Saturday, January 2, 2016, Poush 19, 1422 BS, Rabiul Awal 20, 1437 Hijri

2015, a year of landmark successes in foreign policy
Shahnaj Begum
Published :Saturday, 2 January, 2016,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 29
Bangladesh has achieved a landmark success in foreign policy in 2015 in cementing relations with South-South and Asian countries in terms of business----trade and strengthening connectivity among the member countries.
Although in the last part of 2015 there was a huge row about foreigners' killings, issuance of security alerts by the local embassies, finally the Foreign Ministry showed tremendous success to restore confidence in diplomatic arena with the help of Home Ministry through showing zero tolerance against terrorism and extremism in the country.
"We just opened up the business opportunity in South----Asian countries through signing the Road Protocols with India-Bhutan-Myanmar-Nepal and joined hands with the BIMSTEC, the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi Sector Technical and Economic Cooperation, yes, in the fag-end of 2015, we faced huge difficulties but finally we overcome the situation as everyone has a very clear understanding about the government stands against terrorism and extremism and global phenomenon in this regard," State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahrier Alam said.
The extreme success of the foreign policy in 2015 came when the Indian Parliament endorsed the much-awaiting Land Boundary Agreement (LBA) in June 07 in 2015, through the approval of LBA, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sealed a landmark agreement with Bangladesh to exchange tiny enclaves where thousands of people from both the countries have been trapped for decades.
"About 50,000 people have been living in miserable conditions in the more than 160 enclaves for decades. Now each country will administer the enclaves in its territory and their residents will be allowed to choose where they want to live. This will enable them to gain legal access to public services such as schools and hospitals for the first time. The land boundary agreement solves a problem that has lingered on since colonial days. The Prime Minister Modi compared the agreement with the dismantling of the Berlin wall," he added.
On August 1 in 2015 Indians and Bangladeshis celebrated the end of a 68-year state of limbo for tens of thousands of people living along the porous border joining the two nations. India and Bangladesh exchanged more than 150 islands of territory - Bangladeshi territory in India, and Indian territories in Bangladesh - isolated since independence from British colonial rule in 1947. However, both the country has started the demarcation of the boundary areas from September last.
The inhabitants - about 37,330 in Indian enclaves and 14,200 in Bangladeshi enclaves - were deprived of public services because they had no defined citizenship, from now they will able to enjoy the life of a citizen, the State Minister said.
The Chhit-Mahals or enclaves are outlying and detached tracks of land situated inside Rangpur district of Bangladesh. Similarly, there are Bangladeshi Chhit-Mahals located inside Cooch Bihar district. There are 111 Indian Chhit-Mahals located in Bangladesh having 17,158.13 acres of land with an approximate population of 150,000 whereas there are 51 Bangladeshi Chhit-Mahals located inside the Indian territory having 7110.02 acres of land. The given details of enclaves were jointly compared and reconciled with records held by India and Bangladesh during the Indo-Bangladesh Boundary Conference held at Kolkata from October 9 to 12 in 1996 as well as during filed inspection at Jalpaiguri (West Bengal) - Pachagarh (Bangladesh) from November 21 to 24 in 1996.
Bangladesh also signed the Border Management Agreement with India to stop terrorism and human-arms-drug trafficking and exchange of criminals in 2015. However, Bangladesh shares a 4,098 km border with India. The people of north-east India are closer to Bangladesh than to those in the Indian mainland-irrespective of their geography, history, culture and language. The economic isolation of over 200 million people encourages illicit trade, fuels terrorism and increases tensions along the border. Yet they could have been natural trading partners, exploiting the comparative advantages of their respective regions.
The government also signed agreement with USA and UK to encounter extremism and in November it joined hands with the Saudi government to fight against ISIS, an Islamic countries forum lead by Saudi Arabia. Trying to sign border management agreement with Myanmar to stop human and drug trafficking and Rohingya issue.
In 2015, world leaders including the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi, Foreign Ministers of France, Germany, Iran and Under Secretary of the US State Department (Political), UN delegations  visited Bangladesh and appreciated the government's initiatives to stop terrorism and extremism.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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