Dhaka, April 9 (BDNews24/newsin.asia): Among the agreements signed by India and Bangladesh here on Monday, is one on the setting up of a Urdu chair in Dhaka University.
This is interesting considering the fact that Urdu was the official language when the present day Bangladesh was part of Pakistan and against the imposition of which language on Bengali speaking East Pakistanis, a struggle ensured which culminated in the creation of Bangladesh in 1971.
On Monday, after the bilateral talks, both countries signed another six documents, including the implementation MoU on the friendship pipeline between Numaligarh and Parbatipur, MoU on cooperation between Prasar Bharati and Bangladesh BETAR, MoU for setting up an ICCR Urdu Chair in Dhaka University and an Addendum to the GCNEP-BAEC Interagency Agreement.
“Both our countries, therefore, attach the highest priority to continuing the strong momentum in our bilateral relations,” Vijay Gokhale said as Bangladesh and India now host a record number of bilateral instrument mechanisms in all areas of cooperation.
“We need to sustain and enhance the current levels of cooperation to serve our common interests,” he said, speaking at a seminar on India, Bangladesh relations and way forward on Monday, the second day of his first visit after assuming the office on Jan 29.
The relationship is also based on “mutuality of interests”, he added.
Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the visit comes at a “critical juncture” when both governments are in the final year of their tenure. “Its time to review what we have achieved in the last five years and what we can do together in future”.
The foreign secretary said if “we look back to take stock of where we were in our bilateral relations just a decade ago and where we stand today, we can discern the extraordinary progress made”.
He referred to the fact that since 2010, over 100 agreements have been signed, including 68 agreements in the last three years alone.
Most of these agreements were the initiation of cooperation in new, high-technology areas such as space, civil nuclear energy, IT and electronics, cyber-security, and blue economy.
“The very act of venturing into newer and unconventional areas of cooperation is symbolic of our mature partnership,” he said.
Gokhale said both countries are “fortunate to have political leaders on both sides who are willing to go the extra mile to take the relationship to newer heights for the benefit of our people, our countries and the region.”
He, however, said challenges were to be faced together.
“One such challenge is that of terrorism, extremism and radicalization, which both countries are committed to fighting,” he said.
“We are both determined to protect our societies from the ideologies of hate, violence and terror by adopting a ‘zero tolerance’ policy towards terrorism and a comprehensive approach to fighting violent terrorism and extremism at all levels.”
He said India is also “aware” of a few outstanding issues which both sides are committed to resolving at the earliest opportunity, in an obvious reference to the pending Teesta water sharing issue.
“The new standards of bilateral cooperation between India and Bangladesh are already redefining the parameters of bilateral and regional cooperation that other countries may well seek to emulate,” he said.
Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Adviser Dr Gowher Rizvi speaking at the seminar said the relations are now at a stage that both leaders – Hasina, Modi – can directly call and talk about any issue.
Even at the official level, he said they can directly pick up the phone and talk with their counterparts to solve any issue.
The foreign secretary will leave Dhaka on Tuesday morning.
(The featured image at the top shows the Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale speaking)