Friday, September 9, 2011

The World: Mandate For Mujib

Standing on a platform draped with white cloth to look like a boat—the campaign symbol of the Awami League —Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheik Mujibur Rahman delivered his last campaign speech at the little village of Dirai north of Dacca. The village is accessible only by boat or on foot (or, in the Prime Minister's case, by helicopter), but by the time Mujib arrived, 20,000 people had crowded in from as far as 25 miles away to hear the man they call Bangabandhu (Friend of Bengal).

"I have not been able to give you two meals a day," Mujib told them. "I have not always been able to give you one meal a day. But not a single person has died of starvation." Then, reminding his audience to vote for the symbol of the boat in the country's first national election, he asked them "to put up both your hands if you have confidence in me." A forest of hands shot up, and lusty shouts of "Jot Bangla!" (Victory to Bengal) rang out.

When Bangladesh last had an election, in 1970, it was still under Pakistani rule. Mujib's Awami League won a majority, entitling him to become Prime Minister, but the Pakistani army moved in, arresting Mujib and slaughtering his followers during a nine-month civil war. Last week, just before the vote, one old villager said: "In this village we will vote 16 annas in the rupee (100%) for Bangabandhu. We love Mujib. We want to show him how much we love him." At the polls, Bangladesh's 35 million voters did indeed show their devotion to Mujib, giving the 53-year-old Prime Minister a nearly unanimous mandate. With 300 seats in the National Parliament at stake, the Awami League captured 291.

If there was a troubling element this time, it was the lack of genuine political opposition. No fewer than 15 other parties, all of them to the left of the Awami League, entered the race, but their campaigning was frequently halfhearted. Still, there were charges and counter-charges that posters were ripped down by political opponents as soon as they were put up, and at times the bitterness spilled over into violence. "I fought for democracy, went to jail for it, and I believe in it," said Mujib. "But I can't create an opposition just to show there is one."

Mujib says that his first priority now will be a campaign to increase food production. "We cannot keep on getting food from abroad as a gift," he declared last week. Even though the United Nations will continue its efforts to supply food to Bangladesh to make up the deficit in the country's food production, Mujib is anxious to prove that Bangladesh is capable, finally, of managing on its own.

Manmohan’s Visit: Diplomatic Failure

It needs no elaboration that the two-day visit of the Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh is a diplomatic disappointment on the part of our Government in general, and the foreign minister as well as Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s foreign affairs adviser Gauhar Rizvi in particular. This major failure of the government has frustrated the people. Even a few hours prior to Dr. Singh’s arrival in Dhaka foreign minister Dipu Moni loudly affirmed about the certainty of inking two treaties. 

In mature diplomacy, some things are better left unsaid. It is implied that no careful homework was done by our foreign office mandarins. During the past 19 months ceaseless babble of voices prattling on about the enormous economic benefits and other merits of granting transit or transhipment to India – which some senior economists of this country see mainly as a corridor from western India to north-eastern ‘Seven Sisters’ of India as it does not link the countries of Southeast Asia – have proved to be an exercise in futility.  

Erudite and suave, Dr. Manmohan Singh is universally praised as “India’s best prime minister since Nehru”. He told the Indian newsmen that the West Bengal government had assented to water-sharing agreement with Bangladesh before backing out — and thus forcing India to back out of its commitments. Dr. Singh said he had consulted with Mamata Banerjee for over a month on the details of the treaty. It is enigmatic and incomprehensible, how a provincial head of government can defy and disregard the federal head of the Indian Union who had pledged to sign the Teesta water sharing deal.   

As the wails of millions of the underprivileged cultivators and fishermen, who desperately depend on the waters of the Teesta, remained unheard, the intent to conserve the Sunderbans is of little consequence. Though it is being said that Dhaka has refrained from signing the transit treaty, considerable measures have been stated. Item 41 of the 65-point joint statement says, the Prime Ministers directed that necessary formalities for the use of Chittagong and Mongla seaports for movement of goods to and from India through water, rail and road should be completed urgently. 

Our growing bilateral trade deficit with India has risen to $2,910 million in FY 2010. Dr. Manmohan Singh announced the decision of his Government to remove all 46 textile lines which are of interest to Bangladesh from India’s Negative List for LDCs under the provisions of SAFTA, thereby reducing the applicable duty rate to zero with immediate effect. But the real impediments are India’s non-tariff or para-tariff barriers. Bangladesh’s battery manufacturer Rahimafrooz faced much hurdles including a case in India’s High Court while exporting its products. Finally in January 2004 the company had to approach the WTO system to resolve the dispute it had with its powerful neighbour. 

It was a happy augury that this year there were joint celebrations of Poet Rabindranath Tagore’s 150th birth anniversary in Bangladesh and India. It has been agreed that the 90th anniversary of the publication of the epoch-making poem Bidrohi by Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam would be jointly celebrated. Bangladesh Prime Minister’s intention to set up a ‘Bangladesh Bhaban’ at Shantiniketan as a resource centre is welcome news to build a bridge of culture.

After cloud sunshine may come if the government cares to adopt practical and pragmatic steps to revamp its India policy after meticulous study. With this end in view it should work hard for national consensus through wide-ranging discussions with our own retired diplomats, water experts, seasoned scholars and Opposition politicians. This will strengthen the incumbents’ capacity to negotiate effectively and secure national interest. As regards the Teesta water sharing, the Government must make its demands specific ensuring ‘guarantee clause’ for lean season, as the people do not want to see another faulty Ganges treaty consequent upon which people and cattle cross the Padma on foot at the Hardinge Bridge point in the dry season when we need water most for sheer survival.

A big friendly neighbour is a great blessing. There is no doubt that as a neighbour Bangladesh certainly and definitely cherishes true friendly relations with India—-which helped her defeat the brutal occupation army of Pakistan—-based on understanding and cooperation for mutual benefit.

