Unocalآ’s Bangladesh gas exports get RAW lift

Vol 6, PW 2 (27 Mar 02) People & Policy

UNOCALS GAS EXPORT plan from Bangladesh meanwhile, has a new champion: India's external intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing.

We understand RAW's political masters in Delhi have instructed it to initiate moves to convince Bangladesh to agree to Unocal's plan to export gas to India. PETROWATCH learns Tareque Zia, the son of Bangladesh prime minister Khaleda Zia, met senior RAW officials in Delhi and Mumbai over this issue in February.

Our Dhaka source tells us that on 14th February Tareque and two friends flew to Calcutta accompanied by a senior RAW official. Tareque stayed overnight at Calcutta and flew to Mumbai the next day.

On 16th February he met other RAW officials in a meeting lasting three hours. During the meeting RAW pointedly requested Tareque to persuade his mother to "quickly decide" on exporting gas to India and suggested a strategy that could blunt domestic criticism: Bangladesh should first permit the laying of a gas export pipeline from Myanmar to India.

After carefully gauging public reaction, it should then allow Unocal to lay a pipeline from Sylhet to the Indian border. Tareque responded positively and agreed to first "lobby" for the Myanmar-India pipeline.

"I am not opposed to gas exports but you know how sensitive the issue is in my country," Tareque said. "I don't want it to jeopardize my mother's future."For his part Tareque requested RAW to use Indian influence on the opposition Awami League to stop opposing gas exports to India.

Tareque returned to Calcutta on 17th February and to Dhaka the next day.

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