Dhaka, Feb. 12 (ANI): Bangladesh has asked India to invoke the spirit of cooperation and friendship witnessed during its war of liberation against West Pakistan in 1971, particularly with respect to the resolution of the stalled Teesta water sharing treaty, in order to move forward on all other fronts such as transit and trade of goods and services from mainland India to its north-eastern states.
Welcoming Mamata Banerjee's ascension as West Bengal Chief Minister, Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni said she wanted her (Banerjee) to revive the bond of 1971,a period when people of her state had accommodated a crore refugees as they were seeking escape from persecution by the Pakistan Army, and for providing a base to train men and women of the Mukti Bahini, the indigenous liberation fighters, to take on their tormentors.
Dr. Moni's observations are significant because Banerjee had scuttled chances of inking the Teesta treaty by pulling out of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's delegation to Dhaka at the last minute last year.
The sharing of waters is a highly emotive issue in Bangladesh, with public opinion blaming the unchecked flow during the monsoon season and lean flow of water in other seasons for the uncertainty that farmers experience when it is time for the harvesting of crops.
"Obviously, when you are satisfied and happy, you work better. The peoples' perception also matters. We need to have movement on all fronts. We definitely have movement on many fronts, but we need to have the deal," said Moni.
Commenting on the importance of the Teesta Water treaty in building public opinion towards agreements in other areas, Dr. Moni told visiting journalists from several countries that not only were people disappointed by its stalling, but it also overshadowed all other achievements.
She indicated that security perceptions no longer played a role in Bangladesh allowing goods from other countries to transit through its territory.
"Definitely, Bangladesh has taken the initiative, because given its geographical location, it can become a hub between South and South East Asia. We are looking not just at physical connectivity, but linking of ideas by more contacts between people of both countries. Not just India, but Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar, not just India. We could extend this to Myanmar and China," she said.
Reaching out to Banerjee, Dr. Moni referred to several commonalities between Bangladesh and West Bengal.
"Whatever we do, we would like to see the bond of 1971 in all our exchanges. There are obvious expectations and, we are very happy to see a woman at the helm in West Bengal. At the same time we have many, many issues [that are pending]. We are sure we will do them [resolve] in the same spirit," she said. By Praful Kumar Singh (ANI)
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