Mishandling Of Sate Affairs Causes Pain For The Nation

When the whole world knew that Teesta deal was not being signed, Bangladesh foreign minister Dipu Moni insisted before the media that the agreement would be signed. Her reaction was recorded when Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai on September 5 through a press briefing stated that the Teesta agreement would not be possible this time because of West Bengal Chief Minister’s last minute objection. 

This clearly reflects how much ill-informed or how little she knew about such deal making. “We can not expect more than this from one of the most inefficient ministries, the foreign office of the country” commented a newspaper reader online.

A Dhaka daily observed with sadness that Bangladeshi journalists were chasing their own officials to get information, papers or any sort of briefings to file reports when the Indian officials were frequently meeting with the visiting Indian newsmen, briefing them about the developments both off-the-record and on-record and thus keeping them updated. 

After the official talks and signing of the MOUs, there was no instant press briefing at the PMO. The Foreign Minister was otherwise busy to avoid the press in an apparent bid to protect her ignorance. She left the country on the following morning for Germany on another mission. 

Perhaps, our ministers and bureaucrats do not have the courage or qualification to take the national media into confidence on important national issues. In fact, a system to keep the media informed on important events concerning foreign policy or visiting foreign dignitaries is absent in the government. In the absence of such a practice, none of the officials dare to take the responsibility to brief the media. The result: loss of the government’s credibility.   

In keeping with the past tradition, our government officials have exposed their inefficiency in handling the important visit of Indian Prime Minister that culminated in signing of a series of framework agreements and MOU’s concerning bilateral interests. 

Actually the onus to keep the media informed on Manmohan’s visit was left with the Prime Minister herself and two of her Advisors. One of them, Dr Gawher Rizvi, had earlier told the press that the drafts of the agreements would be discussed in the cabinet. But they were not presented before the weekly cabinet meeting last Monday, the day before Manmohohan’s visit began. 

A ruling party insider pointed out that veteran politician Abdur Razzak, who as the then Water Resources Minister had signed the Farakka water sharing accord during last Awami league Government, was not involved in the process this time. He is now the Chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on Water Resource Ministry and he not included in the negotiating team. He said Razzak was out of the country during the whole negotiating period and also visited India for some time. 

When the programme was on the verge of collapse as the West Bengal CM declined to join Manmohan’s entourage, Prime Minister Sheikh Hsina sent her personal friend journalist Baby Moudud to persuade Mamata Banerjee change her mind.  Baby Moudud travelled to Kolkata and met Mamata Banarjee carrying her message. While acknowledging her closeness to Hasina, Mamata stuck to her gun.

When the affairs of the state are not handled professionally, and national issues are considered as private venture; the opposition, the media and the people in general are ignored, the country can not expect anything better than what happed last week. 

“This is yet one more example of the confusion and inefficiency that is rife at the top levels of the country’s government. Despite so much hype and fanfare, the whole episode was badly bungled from the outset. Perhaps Gowher Rizvi, who has been so prominent during the last few days in the media, will now provide an explanation,” demanded an online reader. 

By : Abdur Rahman Khan

Mamata May Have Done Us Good

I THINK Bangladesh should thank Mamata Banerjee for her stinginess regarding water sharing with Bangladesh because if it were not for her objection to Teesta water sharing agreement which she thought to be advantageous to Bangladesh, our government would have inked the dangerous transit agreement. Those who were showing childish eagerness and alacrity for transit should read the statement made by Jawaharlal Nehru in response to the then Pakistan’s request for road transit through India for easy communication between the two branches of Pakistan: ‘It is a strange demand from a peculiar country. A passage to go to their country through a foreign country. It is unprecedented.’ (Amar Desh, September 9). Think of the facts: has India reciprocated our action when we handed over the huge area of Berubari way back in 1974 by handing us the meagre strip of land we required? Indian diplomats may think that we should now be grateful with the assurance of only the 24-hour use of the Teen Bigaha corridor. India grudged us only the 16-mile road transit to Nepal but wants 600-mile of the same from Bangladesh in the name of connectivity. Although, why blame them? Are not some of our intellectuals and ministers dancing to its tune? Can anybody really hurt us without our consent?

Abdus Subhan
Via email
WE MUST be grateful to Mamata Banerjee, the chief minister of the Indian state of Pashchim Bongo, for her political — arrogance or sagacity — call it whatever you may, that gave Bangladesh leverage to respond in kind. Both the actions are unheard of. Banerjee compelled the central government of Dr Manmohan Singh to keep in abeyance the deal over Teesta water sharing. In reaction, Bangladesh refrained from signing the protocol on India’s transit for passage of goods to its north-eastern states through Bangladesh territory and use of Chittagong and Mongla seaports. I’m afraid Bangladesh may have agreed to allow passage through a long stretch of land and sea without taking into consideration the social, political and demographical impacts. Mamata Banerjee saved us from the catastrophe.

MI Farooqui
Arizona, USA
WITH all the soul searching and looking for answers that is going on now in the political field and in media, one sees no dearth of self-proclaimed experts and as they say in the USA, of ‘Monday morning quarterbacks.’ We cannot comment on the Indian government’s management of affairs, but our government kept all the dealings close to the chest and built up quite a hype on the visit of the Indian prime minister and raised the expectations to great heights. I cannot find fault with the stand of the Pashchim Bongo chief minister as she, like any leader, will be unwilling to yield an inch. The visit and the failure of the Indian prime minister to deliver showed how the central government in India is being undercut by the election of Mamata and the campaign of Anna Hazare. The current government must be congratulated for refusing, as a diplomatic snub, to go for the transit deal during this visit given that our basic infrastructure is in a dilapidated condition. 

However, what needs to be done now is to bring the matters of Teesta and Tipaimuk and Farakka dams for international mediation rather than bilateral discussions as India insists. It took almost 40 years to get a ‘closure’ on the enclave issue and therefore we must bring up the matters of rightful share to waters before international forums.

