Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader on Wednesday reminded the friends of India that ruling party Awami League’s alternatives in Bangladesh are friends of Pakistan and sought continuous support to strengthen Dhaka-Delhi ties to see more prosperity and development on both sides.
“I want to tell you one thing, our (AL) alternatives in Bangladesh are friends of Pakistan,” he said while describing how Bangladesh destroyed all terror hideouts on its lands contributing towards peace and stability in Indian seven sisters.
Quader, also General Secretary of Awami League, said the current government under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been able to destroy the old wall of mistrust and suspicion with India.
He was addressing the closing session of Bangladesh-India Media Dialogue on Wednesday as the chief guest.
State Minister for Information Tarana Halim, Deputy High Commissioner of India in Dhaka Dr Adarsh Swaika also spoke as special guests.
The AL leader said they might make mistakes but they never deviated from roots. “We had to form strategic alliance but we never deviated from our roots.”
“We want to further strengthen and cement our ties with India and media can play a very strong role to that end,” Quader said recalling that they have only seven-eight months ahead of the next crucial elections.
The AL leader said the government never compromises with terrorism and religious extremism. “We always maintain zero tolerance…we don’t compromise.”
On Rohingya issue, Quader said, “Please help us. It’s an unbearable burden. You’re our friend since 1971. Today, we’re also in crisis. We want you beside us.”
He said Bangladesh does not want to make any comment on India’s good relations with Myanmar.
Quader urged India to put pressure on Myanmar taking advantage of its bilateral relations with Myanmar so that it take back their over one million people living in Bangladesh. “We’re unable to bear the burden. We’ve given them shelter on humanitarian grounds.”
He said Bangladesh is severely affected in many ways – economic, social and environmental impacts. “Tourists are not going to Cox’s Bazar and the host communities are also suffering.”
On Teesta issue, the AL general secretary said Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured Bangladesh of resolving the Teesta by the current tenures of both governments in Bangladesh and India.
“We’re still [waiting]with that hope. We haven’t lost that hope. We’ve seven- to eight months before the [national]election. We’ve to be held accountable to people,” he said seeking reasonable distribution of Teesta water with a realistic solution to it.
He also sought steps to convince the West Bengal Chief Minister to work positively with Indian central government on the issue and the people of Bangladesh will remember her role with respect if she plays a positive role. “We’ll work together in the coming days hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder,” the AL leader said.
He also highlighted the achievements made so far and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s role in ensuring justice in the country.
Quader said the war criminals have also been executed for their crimes against humanity.
The AL leader said it was difficult to achieve Independence without support from India, and sought similar support in the coming days.
He mentioned that connectivity with India is strengthening on all fronts – road, rail and water ways.
The AL leader laid emphasis on more interaction and exchanges to take forward the relations to newer heights.
State Minister Tarana Halim said India is Bangladesh’s tested and trusted friend and there has been a significant progress in bilateral relations over the past nine years.
She said media can play a strong role in further strengthening the relations. “Journalists must speak out against fundamentalism, terrorism and radicalism.”
The Indian Deputy High Commissioner laid emphasis on common perception based on reality and facts. “We need positive narratives. That’s very important.”
Chairman of the ICLDS Ambassador Muhammad Zamir, Major General (retd) Abdur Rashid, Chairman, University Grants Commission of Bangladesh Prof Abdul Mannan and Editor, Bhorer Kagoj and Director of ICLDS Shyamal Dutta also spoke at the closing session.