Dhaka: The new Bangladesh government led by Sheikh Hasina said it will consider an Indian proposal on cross-border road transit from an “economic point of view”, even as the opposition warned against a pact on it during the upcoming visit of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
“We should think about the transit from the economic point of view, not as a political issue,” Commerce Minister Faruque Khan told a seminar on regional trade, last evening.
He accused the opposition of using the transit issue as “political weapon” instead as a “tool for development”.
During the upcoming visit of External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee to Dhaka next week, the transit issue is likely to be a major agenda of bilateral talks, Indian envoy in Dhaka, Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty said.
Minister of State for Commerce, Jay Ram Ramesh during a recent visit to Dhaka had raised the long standing Indian “transit or transshipment” proposal, calling it “connectivity” saying Bangladesh could earn $1.2 billion by allowing only two corridors, Kolkata-Gauhati and Kolkata-Agartala.
Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) warned it would not support any deal “compromising the country’s interest.”
Khan’s comments came as BNP secretary general Khondker Delwar Hossain on Saturday demanded that the government should hold an open debate on the idea of signing an agreement with India allowing it land transit.
In an oblique reference to India, Hossain said, “They could not win transit in the last 38 years. We Bangladesh are yet to get back our enclaves. We are yet to get a corridor from them (for trade with) Nepal.”
“We will not support any agreement compromising the interests of the country and the people,” he said.