Sheikh Hasina proved, she’s people’s leader

We welcome Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for cancelling a planned reception for her on return from India on Monday ending a four-day fruitful and successful state visit. She asked the ruling Awami League to scrap the programme considering the huge traffic jam the reception would trigger in the crowded capital city.
In recent weeks the city has seen terrible road congestions during political and social events including, a large gathering of around 250,000 people at the Suhrawardi Udyan for according reception to two Imams from Saudi Arabia. They addressed the gathering organised by the Islamic Foundation and spoke against terrorism and militancy in the eyes of Islam.
City dwellers also experienced huge traffic jam during the recent five-day International Parliamentary Union (IPU) conference in Dhaka.
We also feel Prime Minister  Sheikh Hasina deserves a reception following her successful visit to India which officials, diplomats and analysts said has set a new milestone in the cordial and friendly relations between the two neighbouring countries. But she cancelled the reception that we believe has further heightened her image as people’s leader and reflected her concern over people’s sufferings.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina proved that she is the people’s leader by reading the minds of the people about their concerns for serious traffic jam caused this type of reception.
She also proved her statesmanship and leadership by taking Dhaka-Delhi ties to a new height ensuring her country’s interest. She gave priority to water sharing issues, trade and investment, coordinated efforts to combat terrorism and militancy and all bilateral issues in her discussion with the Indian leader.
Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi have rightly praised her leadership in leading Bangladesh on the road to democracy, and on the highway to sustainable development. The wide and important coverage if her visit by the Indian media and also the international media also justified the laurels, she earned from the Indian leaders.
During the visit 22 agreements and MOUs have been signed by the Bangladesh Prime Minister and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi stressing on greater cooperation and helping each other in various fields. India has offered US$4 billion line of credit and another $500 million for the military that Bangladesh can use when needed.
All the deals and documents she signed are transparent, open and contain no secret thereby removing illusions spread by her political rivals about a hush-hush centring the accords.
One of the MOUs was on defence cooperation for training, arming and exchange of related experiences between the armed forces of India and Bangladesh. This should not be misconstrued as a defence treaty that the opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and some other groups have said might in effect threaten Bangladesh’s independence and sovereignty.
Sheikh Hasina proved their notion wrong as she turned down Prime Minister Modi’s desire to enter into a formal defence treaty. She insisted on equality and cohesion between the neighbours – and working hand in hand where necessary to take bilateral ties to a further height.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was visibly moved by the Bangladesh Prime Minister’s straight forward approach to issues and concerns of mutual interest — also keeping Bangladesh’s own interests above all.
BNP and others sharing its philosophy have often criticized Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit as an attempt to woo Indian support to prolong her grip on power. This is a totally wrong perception because if she wanted so she would have earlier agreed to the Indian proposal for selling natural gas to appease New Delhi and perhaps secure her power. But Sheikh Hasina does not believe in grabbing power through the back door. She believes in democracy and upholds the interests of the country. She lost power twice since 1991 but regained it from BNP through ballots.
BNP chief Khaleda Zia and her associates also alleged that Sheikh Hasina has “sold out” Bangladesh to India, which the Prime Minister termed as ridiculous. She told the media that whoever says so are “novice (in politics and diplomacy) or motivated.” During her just concluded visit Sheikh Hasina met a cross section of Indian leaders including, President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Modi, Congress President Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Sonia’s son and her heir apparent Rahul Gandhi and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. In deliberations with them Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina reasserted her leadership and displayed personal wisdom by dealing with issues of common concern at equal levels.
Indian leaders praised Sheikh Hasina’s “zero tolerance” policy against terrorism and her government’s continuing stance on not allowing the Indian rebels and insurgents to use Bangladesh’s soil for their operations. How does the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi view his Bangladesh counterpart? It was aptly reflected when he received Sheikh Hasina at the airport on her arrival in New Delhi on Friday putting aside usual protocol and tradition. Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not hide his praise for the Bangladesh leader who he considers as one of India’s best friends, especially when India is worried over China’s growing influence in South Asian countries.
Bangladesh, despite being a close ally of China, has never compromised on anything with Beijing that goes against India or disturbs the balance of power in the South Asia region.
Sheikh Hasina has effectively contained terrorism and militancy in her country. Recently, two Imams of the holy Kaaba and Masjid-e- Nabawi of Saudi Arabia visited Bangladesh and spoke at a huge public rally organised by the Islamic Foundation where the two high priests denounced terrorism as anti-Islamic. They said there is no place for terrorism and killing in Islam, the religion of peace. This further strengthened belief among the Bangladesh people that Sheikh Hasina will never tolerate militancy nor will take recess until they are crushed with iron hands. Her political rivals who often made offending remarks against the government regarding the recent spate of terrorism and militancy in the country have now found themselves on the wrong ground.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit, which is billed by many as a hundred per cent successful, however, has one glitch remaining about the long-awaited Teesta water sharing treaty. While Prime Minister Modi and other key Indian leaders were in broad agreement to resolve the issue soon West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Bnerjee still objected to it. Keeping her ego alive, Mamata said she would not agree to Teesta water sharing with Bangladesh until there were fresh surveys to determine the quantity of the flow of waters and see whether Bangladesh can be given share of it without hurting interests of the West Bengal people. She proved rigid and “unfriendly” towards Bangladesh despite her dubious smile while meeting Sheikh Hasina in New Delhi – something that has embarrassed Prime Minister Modi, his government and the other Indian leaders. They felt that the Teesta water sharing agreement could not be concluded yet only for Mamata Banerjee’s disagreement and her refusal to heed counselling by the central government. Now many would ask “Is Mamata more powerful than the Indian government, especially Prime Minister Narendra Modi?” The answer, however, will have to be found by the Indian government and make Mamata bend on the tricky Teesta issue which is the last remaining major irritant in their bilateral ties with Bangladesh.
Before Sheikh Hasina left India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, however, assured her that the Teesta agreement will indeed  be signed soon, during the current tenure of the Bangladesh Prime Minister.