India, Bangladesh should ignore minor irritants, continue joint war on terror

KOLKATA, Aug 14:
India and Bangladesh should ignore minor irritants and continue strengthening their close relations as the two nations engage in a joint war against terrorism, said Shantanu Mukharji, IPS (Retd), a security analyst specializing on South Asia and terrorism .
The two sides also need to guard against external actors who may be working to jeopardize the interests of both sides, Mukharji, who has been National Security Advisor to Mauritius, told PTI in an interaction.
“Certain external forces often try to create animosity between the two countries, especially on religious lines. India should steer clear of such attempts,” Mukharji cautioned.
He also pointed out that the sentiments of animosity are fueled by various forces, including countries that propagate anti-India sentiments.
Mukharji warned against Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s support of Muslim brotherhood and the “repercussions” India may face if such organizations infiltrate into the region to “ruin its secular fabric”.
Turkey which has in the past toed Pakistan’s line in opposing trail of war criminals who participated in murder and rape of Bangladeshis in 1971 has of late been trying to woo Dhaka with various initiatives in its bid to be recognized as the pre-eminent leader of the Islamic world.
“India, under all circumstances, must keep its security conditions intact. It should be watchful of religious indoctrination. That said, the countries must all strengthen their bond, notwithstanding the differences that might crop up between them from time to time,” he explained.
Social media is also used as a potential tool to fuel feelings of hostility between people in the two countries, Mukharji said.
“In the past, too, attempts were made to brew trouble between the two countries. During my stay there in the 1980s, I have seen that a certain section of people was spreading ill feelings about our country. But over-riding all this is the factors that bind our people — Bangladesh celebrates ‘Poila Boisakh’ (Bengali New Year) and ‘Pochishe Boisakh’ (Rabindra Nath Tagore’s birthday) with more élan than people in Bengal do,” he pointed out .
The security expert, pointing to recent hate crimes against minorities in Narail in Bangladesh, however also said that India while India must strengthen relations with its neighbour, “it need not condone all activities in the neighboring country.”
Mukharji, praised Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, calling her a statesman, who has over the years not just worked to consolidate the ties between the neighbors but also taken her country to new heights.
“Be it the emancipation of women or upholding the principles of secularism, Hasina has always been at the forefront. With time, she has matured as a politician and has gone on to become a statesman. The country is headed for elections next year, and Hasina, if voted to power, is expected to bolster her relationship with her neighbours, which includes other countries too, “he noted.
Asked about the cross-border infiltration woes, Mukharji said the menace is on the decline.
“A section of people still go across the border illegally and enter India in search of jobs, but the figures have gone down over the past decades. (PTI)