Of intervention in Bangladesh

In parallel with Bangladesh’s fundamentalist thugs getting bolder, Pakistan’s Inter-services Intelligence (ISI) is doing to Bangladesh what it did to Afghanistan. This includes peddling visions of an Islamic state, sending fundamentalist teachers in madrasas, supporting terrorist organisations like Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami and corrupting ordinary people to take up the criminal tasks of terrorism. The only missing portion is setting up a drug-smuggling operation to raise and launder funds. Its an all too familiar pattern.

In my last post, I proposed that it is time for an Indian diplomatic intervention in Bangladesh. This does not mean putting in a kind word alone, especially in unlistening ears. Also the worst kind of diplomatic intervention is threatening economic throttling – through sanctions or punitive restraints on bilateral trade. These just punish ordinary people who had nothing to do with their government’s sins of commission and omission anyway.

Minimally, India should act to defend its security. Bangladeshi territory is being used to destablise India, and if the the Khaleda Zia government is taking an ostrich-like approach to India’s genuine concerns, then it must be made clear in no uncertain terms that hot pursuit and surgical strikes against terrorist installations are within the domain of the possible. If need be such threats can be backed up with bold but relatively small scale military operations that target terrorist infrastructure.

More generally, Bangladesh is a better candidate for enhanced people-to-people contact. Civil society groups from across India and Bangladesh would gain from the interaction. In the end, I believe an enlightened civil society is the strongest bulwark against religious fundamentalists (of any colour). It may be time for Indian civil society to intervene in Bangladesh too.

With a bit of government support and facilitation, this intervention could well be an effective way to address the traditional evils which plague India’s bilateral relations with its neighbours.

1 thought on “Of intervention in Bangladesh”

  1. Actually there is a lot to be done by India to strengthen the Indo-Bangladesh ties that is loosening since 1975. Its true that there is an anti-India campaign active in Bangladesh that is being instigated by the fundamentalist parties who have links with ISI and funded by Arab countries. Our intellectuals and the civil nation is pretty much against the campaign. Because the last thing we want is that the fundamentalists go to power and reinstates Pakistan. That will really be a threat to India. The Awami league has strong ties with India. But it is sad to say that no significant development of Indo-Bangladesh relation was made during their tenure 1996-2000.

    There are many pending issues with India & Bangladesh which should be diplometically handled so that the both country benefits.
    1) The economic migrants issue: India should not try to push in or deport some people who speaks bengali, because that is a negatively propaganda here. Instead they should continue with border fencing. That should tackle many problems.
    2) Building damns in rivers that share both countries waters. India has to respect Bangladesh’s problem & interest in this.
    3) Relaxing the cross-border trade policies. India would have the upperhand because they would Access Bangladesh’s Market as they have the advantages of economies of scale.
    4) More cross-border cultural ties. Please note:
    There is no ban on the Indian TV channels which are very popular in Bangladesh. But specially in Kolkata Bangladeshi TV Channels are not distributed through cable.

    And some tips for Indian entrepreneurs:
    1) Make a joint venture deal with Bangldesh govt. for manufacturing cars. There is a large market here and govt. is the largest buyer.
    2) Bangladesh relies on Indian Beef to meet its huge demand. Making cattle trade legal would help both the govt. earn some revenue.

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