Azizur Rahman
PEOPLE of Bangladesh were crestfallen after learning that the much anticipated agreement on the sharing of the water of Rivers Teesta and Feni was not going to be signed.

It has been abandoned due to the objection of Paschim Bongo chief minister Mamata Banerjee who in the last moment decided not to accompany the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, to Bangladesh. This very unfortunate and embarrassing situation made millions of people unhappy in Bangladesh and cast a shadow upon the relations of the two countries.

We have become very disappointed with our foreign minister, Dipu Moni, who, till the last minute, was assuring us that Teesta deal will be signed and we were feeling hopeful but not only has she been proven wrong, it became clear how ill-informed she was. She should have known all the facts; it is unacceptable from a person holding such an important position. Perhaps the government should reshuffle the foreign ministry and appoint someone who has got all the qualities a minister of foreign affairs should have.

Nur Jahan 
Via email

BANGLADESH: The Second Revolution

"All we want is our daily rice and lentils," said a Dacca shopkeeper. "If we get enough at a price we can afford, we don't care what system is used to govern us." That was a widely shared feeling throughout Bangladesh last week as Sheik Mujibur Rahman, who led the country to independence from Pakistan in 1971, assumed sweeping presidential powers. Under a new constitutional amendment the parliamentary system was abolished and Bangladesh embarked on what Mujib grandly described as "a second revolution."

It was less a revolution than a desperate effort by Mujib to end the corruption, bureaucratic malfeasance and political violence that plague his country. A parliamentary committee began drafting the amendment last July. Late last month, after the amendment had been debated exhaustively—and secretly—in committee, Mujib decided to put the changes into effect. An obedient Parliament—305 of whose 312 members belong to Mujib's Awami League party —swiftly and unanimously approved the switch to presidential rule.

Under the new system, executive powers are vested in the President, who will be elected directly every five years, and in a Council of Ministers appointed by him. Although an elected Parliament can pass legislation, the President has veto power and can dissolve Parliament indefinitely. Parliament may remove the President, however, by a three-fourths vote "for violating the constitution or grave misconduct" as well as for physical or mental Incapacity. The amendment also empowers Mujib to set up a single "national party," thus shutting off any political opposition.

In seeking greater power, Mujib was plainly concerned that foreign aid, on which Bangladesh is heavily dependent, would be sharply cut if what he described as the "chaotic situation" continued to prevail. "How long will friends continue to give us food and assistance?" he asked in an emotional address explaining the change. "We must have population control. We must discipline ourselves. I do not want to lead a nation of beggars."

For the time being, Mujib has retained his entire Cabinet. Most observers believe that he did so primarily for the sake of continuity and that major changes will come later. His toughest action is expected to be aimed at profiteers and hoarders, who have interfered with the flow of relief supplies from abroad. An estimated 30,000 people died of starvation after floods destroyed much of last year's rice and jute crops. The death toll could go much higher if this year's crops should also be ruined. Inflation is virtually out of control; rice has more than doubled in price in the past year (from 200 per Ib. to 500). Law-and-order is also a serious problem. Since independence, there have been at least 6,000 political murders.

Obviously, with so much power vested in a single man, the country could drift into dictatorship. Mujib pledged last week that he would preserve democratic rights, and not many can imagine him in the role of a tyrannical despot. Still, more than a few people in Bangladesh may well feel that a small dose of authoritarianism would be preferable to the complete collapse of their young country.

Summit Troubled By Hasty Moves

In a hasty move the much talked about Indo-Bangladesh summit.
Between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian Prime Minister. Dr Manmohan Sing had almost collapsed last week. Political observers wondered how it could happen despite involvement of the two prime ministers closest advisers in working out the details of the deals on both sides.
The last minute collapse of the Teesta deal from the Indian side led to dropping of the water sharing of Feni river and a transit protocol from Bangladesh side. In the process the power sharing deals also collapsed making it a troubled summit.
The Bangladesh government however, took a positive move in this situation as a face saving exit for the Indian Prime Minister bringing to the fore less important deals like MOUs on joint efforts to save Sundarbans tigers and conservation of its bio-diversity or cooperation in the field of fisheries. On top of it, both the Prime Ministers signed a framework agreement on development which is a substantive document as far as it commits to closer cooperation in almost all fronts of socio-economic, political and strategic applications. 
The summit also saw the signing of an important protocol on demarcation of land boundary and an MOU on renewable energy, Bangladesh’s overland transit to Nepal and such other things covering almost a dozen issues of common interest. But the summit lost its shine at the very beginning on Indian disclosure of 
putting into abeyance the Teesta water sharing deal forcing the atmosphere to uncertainty.
Foreign Minister Dr Dipu Moni was insisting all along that Teesta deal will be signed despite Indian foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai’s disclosure that it will not be signed. She was apparently trying to put up a brave face in the midst growing public criticism. 
But on the day of the summit when the gridlock was clear Bangladesh foreign secretary Mijarul Quayes took the strings publicly demanding the Indian High Commission in Dhaka to explain why it had not formally informed the government of the new development. 
By next afternoon TV scroll ran a news item saying if Testa deal is not going to be signed the proposed protocol on transit also will not be signed. It was a big embarrassment to those who arranged the summit bringing uneasy moments for two prime ministers to stomach.
Earlier, while departing from Delhi, the Indian Prime Minister dropped his water minister from the entourage apparently releasing his anger on the poor preparation although West Bengal chief minister Mamta Banerjee has passed the blame largely on the national security adviser Shiv Shankar Menon for the episode.
A summit which had created high expectations on the long awaited Teesta deal thus quickly turned into a bad saga prompting the people to take the city streets and hold protest in several districts including Lalmonirhat where Teesta has entered into Bangladesh territory. 
Now that the Indian Prime Minister is back home and disappointment is spreading, Delhi is blaming the bureaucracy although it was Mamata Benarjee who had visibly torpedoed the Teesta deal. But the public perception is different in Bangladesh. If Mamata has declined to endorse the deal or to become part of the Indian Prime Minister’s entourage it is an Indian domestic issue. The question in Bangladesh is why both the governments were so haste in inking as many deals without adequate home work and creating national consensus on both sides. 
Dr Singh said they had not enough time in hand to sort out last minutes differences. But on Bangladesh side why Prime Minister Hasina was also in a haste to ignore the entire opposition to sit in any consensus building meeting. She had also ignored the Parliament where she could seek opinion of the law makers. 
Besides, despite her government’s decision to place the draft deals before the weekly cabinet meeting prior to the summit for a brief discussion, it was not done. 
In her haste, Hasina even ignored the recommendations of her government’s own core committee on transit which suggested more time before the signing of a transit deal to further appraise the tariff and other financial issues in national interest. 
More interesting is that certain business quarters close to the ruling party arranged an international football match on the day of the summit in the city with so many sensitive deals on the table for signature in the political front.
Two famous football teams like Argentina led by star player Messy and a Nigerian team was fielded on the ground that day, breaking the country’s football  history. 
Critics say it was part of the scheme to keep the attention of the football-crazy young people away from what was happening in the summit.

