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  #1  
Old February 2, 2005, 10:09 AM
Cricket46 Cricket46 is offline
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Default SAARC summit postponed

India has decided not to attend the summit due to security conditions prevailing in Dhaka and the situation in Nepal. This was communicated to Bangladesh by Pakistan and consequently the meet was postponed.
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  #2  
Old February 2, 2005, 02:00 PM
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It's really bad news. India always creating problem. They have always security problem.

They told their players have no security in Bangladesh. But then you know how type security was arranged.

This time Prime Minister of India feeling security problem.

I don't understand what is their problem????????????????

Do you know that one of their minister Fulan Devi was killed by some terrorists???

So their country is also risky and most unsecure place from my view. What do you think??? Am I right or not???
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  #3  
Old February 2, 2005, 04:11 PM
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Default I agree with our government

India's stance in unacceptable! You can't just pull out of a summit at this late stage, knowing that it can't go on without you, therefore effectively postponing it unilaterally, on such flimsy reasons. If they want to make a point about SAMS Kibria's assassination, then do that. If they want to make a point about the political developments in Nepal, then do it. But blaming it on law and order and the 'security situation' in Dhaka, which will have absolutely no bearing on this summit is just stupid! Law and order issues and political turmoil is a constant thing in Bangladesh. In that case, we'll never be able to host SAARC. If this is India's attempt at being 'diplomatic' I think its stupid diplomacy. Either take a stand or come to the summit! If the Indians don't want to share the stage with this Nepalese King, then why should the rest of us suffer?

I think SAARC should adopt some sort of a mechanism whereby if a member state cancels later than a month prior to the summit (barring for Tsumani like disasters of course), they will bear the additional costs that the host government incurs in rescheduling. Then they'll think twice about postponing this late, when the government has put in a lot of time, effort and more importantly money to host this thing!

Edited on, February 2, 2005, 9:20 PM GMT, by Sham.
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  #4  
Old February 2, 2005, 04:28 PM
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I agree with you, Sham. However, as we're significantly smaller and weaker than India, I believe our foreign minister should be less gung-ho about giving India the finger for snubbing us, and instead exercise his diplomatic abilities to somehow cajole the Indians back into the summit. No need for us to be confrontational, especially when we can't really back it up. Kind of reminds me when Zia sent a gunboat to 'defend' Talpotti island, and India in turn sent a frigate. Let's be intelligent about how we tackle this issue. I think our government can still play things cleverly.
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  #5  
Old February 2, 2005, 04:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by bdmoderator
It's really bad news. India always creating problem. They have always security problem.

They told their players have no security in Bangladesh. But then you know how type security was arranged.

This time Prime Minister of India feeling security problem.

I don't understand what is their problem????????????????

Do you know that one of their minister Fulan Devi was killed by some terrorists???

So their country is also risky and most unsecure place from my view. What do you think??? Am I right or not???
india for dinner anyone? how about a nice bowl of DJ soup as an appetizer?
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  #6  
Old February 2, 2005, 04:34 PM
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SAARC was always useless. Now it's official, thanks to India's stubbornness.
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  #7  
Old February 2, 2005, 05:22 PM
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Default Shubho

I understand your point and I'll agree that at times, this government of ours has been less than prudent in its handling of relations with India. But also, I am just sick of the rest of us having to give in to the whims of India and Pakistan. In a way, I'm just glad that the foreign secretary was firm today, because we can't say we understand India's concerns when we clearly can't! They can't do this whenever they feel like it. We may be a small country and we need maintain cordial relations with India, but we are also sovereign and we ought to be able to speak our mind when we need to.

I want this SAARC summit to commit to SAFTA, we need that. These delays are just frustrating. The first one was understandable. Actually, I think it was a bit shameful that we initially tried to keep the summit on for the original dates in January, when we should have appreciated the situation, in Sri Lanka and Maldives especially, after the Tsunami and been the first ones to offer to postpone it. But this is ridiculous.
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  #8  
Old February 2, 2005, 06:59 PM
DJ Sahastra DJ Sahastra is offline
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It's a form of protest - dignified and politically correct.

