South Asia also known as Indian subcontinent is a very important region of the world. It has the civilization, history, heritage and culture of around five thousand years. We know the history of Maurya Gupta, Mughal and British rule. All the sections of this region fought against British colonial rule for freedom and democracy. India and Pakistan had been established in 1947. Pakistan started it state's system using religion to deprive different religions, sections of people, democracy and freedom. On the other hand, democracy is being practiced in India from the beginning.
People of Bangladesh had started movement against Pakistani autocratic rule for freedom and democracy and Nation state Bangladesh has been established under the leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1971. It has proved that two nations theory based on religion is not true. Modern democratic state is the achievement of the world civilization.
We know that in last few decades other countries of the region got independence and socio politico development is going on. Twenty five years friendship treaty in 1972 between Bangladesh and India, and Shimla Agreement between India and Pakistan paved the way for SAARC formation in 1985 in Dhaka.
The eight countries which form SAARC recently met to combat covid-19 at the initiative of India on 15th March, 2020. In the last few decades, socio-political and economic developments have been happened. There are terrorist and militant forces in the region, their activities are obstructing the process of democracy and development. In Afghanistan, coalition force led by USA has been working since 2001. There is a process to accommodate Taliban, India is assisting Afghanistan in its socio economic development and it is one of the development partners of Afghan government.
Reacting to the recent remarks from Taliban stating that India has been playing a negative role in country since past 40 years, The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan (MoFA) has said that Afghanistan's relations with India are within international frameworks and based on mutual respect. After blaming India of playing a negative role by Deputy of Qatar-based Taliban political office Mulla Abas Stanekzai, MoFA has said that India has very good relations with Afghanistan and it's one of the biggest donor countries.
Spokesperson of MoFA, Mr. Gran Hewad, on 17 May 2020 told Radio Azadi that, so far India has been cooperating in development and reconstruction areas and is expected to contribute to peace process as well. He said: "India is one of the biggest donor countries and has helped Afghanistan in development and reconstruction areas, we appreciate their cooperation. We expect India and other neighboring countries to play significant role in Afghan peace process".
U.S Representative for Peace and Reconciliation, Zalmai Khalilzad, had discussed the Afghan peace with Indian officials and sought their cooperation during his visit to India.
The United States and the Taliban signed a peace agreement in Doha on Feb 29, 2020. The deal calls for complete withdrawal of foreign troops within 14 months and a pledge from Taliban of not providing safe heavens for international terrorist networks, and a clause for talks between the Taliban and the afghan government.
Islamabad had maintained cordial relationship with Taliban regime and Pakistan was the first country to diplomatically support the Taliban regime in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. The Afghan National Security Adviser Hamdullah Mohib hinted Pakistan based terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba responsible for the attacks.
It is evident from the above description Pakistan being a SAARC country is not cooperating for peace and stability rather they are assisting different militant and terrorist groups who destabilize the region. Even minorities are being attacked in Pakistan regularly. Recently, there was a report that a Hindu temple would be built in Islamabad, capital city of Pakistan but due to the protest from fundamentalist forces, process is stopped. It is mentionable that militancy, and terrorism based on majority's religion Islam is the part and parcel of Pakistan state system.
It may be mentioned that Jammu &Kashmir is part of pluristic and secular democratic India. On the other hand, Pakistan occupied Kashmir has become a hub for the global export of terror. It is reported that budget of J&K is 1.01 lakh crore rupees (20-21).On the other, POK budget is 12,100 rupees (20-21). It is also reported that the number of colleges and universities of Indian Kashmir is 35 and POK has 6 colleges and universities. World Class NIT is at Srinagor of India. Number of airports in Indian Kashmir has 4 and POK has 2 and development expenditure in Indian Kashmir is 38,764 crores and POK is 2456 crores in all socio economic indices, Indian Kashmir is in better position than POK.
We know another SAARC country Nepal is one of the closest country of India. There are large scale interactions with India since ancient times. Nepal is being assisted by India beginning from political process in 1950. In different steps of democratic movement of Nepal, Indian cooperation is remarkable that is evident from the actions from autocratic rulers as well as assistance of India at different phases. The great achievement of Nepalese political parties and people is the establishment of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal.
