Khaleda Zia snubs Pranab
DHAKA, March 04 (INP): President Pranab Mukherjee landed in the Bangladesh capital in the middle of escalating
violence, and had an immediate political fallout as opposition leader Begum Khaleda Zia called off her meeting with the visiting Indian dignitary at
the very last
"We had fixed a time for Begum Khaleda Zia to call on our President well in advance and this had been in our programme for
quite some time. The President was in fact looking forward to meeting Begum Khaleda Zia, the programme was accepted," foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai
said. "The reason given in an email to the high commission in India was that there is a hartal between March 3 and 5 and experience shows that such
hartals often turn violent, thereby causing security and safety concerns for the movement of people. And it is precisely because of these concerns
that the proposed time-table for the meeting with the President will not be suitable."
Bangladeshi foreign minister Dipu Moni described
Zia's decision as "discourteous".
Incidentally, Zia had met the President during her visit to Delhi last year. The move comes at a time
when the Shahbagh protests have entered the 27th day.
Zia's change of plans is significant as the BNP supports the Jamaat-e-Islami that has
called for the nationwide general strike in protest against the war crimes trials. The trials, supported by the Sheikh Hasina government, have led to
top Jamaat leaders being sentenced to death. The Jamaat is an ally of former PM Zia's party and was a partner in her government from 2001 to 2006.
In the delegation-level meeting with Bangladeshi PM Sheikh Hasina, both sides emphasized at evolving a solution on the Teesta waters issue
through consensus and keeping in mind the interest of all stakeholders.