Forty-seven years have passed by. The near and dear ones of the four most important national leaders of Bangladesh after Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib are yet to receive any justice for the savageMore
An event that marks a unique or significant historical change of course or one on which important developments depend, the six-point demand is a milestone in the history of Bangladesh.
The movement, led by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, took place in the-then East Pakistan and called for greater autonomy for the region. The movement aimed to address the six demands put forward by a coalition of Bengali nationalist political parties in 1966, with the goal of ending the exploitation of East Pakistan by the rulers of West Pakistan. It is considered a turning point on the road to Bangladesh’s independence.
After the partition of India, the new state of Pakistan was formed. The majority of its population resided in East Pakistan (later Bangladesh), and exports from East Pakistan, such as jute, constituted a significant portion of Pakistan’s export income. However, East Pakistanis did not feel they had a proportional share of political power and economic benefits within Pakistan.
Facing continuous regional discrimination, East Pakistan found itself in a critical situation. Consequently, economists, intellectuals, and politicians from East Pakistan started raising questions about this discrimination, giving rise to the historic six-point movement.
The six historical points are as follows:
The Constitution should provide for a true federation of Pakistan based on the Lahore Resolution, with a parliamentary form of government where the legislature is directly elected through universal adult franchise.
The federal government should only handle two subjects: defense and foreign affairs. All other residual subjects should be vested in the federating states.
Two separate, freely convertible currencies for the two wings of Pakistan should be introduced. If this is not feasible, there should be one currency for the entire country, but effective constitutional provisions must be introduced to prevent capital flight from East Pakistan to West Pakistan. Additionally, a separate banking reserve should be established, and separate fiscal and monetary policies should be adopted for East Pakistan.
The power of taxation and revenue collection should be vested in the federating units, with no such power for the federal center. The federation should receive a share of the state taxes to cover its expenditures.
Two separate accounts should be maintained for the foreign exchange earnings of the two wings. The foreign exchange requirements of the federal government should be met equally by the two wings or according to a fixed ratio. Indigenous products should move freely between the two wings, and the constitution should empower the units to establish trade links with foreign countries.
East Pakistan should have a separate military or paramilitary force, and the Navy headquarters should be located in East Pakistan.
The proposal was rejected by politicians from West Pakistan and non-Awami League politicians from East Pakistan. It was also rejected by the President of All Pakistan Awami League, Nawabzada Nasarullah Khan, as well as the National Awami Party, Jamaat-i-Islami, and Nizam-i-Islam. However, the movement garnered strong support from the population of the-then East Pakistan.
The Beginning of the Six-Point Demands
Mujib, who would later become Bangabandhu, was placed in detention under the Defense of Pakistan Rules on May 8, 1966. The reason for his detention was not hard to understand: Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan, President of Pakistan, made it clear that those advocating for the Six Points would be dealt with using force.
Ayub Khan was not the only one who saw the Six Points as a threat to Pakistan’s unity. His soon-to-be foreign minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, challenged Mujib to a public debate on the Six Points in Dhaka’s Paltan Maidan. Tajuddin Ahmed, Bangladesh’s first Prime Minister, accepted the challenge on Mujib’s behalf. However, Bhutto did not show up for the debate.
The leaders of opposition parties from West Pakistan held a national convention in Lahore on February 6, 1966, to assess the post-Tashkent political trend. Bangabandhu and the top leaders of Awami League arrived in Lahore on February 4, and the following day, he presented the Six-point charter of demands to the subject committee as the demands of the people of East Pakistan. He exerted pressure to include his proposal in the conference’s agenda. However, the subject committee rejected Bangabandhu’s proposal.
The newspapers in West Pakistan published reports on the Six-point Program, projecting Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as a separatist. Consequently, Sheikh Mujib withdrew from the conference. On February 21, 1966, the Six-point Program, along with a proposal for a movement to realize the demands, was presented at a meeting of the Awami League’s working committee and was unanimously carried out.
Why the Six-Point Program is called the “Charter of Freedom for the Bengali Nation”?
From 1947 to 1971, a historic period for East Pakistan, numerous painful events took place in this region—some to forget and some to remember and learn from. The six-point movement was one such event to remember.
