No binding in defence MoU: None can obstruct water flow – PM

No binding in defence MoU: None can obstruct water flow – PM

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Dhaka, Apr 11 – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday said there is nothing obligatory to purchase arms from any particular country as per the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed on defence cooperation between Bangladesh and India.
“It’s not binding in the MoU to purchase arms. It totally depends on us. We’re getting US$ 500 million from India at 1 percent interest for 20 years. That’s it,” she said.The Prime Minister was responding to queries from senior journalists during a press conference at her official residence Ganobhaban in the afternoon.
The Prime Minister said Bangladesh will surely get water from the trans-boundary rivers. “We’re in the downstream. So, water will come. No one can obstruct the water flow,” she said.
The press conference was arranged to brief the media on the outcome of her India visit.
Bangladesh and India on Saturday signed the MoU on extending defence line of credit of USD 500 million along with 35 other MoUs and agreements.
The Prime Minister said under the MoU, members of defence forces from the two countries will get training and hold consultation meetings. “Our defence force is strong enough, but there’s no end to acquiring knowledge as well as learning and training,” she said.
She said Bangladesh will decide what type of equipment it will purchase. “This is our own jurisdiction… there’ll be no interference from them,” she said.
Hasina said Bangladesh is currently purchasing various defence equipment from various countries around the world, even from Pakistan.
She also said a process is underway to ink MoUs with Bahrain, Canada, Check Republic, Italy, the KSA, Qatar, Malaysia, Palestine, the Philippines, Serbia, Russia, South Korea and the US in this regard.
There are agreements on the same purpose with Belarus, China, France, Kuwait, Russia and Turkey, the Prime Minister said.
She said India is friendly to Bangladesh and this country helped a lot during the Liberation War in 1971 directly with arms and assistance.
Mentioning that members of Indian defence forces gave away their lives in the Liberation War Hasina posed a question, “Why is there so many questions over just an MoU?”
She made it clear that she will not allow anything that goes against the country’s interest. “As long as I’m live, I won’t allow anything against the interest of Bangladesh.”
The Prime Minister again said Bangladesh is an independent and sovereign country, but reaching an understanding with the neighbouring countries is a must. “Sheikh Hasina never sells the country. She knows how to protect the country’s interest…. she knows how to develop the country,” she said.
The Prime Minister said she outright rejected the proposal of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to share with Bangladesh water of other rivers instead of the Teesta. “Instead, we offered her an alternative proposal. We asked her to put the water of those rivers in the Teesta and then give us our share from the Teesta,” she said.
The other rives are flowing from the northern part of the Indian state into Bangladesh. These are Torsa, Sankosh and Raidak.
The Torsa rises in Tibet and flows through Bhutan before entering Bangladesh through the country’s northern region; the Sankosh rises in northern Bhutan and empties into the Brahmaputra after flowing across the Bengal-Assam border; and the Raidak, also a tributary of the Brahmaputra, rises in Bhutan before emerging onto the plains of Jalpaiguri.
In a meeting with Sheikh Hasina in New Delhi, Mamata emphasised that since there is little water in the Teesta, even in April, there is a need to look at alternative proposals, too. For this, she said, other transnational rivers could be diverted to Bangladesh to meet its water needs.
Replying to another question, the Prime Minister said discussion continues on the Teesta water-sharing deal with India and it will continue. “The matter has long been on the table. Now let’s see how far it goes,” she said.
Referring to the assurance of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the Teesta issue, she said, “He announced that the Teesta water-sharing deal would be inked and this would happen while we both are in power,” she said.
About the Gajoldoba dam built across the Teesta in Jalpaiguri of West Bengal, she said Bangladesh did not make any objection in this regard. “Those who are now creating a hue and cry didn’t utter a single word at that time,” she said.
Hasina also described the decision of the then Bangladesh government to construct the Teesta Barrage as a wrong one.
Replying to another question about the Ganges Barrage, she described the feasibility study and design of the project as grossly flawed, saying, “I’d rejected that as this will be suicidal for us,” she said. – GW News Desk with UNB

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