February 03, 2005


Bangladesh has all the reasons to be angry as India refused to attend the seven country regional summit SAARC scheduled on 6th and 7th on the ground of recent developments in Nepal and citing deteriorating security situation in Dhaka. I personally do not buy these excuses.

Because I know how well Bangladesh had completed all the preparations for the summit. The pre-summit process had already started with full participation of all seven member states. When my wife joined office after the maternity leave she was assigned to SAARC duty and she had to work day and night participating in all the security drills, rehearsals, working out schedules for the delegates etc. She was annoyed with the facts that she could give the child less time. I even had a couple days leave to baby-sit. She was hoping that SAARC summit would end successfully. But now she is frustrated as all the hard works will have to be repeated. Many government offices had been working for months for the cause. One of her colleagues had an heart attack and died in office presumably for the extra work load.

Now the question remains was there a security concern for the delegates? In fact the opposition strike (called on 3rd, 5th & 6th) would have eased the movements of the delegates because of the minimal traffic. As per Bangladesh government spokesman:

"comprehensive and blanket security arrangements were made at an unprecedented level. All Indian security concerns were fully considered and accommodated. It is ironic that India undertook to announce the decision when an Indian security assessment team was still present in Dhaka and consulting with our security agencies."

About the Nepal issue the spokesman said: "It is a shared belief that SAARC should not be held hostage to bilateral considerations."

The SAARC charter says that the summit can only be held in the presence of all the leaders of the seven member states.

India has "deeply regretted" the inconvenience caused to the other member states for this decision. But how can they mend all the waste of money used for the preparation? Did they even consider these? Two 5 star hotels were completely booked for the participants. Now the government will have to pay the demurrage in millions of Taka. All the man hours of the preparatory committee would have to be repeated when SAARC starts in a new schedule. Have you seen pictures of Dhaka lately? Dhaka has a new look for SAARC. All the roads are mended and roadsides beautified. I am talking about expenditures of billions of Taka for this poor country. And as a tax payer of this country I see wastage of my money as these would have to be repeated again.

Bangladesh has done all of these to get a regret statement from India. Deeply shocking.

Update: Nitin also thinks that it is a bad idea for India. He says:

Dr. Manmohan Singh lost an excellent opportunity to demonstrate India’s regional leadership. Manmohan Singh should have used the SAARC platform to state the obvious —unless South Asian countries pay attention to their internal stability and national reconciliation, progress and development will remain a chimeric dream.

Related: SAARC Summit postponement costs the nation Tk. 120 million (US$ 2 million).


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