4th Bangladesh-India Security Dialogue, 5-6 April 2012

The Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) in partnership with the Centre for International Relations of the Observer Research Foundation (ORF) held the 4rth Bangladesh-India Security Dialogue in New Delhi on 5-6 April 2012. This dialogue was the fourth in a series of dialogues on Bangladesh-India security issues, which were held alternatively in Dhaka and New Delhi on December 2009, March 2010 and December 2011. This dialogue was particularly significant as is assessed the current state of bilateral relations since the last dialogue and evaluated ways and means of fostering robust cooperation on various security issues including border management and counter terrorism.

The Dialogue brought together 32 distinguished participants from both countries, including government officials, retired diplomats, academics, security experts, journalists and researchers. The goal of the dialogue was to address security issues between Bangladesh and India and deliberate on contentious bilateral issues which have often have acted as barriers to mutually beneficial cooperation.

Ambassador Satinder K Lambah, Special Envoy of the Prime Minister of India, in his keynote speech stated that the current level of cooperation must be sustained to eradicate terrorism and militancy from both the countries. Ambassador Lambah reiterated the need to finalize the extradition treaty between Bangladesh and India. In his speech, Mr. Farooq Sobhan, President of BEI, mentioned that cooperation between Bangladesh and India on sensitive security issues will play a major role in fostering mutual trust. Ambassador MK Rasgotra, President of ORF stated that greater progress needs to be made on cooperation on border management and the implementation of open borders is the best solution to all border issues.

During the Dialogue, 5 papers on security and bilateral concerns were presented, of which 2 were from the BEI team and 3 from ORF. Mr. Humayun Kabir, Senior Research Director of BEI presented a paper on “Bangladesh-India Cooperation on Border Management” which analyzed the divergent border management perspectives of the two countries, outstanding border issues, contemporary cooperation mechanisms and recommendations on enhancing cooperation. Since the assessment of the contemporary trends in bilateral relations is crucial to the purpose of fostering better relations, two papers, one each from BEI and ORF, were presented on this issue. Mr. Faiz Sobhan, Research Director, BEI, presented a paper entitled “Bangladesh India Relations: Developments since the Third Dialogue” that analyzed contemporary trends in bilateral issues regarding trade, border management and transit, among others.  Representing the Indian delegation Dr. Joyeeta Bhattacharjee, Associate Fellow, ORF presented a paper entitled “India-Bangladesh Relations: Moving Beyond Manmohan Singh’s Visit” which relayed progress in bilateral relations between the two countries as well as some of the existing constraints to robust relations. Mr. Harinder Sikka, Managing Director, Piramal Systems and Technologies, undertook a presentation on phensydl smuggling at the Bangladesh-India border. Dr. P.V. Ramana, Research Fellow, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses presented a paper entitled “India’s Maoist Movement: Current Trends and Security Implications”, which provided a comprehensive review of the contemporary trends in India’s Maoist insurgent groups and their ramifications on national security.

Participants engaged in extensive discussions that produced a greater understanding of the security perspectives of each country and promoted the recognition of border management and counter terrorism as common security issues to both Bangladesh and India, threats that required joint and genuine efforts by the two countries in order to be tackled effectively. The dialogue provided participants with an opportunity to learn about the experiences and features of the national security management structures of the two countries.

Overall, the Dialogue was successful in creating a platform on which various bilateral contentious issues and security concerns of both nations was deliberated, with active participation by key stakeholders from both countries. The Dialogue ended on a positive note with the consensus that Bangladesh and India have made great progress in their bilateral relation over the past few years and greater initiatives are required to effectively utilize this momentum to mitigate long-standing bilateral issues.