Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Bengal Worse Than Gujrat For Muslims?

NEW DELHI: These are figures the Left Front should be wary of as it prepares to defend its citadel of 34 years in West Bengal. An analysis of data on the Muslim community released by the chief economist of the National Council of Applied Economic Research, Abu Saleh Sheriff, reveals that the state’s minority has benefited little from development measures. In terms of human development indices, the Muslims have fared very poorly. Of the 25.2 % Muslim population, only 2.1 % have government jobs and 50 % children are out of school at the primary level. Only 12 % go on to complete matriculation. These numbers are all the more astonishing given the fact that Left swears by its secular credentials and positions itself as a protector of minority rights. Alarm bells have already started ringing, especially after a postmortem of the Left’s poor showing in the civic elections last year. An important factor which could have resulted in the dismal performance was Muslim disenchantment. In what may be viewed as the party’s efforts to make amends, there is a steep 33 % hike in the number of Muslim candidates fielded by Left Front. It has gone up from 42 in 2006 to 56 this time in the 292- member Assembly. Throughout his lecture, Sheriff — who has also been the member secretary of the Sachar panel — spoke of Gujarat and West Bengal in the same breath. In fact, he used the data to project the Left- ruled state in a far worse light than the state ruled by Narendra Modi, not regarded by many as a benefactor of the minorities. And this comparison appeared all the more relevant because the West Bengal government had gone out of its way to provide shelter to Qutubuddin Ansari, the man who became the face of the post- Godhra riots with his folded hands and tearful eyes. “If a substantial fraction of the state’s 25% Muslim population have traditionally voted for the alliance it could be because of the projected gains of the land reforms even though if you look at the figures, it shows that these reforms do not seem to have made any significant difference to the living standards of the community. With the elections coming, it is time this reality is brought to the knowledge of the public,” Sheriff said. He was addressing a seminar on “Relative development of West Bengal and Socio-Religious Differentials” organized by the Institute of Objective Studies at the India Islamic Cultural Cultural Centre. Shariff’s figures on education, sourced, according to him from the census database and the Planning Commission, show 50 % Muslim children attend school at the primary level, 26 % remain in middle school and only 12 % complete matriculation against 54 %, 30 % and 13 % respectively for SC/STs and 80 %, 58 % and 38 % for others. Of the 90 minority-concentrated districts in the country, West Bengal has 12. “The worst are the state government employment figures where even Gujarat with its 9.1 % Muslim population and with a 5.4 % share in jobs is way ahead of West Bengal which is by far the worst in the country. We had to try very hard to get these figures out from the state government because, for obvious reasons, they are very secretive about this,” Shariff said. A look at OBC statistics in Bengal shows only 2.4 % of its Muslims belong to that category. This, Sheriff says, is not the real picture and simply exposes the state government’s reluctance to undertake the enumeration exercise.

