Teesta Not A Huge Factor | Hasina aide

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LOOKEAST REPORT |

In a significant statement, a senior political adviser to Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina has claimed Teesta river-sharing agreement is “no longer a problem”.

The matter was no longer an irritant in the relations of the two countries or the two governments, he said in New Delhi.

Teesta River near Darjeeling in West Bengal, India.

Imam, however, warned that the BNP would try to make an issue of it in the upcoming national polls likely in December.

“An agreement on the Teesta water will be signed today or tomorrow. Let us be patient. It’s no longer a problem between the two neighbours. This has happened because of the goodwill shared by the two governments. This is what Sheikh Hasina has also said,” he said.

“Problems can be sorted out only through discussions and mutual help — we are taking the problems one by one and trying to solve them.”

Imam was replying to queries from journalists after delivering a speech on “Indo–Bangladesh: Historical And Contemporary Perspective” at Observer Research Foundation (ORF), a leading think–tank in India.

Imam said, “PM Hasina often says we are a lower riparian state… and rivers flow downwards. So you cannot stop Teesta flowing downwards. Today or tomorrow, a formal agreement will take place.”

 

An agreement on the Teesta water will be signed today or tomorrow. Let us be patient. It’s no longer a problem between the two neighbours. This has happened because of the goodwill shared by the two governments. This is what Sheikh Hasina has also said

 

He said it was true that the Teesta issue has remained unsolved but cooperation between Bangladesh and India in other areas has expanded remarkably. He claimed that the killings at the border and smuggling of phensedyl into Bangladesh have stopped.

Asked about a BNP team’s recent visit to India, Imam termed the party “pro–Pakistan and pro–China”. He accused the party of working against India’s interests and requested New Delhi not to give it any scope.

“Have trust on me on the Teesta issue” — Mamata

A three–member BNP delegation, led by the party’s standing committee member Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury, interacted with ORF and some other think–tanks in Delhi last month.

“The BNP is pro–Pakistan, pro–Jamaat–e–Islami. I don’t think any sensible government here or in Bangladesh will ever tolerate them. Both the countries have to deal with this problem together.”

He said the BNP would take part in the coming elections. Otherwise, it would “lose its registration as a political party”. According to Imam, “pro–Pakistan elements” would try to instigate violence during the election but the government in Bangladesh was ready to counter them.

Promising full cooperation to India in its fight against terrorism, Imam said the Hasina–led government would not allow Zakir Naik access to the country as it was committed to showing zero tolerance towards terrorism.

“The soil of Bangladesh will never be allowed to be used by elements who are hostile to our neighbours,” he said.

 

You cannot use force against thousands of madrasa students. Many in the Hefajat have turned into supporters of the AL. That is the reason why the AL has changed its strategy towards Hefajat

 

Replying to a question about the Awami League’s links with Hefajat–e–Islam, Imam said, “You cannot use force against thousands of madrasa students. Many in the Hefajat have turned into supporters of the AL. That is the reason why the AL has changed its strategy towards Hefajat”.

In the run-up to the General Election later this year, the lack of a deal on Teesta due to Bengal’s resistance has been a constant talking point for both the government and Opposition in Bangladesh. ■

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