The points were clear, easy to understand, and, most importantly, they truly reflected the sentiments of the Bengalis. It was the first time a Bengali demanded economic and political rights and national security. However, the response from West Pakistan was painful and humiliating, confirming the belief that East Pakistan was treated as a colony by West Pakistan.
June 7, 1966, is a red-letter day in the history of the freedom movement of the people of Bangladesh. On this historic day, the resilient people of the country made a firm and solemn vow to achieve self-determination under the able and dynamic leadership of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Hence, this day holds great political significance. It was on this day that blood was shed by our people as they demanded self-rule through the famous Charter of Six-point Demands, which ultimately became the Magna Carta of all movements originating from Bangladesh. Therefore, the importance and significance of this historic day cannot be overstated.
If we trace the history of our freedom struggle, which began a long time ago, we will observe that Bangabandhu, as part of his long-term plan to lead his people gradually and systematically to the path of emancipation, presented his historic Six-point Program to the nation at a national conference of leaders from all political parties in Lahore on February 16, 1966. This program disrupted the schemes of exploitation planned by the ruling clique in Islamabad and caused a violent storm in the political arena of the-then Pakistan.
The former Pakistani government made every effort to suppress the demand for self-determination raised by the 75 million people at that time, as laid down in the Magna Carta of Bangabandhu. As a result of the Six-point Program, Bangabandhu and his followers were imprisoned on May 8, 1966. The arrest of Bangabandhu and his followers was vehemently condemned by the people, and protests in the form of meetings, rallies, and processions resonated throughout Bangladesh, shaking the distant capital in Rawalpindi.
On May 20, the Awami League Working Committee decided to organize a protest meeting on June 7, 1966, condemning the repression and demanding the release of Bangabandhu and other leaders. Thus, the strike on June 7 was observed. The day began with factories closed, transportation halted, and business houses shut down. People expressed their indignation against the oppressors and their resolute support for the leadership of Bangabandhu by coming out on the streets, closing their establishments, offices, and shops. Dhaka became a city of processions and slogans, with workers and students peacefully taking to the streets. However, the ruling clique could not tolerate the chanting of slogans by people who had made a sacred vow to realize their right to self-determination. They responded with violence, killing scores of people, including Monu Mia in Dhaka and Narayanganj. The people of Bangladesh continued to raise their slogans for independence, shedding their blood in the process.
But the story did not end there; the melody lingered on. Every glory has a price to pay, and the Bengalis paid a high price for their freedom. However, the great Liberation War brought the nation together. It was a moment of truth for the Bengalis as they united to fight the Pakistani aggressors. In the eyes of the Pakistani forces, they were no longer just “little brown people”; instead, they fought back and achieved victory.
“Father of the Nation” is an honorific bestowed upon individuals who are considered instrumental in the establishment of a country or nation. They play a significant role in liberating their nation from colonial or other occupations. Some notable examples include George Washington for the United States, Peter I for Russia, Sun Yat-sen for China, Sir Henry Parkes for Australia, Miguel Hidalgo for Mexico, Sam Nujoma for Namibia, William the Silent for the Netherlands, Einar Gerhardsen for Norway, Julius Nyerere for Tanzania, Jomo Kenyatta for Kenya, Carlos Manuel de Céspedes for Cuba, Mustafa Kemal for Turkey, Sukarno for Indonesia, Tunku Abdul Rahman for Malaysia, Mahatma Gandhi for India, Don Stephen Senanayake for Sri Lanka, and Mohammad Ali Jinnah for Pakistan. Similarly, Bangabandhu Mujib is recognized as the Father of the Bangladesh nation.
Finally, on December 16, 1971, Bangladesh was born after a bloody war with Pakistan’s oppressive military regime.
Bangabandhu was a remarkable statesman and the undisputed Father of independent Bangladesh.
Most of the human rights organizations may appear to be upstanding global citizens on paper, their practical impact can be questioned, labeling them as toothless tigers. Let’s examine their behavior:
During the upcoming national elections in Bangladesh, the people want a festive atmosphere that allows voters to freely choose their preferred candidate. However, it is highly offensive to see foreign diplomats stationed in Dhaka interfering in Bangladesh’s election process while their own countries have significant faults in various affairs, including their own election processes. When these diplomats attempt to prescribe solutions for our national matters, they come across as unjust rogues.
