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In a startling revelation, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh has alleged an ongoing plot to carve out a Christian state, akin to East Timor, from parts of Bangladesh and Myanmar.

During a public address yesterday, Prime Minister Hasina stated that she had been offered a “hassle-free reelection” in the upcoming January 7 polls if she permitted a foreign country to establish an airbase within Bangladesh’s territory. She refrained from naming the country involved in this purported offer, but the implications of her statement point towards substantial foreign interference in Bangladesh’s sovereignty.

The Prime Minister’s allegations come at a time of heightened instability in the region, with the rise of Kuki extremism in Manipur and Nagaland, northeastern states of India. These regions have seen an upsurge in militant activities, with many of the insurgents belonging to Protestant denominations, particularly the Baptist Church. This religious and ethnic insurgency is seen as a potential threat to the regional stability and sovereignty of nations in South Asia.

The National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN), the largest Naga militant and separatist group, operates mainly in the northeastern part of India. The NSCN was formed with the aim of establishing a sovereign Christian state called “Nagalim,” which would encompass all areas inhabited by the Naga people across Northeast India and parts of Myanmar. This objective mirrors the concerns raised by Prime Minister Hasina about the creation of a new Christian state in the region.

The reference to East Timor by Prime Minister Hasina is significant. East Timor, predominantly Christian, gained independence from Indonesia in 2002 after years of conflict and international intervention. The creation of East Timor set a precedent for the international community’s role in the formation of new states based on ethnic and religious lines, raising concerns about similar movements in other parts of the world.

Prime Minister Hasina’s allegations should serve as a wake-up call for India and other neighboring countries. The rise of religious and ethnic extremism, coupled with foreign interference, poses a significant threat to regional stability. The activities of groups like the NSCN, seeking to establish sovereign Christian territories, underscore the complex dynamics of religion, ethnicity, and politics in South Asia.

The possibility of foreign powers influencing internal politics and territorial integrity in South Asia necessitates a strategic response. For Bangladesh, the allegations of a foreign country attempting to build an airbase signal a direct threat to national security. Similarly, for India, the insurgency in the Northeast, driven by aspirations of a sovereign Christian state, highlights the urgent need for comprehensive security and political measures.