Lets look at the events first.

A democratic government in Nepal has been thrown off by a hugely unpopular monarch (Nepalese see his hands soaked in the brutal murder of the popular royal family too). To quote my friend who is studying out here in US, he has not beeb anle to contact his family either via internet or phone. The communication was taken down to contain the protests and spread of discontent.

All in all, a daylight murder of democracy.

Having the same king address the summit and share the platform with him would be tantamounting to supporting and endorsing his stance. Atleast till the normalcy is restored and facts known, this is not acceptable.

I am glad that India blocked the Summit. Soemone had to take a stand and i, as an Indian, fully support it.

There was another issue, as has been pointed out by the BD media, the assasination of SAMS Kibria. I have been following the news and the subsequent development closely. I have read editorials, letters and news following the assasination. If it painted any picture, let me say that it is far from one that can be brushed aside and ignored.

Importantly, It could have been overlooked and ignored and the SAARC summit would've gone on. But both the issues put together do present a strong reason for India backing out. It has got nothing to do with showing any big-brotherly attitude or snubbing BD. It's just a matter of stand and there are no two-thoughts about it, not in my mind atleast.

Pakistan foreign minister talking about his "no-objection" is understandable. Besides gaining the brownie points in the process which counts for little, of all countries in the world, Pakistan taking a hard-stance against the murder of democracy would be a joke to say the least.
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  #9  
Old February 2, 2005, 08:12 PM
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I don't agree. I don't understand how when you are taking a stand against something, it can be politically correct? Isn't there a contradiction right there? Like I said, if India wishes to take a stand against the Nepal situation, and I can support such a stance, then they should take a stand to that effect and not come up with this wishywashy statement! Say that India feels that sharing the stage with this King will be tantamount to endorsing his rule in Nepal, which India does not wish to do. As a matter of fact, my respect for India would have gone up several fold if the Indian government had done that. This is silly. Everyone knows why they aren't coming and yet they are officially denying that sharing the stage with the Nepalese King is the reason. Thats not taking a stand in my view. When you take a stand, take a firm stand and stick to it. Don't take a half stand and then officially deny it. There is nothing dignified about that in my opinion!
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  #10  
Old February 2, 2005, 09:31 PM
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I don't think you will find many political leaders take such a direct confrontational stance (barring Sharon and perhaps Dubya).

Good move by the Indians; even if they haven't come out right with the reasons, we all KNOW it anyway. Hopefully it will teach Khaleda and her cronies a lesson too.
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  #11  
Old February 2, 2005, 09:32 PM
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I'll be brief. Bangladesh should focus more on ASEAN than on SAARC. What can SAARC give Bangladesh? We are surrounded by poor nations with insurmountable social ills. Bangladesh's future lies in ASEAN and China not in India and Pakistan.

We need to be realistic. India will always try and impose its wish on other smaller neighbours. There is no scape. SAARC could have been a successful economic regional forum like ASEAN had India been a little more sensitive to its smaller neighbours. I am not advocating for abandoning SAARC. All I am saying is that we should pay more attention to ASEAN and China without abandoning SAARC.
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  #12  
Old February 2, 2005, 09:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Maruf
I'll be brief. Bangladesh should focus more on ASEAN than on SAARC. What can SAARC give Bangladesh? We are surrounded by poor nations with insurmountable social ills. Bangladesh's future lies in ASEAN and China not in India and Pakistan.
No ASEAN leader would come to Bangladesh at this time were BD a member of ASEAN. In deed BD could avoid this humiliation calling the summit postcodes till they find the killers of SAMS Kibria, Ivy Rahman and others by grenade attack. Lives of our political leaders and those who were innocent listeners are more valuable than so called summit and show off. As a poor nation we did not afford to face this eleventh hour postponement. India should have expressed more critical reaction to the serial killing and failure of the government of Bangladesh and so should have done by Pakistan and others. Did you feel how we are becoming friendless in international perspective? I admire Monamohan dcision and wish our government will take good lesson.
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  #13  
Old February 2, 2005, 09:52 PM
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And besides, even if the SAARC summit were to go ahead, do you really think Hasina would have cooperated?

