India and Bangladesh to sign on defence cooperation during Hasina's visit
India and Bangladesh will sign a “document” on defence cooperation
during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to New Delhi on April 8, her
senior adviser, H.T. Imam, said.
However, the defence agreement would not amount to a treaty or a defence
pact “in the traditional sense” that India has been keen on, but more on the
lines of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for a fixed time period.
Mr. Imam’s comments came after months of speculation, ever since the
then Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar, visited Dhaka in December 2016, and
is understood to have pitched for the cooperation document.
With details of the big-ticket announcement still being wrapped up, Mr.
Imam said the visit of Army Chief General Bipin Rawat to Dhaka on March 31
would be significant.
Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Harsh Shringla is in Delhi,
fine-tuning the more than 40 agreements expected to be announced during Ms.
Hasina’s four-day visit to Delhi from April 7.
Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia
has stepped up its campaign against the announcement of a defence treaty,
alleging that it would turn Bangladesh’s defence system into an “extension
Opposition parties as well as most Bangladeshi newspapers have been
pressing for some movement on the Teesta issue, which has been stalled by
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s objections.
He conceded, however, that India’s traditional policy was to discuss all
such issues bilaterally and not in such a trilateral format.
With no movement on Teesta talks so far, the Bangladesh government had
pinned its hopes on a possible meeting between Sheikh Hasina and Ms.
Banerjee during the PM’s stay at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
India has offered its biggest yet line of credit to Bangladesh
India has offered a new line of credit for $5 billion, its biggest yet
in the neighbourhood, to Bangladesh.
The announcement is expected during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit
to Delhi next week, her economic adviser, Mashiur Rahman.
Mr. Rahman said the credit would be open-ended and would follow the $1
billion offered in 2010, when Ms. Hasina previously visited Delhi, and the
$2 billion in 2015 during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dhaka.
The $5 billion is an open LoC; we can use it to enhance the level of
trade, movement, connectivity.
The projects are yet to be fully identified, and there is no time line.
We can spend it all at once, or as we need it. But where the Indian side has
an interest is in connectivity: railway projects, road transportation, road
The two sides are expected to announce a slew of agreements including
one for the reconstruction of a seventh India-Bangladesh railway line
between Agartala and Akhaura, a Rs. 1,000-crore project.
The 15-km line from Bangladesh to Tripura is significant as it is part
of India’s larger strategy of assisting Bangladesh’s infrastructure while
using it to transit to the “north-eastern” States.
The line is expected to shorten rail routes by as much as 1,000 km once
Ferry services connecting Assam, Bangladesh and West Bengal and
permissions for running cruise liners between the two countries, along with
several road projects, are expected to be among more than 40 agreements to
While the plan under the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal initiative has
hit a roadblock over the Bhutanese Parliament’s refusal to ratify the
network, officials are understood to be working around it, to link
Bangladesh, India and Nepal.
“India is a friend and neighbour, while all other countries including
China are development partners,” Information Minister Hassanul Haq Inu said.