The Tipaimukh Dam has of late metamorphosed into a national issue of great significance. In fact it would not be an overstatement to say that right now it is the pre-eminent issue of national concern. This is as it should be. Indeed, the question is not why it has suddenly come into national focus, but why it had not been a subject of debate and discussion long before.
There is no question that the issue of whether and for what purpose and to what specifications the dam is to be built and what the consequences might be is one of huge importance for Bangladesh.
It seems clear to us that what is needed in the present situation is transparency and full disclosure on the Indian side, as indeed, it is obligated to do under international norms.
But no less than transparency, what is also crucial is the obligation to deal in good faith and the spirit of cooperation. And this obligation devolves on Bangladesh no less than on India.
Nor can the Tipaimukh issue be viewed in isolation. To fully reach resolution on the issue, we must locate the discourse surrounding it and the approach to finding a mutually acceptable solution within the context of the greater Bangladesh-India relationship.
Tipaimukh is just one of a series of issues that we hope and trust can be settled or resolved in a mutually acceptable fashion that can thus move the bilateral relationship onto a more collegial footing.
Now is the time. A confrontational stance between the two countries over the past 30-plus years has cost us both greatly. The mutual advantages of a more cooperative relationship are self-evident.
From trade relations to border issues to transshipment to security -- there are many issues beyond the question of water-sharing and common rivers that have bedeviled the bilateral relationship, and now is the time to try to resolve them once and for all and to transform the bilateral relationship.
Tipaimukh can be the template for what this new relationship should look like. Thus from the Indian side, we would like to see full disclosure and consultation, as indeed has been pledged by no lesser a personage than the Indian PM himself.
On the Bangladesh side, we can also be restrained and unbiased in how we approach the issue, firmly defending the nation's interests, but at the same time approaching the issue with an open mind.
Ultimately, what is needed, on both sides, is good faith and mutual respect. Both sides must act in good faith and believe in the other side's good faith. Let us hope that the Tipaimukh issue is resolved amicably and that its resolution will point the way to a more durable, cooperative, and mutually beneficial bilateral relationship in the years to come.