Experts at a seminar in the city yesterday blamed weak foreign policy for deteriorating the relationship between India and Bangladesh.Mahmudur Rahman, chairman of Bangladesh Policy Forum and ex-executive chairman of Board of Investment, said the representatives of the country always take part in discussions with India on different issues with compromising or flexible attitudes.
"That's why they (India) tend to impose many illogical things on us in the name of discussion and we keep mum considering India as a mighty and powerful state," he said.
Bangladesh Policy Forum (BPF) organized the seminar on "Border Security and Bangladesh-India Relationship' at the Jatiya Press Club in the afternoon with Forum president Mahmudur Rahman in the chair.
Former director general of Bangladesh Rifles Maj Gen (retd) Fazlur Rahman presented the keynote paper at the seminar. Dr Mahbub Ullah, Professor, Department of Development Studies of Dhaka University, and Zobaidur Rahman, associate editor of daily Inqilab, among others, took part in the discussion.
Mahmudur Rahman, also former adviser of Energy and Mineral Resources under the BNP-led alliance government, said the caretaker government has come to power "with the blessings of external forces. So, they have to rely on them before taking any decision."
He said that being citizens of peaceful Bangladesh, "we definitely want negotiation to resolve any problem with India, but we should negotiate on equal footing so that it does not become one-sided."
He added: "I don't treat India either as our friend or enemy. I identify them as one of the biggest competitors of Bangladesh as we are competing with India at every stage - like global trade and manpower."
Maj Gen (retd) Fazlur Rahman, in his key note, said India should not be given the transit facilities as this is not an economic or commercial issue for them, but a military and security issue to control rebels who have been demanding independence in some states.
The former BDR director general, who had led gun battles in beating the Indian Border Security Forces (BSF) three times at Padua and Baraibari frontiers, mentioned that India captured Sikkim, a landlocked Indian state nestled in the Himalayas, in 1975. India has similar designs about Bangladesh, he alleged.
He said: "They (India) also started grooming agents in the country capitalizing on the liberation war as they helped Bangladesh in the war in 1971 just 14 days ahead of its victory. And we've to be aware about it."
Fazlur Rahman said the BSF forces gunned down two BDR jawans after entering into the country when a secretary-level meeting was going on in New Delhi on July 18. "This is their true character, and we've to take and apply different strategy for protecting the country's sovereignty."
He said the Indian forces fought for the independence of the country only for 13 days and after Bangladesh achieved independence they looted resources worth Tk 80,000 crore from the country.
The former BDR chief said soon after the devastating super cyclone Sidr struck the southern part of Bangladesh, the Indian external affairs minister had announced that they would export 500,000 metric tons of rice to Bangladesh on emergency basis at US$ 340 per ton. But later, they increased the price to US$ 1000 per ton. "They never keep their words," he said.
Dr Mahbub Ullah alleged that a major lack in the country's foreign policy is that it is Delhi-centred, not Dhaka.
"We've to increase our friends and adopt a policy to isolate India as they do to put them under pressure always."