China Entices Burma As India Struggles To Look East Analysis

The Chinese National Petroleum Corporation has offered aid worth $6 million to Myanmar for building hospitals. This is no philanthropy, but an exercise aimed at pushing Myanmar to speed up laying the planned 878 km-long crude pipeline. In other words, a move to secure China’s access to Myanmar’s oil reserves.1 Simultaneously, a 2 ,389 km pipeline from Kyakphu in Myanmar to China’ s Yunnan province is also being pursued. In 2010 , the Asian giant pumped the largest investment into the junta’s coffers, estimated at $8.17 billion.2 China’s strides will, expectedly, fuel competition with India, which is energy hungry as well as concerned about encirclement by the red dragon. Indian initiatives in developing infrastructure, education facilities and aggressive bids for stakes in oil and gas in Myanmar with a focus on the North East have been obvious. However, is all of this too little, too late? New Delhi’s interest in the North East Region has often been critiqued as security- obsessed and not oriented towards “genuine economic development and trade promotion.”3 Trade through the main border points mutually identified as Moreh ( in Manipur) and Champhai (in Mizoram) have not lived up to the hype.4 The Myanmar Government has asked for strengthening the existing Moreh post so as to reap its full potential, before proposed trade points at Lungwa/Ledo, Pongru and Pokhungri in Nagaland and Nampong, Vijayanagar and Khimiyang in Arunachal Pradesh are agreed upon.5 Moreh’s official trade is only a fraction of its expanding grey market, reflecting that border trade is in total disarray with no clarity as to who is in- charge.6 Obstacles in legal transactions, lack of regulation by Myanmar on transiting third country goods especially from China and threat of non-state actors hassling traders in strong turf wars, have all left no incentive to develop commerce. Instead, trade has shifted to Tamu’s Namphalong market in Myanmar, disappointing local entrepreneurs in Manipur. This is just one case in point. It is not just the numbers that seem bleak. Experts at an IDSA workshop “Imperative of Infrastructure Development for developing Indo-Myanmar Relations” stressed that de- hyphenating economic development in the North East from the goal of constructive presence in Myanmar would be a zero-sum exercise. The logic being that unless the Indian side of the border sees development, trying to improve connectivity and energy access on the other side would meet logistical failure.. In any event, India’s current commitments in Myanmar seem to have been already outpaced by China. According to reports, PetroChina “is constructing a four billion cubic meter gas depot at Hutubi in the border province of Xinjiang to make the most of gas piped from Myanmar.”7 In contrast, as former Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran notes, “The problem with India’s energy interests in Myanmar is that even if it develops A1 to A7 energy blocks or any other offshore Bay of Bengal blocks, how will be it be transported back to India? [...] At present, we only hold a 30 per cent stake in A1 and A3 blocks, and that too we are forced to sell to China because of the absence of a proper pipeline between India and Myanmar.” 8 Infrastructure bottlenecks remain in all of the India- initiated rail, road, power and energy related projects. The IDSA workshop suggested that New Delhi must focus “on infrastructure up to Tripura” and deal with logistic loopholes if execution of plans in Myanmar is desired. The detailed project report on the 2000 MW Tamanthi river project in Chindwin signed in 2008 is still being updated to get the requisite approvals.9 This is where China takes the game away from India. China acts, India deliberates. Coming to specifics, in the field of power-generation, the dilemma seems to be between power requirement and the potential harnessed. While the North East grapples with a severe power shortage, there has not been any effort to better utilise the Arunachal Basin, which, moreover, delivers below capacity because of the narrow nature of its corridor. An alternative, in the view of experts, is to first ensure power surplus from the Arunachal Basin over and above the demands of the north east, which, they ambitiously claim, is possible. Second, it is important to sell the concept of dedicated power plants in Nagaland, Manipur and Arunachal. These must be insulated projects that focus on providing output to markets in Myanmar and Bangladesh with specific tariff regulations. This could work as an incentive for authorities on both sides of the border. The immense potential of inland waterway arrangements as an efficient means of transport also remains largely unexploited. Currently, the emphasis seems to be solely on the Kaladan Multimodal Transit Project, which envisages connectivity between Indian ports on the east and the Sittwe Port in Myanmar coupled with riverine transport and road connectivity to