By : Faruque Ahmed.

Govt Must Not Rush Into Tansit Deal With India

IT IS a matter of concern that the Bangladesh government and its Indian counterpart have agreed, according to the Dhaka-Delhi the joint communiqué issued at the end of the two-day visit of the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, on Wednesday, to resolve the transit and the Teesta water-sharing issues as ‘early as possible’. It is all the more so because the people in general have no idea of the planned agreements and because there are conflicting reports in Bangladeshi and Indian media on their contents. According to a report front-paged in New Age on Thursday, transit to India for third-country trade through the Chittagong and Mongla seaports, and infrastructure development for passage of goods between two places in India dominated the official and one-on-one talks during Manmohan’s visit although New Delhi has kept the signing of the Teesta agreement on the backburner. It tends to highlight, yet again, India’s general tendency to secure as much benefit as possible from Bangladesh in return for hardly anything tangible. Hence, the Awami League-Jatiya Party administration has done well not to entertain the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government’s request for transit after the latter pulled out of the Teesta water-sharing agreement virtually at the last moment. Already, Bangladesh has met most of the official and unofficial demands made by India since its independence, which makes the incumbent government’s failure to gain anything substantive out of Manmohan Singh’s visit all the more embarrassing.

As we commented in these columns on Thursday, the diplomatic debacle may have been a blessing in disguise for the government and, most importantly, the people of Bangladesh. The cooling-off period after the government-generated high hopes and hoopla in recent times affords a breathing space for all and the policymakers would do well to make most of it. First and foremost, the incumbents need to go back to the drawing board and redraw their negotiation strategy. That would require a closer look at the issues in hand and review the costs and benefits involved. For example, the incumbents need to weigh the pros and cons of a bilateral transit agreement with India; they need to ask if it is the biggest priority for the country at this point in time. To get answer to this and many other related questions, the government needs to initiate an inclusive consultation process, involving experts, academics, politicians from across the political divide, etc. Above all, it must take the people into confidence, which means that the issue needs to be debated in parliament and also in different public forums.

The government should have realised by now that New Delhi’s apparent desperation to secure transit through Bangladesh either for passage of goods to and from the north-eastern states of India and third-country trade gives Dhaka an in-built advantage in bilateral negotiations. Therefore, it should negotiate from a position of strength and make the Indian government sincerely and seriously, efficiently and effectively address 

Bangladesh’s many concerns, e.g. killing by the Border Security Force on the border, huge imbalance in trade in India’s favour, imposition of tariff and non-tariff barrier on Bangladeshi products and water sharing of common rivers. As for water sharing, the government needs to push for a package agreement on just share of water of all the trans-boundary rivers. As the foreign minister, Dipu Moni, lamented in November 2010, Bangladesh and India ‘will need another millennium to conclude agreements on all 54 [common rivers]’ at the rate of one signed and another set to be signed in 40 years or so.

On the whole, the government needs to engage in bilateral negotiations with a view to securing national interest. To ascertain what is in the best interest of the nation, it needs to take people into confidence and share with them the content and intent of each and every agreement that it is in negotiation with India for. Indeed, the process will be time-consuming; however, the government needs to realise that in matters of national interest, haste ultimately proves counterproductive.

SOUTH ASIA: Painful Adjustment

India, Pakistan and the new war-born nation of Bangladesh last week began the massive task of adjusting to postwar realities on the subcontinent. In Dacca, the first batch of 90,000 Pakistani prisoners of war began their journey to prison camps in India; they were marched through the streets in predawn darkness to avoid reprisals from the hostile Bengali population. At the same time, India withdrew 30,000 of its own troops, about half of its forces in Bangladesh; the rest are expected to stay on perhaps another three or four months to keep order and help with reconstruction. Indian and Bangladesh officials laid the groundwork for an even more massive migration—the return home of the 10 million Bengali refugees who had fled to India to escape roughshod repression by the Pakistani army.

In Dacca, the fledgling Bangladesh government swore in five new Cabinet ministers, and announced that it would seek a trade and technical assistance treaty with the Soviet Union to help with reconstruction. Poland and Bulgaria have also offered to enter trade pacts with Bangladesh. A more immediate problem was to prevent a possible massacre of 30,000 Biharis who were in a virtual state of siege within the workers' quarters and factory facilities of a jute mill near Dacca. The non-Bengali Moslems have reaped a whirlwind of anger because many of them collaborated with the Pakistani army throughout the nine-month civil war. Indian troops surrounded the mill to protect them, but food supplies were dwindling and a cholera outbreak was reported. Bengali anger, moreover, was renewed by fresh evidence of massacres conducted by Pakistani troops shortly before the surrender. In 70 villages surrounding Dacca, it was revealed, troops had systematically killed thousands of civilians, then looted and burned their homes.

