Dhaka – Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Dr Gowher Rizvi has said the long-sought Teesta water sharing deal will soon become a reality and the ball is now in India’s court.
“It’s wise to say we’re very, very confident that it will happen, happen soon. The ball is now in India’s court…it’s a matter of time,” said a smiling Dr Rizvi.
He, however, said it will be a trap for him to tell a possible date on when it will be done and he does not want to step into the trap.
The Adviser said the ‘agreement’ (agreed document on water sharing) between the two countries is ‘in place’, and there is no ‘new agreement to be negotiated’.
Dr Rizvi said all will obviously like to know when the water sharing issue will be settled.
The Foreign Affairs Adviser made the remark while responding to a question over when the Teesta issue will be settled and discussed further.
Dr Rizvi spoke on various aspects of Bangladesh-India relations at a session at the two-day seminar ‘Bangladesh-India Friendship Dialogue: Seventh Round’ at Sonargaon Hotel in the city.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam chaired the session.
Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Executive Director Prof Mustafizur Rahman, prominent economist Dr Qazi Kholiquzzaman Ahmed, head of Bangladesh-Myanmar desk of Indian Ministry of External Affairs Sripriya Ranganathan, Director, India Foundation Binod Bawri, Director, South Asian Institute for Strategic Affairs, New Delhi Shakti Sinha and FBCCI President Abdul Matlub Ahmad also spoke on the occasion.
On border killing along Bangladesh India border, he said there has been a significant drop in terms of number of killings but Bangladesh is not yet satisfied. “Still, one death is too many,” he said.
Highlighting the ‘tremendous progress’ made between the two countries, Dr Rizvi said still more needs to be done and more remains to be realised. “The real stuff is yet to come.”
He said the relations between Bangladesh and India had never been broader, deeper and stronger than it is today.
Dr Rizvi said Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had a very clear understanding about the importance of relationship with India since day one.
He said the two Prime Ministers (of Bangladesh and India) wanted to resolve all the problems just thinking the interests of the people of two countries.
One transit and connectivity issue, he said it is now a reality to have connectivity for mutual interest.
On investment issue, the adviser said much more investment needs to come in Bangladesh from India as those who have come are doing well.
Prof Mustafizur Rahman identified five areas — investment, trade, transport, people-to-people connectivity and energy — for taking forward the relations in broader ways. “These are extremely crucial.”
He laid emphasis on ‘forward looking strategy’ and said, “Let’s make the best use of each opportunity.”
The CPD Executive Director felt the necessity for identifying priority projects under the extended Indian Line of Credit to Bangladesh.
He also said Indian investors can take advantage of special economic zones being established in Bangladesh and mentioned that it will also help boost export from Bangladesh to India.
In another session, former Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Veena Sikri laid emphasis on expanding road, river, rail and air connectivity between the two countries for further strengthening the ties.
She said there is ‘no financial connectivity’ between the two countries which needs to be addressed considering importance of having such connectivity.
The former Indian diplomat said the motor vehicle agreement among the Saarc countries could not be signed in the last Saarc summit as one country (Pakistan) opposed it. “We need to go beyond bilateralism.”
FBCCI President Matlub Ahmed there should be BBIN visa sticker under the BBIN (Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal) to make the initiative successful through expanded movement and business opportunity. – UNB