Democratic countries of the world especially India helped and cooperated directly that is appreciated by the prominent leaders of Nepal. Present prime minister KP Sharma Oli also several times mentioned that relationship between India and Nepal is natural. In 2016, Indian prime minister Norendra Modi went Kathmandu via Jonokpur and Nepalese prime minister received him at Jonokpur where Indian PM rightly remarked relation between them is of thousands years.
Recently, Nepal Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has alleged that India is conspiring with his political rivals to overthrow him, the Press Trust of India reported.
"Efforts are being made to remove me from power, but that will not succeed," Oli said.
The Nepali PM's remarks come over a week after the country approved a bill to redraw its map demarcating the Lipulekh mountain pass, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura - the area at the centre of the dispute between India and Nepal - under its territory. It may be mentioned that 98 % of the border demarcation is completed with India. There is a free movement in India Nepal border and a roti - beti relation between the two countries and that is stated by both the countries several times.
Differences have emerged between Nepal's PM Oli and the country's Communist Party's Executive Chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal "Prachanda" over the party's leadership. In the party meeting, former PM Prachanda said the remark of Oli is politically incorrect and diplomatically inappropriate.
KP Sharma Oli created a controversy on July 13 stating that real Ayodhya lies in Nepal, not in India and that Lord Ram was born in Thori in southern Nepal.
Subsequently, the Nepalese Foreign Office stated that 'As there have been several myths and references about Shri Ram and the places associated with him, the prime minister was simply highlighting the importance of further studies and research of the vast cultural geography the Ramayana represents to obtain facts about Shri Ram, Ramayana and the various places linked to this rich civilization. The remarks were not meant to debase the significance of Ayodhya and the cultural value it bears".
We know birth place of Sri Ram, Sri Krishna, Goutam Buddha, Hazrat Muhammad, Jesus Christ are settled issue. Religions, knowledge and science played prominent role in the development of civilization and history. Even in modern state, religious values have a significant role in the society. India being a biggest democratic country and one of the SAARC countries helped in liberation war of Bangladesh. At the same time, India as a democratic country played a significant role to establish democracy in Nepal. We know from the history that in socio economic development of Nepal, India is the major partner.
We know that Bangladesh - India relationships have reached in a remarkable height. It is projected in the recent virtual conference also "India and Bangladesh have scripted a golden chapter in our partnership under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina" said Shri V Muraleedharan, Union Minister of State for External & Parliamentary Affairs of India.
Speaking at the conference, Shri V Muraleedharan mentioned that there is a mutual desire to further strengthen the relationship in areas that will help bring benefits to people on the two sides.
He said that since 2014, there have been major developments in the bilateral relationship, including the two countries having approved the land boundary agreement, settled maritime boundary and signed agreements on connectivity.
India has increased assistance to Bangladesh; making it the largest recipient of India's concessional aid, implemented agreement to supply 1076 mega watt of power to Bangladesh, issued 7.4 million visas to Bangladeshi nationals and implemented more than 40 projects in different fields such as sanitation, waste management, restoration, health and so on.
Shri V Muraleedharan further said that he was certain that cooperation between the two nations can help overcome the economic effects of COVID-19 pandemic.
Shreemoti Riva Ganguly Das, Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh, emphasized that the geographical proximity and road and river water port connectivity between the two countries provide both sides many opportunities for advancement on different turfs.
She said that turning the COVID crisis into an opportunity, the Indian and Bangladesh railways have worked together to ensure smooth flow of goods through the railway links that exist between the two countries.
Bangladesh High Commissioner to India, Muhammad Imran , stated that the India-Bangladesh bilateral relationship now touches almost every aspect of activity including political, trade, investment, security, border, water management, power, cultural exchanges, etc.
Various senior industry members participated in the discussion. P Harish emphasized on bringing down the cost of doing business and also facilitating mutual investments between the two countries and creating value chains in various sectors including textiles, leather, footwear and food processing among others.
It is mentionable that parcel train has come to Benapole carrying chilies. Transportation has already been started from Syma Prasad Mukherjee port (Kolkata Bondor) up to Chittagong Port and from there it is retransformed to N-east India. These are very significant in the process of connectivity and cooperation. (To be continued…)
The writer is an academic, former ambassador, leader-student action committee 71 and freedom fighter.
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