Indian troops were still patrolling the streets of the Dacca capital last week to keep order, while the Bangladesh administration struggled to organize reconstruction and repatriation. But the man most essential to getting the new nation onto its feet—Sheik Mujibur ("Mujib") Rahman—was under house arrest near Islamabad. He was moved from prison by Pakistan's new civilian President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto (see box). Bhutto paid a 30-minute call on the Bengali leader, with the avowed aim of persuading Mujib to accept some form of reconciliation between Pakistan and its former eastern province that would at least preserve a facade of national unity. "It can be a very loose arrangement," he declared, "but it must be within the concept of Pakistan."

Too Dazed. Bhutto meanwhile continued to feed his countrymen's illusions of reunification. "Pakistan is indivisible," he declared. "National honor will be vindicated." On one level, it was probably a necessary fiction, since Pakistanis are still too dazed by their defeat to accept the reality that the eastern province is gone.

There was also a practical side to Bhutto's statements. He needed time to consolidate his own political forces. As one Western diplomat put it, "When you come riding in on a white charger, you have to ride around a while to stay in the saddle."
Bhutto has indeed engaged in some highly visible political showmanship. He swore in his cabinet at 3 a.m.—leading a harried television official to lament: "This is a government of insomniacs"—and dispatched most of the army brass into retirement. He also fired every active admiral in the navy, placed ex-President Yahya Khan under house arrest, and ordered a board of inquiry to ascertain the circumstances of "the military debacle."

For India the most immediate problem now is the orderly return of the refugees. The cost of maintaining the 250 camps scattered mostly along the border areas has declined only slightly from the peak of $4,000,000 daily; the repatriation itself is expected to cost as much as $430 million. One of the biggest camps, for example, is at Mana in the heart of India, and New Delhi must provide long-distance transport for its 300,000 refugees. At a press conference late last week, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi shrugged off reports that some refugees would not return and predicted that most of them will have left by the end of February.

Indian-U.S. relations, meanwhile, remained frosty. Mrs. Gandhi began preparing her countrymen for an end to U.S. economic aid that amounted to $159 million last year. Pointing out that aid consists primarily of loans and credits, she said: "India so far has paid back every cent owed to other countries. If countries want to stop their so-called aid, it will cause us hardship in some areas. But we will manage." Her planning minister, C. Subramaniam, was more blunt. "Even if the United States reconsiders resuming economic aid," he said, "we will not avail ourselves of it."

Flip - Flop Of Manmohan’s Vsit

It is now crystal clear that the in the eyes of the security state India, a potential world power, prickly relationship with its pygmy neighbour Bangladesh is worth attention at all if India’s security concerns warrant such attention. Otherwise India would habitually continue to sit like the giant elephant it is over the unresolved issues with its small, insignificant neighbour, the status quo being in its favour. This was succinctly brought out in the Banyan column of The Economist of London, Aug. 30th issue, under the title “Go east, old man” ahead of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s official Dhaka visit (the first such visit by an Indian Prime Minister belonging to the Congress Party since Indira Gandhi’s visit for Indira-Mujib border delineation agreement in 1974). The article observed:

“Ahead of a visit to Bangladesh next week by India’s prime minister, Manmohan Singh, officials from both sides have been acting as if economic ties—stunted by decades of mistrust and neglect—will soon be soaring, such as to match political ties of almost indecent buoyancy. 

