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Daunting task ahead before Mukherjee: Left

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    New Delhi, Oct 29: The daunting task before the new foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee has been further complicated by developments in Bangladesh and question marks on issues before the forthcoming Foreign Secretaries level talks between India and Pakistan, Left parties said today.

    ''The developments in Bangladesh leading to instability in the democratic system in our neighbourhood is very serious matter of concern for us,'' Left leaders said in separate interviews to sources.

    They said apart from Bangladesh, the new External Affairs Minister has also a tough task ahead of him in the backdrop of the forthcoming Foreign Secretary level talks with Pakistan. Besides, the complicated situation in Sri Lanka and Nepal are the other challenging tasks.

    CPI General Secretary A B Bardhan said the January 27 elections to be conducted by a neutral administrator has become a bone of contention between the Awami League and the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

    "Though generally sympathy in India has been with Sheikh Hasina Wazed, daughter of Mujibur Rehman, but the UPA government has to tread on very cautious path without giving any impression of interfering in the internal affairs of that country," Mr Bardhan said.

    The CPI General Secretary said India would like a stable administration after the general elections in January next year.

    The issues like cross border terrorism, sanctuary for extremist elements of North-Eastern India, suspected hideouts of the al Qaeda are issues which India would like to be tackled by the new government in Bangladesh, he added.

    Dwelling on the larger perspective on country's foreign policy especially after Mr Mukherjee took over as the External Affairs Minister, CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat said it was expected that the government would reappraise the foreign and security policies so that a proper direction could be given during the remaining term of the government.

    Mr Karat, in a detailed article in the latest issue of his party official mouthpiece ' People's Democracy", observed that" Pranab Mukherjee is the member with the most political experience in the Union Government." "He (Mr Mukherjee) is well acquainted with the earlier role of the Congress, particularly during Ms Indira Gandhi's regime in formulating a foreign policy based on non alignment and safeguarding of India's vital interests," Mr Karat said.

    CPI National Secretary Shamim Faizi observed that the outgoing dispensation in Bangladesh was a mixture of nationalist and religious fundamentalist elements.

    "The Jaimati-Islami having been the partner in Bangladesh government was a serious matter of concern as it is known to be in league with the al Qaeda and such other religious fundamentalist elements," Mr Faizi, the editor of Party Weekly New Age, said.

    On the forthcoming foreign secretaries level talks, the CPI leaders said the main task would be to concretise the Havana Declaration made by Pakistan President Pevez Musharraf and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. They said India has repeatedly asserted that creation of joint mechanism against terrorism is a test for Pakistan." It is well known that ISI of Pakistan which is alleged to be a state within state is against such a mechanism," Mr Bardhan observed.

    " It will not like to share information with Indian intellegence services whereas India has enough credible information on the involvement of ISI in various terrorist acts including the serial bomb blasts in Mumbai suburban trains," he added.

    Mr Faizi said Mr Shiv Shanker Menon, India's Foreign Secretary is going to have tough time in his very first major assignment after assuming the charge of the new post.

    "He has to convince his Pakistan counterpart of the necessity to make the joint mechanism a success." he added.

    RSP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Abani Roy, while impressing upon the government to uphold Indian's independent foreign policy in ''our dealing with our neighbours, emphasised that all steps be taken to strengthen our ties with them for the greater cause of peace and development in the region.'' Mr Roy, however, lamented that during the anti Monarchy struggle in Nepal led by Seven party alliance headed by Communist Party of Nepal( Maoists), India in the absence of a full-fledged Foreign Affairs Minister played a" very minimal role" and limited itself to sending officials and dispatching Dr Karan Singh to Kathmandu.

    Forward Bloc National Secretary G Devrajan said the Left parties did not like this" not very clear" attitude of the UPA government.

    The Left leaders said Mr Mukherjee had to put the record straignt and lead the foreign office in a more comprehensive manner vis a vis Nepal.

    Though Sri Lankan government expected much more pro- active role for India in resolving the LTTE related problems in the island, but the Congress-led UPA government had its compulsions of allies from Tamil Nadu, the Left said.

    The Left leaders said the Manmohan Singh government can not assume the role once played by India during Rajiv Gandhi regime. Mr Mukherjee has to keep in mind both international responsiblities and domestic compulsions.

    Besides, Mr Mukherjee would also have to dispel the apprehensions of the neighbouring countries' about India's " big brotherly" attitude towards them, the leaders added.

    UNI

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