Bangladesh and India are all set to sign a series of defence related MoU’s under the proposed defence framework agreement that is to be signed in April, 2017.
India is imposing the defence pact with Bangladesh which would create unnecessary and extra burden on the Bangladesh Armed Forces. India is trying to deeply anchor itself in every strata of Bangladesh, which itself poses a risk to Bangladesh’s sovereignty.
Defence experts, strategic and political affairs analysts have all pointed out that such a pact was unnecessary from the perspective of Bangladesh’s national interest. Moreover a deal of this magnitude will indirectly encourage terrorism to spread in Bangladesh and North Eastern states of India. It would create greater security challenges for Bangladesh’s security and intelligence apparatus already strained by the ongoing low level insurgency threat posed by Islamic militants. An online poll conducted on BDMilitary.com revealed that 98% of respondents were opposed to any defence deals with India.
In general Indian people and government have a very anti-Bangladesh attitude. They view everything through the prism of history. They think Bangladesh would not have achieved its independence without the support of India and so Bangladesh should always owe an unlimited debt towards India. When India’s Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar visited Bangladesh during November 2016 his delegation behaved insultingly towards the Bangladeshi counterparts. This did not go down well in Dhaka and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina postponed the state visit until April 2017. The contempt in which a supposed ally is treated even prior to a defence pact is signed shows things will get much worse once a full-fledged 25 year defence treaty with India comes in to effect. They would no doubt treat Bangladesh as a colony. Sheikh Hasina can do nothing except absorb it as she owes much to India for bringing her back to power according to political analysts through less than fair means during Bangladesh’s national elections.
India is also trying to sell $500 million worth of substandard military hardware to the Bangladesh armed forces even though the Indian military itself is the largest importer of weapons from abroad. This speaks volumes about the combat worthiness of Indian made weaponry. Moreover it makes absolutely no sense for the Bangladesh armed forces to purchase weapons from a neighbouring country which poses the biggest threat to Bangladesh’s sovereignty. India does not buy weapons from China so why should Bangladesh purchase anything from India?
Serving and former military officers are very suspicious about the upcoming defence framework agreement with India. The deal has not been even discussed in the national parliament and there were no plebiscite held to gauge the Bangladeshi people’s opinion on the agreement. Such a mysterious defence pact would increase anti-Indian sentiments across Bangladesh.
India is now being governed by the BJP, a party entrenched in anti-Muslim politics. Before coming to power Modi’s anti-Bangladesh campaign recorded an all-time high. BJP continues to use the anti-Muslim and anti-Bangladesh rhetoric to win support of radicalised Indians leaning towards Hindu extremism.
The truth of the matter is India wants to isolate Bangladesh from the rest of the world, particularly China. They feel very insecure at China’s influence in the region so cutting off Bangladesh’s China link is a desperate last ditch attempt by India to secure its North East flanks.
Analysts have raised some hypothetical questions about the deal at various talk shows and panels. Given there is hardly any possibility of war between Bangladesh and India the issue comes down to Myanmar. Will India take the side of Bangladesh if there is a war with Myanmar? Wouldn’t a war with Myanmar further isolate Bangladesh strategically and benefit India’s long term strategic objectives in the first place?
Bangladesh and India have signed the Land Border Agreement and the maritime boundary rights were also finalised. These two things are the only positives in a long list of issues yet to be resolved between the two neighbours.
India is yet to sign the Teesta Water Sharing agreement, it is also diverting water away shared rivers to other states in the Indian republic, which will have a catastrophic impact on Bangladesh’s environment, economy and food security.
More Bangladeshis were killed by Indian security forces directly or through Indian backed terrorist organisations in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) than by any Islamic extremists to date.
At a time when the Bangladesh government is broadcasting its anti-militancy campaign this fact seems to be tucked away. Today we sign a defence pact with the killers of Felani, what next – tomorrow do we have to sit across the table with Islamic militants?
The Bangladesh government must immediately halt any defence agreements with India to save the country’s sovereignty. Future generations of Bangladeshis will blame the daughter of Bangabandhu if the nation’s sovereignty is yielded to an enemy nation.
Alternatively Bangladesh should strengthen its military deterrence capability as far as India and Myanmar are concerned. China, Russia and Western countries can provide such a capability. Multi-faceted defence agreements with those countries would be far more favourable for Bangladesh’s national interests and would never risk its sovereignty.
The procurement of submarines, air defence systems, warships and combat aircraft from China, Russia and the West is strengthening the Bangladesh military. This path of modernisation and expansion can alone enable Bangladesh to deter bullies like India from imposing any hegemonic designs on the people of Bangladesh.
Bangladesh should instead pressurise India to stop border killings of Bangladeshi nationals and pursue punitive actions against its troops for the brazen acts of state sponsored terrorism inflicted upon Bangladeshi citizens. The government of Bangladesh must withhold any further cooperation with India until the water sharing agreements and other major issues such as transit and trade are sorted. Bangladesh can never rely upon a neighbouring country which views its Muslim neighbours with great contempt. While pursuing this hypocritical agenda, India is also arming Myanmar at the same time. Many Myanmar Navy warships are equipped with Indian made sub-systems such as anti-submarine sonars and torpedoes. Those could be used against the Bangladesh military in times of war. These double standards and dual policies illustrate India is no real friend of Bangladesh. India is keeping its friends close and its enemies closer. The Bangladesh government should come to the realisation about India’s nefarious objectives.
This single act could very well ensure an enduring legacy for Sheikh Hasina and Bangabandu’s family. The father of the nation kicked out the Indian military from Bangladeshi soil. Surely the daughter will not let them back in.