What is at Stake in Shaikh Hasina’s Indian Yatra

Facing waning popularity and a suspecting electorate at home and growing impression of surrendering to Indian pressure to enter a defense pact with its encircling big neighbor, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has too much at stake in her important visit to India.

Posted on 04/8/17
By Mohammad Zainal Abedin | Via ViewsWeek
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajid being received by her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi upon her arrival in New Delhi on a four-day visit on April 7. (Photo via video stream)
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajid being received by her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi upon her arrival in New Delhi on a four-day visit on April 7. (Photo via video stream)

India perpetrates many tricks to salvage the weaning popularity of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. India is more proactive when it comes to Bangladesh’s decisions elated to defense. It was extensively reported that procurement of two Chinese Type 035G  submarines by Bangladesh annoyed New Delhi which officially sought the reason for Dhaka’s 203 million dollars deal with China. Many in Indian establishment were reportedly terrified at the prospect of Sheikh Hasina alienating from Indian orbit of immense influence.


According to media reports, Indian Defense Minister Manohar Paprika and Indian Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat during their visits expressed India’s displeasure to Hasina and asked her to enter a defense pact with India, allegedly to bridle Chinese influence. Some media reports claimed that their languages and attitudes towards their Bangladeshi civilian and military counterparts were neither pleasant nor friendly. These unfriendly engagements at the highest level prompted Sheikh Hasina to postpone her scheduled visit to India in February last.


Many Bangladeshis believe that India is imposing the defense pact on their country, and are strongly opposed to it, throwing Sheikh Hasina to horns of dilemma. So it is an acid test for Sheikh Hasina.


Her four-day visit to India, starting April 7, will make it clear whether she still possesses minimum sense of patriotism to defy Indian pressure or not. If her independent move to get Chinese submarines or close relation with China is sincere and genuine, it will hugely be appreciated and welcomed in Bangladesh where anti-India sentiment is quite high and 90% people are deeply suspicious of India’s policies and consider Sheikh Hasina as an Indian stooge. Many Bangladeshis believe that Indian influence and interference in the country’s internal affairs is growing by the day.


That’s why the visit serves as a rare chance for Sheikh Hasina to reverse her negative public image of being extraordinarily pro-India, potentially turning Bangladesh into India’s satellite state. The visit will determine Sheikh Hasina’s place in history and her political future.


Analysts believe India will do everything to manage her placing lucrative personal gains alongside the sanguinary frightening consequences, in case of her denial to cow her down. India’s goal is to thoroughly bind Bangladeshi from all sides, which can be done more effectively through a defense pact.  Many Bangladeshi analysts fear that India is desperate to bring Bangladesh’s entire defense system under its control and to gradually “wipe out” its existence.


Many Bangladeshis believe that postponement of her visit and India’s relentless pressure on her are a drama, to portray and popularize Sheikh Hasina as genuine patriot among at least to a microscopic section of people, who will believe Sheikh Hasina did her best not to agree with any such a treaty, but failed due to tremendous pressure.


If Sheikh Hasina has minimum sense of patriotism (what she extremely lacks of, according to many) she will not bow down to enter a defense pact or sign any memorandum or award any verbal pledge to India in this respect. She must comprehend that Bangladesh doesn’t face any military threat from any country. The reality is that Bangladesh; if ever face military invasion or intervention it will come from India. So Bangladesh cannot sign a military pact with a probable invading country.


Common Bangladeshis, not to speak of military, never suffer from Myanmar-phobia. Myanmar is our friendly country, we have little problem with Myanmar. So we don’t need to sign defense pact with India to deter Myanmar.


Many Bangladeshis still fear that India is dreaming to wipe out the border of Bangladesh with India. Indian leaders, since 1947 made it clear that they temporarily consumed the partition of the subcontinent that paved the way to create a separate homeland, Pakistan, for the Muslims. Jawaharlal Nehru, in 1946 in a letter to late Ashrafuddin Chowdhury, the then President of Tripura (now Comilla) district Congress, wrote that if India required to be divided, the Punjab and Bengal must also be divided, so that the portions (of Punjab & Bengal) that join Pakistan could come back to India soon.  India availed our liberation war in 1971 as a vehicle to translate that dream of Nehru into action. With that end in view India, in the final days of our liberation war, militarily involved to snatch our victory and claim that our independence is a (so-called) gift of India, and India now shamelessly and illogically claims so and celebrates 16th December as the victory day of India over the Pakistan.


Some Indians believe that Bangladesh and Pakistan will one day merge with India. The general secretary of Modi’s BJP Ram Madhav didn’t mince words in a December 27, 2015, interview with the Indian Express when he said that Pakistan and Bangladesh will one day rejoin India to create ‘Akhand Bharat’. …“that does not mean we wage war on any country, (or that) we annex any country. Without war, through popular consent, it can happen.”


Sheikh Hasina must understand that Bangladesh will not be a victim of military aggression of any other country, except India. Is India pressing Dhaka for the defense pact to challenge Chinese influence in the area? We don’t have common border with China. So there is no possibility of Chinese aggression against India through Bangladesh territory, rather India has long borders with China. So India has no logic to sign a defense pact with Bangladesh to deter Chinese aggression. It is utterly a lame excuse.


Being a petty freedom fighter of 1971, I humbly request Prime Minister Hasina: we are the very ordinary common people. We have no greed. We want: let our country survive. Please don’t compromise on Bangladesh’s sovereignty. Don’t be bewildered at the sweet tone or tall-talk of India. Please don’t degrade our country to the status of Bhutan or defunct Sikkim. Everyone should keep it in mind that Bangladesh is not a saleable commodity. It can neither be sold nor purchased in exchange of any amount of worldly benefits. *


 (The contributor is a New York-based journalist & researcher. He can be reached at:noa@agni.com)









Views expressed in this article do not reflect those of the ViewsWeek.

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