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Dhaka Tribune

Delhi ready to help Dhaka strengthen EC if requested

Update : 12 Dec 2015, 05:06 PM

India is ready to help Bangladesh in strengthening its Election Commission and other democratic institutions if requested.

“If there is a request made to us or if Bangladesh believes there is something to learn from our experience, we would be very happy to help whether it is strengthening of the Election Commission … [or] any other institution which helps to strengthen democracy further in Bangladesh,” Indian High Commissioner to Dhaka Pankaj Saran said Saturday.

He was speaking at an interactive programme with journalists prior to his departure for Moscow with new mission.

He is scheduled to leave Dhaka this month to take over as new Indian Ambassador to Russia in January.

Asked about India's perception of democracy in Bangladesh, Pankaj said: “As far as India is concerned, we are a democracy, we support democracy and we believe in democracy. But when it comes to affairs of another independent sovereign country it is the prerogative of the people of that country to decide how they wish to govern themselves and how they choose their leaders.”

About the January 5, 2014 national election he said the polls were a constitutional requirement. “What we had said was we believe it was a constitutional necessity. That was a statement of fact. That remains our position even today.

“That election has taken place. It was a constitutional necessity. We are dealing today with the government of the day. And, this has been our policy. This continues to be our policy that India will always deal with the government of the day,” he said.

Common rivers

The Indian envoy said the two countries need to engage in a dialogue to resolve the common rivers issue.

“I see no other way to move forward except to have dialogue on this issue. And the dialogue has to be such that we respect each others’ problems and concern, and we take into account the realities of the ground,” he said.

He said the ground reality today is both the countries face scarcity of water.

Border killings

Pankaj admitted that border killing is a sensitive issue for India and Bangladesh and both have to handle it with utmost care keeping in mind that it affects people of both sides of the countries.

“India is committed to ensuring that we work with Bangladesh government to bring this number down to zero and to achieve this outcome, both sides have to work together,” he said.

It cannot be that only one side, only one border guarding force is held responsible for managing the border, he said.

The envoy said both the countries want to work in future in areas beyond resolving just pending issues.

“My view is that the future will increasingly become more focused on economic, trade and investment issues. It will more focus on connectivity issue and it will remain more focused on issues that affect the common men,” he said.

Energy cooperation, environment, health, food self-sufficency are the issues that both need to focus on, he said.

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