India Intelligence Report
 

Bangladesh PM Khaleda Zia to visit India  from March 20

 

India and Bangladesh are to sign three accords on trade, investment protection, and avoidance of dual taxation when Bangla Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia visits India from March 20. Indian businesses have been asking for an investment protection deal for a while especially in the textile and steel sector so they can start new facilities in Bangladesh. Bangladesh is keen to sign a free trade agreement with India so that it can export more goods and take advantage of the economic growth here. 

While trade forms the cornerstone of discussions, the countries will also discuss contentious long-standing issues such as terrorism, illegal immigration, water sharing, land and Chittagong harbor access to supply North Eastern Areas through Bangladesh, gas pipeline from Myanmar, border disagreements, etc.

India has been increasingly concerned with the number of terrorist camps in Bangladesh and the number of terrorist incidents from those trained in that country. Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed, funded by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, have been moving large operations to Bangladesh. Their goal is to take advantage to cavalier attitudes of the Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal Governments, who think that pandering to terrorist elements among Muslims to gain the trust of the broader Muslim trust.  Terrorists have exploited this myopic thinking and infiltrated into many sensitive areas. The recent Varanasi, December IISc shooting, last’s Deepavali Delhi blasts, have all been executed by terrorists who have trained in, found sanctuary in, and infiltrated from Bangladesh.

 

Another important issue for India is the passage of a pipeline carry natural gas through Bangladesh territory to energy starved mainland states in India. Apart from this alternative, there are only two other alternatives. One is for India to bring the pipes through the North East and Northern West Bengal, which will be very expensive. The other is to convert gas into Liquefied Natural Gas, which is very wasteful as much gas is lost in conversion. 

Although India helped Bangladesh, then East Pakistan, to obtain freedom from West Pakistan in 1971, bilateral relations have been shaky at best. Some say that the reason is high-handed behavior of India. Others say that the reasons are more culturally and demographically rooted.

Not waiting for the trade accords to be signed, United Bank of India announced its first overseas branch in Dhaka. The Kolkata-based public sector bank has its origins dating back to 1914 to Bangladesh.

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