Home Agenda Security, Stability and Trade – Program for Prime Minister Hasina’s visit to India ahead of Bangladesh elections

Security, Stability and Trade – Program for Prime Minister Hasina’s visit to India ahead of Bangladesh elections

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New Delhi: When the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, visits India next monththe main concern on the minds of the leaders of both countries will be how to maintain stability in South Asia amid political instability and turmoil in Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

During her three-day visit to India which is scheduled to take place from September 5-7, Hasina will also be keen to garner India’s support even as she prepares for the elections she will face next year. next, diplomatic sources told ThePrint.

The 2023 general elections in Bangladesh are expected to be difficult for Prime Minister Hasina and come at a time when the country is struggling to retain its image of democracy.

According to sources, during this visit – probably the last before Hasina immerses himself in the electoral campaign – India’s support will be crucial given that it is the largest democracy in the world and that others in the neighborhood continue to face enormous challenges.

This visit comes at a time when all is not well in Bangladesh. Although the Padma Multi-Purpose Bridgewhich was inaugurated in June, was seen as a project that could help buttress support for Hasina’s ruling Awami League in next year’s elections, it also comes at a time when Dhaka has hit at at the gates of the World Bank for a $2 billion loan to stabilize its foreign exchange reserves.

For India, this has become a major source of concern as it also translates into China’s growing influence in India’s neighborhood, sources said.

In addition, Islamic fundamentalism in Bangladesh remains a concern, especially with incidents of violence against minority hindus reported in the country. Sources said this issue was also going to be a major factor for Hasina in the election.


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Defence, security and the Chinese factor

With the Chinese “spy” ship Yuan Wang 5 moored in the strategic port of Hambantota in Sri Lanka, New Delhi has become extremely cautious in its relations with its neighbors. With Bangladesh seen as a close friend of India, New Delhi wants to make sure it will not rely on Beijing, another source said.

Ties between Dhaka and Beijing are set to see a major boost in the coming months as the Rohingya refugee issue continues to spiral out of control for Bangladesh. The Hasina government wants China to push Myanmar to take back the refugees.

Moreover, while Bangladesh plans to strengthen itself militarily, India wants to sell more and more arms and equipment to this country. According to sources, the submarines that Bangladesh bought from China in 2016 did not prove useful. Therefore, he is looking for defense articles from countries like France and India.

The issue was discussed at length during Indian army chief General Manoj Pande’s visit to Dhaka in July – his first abroad since taking office.

During Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Bangladesh earlier this month, Beijing called Bangladesh “along-term strategic partner‘ and Dhaka reiterated that it follows the ‘A Chinapolicy even as tensions between China and Taiwan grew.

Trade relations will remain crucial

During his visit to India, Hasina may also urge the two sides to launch talks to conclude a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between India and Bangladesh, a far-reaching trade pact for goods and Services.

Sources said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Hasina would likely officially announce the launch of CEPA negotiations this year.

The two leaders are also expected to jointly inaugurate a 1,320 MW power plant set up by Bangladesh India Friendship Power Company Limited, a joint venture between Indian state-owned energy conglomerate NTPC and the Bangladesh Power Development Board.

Rajiv Bhatia, a seasoned diplomat and neighborhood expert, said: “This visit will be particularly important this time because there is a certain degree of turbulence in South Asia and the two sides, being friendly countries, will take a global stocktaking of what is happening in South Asia and continue to work together as a factor greater stability.

Bhatia, Emeritus Member of foreign policy think tank Gateway House, also said that Bangladesh would also like India to include it in the US-led program. Indo-Pacific economic framework (IPEF) as a member because he feels he is “still not part of the spectrum”.

During his visit, Chinese Foreign Minister Yi also mentioned duty-free access of goods and services from Bangladesh to Chinese markets by 97-98%.

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)


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