By Nadeem Qadir;
India’s top diplomat, who is very well-known Bangladesh for his efforts to strengthen bilateral ties, arrives here on Monday to finalise the trip of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, a friend to many in Bangladesh, including journalists, left a very positive impression in Dhaka and his posting to the United States had a mixed reaction — sad to lose him, but happy for getting the most coveted diplomatic assignment.
Many of us are honoured to have him as our Facebook friends and also chat on the messenger. This definitely made him special to his Bangladeshi friends, including this writer, for his professional replies that the scribes are after.
This will be Shringla’s first visit to Dhaka since becoming his country’s foreign secretary primarily to finalise Modi’s “Mujib Barsho” visit to Dhaka, but since it comes a number of developments in India that has interest for the people of Bangladesh.
Thus when the Indian High Commission sent the invitation to Monday’s event at a local hotel where Shringla was scheduled to present the key-note paper on “Bangladesh and India: A Promising Future,” it drew quick attention of those who are friends of India on its east.
India has said it would also commemorate the Bangabandhu’s birth centenary in 2020 and 50 years of Bangladesh’s War of Liberation along with the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two neighbours in 2021. This indeed is a gesture of a great friend.
Indeed the CAA, NRC, Kashmir and the latest communal riots in New Delhi, have significance for Bangladesh which has told its people that the issues were “internal matters” of India. The Dhaka government has been firm in saying it believed Modi when he said all the issues would not have any effect on Dhaka-Delhi ties.
Questions have come up if Dhaka’s strong Beijing connection for major development projects upsetting India, although a ruling BJP leader told this writer in New Delhi just after Modi’s election that was not at all the case. But how far that was true? Maybe, natural geopolitical concerns remain.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina herself binned such ideas, saying she valued India in highest esteem and as the “most trusted and tested friend” with New Delhi’s contribution to the bloody birth of Bangladesh in 1971.
However, concerns remain due to Bangladesh’s cumbersome internal politics and public perception.
Thus when many Indian friends come for their first Bangladesh visit, they are confronted with what they call “a hostile attitude” towards them by the people in general.
While many Bangladeshis complain of being “looked down” while visiting India.
Thus the two countries need to address why their people complain of such feelings despite being the “tested friends” since 1971, albeit anti-Indian government between post-Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s assassination in 1975 and 1996, with a repeat between 2001 and 2006.
Thus indeed the contents of Shringla’s key-note has great diplomatic and political importance for Dhaka as well as the South Asian region at large.
Mainly, everyone concerned would be waiting to see what and how the bilateral ties would be “promising” in the coming years.
Welcome Foreign Secretary Shringla to Bangladesh in your more “important and powerful position” to make the “promising” word true in black and white.