A hard won fight leads to a fragile treaty

The 1972 Indo-Bangladeshi Treaty of Cooperation is signed between the two nations, declaring peace and economic, social, cultural and mutual security for 25 years
The signing of the treaty, photographed; Source: Public Domain

The signing of the treaty, photographed; Source: Public Domain

It was, perhaps, a time for celebration. Nearly four months had passed since the Indian Army had marched into Eastern Pakistan, liberating it along with the Mukti Bahini to form the independent Bangladeshi republic. It was time now to settle the scores, once the disarmament of the Pakistani army and the deal with them was finalised.

India and Bangladesh, under the leadership of Mujibur Rahman, would seek to forge closer ties with each other. It is perhaps in this spirit that they signed the Indo - Bangladesh Treaty of Friendship on the 19th of March, 1972, which led to, among other things, an overall betterment of ties between the two, albeit not for the entire 25 years the treaty was supposed to make the two nations cooperate.

The deals were simple as both nations sought cooperation in the scientific, agricultural, water, security and declared lasting peace and friendship between the two nations. It was perhaps a unique moment where both nations would see eye to eye, as the treaty would have its own share of troubles. Yet with the initial hope that everything would sort out - both sides would enter into deals of developing the river basin - the Ganga-Brahmaputra one, and other areas together, cultural ties were strengthened, and non-aggression against each other was declared. Both sides also resolved to not make any understanding with other nations against each other’s interests.

A clause also stated that the treaty would be renewed after 25 years, but in 1997, both sides did not do so.

Disputes over water sharing at Farakka, Indian trade going into Bangladesh, terror launchpad accusations on both sides of the border - all of these would eventually derail the treaty, especially with the opening of ties with Pakistan from the Bangladeshi end. This was perhaps one lost opportunity for sorting out disputes in an area, and while agreements have come up in recent times to remedy it, nothing replaces an alliance like the old.


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