Thursday, February 03, 2005

India picked apart by Bangladeshi Journalist

+ "Let's not forget, deeper down the surface, it is a country or a nation that hosts such an august conference more than a government, and the sense of pride that a people derive from seeing it take place" +


03/02/2005

India picked apart by Bangladeshi Journalist

DHAKA: Bangladesh's media Thursday decried India's decision to stay away from the SAARC summit although some highlighted, quoting opposition leaders, the poor security situation that led Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to cancel his visit.

All the leading Bengali and English dailies carried the postponement of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit as their lead stories, highlighting the government's "frustration" at New Delhi's decision not to attend, citing deteriorating security conditions aggravated by bomb blasts and killings of opposition leaders.

The postponement of the summit, which was deferred once earlier due to the Dec 26 tsunami, has dampened the festive mood in Dhaka and the arrangements under way for the high-profile event have been suspended, the reports said.The Daily Star in its editorial said: "It's a disappointment".

"Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's cancellation of a planned visit to Dhaka to participate in the 13th SAARC Summit scheduled for Feb 6 and 7 has led to its postponement. The Bangladesh government which had made elaborate preparations for the event has reasons to feel frustrated," the editorial said.

"Let's not forget, deeper down the surface, it is a country or a nation that hosts such an august conference more than a government, and the sense of pride that a people derive from seeing it take place," the newspaper said.

"We understand the question of security but given all the assurances of the government of Bangladesh and presence of India's security teams, the visit could have been possible, more so in view of the exhaustive measures put in place in Dhaka for the safe movement and sojourn of the delegates to the SAARC Summit," it said.

The daily New Age carried the reaction of Bangladesh's opposition leaders to the postponement, many of whom implicitly supported India's decision.

Awami League general secretary Abdul Jalil said: "The Indian government refrained from joining the summit because it was concerned about the deteriorating security in Bangladesh and no leaders of the foreign countries can but be worried at the situation, especially after the killing of Shah A.M.S. Kibria".

Former Bangladesh president and chairman of the Jatiya Party Hussain Mohammad Ershad subscribed to similar views saying: "The heads of the SAARC governments cannot keep faith in our law and order despite a blanket security net before the summit."

Ershad hoped the government would take steps to arrange for a new date for the summit soon.

Jamaat-e-Islami secretary general and Social Welfare Minister Ali Ahsan Md Mujahid said the Indian prime minister's decision was "astonishing".

"The decision was unexpected when Bangladesh has been fully prepared to host the summit," Mujahid said.

In a commentary in the Bengali daily Prothom Alo, former foreign secretary Abul Ahsan said: "The decision of postponement of SAARC was surprising and unexpected". "It's a shock for the advancement of SAARC."

The Bengali daily Amar Desh said in its editorial that postponement of the summit had deprived millions of people in the region from reaping benefits of decisions on regional cooperation.

The Jamaat-e-Islami's Bengali daily Sangram said the SAARC was postponed because of "ridiculous decision of India" and the Inqilab said in at report that India had given a lame excuse for postponement of the SAARC meet.