Bangladesh-India ties: Hasina says now focus should be on trade, connectivity

Mentioning that the Bangladesh-India relationship is anchored in history and culture, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday said the two countries now should concentrate on people-to-people contact, trade, business and connectivity as the issues became increasingly important for the two sides.

“The core of the bilateral relationship now needs to concentrate on people-to-people contact, trade, business and connectivity, which have become increasingly important for both sides,” she said in her video message screened at a programme marking Maitri Diwas (Friendship Day).

Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA) arranged the programme in New Delhi on Monday on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of India-Bangladesh Diplomatic Relations as India recognised Bangladesh on December 06, 1971.

Hasina said the relationship between Bangladesh and India is anchored in history, culture, language and shared values of secularism, democracy, and countless other commonalities. “Our bonds of friendship have further been strengthened, diversified and expanded in recent years due to regular high-level political interactions and exchanges.”

Despite restrictions imposed by Covid-19, she said, the relationship at all levels have remained stable and strong.

“This was evident in our excellent cooperation and collaboration in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.

“Our partnership is not confined to treaties, MoUs, bilateral agreements that provide the formal structures for our working relations. Today, our broad partnership has matured, taking dynamic, comprehensive and strategic shape, and is based on sovereignty, equality, trust and mutual respect,” said the Prime Minister.

Noting that India recognized Bangladesh as an independent and sovereign state on the 6th December 1971, she said Bangladesh and India are celebrating the Golden Jubilee of establishment of diplomatic relations. “This is a milestone in the journey of our bilateral relations,” Hasina said.

“We continue to believe in the importance of our relationship,” she said, adding that this anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on the foundation of the bilateral relations of the two countries and the path ahead. It’s also an occasion for both the countries to recommit to work towards further strengthening the longstanding dynamic partnership, she added.

“I’m confident that together our two countries and two peoples will continue to turn our vision and ideas into realities, for decades to come,” the PM said.

During the state visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh on 26-27 March 2021, both sides agreed on the joint celebrations in 18 selected cities along with Dhaka and New Delhi, and to recognize 6 December as ‘Maitri Diwas,’ she said.

The foundation of Bangladesh-India relations was laid by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, said Sheikh Hasina, the eldest daughter of Bangabandhu.

“We’ve a very special relationship with India. The relationship is the friendliest. The friendship of Bangladesh and India is in our hearts. The bonds of friendship will remain firm and long-lasting,” she quoted Bangabandhu as saying in 1972.

Hasina also recalled the generosity of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her government, leaders of other political parties, and overall the people of India towards the people of Bangladesh in 1971. They provided accommodation to 10 million refugees from Bangladesh, gave space for the Mujibnagar government and waged a diplomatic campaign in favour of Bangladesh, she mentioned.

State Minister for Cultural Affairs KM Khalid, Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla, Bangladesh High Commissioner in New Delhi Ambassador Muhammad Imran and ICWA Director General Vijay Thakur Singh also spoke at the function.

Modi’s reassurance

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said he will work with his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina to further expand and deepen ties between the two countries.

“I look forward to continuing working with PM Sheikh Hasina to further expand and deepen our ties,” he tweeted on Monday as the two countries celebrate ‘Maitri Diwas’ (Friendship Day).

Just 10 days before the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, India had recognised Bangladesh on December 6, 1971.

India was one of the first countries to establish bilateral diplomatic ties with independent Bangladesh.

“Today India and Bangladesh commemorate Maitri Diwas. We jointly recall and celebrate the foundations of our 50 years of friendship,” Modi said.

During the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Bangladesh in March this year, it was decided to commemorate the 6th December as “Maitri Diwas”.

Source: United News of Bangladesh