Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Monday committed to working together to deepen ties, all across the board, between the two neighbours as they celebrated “Maitri Diwas (Friendship Day)”.
In a video message to her counterpart, Hasina said that the relationship between Bangladesh and India is anchored in history, culture, language, and shared values of secularism, democracy, and countless other commonalities, and now the two countries now should concentrate on people-to-people contact, trade, business, and connectivity.
“Our partnership is not confined to treaties, MoUs, bilateral agreements that provide the formal structures for our working relations. Today, our broad partnership has matured, taking dynamic, comprehensive and strategic shape, and is based on sovereignty, equality, trust and mutual respect.
“Our bonds of friendship have further been strengthened, diversified and expanded in recent years due to regular high-level political interactions and exchanges,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina recalled the generosity of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and her government, leaders of other political parties, and overall, the people of India towards the people of Bangladesh in 1971. They provided accommodation to 10 million refugees from Bangladesh, gave space for the Mujibnagar government and waged a diplomatic campaign in favour of Bangladesh, she said.
Noting that India recognized Bangladesh as an independent and sovereign state on the December 6, 1971, she said Bangladesh and India are celebrating the Golden Jubilee of the establishment of diplomatic relations. “This is a milestone in the journey of our bilateral relations,” she said.
“We continue to believe in the importance of our relationship,” she said, adding that this anniversary is an opportunity to reflect on the foundation of the bilateral relations and the path ahead. It’s also an occasion for both the countries to recommit to work towards further strengthening the longstanding dynamic partnership, she added.
“I’m confident that together with our two countries and two peoples will continue to turn our vision and ideas into realities, for decades to come,” Hasina said.
“The core of the bilateral relationship now needs to concentrate on people-to-people contact, trade, business and connectivity, which have become increasingly important for both sides,” she said in her video message.
Despite restrictions imposed by Covid-19, she noted, the relationship at all levels has remained stable and strong.
“This was evident in our excellent cooperation and collaboration in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said.
Modi, in a tweet, said: “I look forward to continuing working with PM Sheikh Hasina to further expand and deepen our ties”.
“Today India and Bangladesh commemorate Maitri Diwas. We jointly recall and celebrate the foundations of our 50 years of friendship,” he said.
Just 10 days before the liberation of Bangladesh in 1971, India had recognised Bangladesh on December 6, 1971. It was one of the first countries to establish diplomatic ties with independent Bangladesh.
During Modi’s visit to Bangladesh in March this year, it was decided to commemorate December 6 as “Maitri Diwas”. It was commemorated in 18 countries around the world apart from Bangladesh and India – Belgium, Canada, Egypt, Indonesia, Russia, Qatar, Singapore, the UK, Australia, France, Japan, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, and the US.
The Indian Council of World Affairs organised a special event in New Delhi with participation from both the countries.