“Despite the two countries’ shared history and geography, India is not even among Bangladesh’s top-ten foreign investors. India may have close political ties with its eastern neighbour. But China wins the economic competition in Bangladesh hands down. China is Bangladesh’s biggest trading partner, as well as its primary supplier of military equipment. And it seems that not a month goes by without Chinese companies winning contracts to build power stations, roads, telecoms and other infrastructure in Bangladesh. Mr Singh is to visit next week, and his Congress-party boss, Sonia Gandhi, visited last month, but China’s leader in waiting, Xi Jinping, visited Bangladesh more than a year ago. 
“Billions of dollars worth of goods are smuggled across the 4,100km Indo-Bangladesh border every year. Making that trade legal would make the official figures look more respectable. This week India’s home minister, P. Chidambaram, laid the foundation stone for one of seven planned trading posts along the border. If this sudden burst of enthusiasm for economic integration catches on, Bangladeshis may soon have to come up with a new nickname for India’s Border Security Force. These days the BSF is insulted as the Border Smuggling Force.
Iron fence
“Bangladesh’s prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, is not asking Mr Singh to dismantle the iron fence that runs along the world’s fifth-longest international border. It cost India billions of dollars to build and enforce and still defines its wonky border (also one of the world’s bloodiest). Instead Sheikh Hasina appears to be urging India not to let unresolved problems stand in the way of things that can be done. 
“The enthusiasm generated by the flying 30-hour visit that Mr Singh has scheduled for September 6th and 7th  is not entirely misplaced. He is expected to sign a deal on sharing water from the Teesta river. 
“Is it the perceived threat of cross-border terrorism, security concerns in India’s north-east or China’s increasing influence that is renewing India’s interest in its neighbour to the east?
“India is likely to make concessions as long as its security concerns are not compromised. One area where progress is likely to be made is the planned swapping of parcels of territory.”
That prediction proved uncannily accurate one week later when the much-trumpeted Dhaka summit between India and Bangladesh achieved little beyond “planned swapping of parcels of territory.” Throughout the expectant week, though, the government of Bangladesh and the India-friendly section of the Bangladesh media continued to raise high hopes about the final touches being put on a framework of “historic” leap forward in Indo-Bangladesh relations. The priority of India’s security concerns was evident at the same time as India’s National Security Adviser took over the charge of final negotiations of the package of accords to be penned at the summit. Indeed, India’s national security adviser Shiv Shankar Menon, who had left Dhaka only five days ago ending a two-day visit, flew back Saturday (Sept. 3) on a brief four-hour visit and held a ‘comprehensive discussion’ with the Bangladesh side.
He held talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s economic affairs adviser Mashiur Rahman and international affairs adviser Gowher Rizvi on the issues to be discussed between the two prime ministers and the details of a draft transit agreement proposed by India. Menon also held a meeting with water resources minister Ramesh Chandra Sen to fine-tune the agreements on sharing of the waters of Teesta and Feni rivers.
There were wide differences between the two sides over the fees payable by India for using Bangladesh territory for trade with third countries as well as passage of goods between its two places. There were also differences over when India would be allowed to use Bangladesh territory for transit. The Bangladesh side wanted time for settling modalities on providing transit. 
The two governments are yet to agree on the proportions of the waters of Teesta the two countries would divide. Bangladesh wants 50 per cent share while India is negotiating for 55 per cent of the flow for itself. The ministerial-level meeting of the Bangladesh-India Joint Rivers Commission, which is expected to give finishing touches to the agreements for sharing the waters of Teesta and Feni rivers, was deferred at the request of India.
Water and transit
A Bangladesh government official said that India had tagged agreements on Teesta and Feni rivers to signing of an agreement on transit. 
According to the Foreign Ministry, as of Sept. 3, three agreements, five MoUs and two protocols have been finalised and will be signed on Sept. 6, the day Manmohan will arrive and hold official talks with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina. An MoU expresses a convergence of will between the parties, indicating an intended common line of action, while protocol is defined as an international agreement which supplements or amends a treaty. The three agreements ready to be signed were: 15-year interim water sharing agreements on water sharing of the Teesta and Feni rivers and import of 250 megawatt of electricity from India.
The MoUs planned to be signed were on protection of the Sunderbans, cooperation in renewable energy sector, cooperation in fisheries and between BTV and Doordarshan, and joint venture on a coal-fired 1320-megawatt power plant.
Among the protocols, one was to be signed on land boundary while the other was on protection of tigers in the Sunderbans.
Besides, the issue of allowing Bhutan to use Rohanpur-Singhabad sector for transporting goods was to be added to an existing protocol.
The Foreign Ministry said that there might be further developments in the coming two days in terms of signing more deals. 
Even on the next day, Dr. Dipu Moni, the foreign minister of Bangladesh assured the press in Dhaka that the two countries were set to sign three agreements including the sharing of the waters of the Teesta and Feni rivers, two protocols and six Memoranda of Understanding, in addition to exchanging letters giving formal consent for providing transit to India.
The signing of an agreement for purchasing power from India was left out, as “several formalities, including approval of the Cabinet committee, were yet to be completed.”
But it turned out that the Shiv Shankar Menon visit on September 3 was in fact a prelude to Indian back-tracking manoeuvre, as the Indian security establishment was not ready to concede much if its primary requirement of an immediate framework deal for possible transit (or corridor for passage, to be precise) through Bangladesh and use of sea-ports at Mangla and Chittagong for India-to-India trade and traffic under cover of existing trade agreements were finalised. A letter of intent at this stage, as offered by Bangladesh side, was not enough for India’s satisfaction.
Conflicting reports
A spin was therefore created about the water sharing of Teesta water by conflicting reports from Pashchimbanga. According to a report of Kolkata-based Anandabazar Patrika on Sept. 1, Bangladesh was to get 48 per cent of Teesta water while India would retain 52 per cent. It also reported that Pashchimbanga Chief Minister had cleared the draft agreement.
On the other hand, referring to a meeting with Indian Security Adviser Menon, Loksabha member from West Bengal Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury told BBC Bangla the same day that India would get 75 per cent of the Teesta water and Bangladesh would get the remainder. As some of our experts have later pointed out, there was no contradiction between what was reported in Anandabazar Patrika and what Abu Hasem Khan Chowdhury was told by Shiv Shankar Menon. Available water in Teesta for sharing was to be measured at Gazaldoba barrage, upstream of which India was already withdrawing unilaterally in Sikkim and on Sikkim-Paschimbanga border Teesta water from two dams amounting possibly 36% percent of the river’s flows. So, keeping 10% from Paschimbanga side and 10% from Bangladesh side for the river’s self-dredging capacity, even if Paschimbanga withdrew 39% at Gazaldoba near Bangladesh border, India in fact would be reaping the benefit 75% of Teesta waters. As a matter fact, Bangladesh was being bluffed by the draft Teesta agreement. But even that agreement India was not ready to sign without a binding transit accord. Therefore India drew two steps back after moving one step forward. 
Although India-friendly sections of the media, of the establishment and of the civil society are voicing deep disappointment that the Manmohan Singh visit has flopped and produced no real headway for Teesta water sharing and other pending issues from which Bangladesh could benefit (of the 480 items for which FBCCI requested duty-free access to Indian market, only 46 have been allowed by India), overwhelming public reaction in Bangladesh is one of relief. Most people consider the transit demand of India both as a security risk for Bangladesh from northeast Indian insurgency and an economic liability in terms of safety and maintenance costs of proposed transit routes. Many people are also happy that Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the end did stand up to Indian pressure and refused to concede transit without adequate reciprocity from the Indian side. Effectively, the net progress from the visit, other things being incidental, was what The Economist in the same column noted in its Sept 7th issue as follows: 
“September 6th, 2011, marks a watershed in the annals of bizarre geography. It saw the prime ministers of India and Bangladesh sign an agreement (essentially a protocol elaborating the 1974 land border accord) that will consign a whopping 201 enclaves to the history books, leaving just 49 similar exterritorial patches, mostly in Western Europe and on the fringes of the former Soviet Union. The two South Asian neighbours will exchange plots, including a patch of Bangladeshi land surrounded by Indian territory itself improbably ensconced within Bangladesh, clustered on either side of the border between the Bangladeshi district of Rangpur and the district of Cooch Behar, in the Indian state of West Bengal.
“In effect disowned by both states, the enclaves are pockets of abject poverty. 
“The Indira-Mujib Land Boundary Agreement in 1974 was meant to change all that. In it, the two countries resolved to exchange enclaves ‘expeditiously’, and India agreed to forgo compensation for the additional area going to Bangladesh. Bangladesh’s parliament ratified the treaty; India’s never did. 
“The agreed transfer simplifies the messy boundary but means a 40-square-kilometre net loss for India. It might seem that this is a small price to pay for India to fix its wonky border. Predictably, though, India’s opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has tried to present the enclaves as symbols of Indian territorial inviolability and an opportunity to flaunt its Hindu-nationalist credentials.”
The implementation of the agreed swap of border enclaves may therefore yet turn out to be problematic like the tin bigha corridor.