Edited on, February 3, 2005, 2:53 AM GMT, by fab.
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  #14  
Old February 3, 2005, 05:51 AM
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Default Guys,

the situation in Dhaka was obviously part of India's consideration. But that is not the reason that they aren't coming! They're decision is largely based on Nepal! So, much as we would like to think that India is protesting SAMS Kibria's death, lets not fool ourselves.

Edited on, February 3, 2005, 11:11 AM GMT, by Sham.
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  #15  
Old February 3, 2005, 08:35 AM
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I hope bd never hosts this stupid SAARC anymore cause its uselees for us and reason is INDIA.... so stop spending money on ULLO BONEY... (Worthless Jungle)
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  #16  
Old February 3, 2005, 08:51 AM
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Quote:
Bangladesh's future lies in ASEAN and China not in India and Pakistan.
Correction: Bangladesh's future lies in the people's (as in people's republic of.... hands). Take a cue from the Nepali countryside- i.e take matters in your own hands, as no one including the ever useless"elite" will never deliver.
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  #17  
Old February 3, 2005, 07:41 PM
Maruf Maruf is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by mahmoodh

India should have expressed more critical reaction to the serial killing and failure of the government of Bangladesh and so should have done by Pakistan and others. Did you feel how we are becoming friendless in international perspective? I admire Monamohan dcision and wish our government will take good lesson.
Whatever happend is sad but let me tell you this India and other SAARC nations have nothing to do with this. It is absolutely Bangladesh's internal affair. Did Bangladesh and other SAARC nations interfere when Indian radical Hidus, with the help of the BJP Govt., killed hundreds of innocent muslims in Gujarat? One indian MP was also killed because of his muslim background.
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  #18  
Old February 3, 2005, 07:43 PM
Maruf Maruf is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by fab
And besides, even if the SAARC summit were to go ahead, do you really think Hasina would have cooperated?

Edited on, February 3, 2005, 2:53 AM GMT, by fab.
Probably not. But then again when did she cooperate? It could be a successful summit even without her help.

Edited on, February 4, 2005, 12:43 AM GMT, by Maruf.
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  #19  
Old February 3, 2005, 07:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by oracle
[Correction: Bangladesh's future lies in the people's (as in people's republic of.... hands). Take a cue from the Nepali countryside- i.e take matters in your own hands, as no one including the ever useless"elite" will never deliver.
With that statement I mean Bangladesh can have better economic interactions with the ASEAN nations than with the SAARC nations. I know every country has to rely on its own domestic resources to prosper and I am not arguing that fact.
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  #20  
Old February 5, 2005, 07:30 PM
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Default From the Daily Star

Saarc Summit
Major Indian dailies critical of Manmohan's decision
BSS, Dhaka

Some major Indian daily newspapers are critical of their government's decision not to attend the Saarc summit scheduled for February 6 and 7 in Dhaka.

Widely circulated English daily, The Indian Express, in its editorial yesterday (February 5) said, "India's decision to have the Saarc summit in Dhaka postponed seems more an act of panic than a well thought out strategy."

"India has cited two reasons for not attending the summit: The deteriorating security situation in Bangladesh and the recent turn of events in Nepal. Both reasons are not sufficient to warrant postponement of the summit. And the fact that they were cited together only makes the signals India is trying to send more obscure," the daily said.


"The proximate cause of cancelling the summit is the state of emergency in Nepal. But this event is all the more reason to convene a meeting of the SAARC. After all, in the long run, the viability of the Saarc as an organisation will depend upon its ability to respond to such crises. It is not a good sign if summits fold up at the sign of political crisis in one of the member states," the editorial said.