Mizoram. This provides an alternate route for transporting goods to North East India, and will thus boost trade ties.10 This is an important project, considering the pressure on the Siliguri Corridor and Bangladesh’s continued refusal to allow transit rights through its territory to the North-East. While project completion is expected by 2013 , logistical issues of river engineering like dredging, removal of rock outcrops, rapids, lack of navigation aids, etc., combined with environmental concerns, may delay its dividends.11 In such a scenario, experts note that India must better use its current MoU with Bangladesh on Inland Water Transport, which has so far only been semi-operational, neglected and subject to the whims of the Bangladeshi authorities. India is already watching nervously as China pushes ahead with the re-building of the historic “Stillwell Road”12. 61 kms of the stretch lies in India, 1 ,033 km falls in Myanmar and 632 km in China. Naturally, relentless Chinese efforts resulted in the contract being awarded to a Chinese construction company, which has already begun work on the 194 mile stretch from Myitkyina in Myanmar to the Pangsau Pass in Arunachal Pradesh, close to the Indian border.13 India has not begun to build its side of the road. Opinion stands divided. Indian businessmen strongly feel that this road, which is now almost unusable and prone to interdiction by insurgents, could be the key for the economic success of the North East. Rebuilding it will help re- establish the region’s trade ties with western China and South East Asia. The government, in contrast, sees this as a risky investment, given security concerns about China’s territorial claims to Arunachal Pradesh as well as the challenge of battling insurgent groups currently operating in the region.14 Many cross-border highways planned to connect India with Myanmar and beyond are still works in progress. The ambitious Rhi-Tidim and Rhi- Falam road projects, the Moiwa-Chindwin-Thailand trilateral highway project as well as trans-rail networks are still being refined.15 So far, only the Tamu-Kalaywa- Kalemyo Road connecting Moreh to Myanmar has been completed. Complaints of neglect have, however, surfaced about the road from Imphal that feeds into Moreh, which is symptomatic of the general approach. Experts from the Border Road Organisation have flagged real concerns. Logistically, not only is the North East region remote, it is also short on resources, and the soil, moreover, does not support the type of stones required for tar roads. More often than not, project costs do not include budgets for transporting heavy machines and equipment to these areas, which then translates into delays. Local quarrying affects the geographical balance of the region, which often destabilises the foundations of the roads laid. Overall, unlike China, India lacks in skilled manpower, which is a glaring shortcoming. Both in quality and quantity China seems to be at an advantage. This perhaps explains BRO’s establishment of a China Study Group with the specific mandate of assessing rapid infrastructure build up near Tibet and the north east. China’s strides in Myanmar have been well planned and executed. Beijing backed the military-led Junta when it was internationally isolated and doled out infrastructure support and soft loans long before India decided to look east. India’s image as a vibrant democracy and the strategic and economic need to counter Chinese influence in Myanmar will make policy options a lot tougher. Yet, what can be done now is to fully implement and leverage the existing framework and ensure that it delivers. 1. Saibal Dasgupta, “China’s sweetener to speed up pipeline through Myanmar,” Times of India, April 7 , 2011. 2. “Chinese investment in Myanmar tops $8 bn this year,” Reuters, August 16 , 2010 , /08 / 16 /idINIndia- 50868920100816. 3. L. S. Singh, “Indo-Myanmar Relations in the greater perspective of India’s Look East Policy,” in Thingnam Kishan Singh, ed., Look East Policy and India’s North: East Polemics and Perspectives ( 2009). 4. Ibid. 5. Ministry of Development of North East Region, http:// asp? sid=127. 6. L. S. Singh, op. cit. 7. Saibal Dasgupta, op. cit. 8. “India’s strategic interests in Myanmar: An interview with Shyam Saran,” by M. Chaturvedi http://www.ipcs. org/pdf_file/issue/SR98- ShyamSaranInterview.pdf. 9. 10. Ministry of Development of North East Region, http:// sublink2 images/ KaladanMultiModal 2172726384. htm. 11. Executive Summary of DPR for Port & IWT, http://iwai.nic. in/misc/portiwt.pdf. 12. Stillwell Road was a route from India used by the British and American troops to supply Chinese troops against Japan during WW II. See, http://www. worldnews/asia/china/ 8243834 /China-plans-to- rebuild-Burmas-World-War- Two-Stilwell-Road.html. 13. Subir Bhaumik, “Will the famous Indian WWII Stilwell Road reopen?,” February 8, 2011 , http:// south-asia- 12269095. 14. Ibid. 15. “India’s strategic interests in Myanmar: An interview with Shyam Saran,” op.cit.

