India's Congress Government presently in power has wasted more than half of its tenure in a meaningless charade appeasing and mollycoddling the Pakistani military dictator, General Musharraf. This was prompted by external pressures, pandering to minority vote-banks and aspiring for a Nobel Peace Prize by the Prime Minister. The end result has been that our national security interests may be compromised and our national security challenges stand politicized due to the infirmities of the Congress Government.
India's national security interests would have been better served if the Government had spent at least half the effort it wasted on Pakistan on crafting a better relationship with Bangladesh. If minority vote-banks were a consideration then Bangladesh too is an Islamic nation. That Bangladesh does not figure on the strategic radar of the United States like Pakistan does not make it strategically less important for India and its national security interests.
Bangladesh now has a new Caretaker Government which was put in place to clear the squabbling political mess created by the unending quarrels of the two Begums, a subject that has been dealt with in earlier columns on the subject. The Caretaker Government has strong back-up support of the Bangladesh Army and has taken substantive steps for the better in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh's Caretaker Government has made meaningful overtures to the Indian Government in recent weeks and these were seconded by the Bangladesh military hierarchy too.
It declared in no uncertain terms that Bangladesh territory would not be allowed to be used by insurgent groups operating against India and all measures would be taken to eradicate their presence. Further, that Bangladesh territory would not be allowed to be used for any anti-India activities.
This is a significant and meaningful declaration by Bangladesh which India must correctly appreciate and note. In this connection, what requires noting is that in a strong indicator that it means to tackle terrorism in Bangladesh, the Caretaker Government executed six Islamic Jehadis of note who were involved in bombings and killings and were preaching in favour of Talibanisation of Bangladesh.
This is in marked contrast to India where Afzal Guru the terrorist sentenced to death by India's Supreme Court and was due to be hanged on November 20 last year is escaping the gallows because the Congress Government sits on his mercy petition reference by the President.
Setting that aside, what needs to be noted is that Bangladesh has now made the right overtures to India in a bid to improve relations. It marks a commitment that India was looking all along so far from Bangladesh. This commitment when followed to its logical conclusion would greatly contribute towards controlling insurgencies in India's North East States and bring stability and peace in crucial border regions..
On a similar note the execution of Bangladeshi Islamic Jehadis by the Bangladesh Government can be hoped to send strong messages to the mushrooming of Islamic Jehadi outfits in Assam with help from Jehadi groups in Bangladesh working for Pakistan's ISI agency.
India must reciprocate the overtures made by Bangladesh presently and enter in meaningful dialogues to remove the irritants that pervade in Bangladesh-India relations. If timely made now, they have the potential to place the relations between the two countries on a positive track.
India's foreign policy establishment must realize that there is more than unites Bangladesh and India than unites India and Pakistan.
It is high time that India shifts its obsessive preoccupation with Pakistan, a nation breaking at the seams, and devote time and effort to build a substantive relationship with Bangladesh. India's national security interests dictate that Bangladesh is given primacy over Pakistan in our policy formulations.