"By cancelling the summit, we have also frittered away an opportunity to improve relations with Bangladesh. Relations with Bangladesh have been very difficult, but there had been signs of a breakthrough. Bangladesh's willingness to discuss a pipeline from Myanmar was a positive sign. A Saarc summit at this point would have been an opportunity to give this small opening further momentum. Instead, India has embittered Dhaka even more," the newspaper said.


"The manner in which the cancellation has been handled suggests that the Indian foreign policy establishment does not have a diplomatic culture that is commensurate with India's power and aspirations. It is difficult to imagine that India will be a significant power if it cannot even manage multilateral forms with its neighbors effectively, By cancelling the summit, we have weakened the Saarc and projected our own inability to deal with our neighbours," the editorial said.


In a commentary titled "Dhaka's pipeline tit for Delhi's tat' on February 4, The Statesman of Kolkata writes, "Upset over Idnia's withdrawal from the Saarc summit, there is an apprehension that Bangladesh may not participate in the meeting of the technical-commercial working committee to propose the route for the three-nation gas pipeline on 14 February."

The Times of India commented in a report by Indrani Bagchi on February 4, "In the wake of the postponed Saarc summit, Pakistan is getting ready to fish in the troubled waters of soured relations between India and its smaller neighbours Bangladesh and Nepal."

The Kolkata-based widely circulated Bangla daily Anandabazar Patrika in a report headlined 'Delhi trying to garner support for Saarc--decision', on February 4 said, ''Delhi is now trying to strengthen its grouping to avoid difficulties after wrecking the Saarc summit.- Pakistan has clearly said, violence is going on in different corners of the globe. So cancellation of the summit does not make any sense citing violence in any particular area as a pretext.-----China has also criticised India in a roundabout way by saying that the South Asian nations were doing well and she also wanted to join the Saarc."

"India has created more problems than it has resolved through its decision not to participate in the Saarc summit," the Asian Age, an influential India daily, in its Friday's editorial said.


The newspaper published both from New Delhi and Kolkata said, "The reasons ostensibly are the security situation in Bangladesh and the political turmoil spelling an end to democracy in Nepal."

The newspaper said, "India cannot but be concerned about these issues but the question that has led to widespread resentment in the region whether India should have held the Saarc hostage to these considerations."

Continuing the paper wrote: "In fact, South Asia suffers from a major security problem and if it is not Bangladesh today, it could be Sri Lanka tomorrow, and perhaps even India the day after. Saarc then becomes even more relevant today and efforts should have been made by New Delhi to ensure that the "spirit" of the South Asian process does not become subservient to bilateral politics."

The Asian Age also published a story on Friday where Pakistan foreign minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri expressed his disappointment over India's decision to opt out of the Saarc summit, saying this would have a "negative impact on India-Pakistan relations".


He said such regional meetings were important to create the goodwill necessary to sustain the peace process.


"It is important that our spirits are high and this decision has had a dampening effect and can be counterproductive," he added.
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  #21  
Old February 5, 2005, 07:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by bdmoderator
It's really bad news. India always creating problem. They have always security problem.
“Security problem” sounds like “crossfire”….
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  #22  
Old February 5, 2005, 08:09 PM
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Well they are the economic power/leader in this SAARC! They can and will do anything and everything they want. We're just puppets of our big, burly neighbors! Also we can't help but let them rule over us economically! We've always been bossed and in fact, sounds funny but, we like to be bossed around!
I have a feeling we're going to see another assasination of the Nepalese King!
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  #23  
Old February 6, 2005, 02:01 PM
DJ Sahastra DJ Sahastra is offline
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A well-researched analysis on the reasons for SAARC postponement by India.

http://www.thedailystar.net/2005/02/07/d50207020326.htm

Quote:
Saarc postponement: Why?
Harun ur Rashid

The 13th Saarc Summit has been postponed twice. The first postponement was due to the natural cause of devastating tsunami of December 26 which resulted in the death of thousands of people and massive destruction of property in Saarc member countries India, Sri Lanka, and the Maldives. The second postponement appears to be entirely due to the perceived unstable political situation in Nepal and Bangladesh.
The postponement of the summit does not augur well for the image of the Bangladesh government. The timing is unfortunate for the government because the assassination of Kibria has raised concern in the international community as to where the country is going and why under the current government. The postponement of the summit strengthens the negative perception of the Bangladesh government.


