Hasina Visits India, Gains Goodwill and Good Deals
Nilova Roy Chaudhury
NEW DELHI. India and Bangladesh significantly raised the level of their strategic partnership during the visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India from April 7 to 10. A total of 11 deals and 24 Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) were signed, including five on defence cooperation within a framework agreement, and an historic civil nuclear cooperation agreement. New Delhi extended to Dhaka lines of credit (LoC) worth $5 billion ($500,000 million exclusively for defence-related purchases) after bilateral talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina.
Mr Modi broke protocol to personally receive Sheikh Hasina at the airport and ensure that India walked the extra mile to court the Bangladesh military, a very powerful institution, with stronger institutional links to Pakistan than India. The framework defence cooperation agreement provides various platforms for the India, Bangladesh armed forces to collaborate including joint exercises, coordinated patrols, navy exercises and training institutes. This would help change the institutional hostility that a section of the Bangladesh army, with origins in the Pakistan army, continues to harbour against India.
The hostility has begun waning over the past decade. From 2008, there have been several visits from top Bangladesh armed forces officers to India and to Bangladesh by top Indian military officers including the three chiefs and, earlier this year, by