By Kathryn Jacques (auth.)

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Additional info for Bangladesh, India and Pakistan: International Relations and Regional Tensions in South Asia

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Indo–Bangladesh border altercations should not necessarily be perceived in terms of Hindu–Muslim antagonism and the two-nation theory. Nevertheless, any defiance of the Indian government by predominantly Muslim Bangladesh could easily be construed in religious and ideological terms as a challenge to Indian ideals of secularism and democracy, particularly once Bangladesh came under a military regime which favoured warmer relations with Pakistan. In attempting to resolve disputes with Bangladesh, the necessity for the Indian government to accommodate subtle differences in aspirations between Bangladesh’s home-grown military regime and the succeeding governments of Pakistan would have found little Indian sympathy or support in the polarised arena of post-Partition South Asian politics.

100 Heavy reliance on foreign aid is not restricted to Bangladesh in the South Asian region,101 but when combining this dependency with the problem of extreme population density and the widespread nature of frequent natural Bangladesh’s Foreign Policy 21 disasters,102 Bangladesh is particularly vulnerable to any reduction in the supply of foreign aid. Considerable fluctuations have occurred in the supply of aid, forcing Bangladesh governments to seek new donors and forms of aid, particularly during the last decade, as explained below.

121 Whether or not the aid was forthcoming, Zia and Ershad were sending a clear message to India that their foreign policy leanings favoured Pakistan. Indian fears of external stratagems to destabilise its volatile northeast and northwest were widely known and easily provoked, as expressed by Nancy Jetly: India has reasons to be wary about Bangladesh’s potentially disruptive role in the northeast, in the context of continuing uncertainty in the strategic region. India has also reasons to be uneasy about any major destabilization in Bangladesh which would lead to the involvement of an extra-regional Power in the area and have major repercussions in India.

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