It also puts back many ideas for regional cooperation, particularly in economic areas, that India has been insisting on for other member countries, including agreement on some elements of South Asia Free Trade Agreement, proposal of bilateral FTA, transit rights and introduction of single currency in South Asia among member countries. The summit would have been the "catalyst" for resurgence of economic activities within the South Asian region as Saarc enters the third decade of its existence.


On February 2, Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh decided not to attend the summit in Dhaka to be held on February 6-7. India's External Affairs Secretary Shyam Saran explained why Prime Minister Singh would not be able to attend.

He reportedly said: "The decision has been taken against the background of recent developments in our neighbourhood which have caused us grave concern."

He used the term "neighbourhood" implying Nepal and Bangladesh. He obviously referred to the volatile political situation in Nepal as the 63-year old King dismissed the government on February 1 and took control of the country himself, contrary to the system of Constitutional Monarchy. Further, Saran was quoted to have said in a press release issued by the Indian High Commission in Dhaka that "the security situation in Dhaka has deteriorated in recent days following the fatal attack on the former Finance Minister of Bangladesh."

India has not been seen to be enthusiastic in attending the summit in Dhaka as it had shortened the duration of the summit to the minimum possible. Whether it is due to security or other reasons, it is difficult to pinpoint.


The Saarc summits have never been held regularly. The 12th summit in Pakistan had to be postponed because India's then Prime Minister was not comfortable to meet with the Pakistani military President at a time when their state of bilateral relations was low because of the Kashmir situation.


The 13th Summit met a similar fate. Although two reasons were cited by India, there appears to be other reasons, some of which may deserve mention below:


First, Saarc had a limping start from the very beginning (1985). It is a forum of regional cooperation in name only. Political misunderstandings and distrust underlie the implementation of the objectives of regionalism. There seems to be no glue sticking together all the member countries. India does not feel comfortable sitting with the other member countries because of perceived absence of democratic traditions in those countries. Essentially, there is no golden common thread binding the member countries

Second, India is strategically located in the middle of South Asia and almost all member countries are its neighbours. Although neighbours maintain the "correct" political relationship with India, there is a murmur of complaints against India on many unresolved bilateral issues. India is regarded as a "bully" by others, whether the perception is right or wrong, that is another matter. India suspects that other countries may gang up against India's policy towards them.


Third, The Nepali King's dramatic action to dismiss the Prime Minister without calling him to face confidence motion in Parliament appears to be a "dictatorial" one and arguably such action has no justification under constitutional monarchial system where the King reigns but does not rule the country. Naturally India is gravely concerned with the situation because Nepal comes within the security parameters of India.


Fourth, India's offer of assistance to the democratic government in Nepal to address the Maoist insurgency has become irrelevant because of the change of political situation. India does not wish to help a monarch who has been consistently accused of indulging in factional politics, destroying the edifice of a democratic government under constitutional monarchy.


In fact, India perceives some "hidden agenda" in the King's action in dismissing for the second time the parliamentary government and taking charge of the country. Recently Nepal, believed to be under pressure from China, has shut the door on Tibetans fleeing through Nepal to India. The Dalai Lama's office in Nepal has been closed.


Fifth, The King's action raised concerns in the US, the UK, and the UN. Secretary General Annan is quoted to have said that the King's action is a serious setback for the country. The US which provides Nepal's army with weapons, has came out with a statement that it is "deeply troubled" by the apparent step back from democracy. In London, the Foreign Office summoned the Nepalese Ambassador to convey its "grave concerns" over the King's action.


India claims to be the largest democratic country in the world and is proud of its democratic and secular principles. In light of the international concern over events in Nepal, the Indian Prime Minister's sitting face-to-face with the Nepali King who was scheduled to attend the summit would not go well internationally. This would convey that nothing had been politically wrong in Nepal and imply the acceptance of action of the King in dismissing the government. Such position is also not acceptable to India and to Nepali political leaders, some of whom have been arrested.


