POST TIME: 25 October, 2017 00:00 00 AM
Sushma Swaraj’s visit

Sushma Swaraj’s visit

The visit of India's External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj to Bangladesh was significant in many ways. The visit occurred at a time when Bangladesh is trying to tackle the issue of Rohingyas who fled to Bangladesh for escaping killings and persecution perpetrated by the government of Myanmar. However, though Swaraj said Bangladesh comes first among all of India's neighbours as part of a neighbourhood policy her government adopted, on Rohingya Bangladesh is still unsure whether India would create pressure on Myanmar authorities to stop atrocities and urge them to implement recommendations of the Annan Commission.

India’s external minister’s visit was also significant as the time for the next general election in Bangladesh is drawing near. Swaraj’s observation that how the people of Bangladesh would conduct an inclusive election this time is exclusively their own business has been well accepted by the cross-sections of people in Bangladesh.

Swaraj claimed that the countries' bilateral relations with Bangladesh are becoming stronger. She jointly held the Fourth Joint Consultative Commission meeting with her Bangladesh counterpart AH Mahmood Ali.

Before her visit, India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaeitley came to Dhaka and signed USD 4.5 billion third line of credit (LoC) agreement for Bangladesh’s infrastructure and social sector development. Visit of two important Indian ministers in a month indicates that India indeed gives significant weight on its relations with Bangladesh.

Sushma said that Myanmar must take back all the Rohingyas. People will feel relieved if her government denounces the activities of Myanmar over its Rohingya population. We hope, as a friend of Bangladesh and a regional power, India would do this. India needs to exert pressure on Myanmar so that it takes step to resolve the Rohingya issue as suggested by the Kofi Annan Commission.

Swaraj assured Bangladesh that India would sincerely resolve “irritants” between Bangladesh and India. Though she did not specify the nature of the issues, she apparently hinted at the question of sharing water of common rivers, particularly of the Teesta, which has been pending since September 2011. People of Bangladesh want to see the assurance of India translated into action.

Getting the fair share of Teesta water is Bangladesh’s right and it is expected that India would remove the obstacle on the way to sign the Teesta water treaty.