Hasina slams criticism over India visit, accords


Dhaka: Bangladesh \”in this day and age cannot remain with doors closed\”, said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed Saturday and slammed the opposition for criticising her visit to India.

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The statement comes when Bagladesh National Party (BNP), led by former priemier Khaleda Zia, is preparing for an agitation to oppose the three treaties and two memoranda of understanding (MoUs) signed between New Delhi and Dhaka during Hasina’s four-day state visit to India early this week.

Bangladesh “in this day and age cannot remain with doors closed,” Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said at a press conference here while defending her efforts in advancing relations with the neighbouring country in the areas of trade, connectivity, power and water sharing.

“We will take initiatives to prepare and develop the Chittagong and Mongla ports so that India, Nepal and Bhutan can start using them this year,” Hasina was quoted by the bdnews24 website as saying.

“At present we are using only 40 per cent potential of these ports. If we can make 100 (per cent) use of them, we will be significantly benefited,” she said.

Highlighting a crucial power agreement signed during her visit, she said, “India will provide us 250 MW of electricity. Talks also were held on constructing a joint power plant.”

About water sharing of trans-boundary rivers, Hasina said that a joint river commission meeting will be held “immediately”.

Maritime boundaries also will be determined without delay, Hasina said.

The prime minister said her talks with Indian leaders over the border issue were also positive.

“We also asked India to take initiatives to stop killing BDR (Bangladesh Rifles) personnel and innocent Bangladeshi people on the borders,” she said.

Earlier, in view of the prime minister’s press briefing, Leader of the Opposition in parliament Khaleda Zia deferred her announcement of an agitation.

Zia, who is engaging other opposition groups and her Islamist allies to protest the deals and to demand their annulment, will now make the announcement on the agitation Sunday.

Commenting on the Delhi parleys, BNP standing committee member Lt Gen (Retd) Mahbubur Rahman said, “We have given everything but we could not achieve anything.”

The BNP wanted concrete solution to longstanding unresolved issues like rightful water sharing of 54 common rivers that flow from India, maritime boundary and land border among other political and economical affairs, he said.