Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Bangladesh National Party (BNP) leader Khaleda Zia says no need to look into the "rear-view mirror"

Khaleda Zia with Salman Khurshid

The silly received wisdom in Indian strategy circles is that Awami League, now led by prime minister Haseena Wajed, is New Delhi's friend and that Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), now led by former prime minister Khaleda Zia, is hostile. So at the time of elections in Bangladesh, Indian analysts root of Awami League which makes that party quite vulnerable in domestic politics. This is something like saying that BJP because of its right-wing Hindutva ideology is hostile to the Islamic states of Bangladesh and Pakistan. As a matter of fact, BJP, and not just former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, bends over backwards to befriend Islamabad, including the reactionaries there.
It seems there is a welcome change in the Indian stance towards Bangladesh politics. For the first time, India is engaging with the BNP and its leader, Khaleda Zia, when they are in the opposition. Zia is in Delhi at the invitation of the Indian government. Ministry for External Affairs spokesman Akbaruddin explained the Indian stance saying "It (India) wants to engage with the multi-party polity of Bangladesh." That is a slightly ostentatious way of putting it but it does not matter as long as India recognises that it has to respect all the democratic parties in the other countries.
It seems that the Indian efforts to reach out to BNP and Zia have paid off. After her meetings with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday and with External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, Zia talked of a "new beginning" and said that it is time to look to the future and not look into "the rear-view mirror". She has also apparently assured that the soil of Bangladesh would not be allowed to be used for violent activities against India.
The Assam insurgent group ULFA and its leaders fled to Bangaldesh and not until the Awami League government had come in that it became difficult to ULFA to continue there. In a manner of speaking, ULFA was smoked out.

 

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