Khaleda Zia’s party to oppose transit facilities to India

July 10th, 2008 - 3:03 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, July 10 (IANS) Former prime minister Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has alleged that the caretaker government plans to extend land transit and port facilities to India and has vowed to oppose it. Reiterating the party’s known policy on the issue, BNP’s Secretary General Khandaker Delwar Hossain Wednesday announced the party would launch an agitation July 17 to oppose the move, New Age newspaper reported Thursday.

He called it “anti-aggression day”.

There is no official word from the government of Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed.

Zia has been in jail on graft charges since last September. Although she spoke to the media in the courtroom, she made no reference to the alleged deal with India.

“Officials of Bangladesh and India will hold a meeting July 18 and we fear that the two sides will sign an agreement to allow India transit and facilities at Chittagong port,” said Hossain, the party’s senior-most leader after jailed Zia.

“We will resist the conspiracy,” he said during a media briefing here.

Hossain said the interim government had no constitutional right to sign an agreement with a foreign country, New Age newspaper reported Thursday.

“The schemers are trying to persuade the government to sign the agreement,” he said, adding: “The BNP will not allow anybody to make the country a subservient state.”

India has for long sought land transit facility from Bangladesh to reduce the logistic problems in its north-eastern region and port facilities at Chittagong. These have been rejected by successive governments who face political opposition at home.

Dhaka has sought to bargain for transit facilities to Nepal to get access to China, which India refused.

Bangladesh has for long refused to be a part of the Asian Super Highway and the rail network linking southern Europe with Southeast Asia.

Founded by former president Ziaur Rahman and succeeded by his widow Khaleda after he was assassinated in 1981, the BNP has made opposition to any understanding with India its political platform.

BNP has opposed any deal with western neighbour India as “a sell out,” and has found vocal support from the rightwing and Islamist parties.

The BNP also opposed the Ganga Water Treaty on sharing of water that was signed during the regime of the rival Awami League government led by Sheikh Hasina.

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