National Council delegation visits Bangladesh
The Chairperson of National Council ( Dr) Dasho Sonam Kinga led a parliamentary delegation to Bangladesh recently consisting of members from both houses at the invitation of Speaker H.E. Shirin Sharmin Chowdhury. During the visit, the delegation called on the President, Speaker, Deputy Speaker and the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh. It held meetings with the Standing Committees on Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs and on Environment and Forests as well as with the Department of Disaster Management.
At every meeting, the Bangladesh leaders and people expressed wholehearted gratitude and appreciation to Bhutan for being the first country in the world to recognize the independence of Bangladesh in 1971. The delegation presented to the Liberation War Museum, a copy of the message sent by the Third King, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck to the Acting President Syed Nazrul Islam of the then Provisional Government that formally conveyed Bhutan’s recognition of Bangladesh.
The leaders of Bangladesh also expressed their optimism that the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement would be ratified by the Parliament of Bhutan. This Agreement could not be passed in the last session of National Assembly. The Bhutanese delegation conveyed that the Bhutanese parliamentarians and
people needed time to reflect and debate on the agreement. Thrizin Sonam Kinga shared that it appears likely that the Royal Government may re-table the Agreement in the summer session of National Assembly.
Both sides recalled how the close and excellent relationship between two countries have strengthened over the decades nurtured through highlevel visits by Bangladesh Presidents to Bhutan and visits by Druk Gyalpos to Bangladesh. H.E. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina visited Bhutan in 2009 and 2010 which were followed by His Majesty The King’s visit to Bangladesh in 2011 and 2013.
The delegation visited the Dharmarajika Buddhist Monastery in Dhaka where a huge pagoda is being built to enshrine the remains of Buddhist master Atisha Dimpankar. His Majesty the King had laid the foundation for the construction of the pagoda and also granted royal support for the casting of a huge image of Atisha Dipankar. The delegation also visited Vajra Yogini (Dorji Neljorma) village in the outskirts of Dhaka, where Atisha Dipankar was born around 980 A.D. He is greatly venerated in the Buddhist world for being instrumental in what is known as the second transmission of Buddhism.
Buddhism had provided the initial framework of contact between the two countries. Mahasiddha Tilopa known as Prajnabhadra was born in Chittagong. Although he never visited Bhutan, his teachings transmitted through his foremost pupil Naropa and then through Marpa and Milarepa constitute the
central faith and practice of Drukpa Kagyu School. Another eminent Buddhist master, Drubthob Ngagi Rinchen known as Vana Ratna visited Bhutan in the 14th century. He spent some time in Punakha and built the Dzongchung as well as the famous Buddha image enshrined in it in 1328.
Today trade constitutes a very important area of cooperation between Bangladesh and Bhutan. This trade relationship goes back to the 17th and 18th centuries when caravans of Bhutanese merchants ventured as far as Rangpur exporting horses, vegetable dyes, musks etc, and importing indigo, oil, dry fish and broad cloth.
The Bhutanese delegation expressed appreciation to the government and people of Bangladesh for providing opportunities to Bhutanese students to pursue higher education particularly in medical studies. During meetings with parliamentary committees, the delegation discussed best practices of committee and parliamentary system. Exchange of parliamentary visits between the two countries is expected to boost people to people contact and deepen the bilateral relationship.