LBA, Teesta poll issues: Moni

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni has said Bangladesh is keen to settle the outstanding land boundary issues with India and looks forward to the passage of a bill that India’s ruling UPA coalition is going to place in Parliament’s monsoon session beginning Aug 5.

The bill is needed to be pushed through to operationalise the agreement already signed between India and Bangladesh.

“I am sure all parties in India will see the merit in solving the outstanding boundary issues which have lingered long enough,” Moni told journalists in New Delhi on Friday.

“If this bill does not go through and if the Teesta water-sharing deal is not signed, they will surely become important issues in the rundown to parliament elections in my country,” Moni said, hinting at the obvious discomfort of the ruling Awami league with such a scenario.

The Teesta water-sharing treaty has been kept ready by the Indian government but stiff opposition by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerji has prevented New Delhi from going ahead with it.

“People when they vote will take it into account. It will happen,” she said about the land boundary and the Teesta issues, hours before her meeting with Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid and opposition BJP’s leader in Rajya Sabha (Upper House) Arun jaitley.

The Congress-led UPA does not have two-thirds majority needed to pass the bill to operationalise the land boundary deal and would need the BJP’s support to clear the hurdle.

Moni said unresolved territorial issues lead to border tensions and even skirmishes and that causes bad blood between the two neighbours.

A senior official at India’s Ministry of External Affairs said Bangladesh’s politicians and media were “understanding” of India’s failure to honour its commitments, partly because of the progress made in bilateral relations.

But when told that failure to get these treaties implemented would harm the Awami League in the forthcoming polls, the official said:” We can only make our best efforts. It is up to the political parties to understand how much we have at stake in Bangladesh.”

Bats for ‘Basin Regime’

Earlier on Thursday, Dipu Moni delivered the Fourth R K Mishra Memorial Lecture organised by the Observer Research Foundation, one of India’s top think-tanks.

Moni called for a common Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Basin ERegime among Bangladesh, India and other neighbours.

Bangladesh had first proposed the idea early last year.

India was initially lukewarm to the proposal and has since warmed up to the idea. The basin regime would include all countries such as Bhutan, Nepal, Myanmar and China — from the upper reaches to the Bay of Bengal.

A “Basin regime,” Moni suggested, would enable a holistic approach rather than a case-by-case approach to cross-border rivers.

The concept could also include joint undertakings in the sea-regime including the sea bed. But the basin regime concept does not preclude bilateral arrangements with India nor does it undermine the global order.

She called for a new paradigm of governance in South Asia, especially between India and Bangladesh.

“The new paradigm will usher in a new plateau for new undertakings which were not possible either before 1947 or 1971 or even before the present new era of confidence, nexus, and trust which we now share amongst ourselves,” she said.

The Foreign Minister said the paradigm will help address competing regional issues beyond Indo-Bangladesh bilateral concerns.

“To our advantage, our present dispensation is already marked by the restoration of the glorious bonds which existed at the time of the creation of Bangladesh.”

The Framework for Cooperation, that has been recently adopted, signifies the establishment of a New Bilateral Order between the governments and the people of India and Bangladesh, she said.

Moni pushed for the basin regime on grounds that it will help “connect our nations to our ancient civilisations and obviate limitations caused by nation-based approaches that aggravate conflict.”

The Foreign Minister said the Basin regime would integrate many economic and cultural processes.

“I wish, hope for and envisage the great matrix of special human processes in conceding to the ever natural Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Basin regime,” Dipu Moni during the lecture.

Source: Bd news24

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