| by Swadesh Roy
( November 30, 2012, Dhaka, Sri Lanka Guardian) Sheikh Hasina’s denial to join to the D-8 summit of eight developing countries with large Muslim populations, in Pakistan and some reaction in the inner circle of Khaleda Zia’s party have indicated that Pakistan is losing its importance in Bangladeshi politics. On the other hand, India has further consolidated its position in Bangladesh. Despite being invited by Pakistan’s foreign affairs minister Hina Rabbani Khan during her Bangladesh visit, Sheikh Hasina cancelled her trip. A good relation with Pakistan will never prove beneficial for Hasina’s brand of politics. Her father, the founder of Bangladesh, tried to mend bridges with Pakistan during the visit of the then president of Pakistan in Bangladesh. But the then President of Pakistan had helped in killing Mujib and this strengthened anti liberation forces in Bangladesh. Apart from that, it is said that a group of Mujib’s killers are also getting asylum in Pakistan
Besides that, terrorists who operate out of Canada and America frequently visit Pakistan and contact the militant outfits of Bangladesh from there. So Pakistan is a haven for Mujib’s Killers. Which is why Pakistan is never safe for Sheikh Hasina and now it is even more dangerous. On security grounds it is not advisable for Sheikh Hasina to visit Pakistan because some of Mujib’s killers still live there, some visit Pakistan frequently and a group of United Liberation Front of Assam (Ulfa) is reportedly staying there; and both groups are a threat to Sheikh Hasina’s life. Besides them, there are many militant groups in Pakistan which are sworn enemies of Sheikh Hasina, because during her regime, she had eliminated them from Bangladesh. The country had been a safe haven for them during Khaleda Zia’s regime. On the other hand, the dreaded militant outfit Jammat-E-Islami is displaying their might against the present Bangladeshi government because their prominent leaders are under trial on charges of war crime. It is expected that the trial of two or their leaders will be over soon and the verdict will be announced in mid-December. Lawyers and experts feel that they might be sentenced to death, a fact which has agitated the Jammat-E-Islami and prompted them to ever greater aggression and insurgency. They have a huge presence in Pakistan and are life-threatening for Sheikh Hasina. Thus, given the current circumstances, it is impossible for Sheikh Hasina to visit Pakistan.
However, Sheikh Hasina’s cancellation of the Pakistan visit shows that she is not too bothered with a good relations with Pakistan; in fact, she ignores the country. On the other hand, Khaleda Zia is always pro Pakistan. As a Prime Minister she sent out a condolence message at the death of a Pakistani general who had fought against Bangladesh in 1971. Besides, it is said that her party is well-connected with Pakistan’s Inter Service Intelligence (ISI). A Pakistani general has admitted in court that the ISI helped Khaleda Zia monetarily during her election. Despite this, Khaleda visited India to seek its blessings to win the upcoming elections in Bangladesh. Though some of her leaders are very much critical of her visit, others think that, good relations with India will help them win the elections. Khaleda Zia’s India visit proves that, she and a group of her party leaders understand that Pakistan has lost its position internationally and in the region. On the other hand, India has carved a unique position for itself internationally basically due to its buoyant economy. At the last annual summit of the World Bank which was held in Tokyo, the president of World Bank mentioned India twice or thrice in his plenary address alone. On the other hand, the finance minister of Bangladesh, a Harvard-educated economist and the senior most member of the Bangladesh cabinet has said in a detailed interview with a daily that the decision of the transition is the most important decision for Bangladesh. It is known that Bangladesh is one party to the transition while the others are Nepal, Bhutan and India. And it has become possible due to India. With this, India has consolidated its position regionally and this position is going to prove helpful for the economical transformation of the region.
The party which is in power in Bangladesh can ill afford to avoid this economic transition; rather they have to embrace it. And they can only embrace it by hugging India. Hence, it is this economic transition has made the entire difference between India and Pakistan in the politics of Bangladesh.
Swadesh Roy, Executive Editor, The Daily Janakantha, Dhaka, Bangaldesh, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org