Although the next parliamentary elections are still more than a year away, foreign diplomats are already involving themselves in Bangladesh’s election process, which is unacceptable. The government does not appreciate their interference, criticism, or opinions on the election process and internal affairs of the country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already instructed foreign diplomats working in Bangladesh to refrain from such actions. Additionally, media representatives should avoid asking foreign diplomats about our election process.
Regrettably, these international human rights organizations and their local counterparts have chosen to remain silent regarding the blatant and aggressive meddling of powerful nations like the United States in the domestic affairs of Bangladesh, an independent and sovereign country. This silence is deeply regrettable.
Moreover, the international non-governmental human rights organizations have failed to condemn the disgraceful decision of the White House administration to stop funding the World Health Organization (WHO) on flimsy grounds, violating international norms. Even the WHO itself has not addressed this issue yet.
In most cases, these organizations deliberately choose to remain silent on blatant violations of international rules by the American government and its allied authorities in weaker nations. It appears that they prioritize the interests of powerful states, displaying a double standard in their actions towards less powerful countries. They must strive to be more independent, resourceful, and courageous in fulfilling their responsibilities without succumbing to the influence of major powers or relying solely on their financial resources. Their work should not be compromised, and they should speak up against egregious and systemic human rights violations, especially those committed by the United States and its allies.
Millions of people have suffered crimes against humanity perpetrated by these rogue states, particularly the United States. It seems as though there is an unwritten agreement between these international non-governmental human rights organizations (NGOs) and powerful states such as the United States, where they refrain from speaking critically about them and their accomplice states.
Numerous human rights abuses occur in countries around the world, imposed in the form of abrasive sanctions to stifle nations and their people from asserting their rights. These NGOs remain silent when drone fighter planes strike weaker nations, resulting in the destruction of human lives and vital infrastructure for the sake of self-interest. In such situations, these NGOs hide their faces and fail to take bold steps to stop the oppressors. This raises the question of their effectiveness.
Furthermore, some global organizations have faced criticism for their inability to address the problems they were designed to tackle. The United Nations, for instance, has failed to compel Israel to adhere to its numerous resolutions, some of which were submitted by the UN Security Council. Similarly, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has also been deemed ineffective. The critical situation in Myanmar is an opportunity for the OIC to demonstrate its capabilities. As a body consisting of 57 nations, it is essential for its bureaucrats to take serious action rather than issuing insignificant press releases.
While human rights and democracy are not synonymous, the global human rights regime should be based on the understanding that democratic governance provides the best foundation for durable human rights protection. Multilateral institutions should align their policies with the promotion of democracy as the fundamental principle. Institutions like the United Nations Development Programme should prioritize good governance and democracy in their initiatives. Human rights not only benefit from good governance but also thrive in democratic environments, both horizontally among states and vertically through the establishment of institutionalized frameworks within countries and societies.
Global economic institutions also have the potential to promote and protect human rights if there is sufficient political will. These institutions, such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and regional development banks, should extend their work on anti-corruption and good governance to ensure equal access to legal rights for all groups. By strengthening judicial institutions and fostering civil society participation, these efforts can enhance productivity and prosperity in developing nations. Similarly, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its member states should encourage the elimination of barriers to freedom of information to facilitate market growth.
There is no doubt that the number of human rights non-governmental organizations has increased significantly in the sixty years since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was promulgated by the United Nations. These NGOs proudly claim to play a critical role in promoting and protecting human rights worldwide. However, in reality, their impact is questionable.
The international human rights law arena still lacks a consensus on the definition and categorization of human rights NGOs. Nevertheless, all stakeholders agree that these organizations should protect internationally recognized human rights at various levels. Unfortunately, their failures are evident.
Successful and effective human rights NGOs should possess certain attributes and should self-regulate, possibly by adhering to NGO Codes of Conduct, to overcome internal and external challenges. It requires the concerted efforts of all relevant stakeholders to ensure that human rights NGOs fulfill their mandate of protecting human rights in all countries, without being influenced by powerful states that may engage in harmful actions.
The achievements and effectiveness of successful human rights NGOs should serve as models for all advocates and defenders of human rights, who often face significant sacrifices in their endeavors to improve the human experience.
In retrospect, the human rights treaties established after World War II were not just acts of idealism but also carried elements of hubris. They can be likened to the civilizing efforts of Western governments and missionary groups in the 19th century, which did little good for native populations while entangling European powers in the affairs of countries they did not understand. It is high time for a more proactive and pragmatic approach.
