Sheikh Hasina stresses fraternity among SA nations for prosperity

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NEW DELHI : Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today stressed friendly relationship among South Asian nations to free the region from poverty and ensure prosperity of teeming millions as she was accorded a reception by India Foundation at the fag-end of her four-day New Delhi visit.

“Friendship always gives a good opportunity for the people’s wellbeing,” she said in reply to the reception, joined, among others, by India’s former Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Advisory Group of ruling BJP LK Advani.

The Bangladesh premier said in developing harmonious relations it matters little which country is big and which is small since “we are sovereign countries and so we always do honour each other and give priority to friendship as nothing can be achieved from quarrel but friendship”.

Union Minister of Commerce and Director of India Foundation Nirmala Sitharaman and Advani also spoke on the occasion.

The Foundation accorded her the reception for her outstanding role in development of relations between Bangladesh and India and her leadership in making real difference in politics in the region.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh strongly believe that common water resources of the two countries must act as a uniting force while a comprehensive, basin-wise approach with an in-built solution to water sharing of all the common rivers “holds the key to our common future”.
She, however, noted that her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi reiterated his government’s strong resolve to conclude the Teesta water sharing treaty at the soonest.

“Once it happens, the face of Indo-Bangladesh relations would undergo another transformation, she said.

But Sheikh Hasina however expressed her apprehension about what ‘Didi Moni’ would do on the Teesta issue referring to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

“I have also talked to her when she has shown something new. . . But Modi Ji assured us, we are waiting to see what happens,” she said in Hindi amid huge applause.

The Prime Minister however thanked Banerjee for agreeing to give electricity to Bangladesh saying in a lighter vein “we have got electricity after demanding water, Ok, at least we have got something”.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh has close ties particularly with India as it extended support to our freedom and “always stood beside us during our bad days”.

“We will live with equal dignity and feelings of fraternity to make sure prosperity of our people in particular and South Asia as a whole,” she said.

The Bangladesh premier described poverty to be the common enemy of the South Asia region and “so we have to fight together against poverty and it’s our responsibility as politicians”.

Sheikh Hasina said Bangladesh-India relations are based on mutual interests and common aspirations as “we share universal values of freedom, democracy, fundamental human rights and rule of law”.

She said the foundation of our relations was laid by our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the early years of Bangladesh and “since then the relationship has matured taking dynamic, comprehensive and strategic shape”.

The Prime Minister said Bangladesh and India have witnessed tremendous progress in almost all sectors of cooperation namely, connectivity, power, trade and commerce, health and cultural exchange.

“In Bangladesh, we have envisioned to become a middle income country by 2021 and a developed country by 2041,” she said hoping that India will be Bangladesh’s partner in this path to progress.

Sheikh Hasina highly appreciated the leaders of all political parties and members of India’s Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for their unanimous support for the Land Boundary Agreement.

“It was indeed a historic like 1971 when every political party, members of parliament of India and people had given unqualified support to Bangladesh,,” she said expressing her gratitude to India.
Pointing out the cooperation between Bangladesh and India and in the region in power sector the Prime Minister she laid importance on improved multi- model connectivity and more investment from India to Bangladesh expansion to address the issue of the trade deficit.

“We are working on getting more investment from India particularly in the Special Economic Zones in Bangladesh. Already we are seeing great interest from the biggest business houses in India,” she said.

Sheikh Hasina sought India’s support to to Bangladesh efforts in obtaining UN recognition to March 25 as the ‘Genocide Day”.

“Bangladesh was liberated at the cost of the lives of three million people and chastity of 200 thousand mothers and sisters. However, the history of atrocities by Pakistani occupation forces is being distorted,” she said.

She said Bangladesh parliament recently adopted a unanimous resolution declaring March 25 as ‘Genocide day’ in remembrance of the Pakistani atrocities.

“We want this Genocide to be recognized by the international community, she said adding that “we may forgive, but we cannot forget.”

Speaking on the occasion Advani highly appreciated the leadership of Sheikh Hasina saying people of Bangladesh would surely find their prosperity under her leadership.

He urged the Bsangladesh premier to mediate between India and Pakistan to improve relationship saying we want normal relation with our neighbor which was part of India before independence”.

At the beginning of the reception Advani presented a ‘shawl’ and crest to the Prime Minister.

Praising Sheikh Hasina for her leadership Nirmala Shitaraman said she passed through a difficult path including repeated attempt on her life.

“She (Sheikh Hasina) is the leadership who made the difference. India has found a real friend in her,” she said.

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