Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Bangladesh - 2

More on Bangladesh, from the Indian Express:
It is learnt that in several meetings between South Block and US interlocutors — at one stage the US ambassador to Bangladesh came here for talks — the main point of difference has been over the right wing Jamaat-e-Islami, a BNP ally.

US officials, sources said, have been more positive about the Jamaat, even conveying that it had begun to emerge as a legitimate Islamic party. But for India, the Jamaat is a security issue and its radical elements constitute a serious terror threat to Bangladesh and India.
In fact, for the past month or so, Indian interlocutors have been in touch with Bangladesh National Party leader Khaleda Zia urging her to participate in the elections and even assuring full Indian support as long as she moved away from the Jamaat.

However, Zia never agreed, largely because the Jamaat provides significant cadre support to the BNP.
With Hasina deciding to take on any opposition after the hanging of Jamaat's Abdul Qader Mollah for war crimes during the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war, the lines for India were clearly drawn. Since then, it has been an effort to engage other countries and explain the Indian position but in a quiet way so that India does not become an election issue.

But after Sunday, India is likely to take the initiative in the international arena. While dialogue with the US will hold the key, the other forum issues such as these play out is the Commonwealth. India is currently a member of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, which puts it in a position to intervene in case there is a move to censure Bangladesh by terming these elections undemocratic.
National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon had discussed this issue some time back with his British counterpart and the Indian side returned with the impression that London may be more accommodating than expected.

But it is Washington from where New Delhi is expecting retaliation as this issue figured prominently during Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh's first visit there. It is learnt that there was significant divergence of views, one which reflected the concerns being voiced by the US post in Dhaka.
Incidentally, the first breach of diplomatic protocol regarding Indian diplomat Ms. Khobragade occurred, when the Foreign Secy. Singh was not informed of the intended action, which occurred just as she left the US for India.  One cannot but wonder if disagreement over Bangladesh and other issues did not precipitate this.