Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday referred to Pakistan on at least four occasions during his 63-minute speech to a 2,000-strong audience in Dhaka as he spoke on terrorism, fake currency, connectivity and India’s track record on peace.
Saying that “terrorism has no borders”, Modi said India has been troubled by the menace for the last 40 years and blamed Pakistan for its spread.
“What has the world got from this?… Terrorism is the enemy of humanity. All forces of humanity should unite and isolate extremism. Tourism unites the world, terrorism divides,” he said, while commending Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina for showing “zero tolerance” to terrorism.
“Pakistan constantly disturbs us, and has created a nuisance… it promotes terrorism and incidents keep recurring,” he said.
On the issue of fake currency, he said, “Kare koi, khaye koi, aur badnaami Bangladesh ki ho…(Somebody else does it, Bangladesh gets a bad name for it).”
On the issue of connectivity, he referred to Pakistan blocking the SAARC motor vehicles agreement last November, saying, “We had a proposal on connectivity in SAARC, and wanted to do it, but not everybody is Bangladesh, so we could not get it on track. Should we then wait? But countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and India have decided to make the connectivity happen. Whether everybody goes along or not, some have at least started going.”
And, while making a case for India’s permanent membership at the United Nations Security Council, he said that the world cannot forget that India had 90,000 prisoners of war from Pakistan after the 1971 war, but did not play politics with them.
“These days, when people hijack a plane full of about 100-200 people, they can get anything they want. But we had 90,000 prisoners from Pakistan, and didn’t bargain. We didn’t want to settle scores with Pakistan from the soil of Bangladesh. This is our character on peace, and the world asks for our credentials for the UN Security Council,” he said.
In a speech punctuated by claps and cheers, Modi also declared that a solution will be found to the issue of Teesta water-sharing, and stressed that water cannot be used for politics.
Speaking at the Bongobondhu international conference centre, as he wrapped up his visit, Modi said, “I have come to take Bangladesh along with me, but I will also have to take the states along. And, when I have come to Bangladesh, discussions have happened on Teesta.”
Saying that “panchhi, pawan or paani” (birds, air and water) don’t need a visa, he said that water cannot be used for “political reasons” as it’s a “human issue”.
“The path will be found, we should keep up the efforts, should not waver in faith, results will be there,” he said to loud applause.
He said that the world fights for land, but India and Bangladesh have signed the land boundary agreement, which is not about land but one which “binds the hearts” of people. He added that some have even compared this to the collapse of the Berlin wall.
He said that their philosophy has been not “vistaarvaad (expansionism)”, but “vikaswaad (development)”.
Modi also mentioned the issue of border killings and said that bullets — whether fired from this side or the other — kill human beings.
Stressing that he and Sheikh Hasina’s minds are “perfectly matched”, he said that both are focussed on “vikaas (development)”. “Hum paas paas hai, aur hum saath saath hain (India and Bangladesh are not just neighbours, but also want to go together),” he said.
Earlier on Monday, Bangladesh conferred the prestigious “liberation war” award on former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for his “active role” in its independence struggle and consolidating friendship with India.
Speaking on the occasion, Modi said though he had entered politics quite late, he had been one of the many youth activists who had come to Delhi in response to Vajpayee’s call for satyagraha for the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971. He described himself as one of the crores of people who wanted this vision to be realised.
He also met BNP chief Khaleda Zia, and said that he was with democracy, but against extremism. He also met other political leaders, including leader of opposition Raushan Ershad, and leaders from Left parties.
Modi had started the day by performing a puja at the famous Dhaneshwari temple, visiting the Ramakrishna Mission, and launching a handful of projects at the Indian High Commission’s new chancery.