New Delhi: India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi drew a clear distinction between the growth trajectories of two of India’s neighbours - describing Pakistan as a supporter of terror and Bangladesh as an inclusive society with its focus on development oriented policies.
Addressing the centenary celebrations of Bangladeshi freedom icon Sheikh Mujibur Rehman via video link from New Delhi, Modi said: “We are all witnessing that how, making terror and violence weapons of politics and diplomacy destroys a society and a nation. The world is also watching where the supporters of terror and violence are currently placed and in what state they are, while Bangladesh is scaling new heights."
Though he did not mention Pakistan by name, the allusion to India’s western neighbour was clear. Bangladesh is predicted to grow at 8.1% in 2020 - faster than India according to various predictions - while Pakistan last year sought an International Monetary Fund bailout. New Delhi accuses Pakistan of supporting terrorism in Kashmir and other parts of the country, a charge Islamabad has consistently denied.
Heaping praise on Bangladesh with which India has nurtured warm relations in the past decade, Modi said: “Be it economy, other social indices or sports, today Bangladesh is setting new benchmarks. It has made unprecedented progress in many fields like skill, education, health, women empowerment, micro finance."
Noting the upswing in ties between New Delhi and Dhaka, Modi said that India and Bangladesh have “scripted a golden chapter of bilateral ties and given new dimension and direction to our partnership. This is because of increasing trust between the two countries that we have been able to amicably resolve complex issues like Land Boundary and Maritime Boundary," he said - possibly an oblique reference to how in contrast India and Pakistan have not been able to resolve similar problems.
“Today, Bangladesh is not only India’s biggest trading partner in South Asia but also development partner. Electricity generated in India is lighting up millions of houses and factories in Bangladesh. A new dimension has been added to our relations through Friendship Pipeline. Be it road, rail, air, waterway or internet, our cooperation in several sectors is connecting people of our two countries even more," Modi said referring to the slew of cooperation measures undertaken by both countries.
Modi also heaped praise on Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, the father of current prime minister Sheikh Hasina, who led the country to independence from Pakistan and was assassinated in 1975. Stating that Sheikh Mujibur Rehman’s life had a message even in the 21st century, Modi recalled how Pakistan had tried to stub out the independence struggle in its erstwhile eastern wing. “We all are well aware, how a repressive and cruel regime, disregarding all democratic values, unleashed a reign of injustice on `Bangla Bhumi’ and devastated its people," Modi said.