Vowing “zero tolerance” against terrorism, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Thursday assured India that Bangladesh will not allow its soil to be used for terror acts against any country as Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar called on her to discuss bolstering security ties. “We won’t tolerate any sorts of terrorism and militancy and won’t allow our land to be used for carrying out terrorist acts against any country,” Hasina told Parrikar, who called on her at her official Ganobhaban residence in Dhaka.
According to Hasina’s press secretary Ihsanul Karim, she recalled with gratitude the contribution of Indian armed forces to Bangladesh’s Liberation War and told Parrikar that during her upcoming visit to India she would honour those Indian soldiers who died during the 1971 freedom war. On his part, Parrikar said, “it was our moral responsibility to extend help to Bangladesh in the War of Liberation as a friendly country and we provided that assistance.”
After the meeting, he handed over Hasina a replica of a helicopter that India used during Bangladesh’s liberation war and photographs of paratroopers who took part in that war. Parrikar, who was accompanied by a high-level defence delegation, offered Indian expertise to train Bangladesh Coast Guards for enhanced capacity to guard the country’s southern coastlines along the Bay of Bengal.
Hasina thanked the Indian Coast Guards for rescuing Bangladeshi fishermen recently. Parrikar appreciated Bangladesh’s tremendous socio-economic development, particularly the women empowerment under Hasina’s leadership, saying, “Bangladesh made impressive development in various sectors, especially women empowerment, which India could not do yet”. His meeting with Hasina came at the end of a two-day visit, the first by an Indian defence minister, during which he called on President Abdul Hamid and also met premier’s security adviser Major Gen (retd) Tariq Ahmed Siddiqui.
Earlier in the day, Parrikar visited Bangladesh Military Academy near the southeastern port city of Chittagong and paid tributes to “Shikha Anirban” or “flame eternal”, a military monument built in memory 1971 war martyrs at Dhaka Cantonment. Prime Minister’s International Affairs Advisor Dr Gowher Rizvi, Principal Staff Officer of the Armed Forces Division Lt Gen Mahfuzur Rahman, PM’s Military Secretary Maj Gen Mia Mohammad Joynul Abedin and Indian High Commissioner Harsha Vardhan Shringla were present at the meeting, among others.
The vice chiefs of India’s three wings of armed forces, who comprised Parrikar’s delegation along with the Indian Coast Guard chief, held talks with Bangladesh army, navy and air force chiefs at their offices in Dhaka cantonment. “During the meetings, they discussed issues related to the existing good relations and cooperation between the two armed forces,” a defence ministry statement said. Security analysts said Parrikar’s visit was expected to firm up defence cooperation initiatives ahead of Bangladesh premier’s expected India visit later this month which could yield a defence cooperation agreement.