Sixth, the assassination of Mr. Kibria, an important member of Awami League and an MP, strengthens India's perception that the current government in Bangladesh is not doing enough to contain intolerant conduct of some extremists towards opposition political leaders and other religious sects including the Ahmadiyyas.

The report of the New York Times on January 23 by its reporter Eliza Griswold who traveled to Bangladesh has been damaging indeed. She concludes: "The global war on terror is aimed at making the rise of regimes like that of the Talibans impossible, in Bangladesh the trend could be going the other way."

Although the government dismissed outright the report of Times, it does not impress people outside the country because Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the US counter-terrorism chief of State Department, Ambassador Cofer Black expressed concern on the emergence of unacceptable level of intolerance in Bangladesh.


Finally, under the prevailing situation in Bangladesh, Prime Minister of India does not want to give the impression that democratic principles of moderation, compromise, and tolerance have been sailing smoothly in Bangladesh. His action to not attend the summit could be for both domestic and external reasons. His non-attendance will give a strong negative signal to donor countries of Bangladesh.

It is not what Bangladesh government perceives it to be. Its countless denials of the current intolerant situation in society must be demonstrated by determined actions. The two violent incidents of grenade attacks -- one on August 21, 2004 and the other on January 27, 2005 -- have generated serious concern among friends of Bangladesh.


What counts is how the rest of the world looks or views Bangladesh under the current government. Perception of a country is derived from a multiplicity of contacts and interactions that Bangladesh has with the rest of the world at different levels, governmental and private, and in different spheres. Perception derived from one sphere spills over to another and they cannot be separated. The sooner the government takes visible actions to hold the culprits accountable, the better is for Bangladesh's image around the world and among its friends.


Barrister Harun ur Rashid is a former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, Geneva.
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  #24  
Old February 7, 2005, 10:01 AM
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Default Does India need SAARC? (OPINION):

[India News]: By G. Parthasarathy : When President Zia ur Rahman of Bangladesh mooted the idea of a South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in 1981, prime minister Indira Gandhi was both sceptical and suspicious of the proposal.

Her reservations were well founded. The proposed organisation was one where India alone shared common borders and had extensive trade and economic cooperation with other members. None of the other member states shared common borders, or had any worthwhile trade or economic relations.

The only thing that Bangladesh and Pakistan shared in common with some other members of SAARC was that they had some "grievance"- real or imaginary, about India. It was also evident that in course of time Pakistan and Bangladesh would use the forum primarily to embarrass India.

Indira Gandhi's skepticism about SAARC is now proving to be well founded. There has not yet been a single economic project that has been implemented in SAARC.

Every SAARC meeting has achieved precious little in promoting trade and economic cooperation. It was largely at Indian insistence that a "Group of Eminent Persons" (EPG) was established in 1997 to suggest measures to give some dynamism to SAARC.

The EPG came forward with wide ranging recommendations to promote South Asian Economic Integration, as it is precisely such economic integration that has led to a shared quest for peace and prosperity in Europe and elsewhere. The EPG suggested that action should be taken to establish a South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) by 2008-2010, a Customs Union by 2015, ultimately leading to a South Asian Economic Union by 2020.

A reluctant Pakistan was finally forced to sign a SAFTA Framework Agreement at the January 2004 SAARC Summit. But the agreement contained provisions that Bangladesh insisted on for compensating it for loss in customs revenues. This unprecedented provision has made the agreement virtually impossible to implement.

It is also now evident that Pakistan has no intention of liberalising its import regime to enable early across the board tariff reductions. SAFTA thus appears to be a virtual non-starter.

Anticipating these developments, New Delhi sought other avenues for regional economic integration. The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation comprising Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan (BIMSTEC) was formally launched in Bangkok on July 31, 2004.

The BIMSTEC is not only project oriented in areas like transport, communications, tourism and terrorism but has also agreed in its very first summit on the framework for a free trade agreement in both goods and services.