By : Sadeq Khan.

The Embarrassment Of A Visit

Many people I know are upset because the Indian prime minister's visit has been a big let down for them. It was high on promise but low on delivery or something else that's hard to explain. Or, may be they are making too much fuss about it. May be it was meant to be like this. A humble host got carried away because a prominent guest was coming. 

Did India ever promise to give what we took for granted? What were agreed between the two prime ministers in January 2010, then between two foreign ministers and afterwards two foreign secretaries? Was everything put in black and white, or was it one of those things better left unspoken?

I am not upset, but I am confused. How could we be so far off the mark that so little happened when so much was expected? And how could our foreign minister still insist that she hoped the Teesta agreement was going to be signed after the Indian foreign secretary had told the press in New Delhi that nothing would be done without a nod from West Bengal. By then it was clear that Mamata Banerjee had thrown a monkey wrench into the Manmohan visit.

Upon what did our foreign minister base her vain optimism? Why did she think that after the Indian announcement she could still pull it off by a stroke of her wishful thinking? Was it her inexperience that she failed to read between the lines? Or, was it something she knew about the Indians that the Indians didn't know about themselves?

Come to think of it, water sharing had already hit the rocks when Indian Water Resources Minister Salman Khurshid never showed up for his meeting. He was supposed to arrive in Bangladesh in August, which he never did. Did anybody from our side ever bother to find out what had happened? Did anybody put on the thinking cap that it spelt trouble for the water deal(s)?

Joe Valachi was the first Mafia member who had publicly acknowledged the existence of the Mafia in the United States. This same Joe had also confessed, "You can imagine my embarrassment when I killed the wrong guy." In so much as the Indian prime minister is always welcome in this country, whose embarrassment is it that he came on a wrong visit because it was for the wrong reason?

I say it because may be all along India was thinking of this visit as a goodwill gesture whereas Bangladesh was thinking of something more. It has been as embarrassing as bringing in a birthday cake to a wedding anniversary. But how did it happen is the question that has been bugging people. Did the two sides talk about these things? Who failed to understand whom? How could two sides go away with two different notes from the same meetings?

It is Machiavelli who explains to his would-be prince that the very notion of men being basically virtuous is the falsehood that the unscrupulous tell to exploit the gullible. Who was unscrupulous here and who was gullible between the two countries? Was it us the unscrupulous who lied to us the gullible? 

There are already whispers that bygones are bygones and both countries should move on. Some of our high-placed officials are busy scavenger hunting, looking for treasure in trash. In their desperate bid to save their faces, they refuse to accept the Indian premier's visit has been anything less than a success. 

The fact remains that the visit has been badly managed both in preparation and perception. It has been a success that an Indian prime minister came to Bangladesh on a state visit after 12 years. It has been a success that border protocol was signed and the Tin Bigha corridor will remain open round the clock from now on. Discerning eyes might pick up a few more brownie points missed out by crude minds.

But, on the whole, the visit has left Bangladesh-India relations badly chewed in public imagination. People on this side of the border were excited. The goodwill for India in the country was at its highest point in many years. 

A friendly government is sitting in power. Indian Congress President Sonia Gandhi came to accept an award in belated recognition of Indira Gandhi's contribution to the independence of Bangladesh. Two countries jointly celebrated the 150th anniversary of Tagore. Indian cultural teams have been regular phenomena in Bangladesh since this government took office.

This visit was expected to be icing on the cake, sort of a climax of an enduring era of good feelings between two nations. All said and done that momentum has been disturbed. India has left a friendly government hung out to dry. Its ego bruised, this government surely knows that it hurts.

By - 

UNITED NATIONS: China's First Veto

Exactly ten months after China's admission to the United Nations, the Peking delegation last week wielded its first veto as a permanent member of the Security Council. The issue was particularly embarrassing for a country that had itself been excluded for 22 years—the admission of Bangladesh.

Formerly the eastern half of Pakistan, Bangladesh broke away in the short bloody war last December, during which China supported Pakistan, while India backed the rebels. Since then the new country has clearly earned entrée to the U.N.; 85 nations already recognize it. But China, speaking for Pakistan, strenuously opposed Bangladesh's admission while more than 90,000 civilian and military prisoners were still in Indian hands, contrary to U.N. resolutions. China felt compelled to support its ally in order to maintain a toehold on the Indian subcontinent.

That awkward situation provided an opportunity for the Soviet Union to embarrass Peking. Moscow hoped to demonstrate that China, contrary to disclaimers, is a superpower, and that in no sense does she champion the impoverished, backward Third World. In the crucial Security Council vote on admission, eleven of the 15 members of the Security Council, including the U.S., Russia and India, voted to recommend membership, three abstained, and only China voted to oppose the entry of Bangladesh. Now, unless the Pakistanis themselves recognize Bangladesh soon, the Chinese may find themselves further embarrassed by the reintroduction of the issue as a topic of debate in the forthcoming General Assembly.

