Did not return from India empty-handed, says Hasina

The gains from the trip may be relative, but the pipeline to import fuel and agreements to import LNG are major gains, the prime minister said

News Deskbdnews24.com
Published : 14 Sept 2022, 10:55 AM
Updated : 14 Sept 2022, 10:55 AM

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina says she did not return empty-handed from her recent visit to India, but Bangladesh’s gains from the trip are relative.

“I don’t think we have returned from India empty-handed. What we have received from India and what we haven’t is a relative question,” Hasina said responding to a question from a journalist at a media briefing in Dhaka on Wednesday.

She pointed to the seven Memoranda of Understanding signed between the two countries and highlighted the recent agreements between the two countries on a pipeline to import fuel and LNG as major gains.

“After all these, the opposition says we got nothing. But it’s a matter of perception – a matter of self-confidence.”

The prime minister joked that she was glad that the question wasn’t about what Bangladesh gave up during the trip.

Hasina went to New Delhi on a four-day trip at the invitation of her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on Sept 5.

Seven memoranda of understanding were signed between the two neighbouring countries during her visit, including sharing of the water of the Kushiyara River.

The prime minister's visit has been "very" fruitful, according to the ruling Awami League leaders. They see India's approval of transit to send goods to Nepal and Bhutan as a key achievement.

She returned home on Sept 9 after the state visit.


The prime minister said she did not experience any lack of sincerity during her visit to Bangladesh’s neighbour and longstanding ally.

“I found great sincerity,” said Hasina in response to a question about whether she found the Indian officials amiable during the trip.

“From India’s prime minister, president, and all others I spoke to, I experienced sincerity at all times. You know that all parties in India are united on the subject of Bangladesh. It is significant. In 1971, all parties in India and all its people united in their support for us. And, when we implemented the land port agreement, when we exchanged enclaves, the parliament of India came together to pass the law. We will always maintain relations with friendly countries.”

“It is true that neighbouring countries often face different issues. I believe that all of these problems can be resolved through meetings and discussions. I have also taken another decision. One that we need ourselves. In 1965, during the India-Pakistan War, the rail and road connectivity between our two countries was disrupted. We are slowly reopening these routes one by one so that the socio-economic activities of the districts in these regions can grow even more dynamic.”

“I did not see any lack of sincerity. If I am a good friend to others, they will be good to me as well. But if you are not, the relationship will turn sour. Our foreign policy is very clear – friendship to all, malice towards none.”

Hasina highlighted the agreements that secured Bangladesh’s maritime border as an example of how the Awami League’s efforts to maintain friendly relations can help resolve issues.

“We have a massive maritime border, but pre-1996, we had not discussed the matter at all. We began working on it that year. But, the BNP-Jamaat Alliance came to power in 2001. They did not take any further action on the issue. We took the initiative again when we returned to power for a second time. We maintained friendly relations with India and Myanmar while resolving the matter at the international court. True, we had to go to court, but that did not put a dent in our relations.”


Hasina disagrees with those who are criticising the trailer released for Mujib: The Making of a Nation, which is a biographical film on the Bangabandhu.

Speaking at her media briefing on the India trip, She said: “We have to watch a film simply as a film. From what I’ve seen, I think what they did with it was fantastic.”

A Bangladesh-India joint production, the film has been directed by celebrated Bollywood filmmaker Shyam Benegal. A 30-second trailer was revealed at Cannes Film Festival’s business counterpart Marché du Film in May.

Many people on social media expressed concern and disappointment over the teaser, saying the depiction of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman did not reflect reality.

Hasina said that if the trailer was “not acceptable”, the French film festival would never show it.

“I think it was difficult for people to credit the acting after seeing real-life Bangabandhu’s Mar 7 speech. But when it’s a cinema, someone has to perform. But someone among us can’t portray him entirely as he was and it’s not right either. We have to see it as a cinema.”

Hasina mentioned that she suggested changes to the trailer before it was sent to the Cannes Film Festival.

She lauded the actors in the film saying: “Those who acted in the film had a very tough time. Those who performed did it very sincerely.”

Arefin Shuvo will play Bangabandhu and Nusrat Imrose Tisha will portray Fazilatunnesa in the film. Nusrat Faria will play the role of Hasina while Riaz Ahmed will appear as Tajuddin Ahmad.

Toufique Imrose Khalidi
Editor-in-Chief and Publisher