Rust In The Corridor Route

Though talking about regional or sub-regional connectivity in public, the ruling elite in Bangladesh has in effect granted and operationalized a transport corridor with India through the country without any fee.So far no official announcement has been made to that effect. Haste and secrecy over such an issue propagated over the years for its economic dividends, not to undermine ‘significant implications’, evokes questions concerning the deal. Questions have arisen on whether legitimate grounds of convergence of genuine interests between the two peoples and their states motivated the Bangladesh authorities for the transport corridor, or whether there has been any degree of coercion. Secrecy over the contents of the MOU that allowed transport corridor is maintained not only in Bangladesh but it seems to be equally applicable in India. Both the countries have introduced the right to information acts, both have their respective parliaments. There has been no report of any recent debate over the issue in either parliament nor has there been an attempt in any country to inform their people about the content of the MOU invoking the right to information act. An understanding of the developments and dynamics of bilateral relationships between Bhutan-India, Nepal-India on one side and Nepal-Bhutan on the other side at this particular stage is essential for an assessment of the scenario into which Bangladesh is being dragged. This will also unfold the agenda behind the proposed regional connectivity and bring into light the immediate implications of the transport corridor between Bangladesh and India. An in-depth analysis of bilateral relationships of India and its two landlocked neighbours and the relationship between the two adjacent landlocked countries in the region will also help understanding why the Indian ruling elites were in such a haste to operationalise the transport corridor through Bangladesh. The elite attitude in Bangladesh with regards to the issues mentioned above is no less important. Positions taken by those at the centre of power, commanding the state machinery and those outside it but waiting for an opportune moment to take over the reins, will reflect whether there is any consensus among the elites irrespective of political divide in the country on the transport corridor issue. The free transport corridor between Bangladesh and India became effective on March 29 as four trailers of equipment crossed the borders between the two countries traveling 48 km land route from Ashuganj river port in Bangladesh and reached Agartala in the north eastern region of India. The modality under which the corridor has been made operational has not yet been made public. Whether Customs at Ashuganj river port or Akhaura border post are equipped with necessary logistic support to scan the huge loads of hardware being received and sent, also seems to have been kept confidential. Soon after the signing of the November 30 , 2010 MOU on transport corridor between Bangladesh and India, 16 diversion roads were built to facilitate heavy-duty trailers carrying equipment for Palatana Power Station in Tripura. These diversions were constructed to avoid 15 risky bridges and culverts between Ashuganj river port and Akhaura reports say (The Daily Star March 31 , 2011). At a speed of five km per hour, each trailer carried a load of around 80 tons. The traveling time to cross the 48 km stretch of road in Bangladesh corridor will require about 10 hours. The first consignment, took more time for its passage through the corridor due to a mechanical failure at a pontoon bridge after the first trailer embarked. As the trailers remained stuck on the pontoon bridge over Anderson Canal and along the diversion road near Brahmanbaria, the city witnessed traffic congestion while movement of vehicles along Sylhet-Comilla highway remained restricted for sometime during the period. Since March 9 , ships carrying 16 consignments ranging between 20 tons and 285 tons reached the Ashuganj port from Kolkata. A total 96 consignments of hardware for the power station will be sent from Kolkata to Tripura using the river ways and the road corridor through Bangladesh. An MOU allowing a multimodal but single purpose ‘transport corridor’ through Bangladesh was signed in Dhaka on November 30 2010 , for a period up to June 2012. Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan, Secretary of the Ministry Abdul Mannan Howlader, Secretary RHD, Mozammel Haque Khan along with some senior government officials of Bangladesh besides Sushil Singhal, First Secretary, High Commission of India in Dhaka, AK Hazarika, Director (Onshore), ONGC and SK Dube, MD, OTPC were also present during the MOU signing ceremony. The foreign ministry remained totally sidelined and was not even represented at the MOU signing ceremony. Quoting foreign ministry officials, reports published in Dhaka (The Independent December 31 , 2010) claimed that the ministry was ‘not even consulted’ regarding the MOU on the transport corridor. The MOU, according to them, was ‘faulty’ and needed to be ‘modified in future’. Important cabinet ministers in Bangladesh continue to defy the term ‘transport corridor’ with regards to land route facility provided to India through Ashuganj-Akhaura road link. The ONGC, however, clarified the ambiguity over the issue mentioning the stretch of road in Bangladesh as ‘transport corridor’. On December 15 , 2010 , two weeks after the signing of the MOU, an official press release issued from ONGC headquarters in New Delhi mentioned the passage through Bangladesh as ‘transport corridor’. Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) is India’s state- owned oil and gas company and its subsidiary OTPC signed the MOU with Roads and Highway Department of Bangladesh. Set up as a commission on August 14 , 1956 , the ONGC was later turned into a corporation with Indian government holding its 74.14 % equity stake. OTPC is a joint venture of ONGC with a nominal share of the state government of Tripura. Without mentioning a single word on the terms of reference of the MOU, the press release talked about its ‘significant implications’ and gave details of its work programme through the corridor facility provided by Bangladesh. “OTPC will incur the required expenditure for the (i) development of a Roll-On, Roll-Off (Ro-Ro) Jetty at Ashuganj port, (ii) construction of around 16 by- passes on water bodies (culverts, rain / storm water rivulets & two major rivers and (iii) repair, strengthening & widening of road between Sultanpur and Akhaura border. The work on all the required infrastructure has since commenced and is expected to be ready by mid February, 2011 ,” the ONGC press release said. “The transport corridor through Bangladesh ‘will facilitate the transportation of two gas turbines, two steam turbines and about hundred ODC (Over Dimensional Cargo) items required for the OTPC’s ambitious 726.6 MW Combined Cycle Gas based power plant at Palatana, Tripura,” the press release said. Reviewing the project implementation status in the Board meeting of OTPC held at New Delhi on December 13 , 2010 , the press release quoting. RS Sharma, CMD, ONGC and Chairman, OTPC said, “ The other significant implication of this MOU is the opening up of the new and a much convenient route for the growth of trade between the two countries through an easy access between north-eastern states of India and Bangladesh. This will also usher in the development of closer ties between the people of two countries.” The MoU for transit corridor was signed by RK Madan, Senior Adviser (Business Development, ONGC) & Director, OTPC on behalf of ONGC/OTPC and Azizur Rahman, Chief Engineer, Roads and Highways Department represented the governments of India and Bangladesh respectively. Is Bangladesh gripped in a psychological war? Promises of sub-regional connectivity with dreams of earning millions, the passage through Bangladesh has now been reduced to a transport corridor with only one country and that too without any fee. Earlier stories publicized huge earnings to the exchequer from transit fee. Soon after executing the free transport corridor for India, stories on prospects of getting huge energy from our neighbours seem to be receiving circulation. Is it another new twist of tremendous opportunity centering connectivity or yet another revelation of the transport corridor episode? Can it also be a part of a massive campaign of psychological onslaught against Bangladesh? “India needs the help of Bangladesh to get the environment-friendly and cheap electricity, and Bangladesh should extend its hand for that,” said Dr. Mashiur Rahman economic advisor to the Prime Minister on March 31. Customers of power produced in northeastern states will be in mainland India but it is not possible to send the electricity through the ‘chicken neck’. Linking Bhutan and Nepal again like the previous regional connectivity issue the technocrat advisor said, “There are huge potentials of producing hydroelectricity in northeastern states of India, Nepal and Bhutan, and through regional cooperation Bangladesh can be a beneficiary to it.” Dr. Rahman’s latest revelations testify the ‘significant implications’ of the transport corridor besides providing a new dimension to the psychological war that is tormenting the country. The debate over transit and corridor issue in Bangladesh received a new twist when the Indians demanded that the passage through land route of the country should be provided for free under Article V of the WTO. Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan speaking in favour of fee waiver said, since Indians were constructing the road connection Bangladesh needed direly, why should they pay fee? Dr. Mashiur Rahman technocrat advisor for economic affairs to the Prime Minister speaking in favour of the waiver of fee from Indian vehicle went to the extent of saying, “Had our country been an uncivilised one or our leaders been illiterate then we could have asked for the fees, but that’s not the case.” He was speaking as the chief guest at the concluding session of the dialogue titled ‘Cooperative Development, Peace and Security to South Asia and Central Asia: Strengthening India-Bangladesh Relations’ in the city on March 31. Interpreting the WTO principles in own style he also said, “Transit facility should not be used for augmenting revenue rather to pass on the benefit to the customers.” “It’s a non-starter if we think that by giving transit facility, Bangladesh is actually providing subsidy to Indian export,” he added. Favouring withdrawal of fees earlier, Dr Rahman wrote a letter to the Shipping Minister to stop collecting fees from ships carrying Indian consignments of hardware for the Palatana power project. Subscribing to the advisor’s views, National Board of Revenue (NBR), the concerned government agency, stopped collecting fees for Indian goods using passage through Bangladesh. The stoppage of fee collection was termed not ‘waiver’ but ‘suspended’ by the NBR. The waiver introduced following Dr. Rahman’s letter will continue till “further decision”, according to newspaper reports. The text of the technocrat advisor’s letter to the Shipping Minister and the grounds of waiver on movement of Indian goods, however, have not yet been made public. In an interview with The Daily Star he quoted a few lines from the definition of ‘transit’ given in UNCTAD Technical Note 8 , avoiding some other crucial points from the same note. Borrowing definition from the Technical Note, Dr. Rahman in his own style gave the definition of transit during his interview. We however are producing the same segment of as per the technical note: “In the WTO context, goods are defined to be in transit when the crossing of the territory of another WTO Member constitutes only part of the journey between departure and final destination country, whether or not transshipment, warehousing, breaking of bulk or change in transport mode are involved.” What is important here are the next few lines, in which setting few conditions for transit it says, “GATT Article V therefore only refers to so-called through-transit, i.e. transit in the GATT context, normally involves at least three states. It should be noted that in the context of Customs transit regimes (see UNCTAD Technical Note on Customs Transit), other parts of a journey are also defined as constituting transit, notably inward transit (from a Customs office of entry to an inland Customs office), outward transit ( from the inland Customs office to the Customs office of exit) and interior transit (from one inland Customs office to another in the same country).” Trade facilitation negotiation that began in 2004 , seeks improvement and clarification of Article V of the WTO along with Articles VIII and X. The process of negotiation while in process already agreed that “the results of the negotiations shall fully take in to account the principle of special and differential treatment for developing and least-developed countries” and that “the negotiations shall further aim at enhancing technical assistance and support for capacity building.” During the negotiation process countries concerned in the WTO also involved its researchers, academics, business leaders, professionals, government officials and journalists. Bangladesh is no exception to this. Sachin Chaturvedi, an Indian expert involved in the negotiation process wrote in his findings that Article V ‘has limited relevance in the case of Bangladesh, as it is not bordered by any landlocked country’ Along with Chaturvedi many from Bangladesh also participated in the trade facilitation discussions and also carried out researches for the purpose and also earned good amount. Are they not aware of the implication of Article V? This group of researchers and academics, considered to be the conscience of the nation, at this stage, however, seem to be maintaining conspicuous silence. Those who talked about enriching the exchequer by billions from transit fee also went into hibernation once the Indians started demanding passage through Bangladesh under Article V of the WTO and without any fee. Before taking the discussion ahead let us see the provisions of Article V: Article V of GATT: Article V of the GATT 1994 provides for the freedom of transit of goods, vessels and other means of transport across the territory of another WTO via the routes most convenient for international transit. It stipulates the following principles of freedom of transit: (i) equal treatment independent of flag of vessel origin, departure, entry, exit, destination or ownership of the goods, vessels; (ii) prohibition to make traffic in transit subject to unnecessary delays or restrictions; (iii) prohibition to levy customs duties, transit duties and other transit related charges (except for charges for transportation or those commensurate with administrative expenses entailed by transit, or with the