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Myanmar anti-Muslim Violence: Manmohan Singh needs to threaten trade sanctions

Manmohan Singh, the first Indian premier to visit Myanmar in a quarter of a century, met President Thein Sein in the capital on May 28th 2012, signing deals aimed at boosting trade and energy links and contesting the influence of regional rival China. (Photo: Getty Image)

March 2, 2014

Mumbai: As Manmohan Singh readies to fly to Myanmar capital Nay Pyi Taw Monday for the six-nation BIMSTEC meet on regional ties, Dr Syed Zafar Mahmood asked him to talk tough with the host country on ant-Muslim violence and demanded from the visiting prime minister to threaten it of economic sacntions.

"Unlike his earlier interactions with the leaders of Myanmar, Dr Singh must this time firmly convey in unequivocal terms to the Government and leadership of Myanmar the deep anguish and disapproval of the people and the Government of India in respect of the large scale ongoing anti-Muslim ethnic cleansing in that country", Dr Zafar said.

Dr. Zafar who is president of Zakat Foundation of India and former OSD at the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) was talking to on phone ahead of Manmohan Singh's visit to Myanmar.

"Unabated, protracted, mass scale and intransigent gross violation of Human Rights has been continuing in Myanmar for quite some time. Hence, India which has earlier been Myanmar's protector state and is now its 4th largest trading partner, must also threaten Myanmar of cutting down bilateral trade", he said.

"Not only the Tripartite Highway Project needs to be put on hold, India should also vehemently move resolutions in ASEAN, SAARC and UNO asking them to impose international trade sanctions against Myanmar", he demanded.

Manmohan Singh leaves for Myanmar capital Nai Pyi Taw Monday for the six-nation BIMSTEC meet on regional ties, in what could be his last foreign visit as prime minister, and also hold bilateral talks with its leadership.

Apart from engaging with his host, Myanmar President U. Thein Sein, Manmohan Singh is also set to parley with his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina, Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and the new Nepalese premier Sushil Koirala.

Besides these countries, Thailand and Bhutan are also part of BIMSTEC or the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation. The upcoming, two-day summit will be the third after those in Bangkok in 2004 and here in 2008.

The regional forum focuses on 14 key sectors of common development and concern such as agriculture, trade, investment, technology, energy, tourism, transport communication, environment, disaster management, health and counter-terrorism.

The leaders are also expected to give a political push to the delivery of a free trade pact among these six nations, which account for 1.3 billion people, or 21 percent of the world population, and a combined gross domestic product of $2.5 trillion.

The focus for New Delhi will equally be on the bilateral talks Manmohan Singh holds with the leadership of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal, officials said ahead of the visit.

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