Addressing the potential for nuclear warfare is an issue that remains relevant in today’s globalized world. Initiatives such as The Nuclear World Project, led by Robert Frye, aim to create awareness of the dangers posed by nuclear proliferation and facilitate dialogue on resolution options. International NGOs should play an active role in these efforts, but their response has been insufficient.
Human rights provide an aspirational roadmap for decision-making and balancing trade-offs. This framework is crucial when dealing with disruptive and potentially dangerous forces that present complex challenges. However, it seems that organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch fail to effectively address issues involving superpowers like the United States and its influential allied states.
The contemporary international human rights framework should be enduring and evolving. It can continue to emphasize our shared humanity, provide a moral compass, and instill determination and purpose in the face of daunting odds faced by weaker nations against mighty powers.
Unfortunately, international human rights organizations or NGOs often remain toothless tigers. They require significant improvements and reforms to fulfill their obligations effectively.
Recently, Bangladesh Government decided to withdraw “additional police escort” services provided to the foreign envoys in Dhaka from four countries- the UK, the US, India, and Saudi Arabia. Under this “extra escort” facility, policemen equipped with riot gear used to escort in their vans the envoys from those countries during their movement in the city.
Since the very announcement of the withdrawal, it received an expansive but shallow media coverage, with social media flooded with speculations over whether the withdrawal has resulted from the government’s apparently frayed relations with specific Western countries or its frustration over the recent activities of a foreign envoy that the government reasonably deems interference into the country’s internal affairs. Moreover, the way the decision has been trumpeted in national and some international media seems as if, from the very moment of the decision enacted, those envoys’ movements would be entirely unescorted and their chancery complexes or residences be unprotected.
The decision, however, is to pull out “additional escort” facilities once added to the existing “usual arrangements” out of internal security expediency and rendered so far to the envoys from selected countries. Responding to the unnecessary fanfare and panic, the foreign ministry has already clarified that the police gunmen will continue to accompany the envoys while their movements and the security personnel from the designated policy unit will remain assigned as usual to guard the chancery buildings and residences of the senior diplomats.
For all the curious and appetizing speculations, to a large extent misperception, about the government’s sudden decision to withdraw “additional security” escort, the current internal and external political dynamics with respect to the country’s upcoming national election have incentivized the way the decision has received that much level of avid speculation. Western countries’ increasingly express attention on, and, in some cases, assertive articulation about how the election will have to be held, has recently been seen causing heated debate in domestic political and diplomatic ambit.
However, the government’s decision- devised upon well-explained and logical foundations- is in no way out of its resentment toward certain countries’ plainly unsolicited activities around the country’s internal political developments, notably its imminent national election. To discern the merits behind the decision, one needs to look back to what sort of security circumstance had previously prompted the government to introduce such additional escort facilities to specific countries.
Bangladesh government introduced this facility in 2016 out of heightened security exigency in the wake of the Holey Artisan terror attack. In the aftermath of the terror attack, the overall security atmosphere concerning the Islamist terror threat both within and beyond the country has substantially improved. For instance, Bangladesh ranks 43rd among 163 countries in the 2023 Global Terrorism Index (GTI) with a score of 3,827 out of 10, whereas it stood at 22nd in 2016. With a span of 7 years. It has been elevated by 23 notches, thanks to the country’s comprehensive, whole-society anti-terror measures.
Apart from this security standpoint, two more potent factors offer merits to the withdrawal decision. Firstly, the ongoing economic hardship emanating from the global economic downturn due to the years-long pandemic and the current war in Ukraine has been forcing Bangladesh, like many in the Global South, to adopt fiscal austerity across a number of economic aspects. The cost of providing additional escort facilities to several countries is, given the country’s current economic extremity and the government’s struggle to maintain rigorous fiscal hedging, by no means meager as it may seem to affluent others.
Secondly, providing specially designed security facilities to specific countries stands in contrast to the egalitarian principle of treating all foreign envoys equally. Such a facility, in the naked eye, may seem discriminatory, leaving other envoys out of this special facility’s purview being treated lightly and undermining their enthusiasm for diplomatic engagements. Moreover, from this sort of egalitarian outlook, as the foreign minister said earlier that more countries were demanding such additional facilities, if Bangladesh would have gone for providing every country with similar escort services, it had put further strain on the already ailing economy, and scarce security resources as well.
