Thanking Bangladesh

Earlier this month, India’s parliament took the first step toward settling a boundary dispute with Bangladesh that dates back to the partition of the subcontinent in 1947. Such an agreement would provide a major boost to the already warm bilateral relationship – and encourage Bangladesh to continue its anti-terror efforts.

NEW DELHI – This month, India’s parliament took the first step toward a potentially momentous decision: to settle a boundary dispute with Bangladesh that dates back to the 1947 partition of the subcontinent. An agreement in this area would provide a major boost to the already warm bilateral relationship, not least by bolstering Bangladesh’s position in the region.

The demarcation of the India-Pakistan border by the British was a slapdash affair, concocted by a collapsing empire in headlong retreat from its responsibilities. The border itself was hastily drawn by Sir Cyril Radcliffe, a lawyer who had never visited India before receiving the assignment, and caused numerous practical problems.

In the eastern part of Pakistan, which became Bangladesh in 1971, Radcliffe’s frontier created two sets of anomalies. In some cases, one country refused to relinquish territory to the other, resulting in so-called “adverse possessions”; in others, Radcliffe left small areas of one country completely surrounded by the other’s territory.

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