The Indian government is pressuring Bangladesh authorities to sign several agreements in the fields of defence ‘cooperation’ and military purchase from Indian suppliers during prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s upcoming visit to New Delhi.
Indian officials, in their consistent overt and covert communications, are lobbying Bangladesh officials in Dhaka and New Delhi for the agreements and memorandums of understanding planned so far considering the visit, officials said.
Indian foreign secretary Subrahmanyam Jaishankar is set to arrive in Dhaka this afternoon on a two-day official visit for the preparations of the prime minister’s visit scheduled for the first half of April.
India has ‘re-oriented’ its diplomacy toward securing weapons exports and strategic contracts as a part of its plan to consolidate influence in the region as well as containing Chinese influence in South Asia and South East Asia, the officials said.
India has proposed a defence cooperation agreement that might have avenues for far reaching strategic importance, they said.
It has proposed to give a $500 million line of credit to Bangladesh for purchasing military equipment from mainly Indian state-run producers under suppliers-credit.
India has also proposed several agreements likely to be implemented by its state-run Bharat Electronics Limited, which enjoys specialisation in avionics, Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd, which holds specialisation in warship building, and Indian Navy.
It has also proposed several agreements involving its defence educational institutions.
India dispatched defence minister Manohar Parrikar to Dhaka in Novermber 2016, two weeks after Bangladesh received delivery of two submarines from China, for a major upgrade in bilateral defence cooperation in the backdrop of China continuing to expand strategic and investment footprints in Bangladesh.
India, according to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, was the world’s largest importer of major arms in 2012-16, accounting for 13 per cent of the global total. Between 2007–11 and 2012–16, it increased arms imports by 43 per cent. The country remains dependent on weapons technology from Russia, the United States, several European countries, Israel and South Korea.
India recently secured export orders of military products, including rifles, trucks, SUVs, ambulance, radar systems, missiles, offshore patrol vessels and warships, depending on country-specific requirements from Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal, Malaysia, Vietnam, Namibia, Oman, Ecuador and Mauritious.
Major defence suppliers of Bangladesh are China, Russia and several European countries.
Indian foreign secretary S Jaishankar is scheduled for today to reach Dhaka from China. He would call on prime minister Sheikh Hasina and foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali.
Foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque would hold bilateral talks, with Jaishankar, when the two foreign secretaries are likely to review preparations of the prime minister’s visit to India and areas of bilateral cooperation between the two countries.
Jaishankar would leave Dhaka Friday morning.
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