So, the withdrawal decision is nothing but a realignment of security resources in response to the improved security environment in the country and the nation’s prevailing economic priorities without compromising due diligence to ensure optimum security for the foreign envoys hosted in the country. Bangladesh’s long diplomatic history has had no evidence of taking any implicit or explicit diplomatic retaliatory measures out of resentment.
by Our Diplomatic Affairs Editor
The Sixth edition of the Indian Ocean Conference commenced today in Dhaka with over 250 participants representing more than 40 countries, predominantly from the Asia-Pacific region. Since its inception in 2016, this regional conference has been held in various countries from Sri Lanka to Vietnam.
Organizing Secretary and Director of India Foundation, Capt. Alok Bansal, speaking to the Sri Lanka Guardian from Dhaka, stated that the conference aims to promote mutual growth, prosperity, and international community strengthening, and to bring together stakeholder nations to discuss and deliberate on the theme of “Peace, Prosperity and Partnership for a Resilient Future.”
As a vital member of the Indian Ocean, Dhaka’s hosting of the conference this year is a landmark event for future maritime engagement and expanding partnerships, and to strengthen peaceful engagement in the region. The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) has infinite potential, but its vast expanse can also lead to damages of unfathomable scale. Today, the region faces not only traditional security challenges but also non-traditional challenges of bio-hazards, cyber warfare, and maritime piracy, the after-effects of which are unimaginable.
Therefore, “maintaining peace in the region is of paramount importance to ensure the rise of a resilient future. The rise of a peaceful IOR based on the principles of a rules-based order will chart a new agenda for prosperity and greater partnership in the region and beyond,” added Capt. Bansal, a former Indian Navy veteran.
The Indian Ocean Region (IOR) has immense potential to become the most economically prosperous region of the century, given its scale, consumer market, and technical capabilities for sustainable development. India and Bangladesh, as two stakeholder nations in the region, prioritize responsible growth and development in harmony with nature. In light of the pandemic, collaborative partnerships in the IOR are vital for carbon planning, green financing, technological innovation, and public healthcare and education, particularly for managing the uninterrupted supply chain.
The IOR’s potential for economic prosperity and sustainable development, along with India and Bangladesh’s advocacy for responsible growth, make the region an ideal candidate for global leadership in the 21st century. Collaborative partnerships will be essential to address the pandemic-induced supply chain disruption and navigate emerging challenges in carbon planning, green financing, technological innovation, and public healthcare and education. By building reliable partnerships, the IOR can become a resilient and prosperous region that leads the world towards sustainable development.
“The IOR is no longer just an idea based on the arithmetic of contemporary power equations, but a natural construct based on principles of inclusivity, camaraderie, and multi-stakeholderism. As two responsible powers, India and Bangladesh, too, are committed to ensuring the rise of a free, open, inclusive, and rules-based IOR,” concluded Capt. Bansal. The conference will continue tomorrow.
A recently conducted study by Asian Confluence suggested that Northeast India and Bangladesh need to scale up their multi-modal connectivity, which would not only help the region to raise its competitiveness but also narrow the development gaps in the region. The study also suggested the creation of industrial value chains to create a win-win situation for all stakeholders in India and Bangladesh and Japanese companies in the region. That’s why Japan has proposed developing an industrial hub in Bangladesh with supply chains to the landlocked northeastern states of India. Bangladesh and India have already started to work together to bring synergy in trade facilitation and build express corridors for the transhipment and transit of goods from the Northeast Region to the Chattogram Port of Bangladesh. Tripura is set to become the ‘Gateway of North East’ with access to Chittagong port of Bangladesh, just 70 kilometres from Sabroom in the northeastern state.
Along with the gateway, Tripura can become the key to creating an industrial hub in northeast India and its supply chain in Bangladesh. There are so many ongoing connectivity projects between Tripura and Bangladesh. The industrial value chain would be created on the completion of these projects.
