Asserting that the present Indo-Bangladesh relation is “very good”, former Bangladesh prime minister Moudud Ahmed has said the most outstanding issue between the two countries is water sharing of various rivers and they are still waiting for the BJP government to take the initiative and resolve the Teesta river water problem.
“The present relationship is very good. We had two outstanding problems. One was the land boundary agreement, which is now being implemented. Second, we had a problem with maritime zone, where we could not go and explore oil or gas in the water of Bay of Bengal, which has now been resolved very amicably through arbitration. The two outstanding problems have been resolved in a very friendly way,” said Ahmed, who is also a former Bangladesh vice president and a senior leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).
He, however, said the most outstanding issue between India and Bangladesh is the water sharing. “There are 53 rivers and almost all the rivers are coming from India to Bangladesh, and we are lower riparian country. We have been used to utilising this water for centuries for our agriculture, but we have agreement with regard to only one river and i.e. the Ganges. We have a 30-year treaty to share the water. But, with regard to any other river, there has been no agreement so far,” the former vice president told ANI on Tuesday.
“With regard to Teesta river, there was going to be an agreement when Mr. Manmohan Singh visited Bangladesh, but that also did not work out. So, we are still waiting for the BJP government now to take the initiative and resolve the Teesta river water problem,” he added.
Much against the rhetoric that the Dhaka terrorist attack had its links in Pakistan, Ahmed said, “The government has not been able to identify this and they are denying that there is any foreign connection. According to the government, these are home-grown terrorism.”
“As far as Bangladesh is concerned, Pakistan has no relevance any more. I do not see in what way they will benefit, because they have terrorism within their own country. Almost everyday and every week suicide bombing is taking place in Pakistan. So, in Bangladesh, the present government denies any outside connection, and the government itself says there is no international connection. According to the government, these are home-grown terrorism,” said the BNP leader.
Responding a question on the alleged link of controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik with one of the Dhaka attack accused, he said, “That I cannot say, that is up to the government to say whether there has been a link or not. I really have not listened to him. I do not know what is he saying and what are his views? So, I don’t want to make any comment on that. But, anybody, it doesn’t matter whether it is Mr. Naik or not, anyone who preaches violence and inspires violence, I and our party would condemn it and would not support it.”
When asked for his opinion on both India and Bangladesh facing terrorism, the BNP leader said, “There may be many reasons, you know, you cannot identify. This has now become almost a global issue. But, as far as Bangladesh, India and Nepal are concerned we should cooperate with each other in containing terrorism. You should exchange information if you have any to help the other country so that they can also contain terrorism in their own country.
“Secondly, democracy is important. It doesn’t mean that under a democracy terrorism will not take place, it may take place. But in my view, this is one of the reasons why such a sharp rise in killing bloggers and publishers and innocent people, because they took advantage of the political vacuum that exists today. The opposition is not allowed to play its role in order to represent the voice of the people. And these terrorist groups taking the advantage of the vacuum and going into this kind of terrorism.”
Ahmed was in Delhi to deliver a lecture on ‘Security of Bangladesh in the South Asian Context’ as part of city-based premier South Asian think tank Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies’ (IPCS) 20th anniversary plenum at The Claridges.