Prime Minister's International Affairs Adviser Dr Gowher Rizvi on Monday said Bangladesh does not want to see any situation that might affect the secular social fabrics.
"It’s true, we’re a secular society. Our commitment to secularism is absolutely central and we don’t want to have any situation where our secularism will be threatened in any way,” he said while addressing a seminar at a city hotel as the chief guest.
Dr Rizvi said they will need to continue to work “closely” with India to ensure that their secular society grows from strength to strength.
Visiting Indian Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla delivered the keynote speech at the seminar titled "Bangladesh and India: A promising Future” jointly organised by the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) and Indian High Commission in Dhaka.
Dr Rizvi said minorities in Bangladesh are not only sacred as they are “absolute equal citizens” of this country.
So, he said, there is no question whatsoever that their interests in a secular Bangladesh society can be affected. “The government attaches the highest priority to the protection and welfare of our minority citizens.”
The foreign affairs expert assured all that there is no way they will look away if their minorities are affected in any possible way.
He mentioned that minorities in Bangladesh have invaluable contributions to growth and development of Bangladesh and the government is committed to providing them equal opportunities. “We’re committed to Agenda 2030…nobody will be left behind.”
Dr Rizvi said much has been achieved together and the two countries have created a relationship which would be envy of any two neighbours in the world and the two countries have resolved issues in a peaceful manner.
“We need to look forward, ours is a long-term relationship. We need to find long-term solutions to all the problems,” he said.
Dr Rizvi described India's National Register of Citizens (NRC) issue as a burning one but expected it to remain as an internal or domestic affair of the neighbouring country as stated repeatedly by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi having no impact on Bangladesh.
"We’ve accepted that (repeated assurances) and we’ve good reasons to believe we shouldn’t worry [about]," he said.
He termed "heavenly" the Dhaka-Delhi ties saying the two neighbours by now resolved the seven-decade-old land boundary disputes in a peaceful manner, setting an example for other parts of the globe though there are some outstanding issues.
Dr Rizvi said he was unhappy with the existing pace of progress in resolving the outstanding issues which two countries have agreed previously.
He said opportunities will be lost in delays and urged to expedite the implementation of the initiatives under the Indian Line of Credit.
BIISS Chairman Ambassador Fazlul Karim, Indian High Commissioner Riva Ganguly Das and acting Director General of BIISS Colonel Sheikh Masud Ahmed also spoke at the programme.
Shringla arrived here on a brief visit on Monday morning. Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen received Shringla upon arrival at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport.
The Indian Foreign Secretary met Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and conveyed that India is looking forward to a successful visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi later in the month for Mujib Borsho.
Shringla met his counterpart Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Mamun and had “warm and friendly” discussions on the Bangladesh-India partnership and plans for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit.
The Indian Foreign Secretary met Awami League General Secretary and Minister of Road, Transport and Bridges Obaidul Quader.
They agreed that the bilateral relationship is of the highest priority for both governments, and on the need for efforts to continue to strengthen this partnership.
The Indian Foreign Secretary is scheduled to leave Dhaka for New Delhi on Tuesday morning.