Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Pankaj Saran on Thursday said India is a willing partner to contribute to the welfare, economic development and stability of Bangladesh.
He said this while exchanging views with the journalists of the four media outlets of East West Media Group Limited at its conference hall in Bashundhara Residential Area yesterday. Bashundhara Group chairman Ahmed Akbar Sobhan, who is also the chairman of EWMGL welcomed the Indian High Commissioner there. High officials of Bashundhara Group were also present.
Earlier, at the main gate of EWMGL office, Pankaj Saran was welcomed by the daily Kaler Kantho editor Imdadul Huq Milon, daily Bangladesh Pratidin editor Naem Nizam , Banglanews24.com editor-in-chief Alamgir Hussain and Daily Sun editor Amir Hossain
Ahmed Akbar Sobhan in his welcome speech said existing bilateral friendly and historic relations between Bangladesh and India are rooted in the combining inner-soul spirit of the people of the two countries and this relationship is eternal, flowing down from generation to generation.
“This bond of fraternity has been strengthened further due to the farsightedness of political leaders of both our countries, continuity of economic progress, strong social and cultural ties, and homogeneity of language and literature,” the Bashundhara Group chairman said.
Ahmed Akbar Sobhan opined that more proactive role will have to be taken in finding ways of enhancing bilateral cooperation and interaction between the mass media and newspapers of the two neighbouring countries.
“We realize the significance of free and effective press to the practice of democracy in a developing nation. One of the major objectives behind the establishment of the East West Media Group Limited was to create a media platform which is free, fair and unbiased. We are determined to speak for the people and facilitate the strengthening of democratic institutions,” he said.
The Indian High Commissioner exchanged views on different issues including Teesta water sharing, border management, land boundary agreement and the forthcoming visits of Indian ministers to Bangladesh.
Pankaj Saran said water is an issue which will have to be addressed together by both Bangladesh and India keeping into account the existing realities, burden sharing, sacrifice and mutual benefit.
“Teesta waters as you know continues to flow into Bangladesh unchanged. There is no hindrance to the waters that are flowing into Bangladesh in Teesta river. Yes, it could not conclude an agreement for formal sharing of the water, and we are committed to and trying to develop a political consensus within the country,” Pankaj said.
About border management he said it is a big challenge for both countries to make sure that this long border remains peaceful and without trouble.
“I have said in the past, and no hesitation in repeating that we regret all incidents of border killings and we are committed to working jointly with Bangladesh to ensure that no killings take place on the border,” Pankaj said.
About Land Boundary Agreement and its protocol he said it is disappointing that it was not ratified so far but the positive side is that after 40 years again Bangladesh and India have been able to enter into a protocol which has already been signed, that is the government of India is committed to it.
“And this has been done with a lot of efforts from both sides house to house surveys. And we have reached the agreement on every single inch of land boundary. And this is recorded in the protocol of 2011. Yes, it is pending for ratification in the Indian parliament but it requires constitutional amendment and I can assure you we are committed to it,” Pankaj said.
About the first verdict on war crimes, he said, “While noting that the trial is an internal matter of Bangladesh, it is also true that the whole world is aware and recalls the atrocities which were committed against the people of Bangladesh in 1971. Those amounted to genocide and crimes against humanity. We are fully sympathetic with the people of Bangladesh and understand their feelings against those crimes. These are serious crimes. The verdict has given some justice to the crimes, through a judicial and legal process which is internal to Bangladesh.”
Regarding the coming Bangladesh tours of Indian Home Minister and the Foreign Minister he said, “In the next few weeks we will have more interactions between the two countries at high levels and I’m quite confident that these interactions will contribute to further strengthening of our cooperation and building the better future.”
About political situation of Bangladesh Pankaj said the people of Bangladesh have shown the ability, capability and maturity to lead their own politics in the way they used to.
“It’s a country of very vibrant political atmosphere. Wee want to manage their affairs on their own to handle their challenges and we are confident they have the capacity to do so” the Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh said.