Bhutan & Bangladesh – A study in contrasts

G Parthasarathy writes that Bhutan and Bangladesh relate to India in very different ways. Bhutan is able to be sensitive to and profit from its relations with India, Bangladesh is unable to do so. He echoes what I wrote few days ago – it is about time India paid attention to the Bangladesh’s growing mala fide activities. Khaleda Zia’s truck with the jehadi outfits is getting worrisome.

It is this commitment to his country’s Gross National Happiness that has enabled Bhutan to proceed with a process of decentralisation and democratisation. The monarchy in Nepal has traditionally resisted pressures for democratic change and adopted a policy of fanning anti-India sentiments to retain power. Bhutan’s monarch, in contrast, has shrewdly adopted a policy of deriving maximum benefit from India, by being sensitive to its security concerns, and using its growing demand for electrical power and a vast range of goods and services, for the prosperity of his people. Yet he has also conducted himself with such dignity that no Indian government can take Bhutan for granted…

In contrast to this, Begum Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has a long track record of joining hands with the ISI and fomenting insurgency and religious fundamentalism in India’s northeastern states. New Delhi has provided Dhaka with details of over 90 camps on Bangladesh territory where anti-Indian groups are being trained. Shortly after the BNP government assumed its present term in office, the Bangladesh Directorate General of Forces Intelligence took on the role of not merely supporting insurgent groups like ULFA, but also working hand in glove with the Jamaat-e-Islami Party — a member of the ruling coalition — to promote Islamic militancy in Assam and other border states. They even entertain fanciful ambitions to set up an Islamic State in these areas. The strength of the ISI in the Pakistan High Commission has been beefed up and the ISI is now given a free hand to operate in Bangladesh. General Musharraf will perhaps claim that there is nothing wrong in such ISI activity on Bangladesh territory, as he had merely promised India that he would not allow Pakistan’s territory to be used for terrorist activities!

India has thus far shown remarkable patience in dealing with Bangladesh. But once a new government assumes office after the forthcoming elections, some hard decisions will have to be taken on how to deal with Bangladesh. We should now consider actively exposing Bangladesh involvement with terrorist outfits, both to its aid donors and its ASEAN neighbours.[Indian Express]