Framework Deal Puts Dhaka Under Delhi’s Dictate

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. 
Indians should rejoice

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.
Indian hegemony

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.

Transit Facilities And India-Bangladesh Relation

Transit facilities through Bangladesh must not be a political issue. It is a business opportunity, to say the least. But unfortunately for many in Bangladesh allowing transit facility, especially to India, seems to be almost a life-and-death question for the country and its people. The reason is not hard to find out.

Our politicians and bureaucrats do not know what transit facilities mean and most importantly, they have understood the whole concept wrongly. The scenario is almost the same from the Indian side, who knows well, sadly, hegemony and unnecessary effort to dominate others. Leadership of both the countries completely failed to see what economic benefit these transit facilities could offer for these two countries. It is foolish that both the countries look to the transit question from a political angle only.

Transit facility means allowing someone to get into your territory and then to drive away or fly out to another destination using one's own car or using public transport system such as rail, bus or an aeroplane. Similarly 'transit facility' for boat or ship means allowing the vessel to pass through your waterways. Transit facility involves a country's roads and highways, railways, airports and waterways. To make the point further clear and easily understandable to readers I would like to explain how it works in Western Europe.

a. Transit for cars

Free anywhere in most European countries. One must have an insurance to cover an accident or any such calamity. Public roads in most European countries allow you free drive. However, there are toll roads where one needs to pay fee for driving through in some of the European countries such as France, Italy, Czech Republic etc.

b. Transit for Bus

Rules are almost same for buses.

c. Transit for train

National trains in most of the countries allow transit and they move free beyond boarders. For example, you travel by a Swedish train from Stockholm to Prague in the same carriage of the Swedish State Train that ply between Stockholm and Prague or beyond. There are agreed-upon rules and regulations and partners comply with it.

d. Transit for cargo train

Free movement without any hindrance. Similarly, containers destined for Sweden or any other country from Bangladesh or India may be brought by ship in any port in Europe, unload it and then be brought to its destination by truck or by train. Agreed upon rules and regulations are followed by all partners and no Prime Minister needs to spend a minute for this simple negotiation.

e. Transit for waterways

Generally free but in some cases one needs to pay fees to anchorage and using harbour facilities.

Now the case of Bangladesh allowing transit facilities to India can be discussed. India needs transit facility to transport goods, most importantly, to its "seven sister states" (Arunachal, Assam, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura). The total area of these seven sister states is 250,000 sq. km. or about 7.0 per cent of total territory of the Republic of India. This huge area is fully landlocked and isolated from the rest of India except a slender and vulnerable corridor through Siliguri as the connecting point. Their international trade is possible only by air or through Kolkata port -- a very long and highly expensive and time -- consuming way by the Siliguri corridor.

Road and rail transit corridors through Bangladesh would be a blessing for these seven-sister states and ensure economy if they use Bangladesh ports for their international trade and also trade with the rest of India. In short, connection with the main land and the rest of the world for these seven-sister states of India is possible in they can get transit facilities through Bangladesh.

What could be Bangladesh's benefit by giving this transit facility to the Indian seven-sisters? Not very substantial as the seven sisters would get -- but certainly considerable -- if Bangladeshi government and business people could be prudent. The government of Bangladesh can build roads and highways and develop its ports up to international standard for its own goods and as per the Indian need. But nothing is free in life and India may pay as the cost is. Build, run, earn and hand-over after a certain period could be one of the methods. The Indian soft loan can be used to build the infrastructure for the transit facility that India desperately needs. In that case, the roads must be toll roads and a special fee for maintenance of these transit roads can be charged. Transit facility to India would create substantial job opportunities and generate extra incomes for the government.

Similarly offering port facilities would create job opportunities and substantial income for the government and the port authority in Bangladesh. Allowing waterways to India could be another job creating opportunity for Bangladesh if it is made compulsory to use Bangladeshi pilots and security personals for safe journey through Bangladesh by the Indian vessels. There are many other benefits if we consider allowing transit facility to India as a simple business opportunity and ignore politics completely in this context.

Recently, there was a news item saying that the officials of the ministry of commerce in Bangladesh oppose allowing India transit for trade with any Third country through Chittagong and Mongla sea-ports. The reason for such opposition was not explained by the officials. Prudent officials would have said that let India do business through our ports with rest of the world and let them pay the fees and follow our rules and regulations very carefully.

Let us give an example from the transit facilities that both former USSR and their communist East European 'satellite' states offered to their arch rival capitalist countries in the Western Europe, North America and to the rest of the world, before the fall of the Iron Curtain. They had transit routes for non-communist countries for cars, buses and trucks and one had to drive through them. There was a transit fee and that was all. They looked at it as a pure business and there was no fuss if one followed the transit route and did not break their laws.

This writer had personal experience driving through some erstwhile East European communist countries in the late seventies and until the 'fall' of communism. On the night of November 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall, the most potent symbol of the Cold War division of Europe, came down, the writer was crossing the Hungary-Austria boarder. Transits on selected and well-guarded routes were never denied even during the communist era in the cold war days.

Transit is mostly for tourism and business and both bring economic gains for all involved in it. Most importantly, let us not forget that, both tourism and business, create wealth and prosperity and our bureaucrats and politicians should look at the transit issue, especially in the context the Indian requirement as nothing but a business opportunity. India, too, would do better in thinking so. If Indian leadership would have been wise and non-hegemonic, they would have allowed Nepal, Bhutan and even Pakistan to use their territory for tourism and business transit. By doing so she could win economic and political plus points. I would rather say that India should have invited even China and offered her Southern provinces transit facilities. How nice it could have been if there was NO visa between the countries in the sub-continent and every country allowed transit facilities with fees if not free.

By - Tayeb Husain.