.
2. India’s has attempted from the very beginning to marginalise and subjugate Bangladesh, to interfere in the internal politics, carry out continuous anti-Bangladesh, anti-Muslim propaganda, and portray it as a ‘failed’ and ‘terrorist’ country requiring a ‘guardian-angel’ like India!
3. India has not honoured the Mujib-Indira Treaty (1974), especially by not handing over Tin Bigha Corridor in exchange of Berubari.
3. India has encircled Bangladesh with a ‘Barbed Wire Fence’ (a kind of Israeli ‘Apartheid Wall’ as in occupied Palestine) on the pretext of stopping Bangladeshi infiltration. Nobody having any pride in the independence and sovereignty of Bangladesh can accept this hostile arrangement and at the same time agree to providing transit-corridor facilities to India. This is an issue of our national dignity. India cannot demand unhindered movement of goods and people through a country whose people have been put in an ‘iron cage’. According to Dr Mushtaq Khan, a Professor of SOAS (University of London), this issue alone is a good enough reason for not allowing transit-corridor facilities to India.
4. Indian authorities justify the indiscriminate killings of Bangladeshi civilians by BSF along the border, but do nothing to stop the smuggling of phensidyl and other illegal drugs into Bangladesh. There are 132 Phensidyl factories on the Indian side of the border, earning about 347 crore rupees through smuggling drugs to Bangladesh alone (News Today, December 29, 2010). At least 32 different kinds of unlawful drugs enter Bangladesh from at least 512 points from India.
5. Immediately after liberation, the Chittagong port could not be used for export-import. In 1972, Sheikh Mujib requested India to allow the use of Calcutta Port for only six months, but India refused the request citing ‘security’ reasons.
6. In 1996, India promised to allow Bangladesh the use of its roads for trade with Nepal. Bangladesh commerce minister Tofail Ahmed and his Indian counterpart jointly opened the transit process. It was stopped by India only after one day. But now India wants more than 15 transit-corridor routes (river and land, rail) with no visible gains for Bangladesh.
7. The talk of allowing transit routes through India for trade with Nepal and Bhutan is a deceptive ploy to give it a kind of ‘regional flavour’ and lure Bangladesh into its game. India is extra-sensitive about its own security and trade monopoly, but insensitive to the needs of others including Bangladesh.
8. India’s seven sister states now depend on Bangladesh for many manufactured goods, but with transit, India will send its own products to the region and Bangladesh business will lose.
9. Financial benefits from transit process are uncertain, any fees would outweigh other disadvantages. Bangladesh would risk destroying its own roads and highways, infect its citizens with AIDS. Roads and highways will be neglected by the chauvinistic Indian traders and security personnel using the routes.
10. Bangladesh must not get involved in India’s war in the north east or with other countries as a part of India’s war strategy.
11. India must stop meddling in Bangladesh internal politics. It must not encourage dissension and destabilisation to keep Bangladesh weak.
12. Indian must stop sending its security and special units into Bangladesh. Sheikh Hasina has already taken great political and security risk by helping India’s anti-ULFA campaigns and handing over to India more than 50 insurgent leaders (without any extradition treaty). But India has not reciprocated by handing over the Bangladeshi criminal and terrorist ring leaders who operate from across the border, some connected with Indian intelligence agencies.
13. India must give up the idea that Bangladesh is its ‘backyard’ to be insulted, blackmailed and exploited at its will.
14. The Indian rulers and many of the media people do not hide their impatience and disgust at any opposition to India’s hegemonic policies. Those in Bangladesh who oppose the unjust policies of India are often damned as “fundamentalist anti-India outfits” (Saugar Sengupta, Daily Pioneer, September 16, 2011) or accused as being ‘too emotional’ to make ‘things more difficult’ (Kuldip Nayar, Gulf News, September 17, 2011). A former Indian diplomat, Muchkund Dubey, has very correctly described the attitude of “Indian political leaders, senior officials, business magnates and strategic thinkers towards Bangladesh” as “one of disdain and apathy”. This attitude must be changed for genuine good neighbourly relations.
15. India has yet to prove its goodwill, fairness and genuine respect to the smaller neighbours including Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka. It has to reciprocate in kind, in concrete terms, not in abstract expressions.
16. India must note that despite many obstacles the people of Bangladesh have made significant progress in different areas, and that they will protect their sovereign rights and vital national interests at any cost. Those who work against the interests of Bangladesh will be opposed and thrown into the dustbin of history.
17. The AL government, especially the two Advisers in charge of negotiations on the transit-corridor deal, have led Bangladesh into a trap. They have misled the country and seriously compromised national interests.
18. The terms of the agreements have not been made public or discussed and debated in the parliament.
19. Crucial agreements such as transit-corridor that have vital present and future economic, security and strategic implications must not be concluded in secret and in a hurry without national debate and consensus.
20. We demand full disclosure of the India-Bangladesh Agreements-2010-2011 and a referendum on the vital issue of transit-corridor.
The People of Bangladesh must insist upon all the Government and opposition political parties for unity on vital national issues, especially when it comes to protecting the national interests and sovereignty from foreign pressure and domination. Only this unity will strengthen country’s negotiating position with India and other countries and ensure that Bangladesh does not become a ‘satellite state’ of India or suffer the fate of ‘Sikkim’. 

BY : Dr. K. M. A. Malik