National, Front Page

Hasina, Modi summit gives new directions

Published : 18 Dec 2020 09:58 PM | Updated : 18 Dec 2020 09:59 PM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi have given much-needed directions for the future cooperation between the neighbours in the virtual summit on Thursday amid pandemic, experts say.

“The summit showcases the close relationship between India and Bangladesh. It also highlighted the importance the top leaderships of the two countries give to the relationship,” Joyeeta Bhattacharjee, a Senior Fellow with India’s leading think-tank Observer Research Foundation (ORF), told Bangladesh Post over phone.

“This summit has given directions for future cooperation. The two countries have to work together now realising the potentials that exist,” she said.

Professor of international relations at Dhaka University Dr. Delwar Hossain also told Bangladesh Post that the meeting was ‘much-needed’ to give the bilateral relations a push amid pandemic.

“The speeches delivered by the two prime ministers and the joint statement issued after the summit were ‘inspirational’ and will help take the relations to a new level,” he said. “The joint statement clearly gave us the future direction of the relationship”.

Prime Minister Modi paid rich tributes to Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and said, “Mujib Chirantan” – ‘Bangabandhu’s message is eternal’.

This is in this spirit only that we honour his legacy too, he had said.

He also said Bangladesh is a “major pillar of India’s ‘Neighborhood First’ policy.

Both the countries decided to celebrate the Mujib Borsho, birth centenary of Bangladesh’s founding father together.

Modi also released a stamp in honour of the Bangabandhu, and inaugurated a digital exhibition on Bapu (Mahatma Gandhi) and Bangabandhu with his Bangladesh counterpart.

Prime Minister Hasina paid rich tributes to members of the Indian armed forces martyred in the 1971 Liberation War and the government and people of India who extended their whole-hearted support to the cause of Bangladesh’s independence.

Walking down the memory lane, she recalled December 17 in 1971 when Col Ashok Tara of India, who was then a major, made her and her son, mother, sister and brother free from the captivity after the December 16 Victory.

“India and Bangladesh are set to celebrate golden jubilee of ties. Also, Bangladesh will celebrate 50 years of its independence. It is a time when we celebrate our historical ties also we need to set our vision for the future.  The agenda of this meeting has set the priorities clear,” Joyeeta Bhattacharjee said.

“The people-to-people ties and cultural links will be fundamental to our relationship. Trade, economy and connectivity will be a major thrust of the bilateral ties. It will be ruled by the principle of shared growth and shared prosperity.”

“We can see a concrete development in the relations,” Prof Delwar Hossain said, referring to Modi’s speech in which he said Bangladesh is the pillar of India’s neighbourhood first policy.

“It gives hope and scope to take the relations forward,” he said, adding that signing of seven MoUs which are related to socio-economic development of Bangladesh, reopening a rail link after 55 years, releasing of stamp on the Bangabandhu and the Bangabandhu-Bapu digital exhibition gave a new momentum to the bilateral relations in the difficult times of pandemic.

“Bangladesh’s concerns which were discussed got placed in the joint statement. This gives more confidence to the people,” he said, referring to the Rohingya crisis, Teesta water sharing deal and border killing.

“But now the focus should be on the implementation of all the decisions and India should take the lead in that process,” said the professor of international relations.