Bangladesh knows that if it makes demands for compensation for tariff reductions in BIMSTEC as it does in SAARC, it could well be left out of the emerging free trade arrangement in the Bay of Bengal Basin. BIMSTEC will also see the construction of a 1360 km highway linking Moreh in Manipur with Mae Sot in Thailand.

This highway will traverse through the ancient and magnificient Myanmar "Kingdom of Temples," Bagan and boost tourism and trade between India and ASEAN. BIMSTEC will complement India's rapidly expanding trade and economic ties with ASEAN. Two-way trade exchanges with ASEAN, with which a Free Trade Area covering both investment and trade will become effective in 2011, substantially exceeds India's trade within SAARC and is growing rapidly.

India-ASEAN trade is presently $ 14 billion annually and is expected to reach $ 30 billion in 2007.

India realises that its future economic progress is linked to increasing economic integration with the fast growing economies of East and South East Asia and not with neighbours in South Asia like Bangladesh that keeps complaining about trade deficits while deliberately refusing to address this deficit by energy exports, or Pakistan that denies India even basic MFN facilities.

It is in recogniton of the dynamism of the economies of East and South East Asia that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh proposed the establishment of an Asian Economic Community encompassing ASEAN, Japan, China and India during the ASEAN Summit in November 2004. India recognises that as it embarked on the path of economic liberalisation over a decade and a half after China did, it needs to work hard to emulate the success that China has achieved in boosting its annual trade with ASEAN to over $ 100 billion in 2004.

New Delhi's interest in SAARC as a forum for regional economic cooperation is steadily diminishing. There has never been any undue optimism in India about the prospects of Pakistan discarding its constant rhetoric on Kashmir and embarking on a common quest for economic prosperity through increased economic integration with India.

While there was much goodwill for Bangladesh within India for many years, this goodwill is fast eroding. The unwillingness of Bangladesh to acknowledge the continuing illegal immigration of its nationals into India, the assistance that Indian insurgent groups are receiving from the Khaleda Zia government and the targeting of democratic and secular parties by anti-Indian Islamic fundamentalists linked to the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party, are now leading to demands that harder options need to be looked at, in dealing with the present dispensation in that country.

When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh decided to inform the Bangladesh government that he would not be able to attend the SAARC summit on February 6 as earlier agreed upon, the decision was widely welcomed in India.

There is a view within the Indian strategic establishment that very little is achieved by the ritual of annual SAARC summits. It is true that in the past two decades civil society institutions of journalists, doctors, economists, writers, academics, rotarians and others in SAARC member states have developed friendly links.

These people to people initiatives naturally need to be encouraged. But rather than waste time and energy on SAARC summits, India's interests would be better served by greater bilateral interaction with interested South Asian neighbours and increased attention to cooperation within BIMSTEC, with ASEAN and with major Asian economic powers like China, Japan and South Korea.

(G. Parthasarathy is a former diplomat who has been Indian envoy to several countries, including Pakistan. He can be reached at partha0@gmail.com)

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Old February 10, 2005, 12:05 AM
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India has good bilateral relations with Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Maldive long before SAARC came into being. These countries, because of historical reasons. enjoy privileges which are unheard of elsewhere.For example, Nepali enjoy the same rights as Indians in India ( except voting). They can freely enter India(no visa is required), take up jobs( no work permit is required), buy property in India. They are eligible for Government jobs, including Military, where they join in large numbers.What does SAARC provide to Nepal that they do not already have vis-a vis India. Same is true for Bhutan. Sri Lanka and Maldive also do not need SAARC to deal with India.

Indian relations with Pakistan were strained due to reasons well known to everyone. BD foreign policy mandarins have tried to follow in the footsteps of Pakistan rather than the other neighbours of India in dealing with India. BD can as well deal with India bilaterally like other non-Pakistan neighbours. Where is the need of SAARC for that?

Edited on, February 10, 2005, 5:09 AM GMT, by cricketfan.
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