Security key to Bangladesh’s neighbourhood policy, bdnews24.com, 30 November 2014
Bangladesh is supporting India in every possible way after the Burdwan bomb blast because security is “a central component” of its neighbourhood policy, the foreign minister has said.
“We attach utmost importance to human security,” Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali said on Sunday inaugurating a two-day ‘Bangladesh-India security dialogue’ at a Dhaka hotel.
He said at the root of the threat to security “lies a variety of forces that have become global in influence and more serious in their effects”.
Ali reiterated his government’s “principled and unequivocal” position to not tolerate terrorism in any form against the interest of any country, particularly India.
Security cooperation had been “the high point” of India-Bangladesh relations in recent years, he said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s efforts to address India’s security concerns had “strengthened significantly the confidence of the Indian government and people” in Bangladesh, he added.
“This changed mindset of the leaderships in both the countries gave the relationship a new dimension and took it to a different level.
“The same degree of cooperation from our side will continue,” he said.
The foreign minister said the Burdwan blast had brought to the fore “yet again the importance of security cooperation between the two countries”.
A four-member team of India’s National Investigation Agency headed by Director General Sharad Kumar this month visited Dhaka as part of joint investigations following the Oct 2 blast at a house in West Bengal’s Burdwan town.
The arrested extremists’ link with Bangladesh’s outlawed group JMB has reportedly been found after the blast.
The minister cited three security-related agreements, Coordinated Border Management Plan (CBMP), and extradition treaty signed with India and said “all security related enabling instruments are now in place”.
“We have a three-tiered bilateral security mechanism at the Ministry of Home Affairs, with regular consultations at the official level, at Secretary level and finally at Ministerial level,” he said.
Security most important in Dhaka-Delhi ties
Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) and India’s Observer Research Foundation (ORF) jointly organised this dialogue, sixth of its kind. The discussion sessions have been closed-door.
The foreign minister said this kind of dialogues at the civil society level “strengthens the bridge of friendship” between Bangladesh and India.
Through engagements of almost all conceivable sectors of cooperation, he said, the relations became “increasingly interlinked”.
“Security is among the most important components”.
He said Bangladesh attached “highest importance” to its relations with India and New Delhi also recognised that “a stable and economically robust Bangladesh is in India’s own interest”.
“This mutual respect and understanding particularly of each other’s concerns and priorities has put the relationship on solid fundamentals”.
He said the relations had taken “a quantum leap forward” over the past five years and it remained continued even after the regime change in Delhi.
Hasina and Modi’s leaderships would usher in “a newer era” of bilateral relations building on the successes of the previous years, he said.
He cited Modi’s recent comment that ‘Bangabandhu is the founder of Bangladesh and his daughter Shiekh Hasina is its saviour’ and said the message was the manifestation of BJP government’s “positive attitude towards Bangladesh and its government”.
Bangladesh wants better connected South Asia
Minister Mahmood Ali said Bangladesh was poised to play its “natural role as hub of connectivity” taking advantage of its unique geographical location at the confluence of Bhutan, Nepal and the north-eastern states of India.
“We are also straddling the cross-road of South and Southeast Asia,” he said, adding that Bangladesh’s intention was to establish “better connected” South Asia.
“We are keen to establish seamless connectivity for the whole region including India because this would bring about unprecedented prosperity for all the countries.
“For this very reason, the sub-regional cooperation on Connectivity was taken up involving Bangladesh, India, Bhutan and Nepal,” he said.
He also mentioned that Bangladesh was actively participating in other regional connectivity initiatives such as the BCIM Economic Corridor.
“All these are testimonies to our intention to establish a better connected South Asia” that he said would be possible if India and Bangladesh work together.
“The eagerness of the two governments to enhance economic ties is a very good sign and the accruing economic dividends will certainly have a more congenial impact on overall Bangladesh-India relations”.
He, however, weighed on the people-to-people contacts saying that was “the strongest and most treasured part of our relationship”.
“We need to nurture and leverage it as a catalyst to further enhance our bilateral ties”.