The Agartala-Akhaura International Railway Connectivity Project
The Agartala-Akhaura international railway connectivity project is one of India and Bangladesh’s most prominent connectivity projects. Akhaura used to be the railway link for Agartala before Independence. In 2013, India and Bangladesh signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to revive the railway link. Over 88 per cent of the work on the Agartala-Akhaura international railway connectivity project is complete, and the remaining work is expected to be finished in the next five to six months. The 15-kilometre-long railway line would link Bangladesh’s Akhaura through an international immigration station at Nischintapur along the India-Bangladesh border. With the completion of the project, the travel time between Agartala and Kolkata via Dhaka would reduce from 31 hours to 10 hours. When finished, it will run for 10.6 kilometres from Gangasagar, Bangladesh, to Nischintapur, India, and for 5.46 kilometres from Nischintapur to India’s Agartala railway station. The opening of the Agartala-Akhaura railway line would expand the range of economic contacts.
Moreover, India intends to build an integrated checkpoint and freight processing facility at Nischintapur, which serves as the Tripura junction for the Agartala-Akhaura train route. By using Dhaka as its hub instead of Guwahati, this train connection would cut the distance between Agartala and Kolkata travel time in half. As it would only cover 550 kilometres instead of 1,600, the 31-hour journey from Agartala to Kolkata will take just 10 hours. Four operational train connections between West Bengal and Western Bangladesh presently exist between India and Bangladesh: Petrapole-Benapole, Gede-Darshana, Radhikapur-Biral, and Singhabad-Rohanpur. The utilization of Nepali transit traffic is also informed by the final two. Those from Mizoram, which is 150 kilometres away, and those from Agartala will benefit from the current line.
In addition to the Agartala-Akhaura railway line, Tripura has a few more international connectivity projects linking it with Bangladesh, such as the Indo-Bangla Maitri Bridge in South Tripura and the inland waterways transport project in the Sepahijala district. A second Integrated Check Post (ICP) with Bangladesh is being set up at Sabroom in Tripura. After all the projects are commissioned, Tripura is expected to gain access to Bangladesh’s Chittagong and Mongla ports, opening up new avenues for trade and commerce.
There are several ongoing infrastructure projects connecting Bangladesh and Tripura. One of the historic initiatives connecting Tripura and Bangladesh was the opening of MaitriSetu across the Feni River. After Ramgarh in Bangladesh and Sabroom in India are bound by the Maitri Bridge, Tripura would become the entry point to Southeast Asia. Just 74 kilometres separate this bridge from Chittagong Port.
The Feni bridge linking Sabroom, Tripura, with Chittagong, Bangladesh, and the Agartala-Akhaura train line are two connectivity projects that, when finished, would transform Tripura from a “landlocked” state into one that is well-connected. Tripura will improve its relationships and connections by building roads linking it to Thailand, Myanmar, and India.
With the completion of its new terminal this year, Tripura’s Maharaja Bir Bikram airport will become the third international airport in the landlocked northeastern area. Once this airport is finished, flights will be between Agartala and Dhaka and other places like Chittagong and Sylhet. Pranay Verma, the Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka, has lately shown interest in investing in new airports in Bangladesh to improve connectivity between the northeastern regions. Aviation travel will improve connections not just between Bangladesh, the Indian subcontinent, and Tripura but also between India and ASEAN nations.
Moreover, the power department of India is planning to set up Northeast India’s first solar power storage facility in Tripura. In addition to meeting the needs of the state, plans are also being made to export pollution-free, environmentally friendly electricity from this storage as per the needs of Bangladesh. Ratan Lal Nath, Minister for Power, Government of Tripura, said this in a press conference on the evening of April 1, 2023. Initially, the state government selected the Sabrum area of the South District. Because a special economic zone is being built here, it will be possible to export surplus electricity to Bangladesh by meeting the region’s needs.
For Tripura’s benefit
None of the industries would work in Tripura if it didn’t create its supply chain in Bangladesh. And for creating supply chains, all those connectivity projects between Bangladesh and Tripura must get completed soon as Tripura is one of the main gateways to the northeastern region to India through Bangladesh. The dreams of people from Tripura to start business relations with Bangladesh will be bolstered after the completion of these projects. Tripura will reach a significant position in trade and commerce, and job opportunities will be created for unemployed youths and a new route for public and goods transport.