cost of services rendered); (iv) level of charges levied should be reasonable to the conditions of traffic),: (v) Most favoured nation treatment with regards to charges, regulations and formalities. Finance Minister AMA Muhith and Foreign Minister Dr. Dipu Moni on a number of occasions publicly ruled out waiver of fees on movement of Indian goods through Bangladesh saying that those would be ‘ country’s income’. Political leaders, in the opposition camp failed to capitalize on this visible rift in the ruling establishment. Those who earlier claimed to ‘lay down their lives to prevent transit to India’ also seem to have lost their strength and wisdom to question the legitimacy of such demands. It is time they realize that an effective study on the norms and practices across the globe and their comparison with the deal that Bangladesh had signed is now needed. It is also important to make public the terms of reference under the MOU. Mere rhetoric and lip service is not going to be effective this time around. Whether India has legitimately sought passage through Bangladesh under Article V of the WTO or misinterpreted it to its own advantage can be understood from a World Bank publication under the title ‘The Transit Regime for Landlocked States: International Law and Development Perspectives’ Freedom of transit provided in Article V of WTO is ‘not a right that any state can exercise in other transit states without their consent, ’ the book observes making a threadbare discussion on ‘ Principles, Doctrines, and Theories Influencing the Right of Access to the Sea’. ‘To be eligible to claim this right the demanding state must fulfill certain eligibility criteria,’ the book points out adding ‘The criteria are considered fulfilled for LLS specifically due to their geographical position and economic dependence, which together create a presumption in their favor of a right of transit’. Observers question how India has fulfilled the eligibility criteria with Bangladesh before seeking free passage through its territory. Perhaps those in favour for waiver of transit fees are in better position to answer.

BANGLADESH : CHT Terrorist Procuring Arms : Army HQ

Bangladesh Army has drawn attention of the top policymakers of the government so that steps could be taken to avoid an undesirable situation like East Timur and Southern Sudan in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). Bangladesh Army headquarters sources said that the regional political parties and terrorists active in the CHT have been procuring arms from Myanmar and India. Army headquarters has expressed concern over the deteriorating situation in the CHT and made a number of proposal in this regard at a meeting of the cabinet committee on law and order held at the home ministry recently. Abul Kalam Azad, Minister for Information, who was present in the meeting said ambassadors of different countries are visiting the CHT frequently. Foreign journalists and other people often visit the CHT and we suspect that there must be a secret agenda of the foreigners centering over the CHT, he said adding the office of the prime minister, important ministries and head offices of different law enforcement agencies were informed about the prevailing situation in last February. State Minister for Home Advocate Shamsul Hoq Tuku important decisions have been taken in the meeting so that peace, stability and coexistence could be maintained in the CHT. Recommendations were made as per the proposals of the Army. Anti-peace treaty quarters are trying to create an anarchic situation there, he added. Mentionable that East Timur and Southern Sudan were indivisible parts of Indonesia and Sudan respectively. East Timur and Southern Sudan were separated from the two Muslim majority countries and created two independent states. According to the minutes of the meeting, a representative of the Army informed the meeting about the present situation in the CHT and urged the government to put political pressure on the regional parties, so that a peaceful situation could be maintained there. Referring to East Timur and Southern Sudan, the Army headquarters said, secessionist movement started there about 75 / 80 years ago. To avoid such undesirable incident the issue should be discussed at the policy making level immediately. The Army representative also said the terrorists of the CHT get their arms from a number of groups active in Myanmar. Indian terrorists also sell arm to them. He further said land related issues are big problem in the CHT which need to be resolved amicably. Representative of the defence intelligence told the meeting that the foreign journalists can collect information on CHT through internet. From the lists of the officers and employees appointed by the donor agencies including the UNDP, it is clear that in most cases the converted tribal Christians are being rehabilitated by them. The local and foreign conspirators are taking the advantage of their poverty to achieve their target.