1971 War Anniversary: India Hails Its 'Unique' Ties With Bangladesh, Unaffected by China's Influence

© AFP 2022 / MUNIR UZ ZAMANPeople gather to pay their respects at the 1971 independence war's martyrs national memorial to celebrate the 50th Victory Day, which marks the end of a bitter nine-month war of independence from Pakistan, in Savar on December 16, 2021.
People gather to pay their respects at the 1971 independence war's martyrs national memorial to celebrate the 50th Victory Day, which marks the end of a bitter nine-month war of independence from Pakistan, in Savar on December 16, 2021.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.12.2021
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Predominantly Muslim and Bangla-speaking Bangladesh was made part of Pakistan when the country gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1947. Bangladesh, however, rebelled against Islamabad, leading to the birth of an independent nation in 1971.
Top Indian leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Bangladesh ‘War of Liberation’, as the neighbouring countries touted their historic and cultural ties.
Prime Minister Modi said that Indian President Ram Nath Kovind’s “presence” in Dhaka to take part in Bangladesh’s independence celebrations was of “special significance” to all Indians.
Indian President Kovind was invited to attend the nation's Victory Day celebrations as guest of honour by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government.
President Kovind met Hasina and Bangladesh's Foreign Minister Abdul Momen in separate meetings on Wednesday.
“On the occasion of ‘Swarnim Vijay Diwas’ we remember the courage and sacrifice of our armed forces during the 1971 war. The 1971 war is the golden chapter in India’s military history. We are proud of our armed forces and their achievements,” India's defence minister wrote on Twitter.
Over 1,660 Indian soldiers were killed in combat as they helped the then East Pakistan liberation forces in fighting a bloody Pakistani crackdown against the pro-independence movement in 1971.
Bangladesh's Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina speaks during a press conference with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi after a meeting in New Delhi on October 5, 2019. - Sputnik International, 1920, 16.12.2020
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India’s then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had ordered the military intervention after facing an influx of millions of refugees escaping the crackdown.
Subsequently, around 93,000 Pakistani troops surrendered to Indian and Bangladeshi forces, which marked one of the biggest troop surrenders in recent history.
Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar also posted a commemorative tweet on the occasion.

India, Bangladesh Ties Are ‘Unique’, Says Foreign Secretary

Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla said at a press conference on Wednesday evening that bilateral relations with Bangladesh are “unique” and “bound by ties of history, language, spirituality, culture”.
Shringla is part of the Indian President’s delegation to Dhaka. He was responding to a question by a Bangladeshi journalist about whether growing China-Bangladesh ties will have any impact whatsoever on relations between New Delhi and Dhaka.
“I mean our relationship is sui generis, and we don't look at what relationships are there with other countries when we, let's say, celebrate the uniqueness of our own special relationship with Bangladesh,” Shringla further remarked.
While New Delhi has traditionally been Bangladesh’s main trading and defence partner, Dhaka’s economic relationship with Beijing has been growing steadily over the last decade or so.
Bangladesh and China carried out two-way trade worth nearly $18 billion in 2019, with the balance of trade almost entirely tilted in Beijing’s favour.
While Chinese exports to Bangladesh accounted for $18 billion of the overall trade, Bangladesh exported goods worth just over $1 billion.
The two-way trade between New Delhi and Dhaka, on the other hand, was estimated at nearly $9.5 billion in 2019, with exports to Bangladesh worth around $8.2 billion.
In 2016, Bangladesh joined Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), thus deepening its economic engagement with the world’s second-biggest economy.
Chinese telecom giant Huawei this month also rolled out Bangladesh’s first 5G Network.
While Huawei played a key role in partnering with Indian companies in rolling out the 4G network, it has been facing difficulties in finding local Indian partners in rolling out the 5G technology in the wake of the US listing the Shenzhen-headquartered company as a “national security threat” last year.
However, Shringla remained optimistic about the India-Bangladesh economic ties.

“Bangladesh accounts for almost a third of our lines of credit (LOC). $10 billion is what India has extended to Bangladesh in highly concessional credit terms. These lines of credit have actually contributed to enhancing our connectivity, enhancing infrastructure, not just in the border, but different parts of Bangladesh,” said the Indian foreign secretary.

“In the last year despite COVID we have disbursed over $120 billion in LOC money. So I think we are not doing too badly and the economic area has seen good progress in that regard,” Shringla added.
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