The situation in Bangladesh is better than some days ago, senior government officials said on Friday, but there is a long way to go before credible elections can take place.
Concerted efforts by the international community, including India, the United States, Britain and Canada, forced caretaker advisor (CA) Iajuddin Ahmed, to demit the post of CA on Thursday and postpone elections there, paving the way for a more credible electoral exercise.
International efforts to exert pressure on Ahmed to end the direct confrontation with the Awami League - led grand alliance resembled similar efforts in Nepal last year to ensure that the King Gyanendra, stepped back, allowing democratic forces to prevail.
A senior official cited the decision to revise and update the electoral rolls, appoint a non-partisan head of the interim caretaker government and place leading political figures, including Tareq Zia (former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's son) under house arrest on Friday as "steps in the right direction."
"There is still a considerable distance to travel before free and fair elections can be held," an official said. "Now the political parties have to show maturity and abjure violence."
"We are still closely watching the evolving situation," the official said.
In a statement on Thursday night, the ministry of external affairs had said, "We are closely studying the evolving situation. It remains our hope that the people of Bangladesh will be allowed to exercise their democratic right to choose their own government in a free and fair process through credible elections in which all major political parties are in a position to participate."
Concern about the security situation in Bangladesh and the likelihood of increased infiltration into India has prompted the BSF to increase patrolling and the number of troops deployed along the international border with Bangladesh.
According to a former Indian envoy to Bangladesh, the situation in that country directly impacts India, as violence and the bitter rivalry between the major political combines allows the Islamic fundamentalists to gain credibility with the populace.
While there is no direct evidence linking the recent attacks by the United Liberation Front for Assam (ULFA) in Assam to the political unrest in Bangladesh, officials said Islamic fundamentalist groups like the Jagrata Mussalman Bangladesh and Ahle Hadis had increased their activities. Some of these groups reportedly have links with the Al-Qaeda.
When contacted today, diplomats at the Bangladesh High Commission in Delhi declined to comment on the fast-changing developments in Dhaka.
India's envoy to Bangladesh, Pinak R Chakravarty, has reached Dhaka, where he is due to present his credentials of office on Tuesday (January 16) to Ahmed, who continues to remain the country's president.