We have to begin a discussion on why we stand against Bangladesh’s current trend of relationship with India and how we want to shape up relationship in future. India too needs to understand why there is an urgent need of revaluation of the tie between the two countries.
Bangladesh has a special relationship with India. This relationship cannot be compared to India’s relationship with any other country. This relationship has connection with the military assistance which India extended during the process of the birth of Bangladesh. In Bangladesh only Awami League accepts India’s hopes and ideological position with which it helped in the liberation war of Bangladesh. The movement for the creation of Pakistan has no place in the political discourse of AL. For this reason India and AL cannot accept that the birth of Bangladesh was the legacy of the movement for Pakistan and the historical Lahore Resolution. In the Indian political discourse Pakistan was a Muslim nation and secular Bangladesh was carved out of it. So, India views only Awami League as its friend in Bangladesh.
We do not take the ideological position of a country in consideration when we build our tie with it. Unlike India, those countries do not seek to find an ideological ally in Bangladesh. India has kept its all eggs in one basket of AL. If AL fails, India’s all interests in Bangladesh will fail. Is it diplomatically wise for a country like India?
India hopes, Bangladesh should forever remain grateful for its contribution to the liberation war of Bangladesh. Whenever some differences in views surface between the two countries India sees the ghost of Pakistan in Bangladesh. India believes people of Bangladesh find themselves in natural proximity with Pakistan because majority in both countries follows a common religion and they are not grateful to India despite its contribution towards the birth of Bangladesh.
India has a regional political and economic ambition. But, its ties with almost all neighbouring countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka and Maldives are in bad shape. Can India forge ahead with its all political and economic interests if people of an important neighbouring country like Bangladesh hold a negative impression about India?
Is India willing to reorient its policies with an aim to revamp its term with Bangladesh? Does India sincerely want to share or discuss its worries with other major political powers of Bangladesh aiming to build a long-term healthier relationship with this country? This is the right time for India to revamp the term with Bangladesh, if it wants so.
People of Bangladesh too seek a mutually respectful relationship with India. In Bangladesh, barring AL, indeed there are political forces that aim to reduce worries of its neighbours, without harming the country’s own interests. Does India want to know all that?
How can India strike a deal with the nationalist power of Bangladesh, leaving aside Awami League? To find an answer, India should understand that Bangladesh is a different nation. Being a separate country Bangladesh will have its own interest which can sometimes go against the that of another country like India. This is the part of a basic understanding in the case of relationship between two nations.
Bangladesh does not believe in the concept of friendly nation. The truth is: one country is always in a hidden competition with another. Bangladesh will have to take care of the interest of the State and its people first, as all the countries do. Bangladesh cannot build relationship with India by sacrificing its own interests.
India should understand that it has some business and political interests in Bangladesh. India needs to protect those interests in the long term for its future role in regional politics. Bangladesh rightfully deserves to get its share of many things from India. Those issues should be settled as soon as possible and it will be in the interest of India as much as for Bangladesh.
India has built dams on its rivers flowing into Bangladesh, curbing the flow of water and going against an international law. Bangladesh seeks its fair share of water from all such rivers. Bangladesh wants a complete halt in the killing of its citizens by Indian forces on the border. India has put up barbed wire fencing around almost all sides of Bangladesh turning the smaller neighbouing nation into a large prison. Bangladesh views this as an affront on its dignity. Bangladesh also does not want India’s direct or indirect interference in its domestic politics.
India sometimes expresses concern that certain activities inside Bangladesh pose security threats to India. Bangladesh will indeed try to address this Indian concern. However, most Bangladeshis believe that such concerns are baseless.
India traditionally views Bangladeshis with suspicion. This practice has to stop. India has to treat all Bangladeshis with respect and dignity. Then, India will be able to build a new relationship with the people of Bangladesh which will benefit both the countries in many terms.