The issue of whether Rohingyas should return to their motherland Myanmar is a complex one, and the recent discussions about repatriation have sparked debate. The United Nations refugee agency UNHCR has registered approximately 1 million Rohingyas who are currently residing in Bangladesh. A pilot project to repatriate over 1,100 Rohingya refugees is currently in discussion, with both Bangladesh and Myanmar seeking to start the repatriation before the monsoon season, mediated by China. However, the Rohingyas’ return is contingent upon whether Myanmar provides an environment supportive of repatriation.
According to media reports, the Rohingyas did not see a supportive environment for repatriation when they visited Myanmar. Nevertheless, Bangladesh is optimistic about the possibility of Rohingya repatriation. The Bangladesh foreign ministry has stated that upon their return, each family will be given a house in the model village, land for agriculture, fertilizer, and seeds. The model village of Mangdu offers better living conditions than the Rohingya camps in Bangladesh, with hospitals, mosques, and playgrounds being constructed for them. The Rohingyas will also have the opportunity to work and do business independently. Myanmar authorities have stated that Rohingyas returning from Bangladesh will be kept at the Maungdu transit center for only three days before being transferred directly to the model village. There, they will be issued National Verification Certificates (NVCs) as citizens of Myanmar, with the National Identity Card (NID) being issued in phases if they can show the necessary documents as residents of Myanmar.
During the visit, some members of the Rohingya delegation opposed the NVC and demanded resettlement in Janmvita instead of NID and Model Village. However, most of the members of the Bangladesh delegation accompanying the Rohingya expressed satisfaction with the environment. They claimed that the environment and situation in Rakhine were good, and the Rohingyas roamed freely in Maungdoo city, busy with work. Bangladesh’s Commissioner for Refugees, Relief, and Repatriation, Mohammad Mizanur Rahman, said that the environment was very good and that they were optimistic about starting the repatriation process as soon as possible.
While it is important for Rohingyas to return to their own country, it is also important to ensure that their civil rights are not further violated. An entire population cannot live as refugees of another country for years, deprived of their natural civil rights. Rohingyas have the right to return to their own country, their land, and their homes, where they will work with full civil rights to build a better life and a better future for themselves and their children. The programme may be seen as a start of the long-overdue repatriation process, which may build confidence for future repatriation in greater numbers. However, it is crucial to remember that it is only the beginning. If the initiative is successful, more Rohingyas will follow and return to their ancestral home.
Over 80% of the refugees in Cox’s Bazar rely on external aid to survive. Every family gets a monthly food ration of Tk 1,030 per person. Rohingyas have repeatedly stated that running a family with this allocation is very difficult. The influx of refugees has also put immense pressure on the host communities and the environment in a densely populated country. The host communities in Cox’s Bazar are highly vulnerable and at high risk of hunger like the Rohingyas, according to a WFP report.
The Rohingya’s willingness to return to Myanmar is also a factor that must be considered. They may be afraid and unwilling to return if their rights will be violated further. Bangladesh will have to deal with this refugee crisis for potentially years to come, involving funding, administration, inclusive and equitable treatment of the refugees and host populations, and national security issues, among others.
It is difficult for us to shelter this huge population for very long. Therefore, it is essential to find a permanent solution to this crisis through repatriation and rehabilitation. However, it should be done in a safe, voluntary, and dignified manner with the full participation and cooperation of the Rohingyas themselves. Any repatriation initiative must address the root causes of the crisis and ensure that Rohingyas can live safely and with full citizenship rights in their own country. Until then, the international community should continue to support Bangladesh in providing essential services and protection to the refugees while also pressing Myanmar to create a conducive environment for their safe return. The repatriation of Rohingyas is not only a moral obligation but also a necessary step for regional peace and stability.
According to media reports, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has reiterated his country’s support for Bangladesh’s efforts to repatriate the Rohingya to Myanmar. He said Bangladesh and Japan have upgraded their relationship to a strategic partnership. Bangladesh has sheltered nearly one million displaced persons from Myanmar and we will continue to support its efforts.
The continued presence of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh poses a threat to regional security as extremism and cross-border crime could worsen. Bangladesh spends $3.6 billion a year, or $300 million a month, to help the persecuted Rohingya. This is putting great pressure on the country’s economy. Despite diplomatic efforts by Bangladesh, UN General Assembly sanctions and approved resolutions, the United States’ drafting of the Burma Law, and the adoption of ASEAN’s five-point consensus in April 2021, the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar has not yet been resolved.
Bangladesh’s three close allies China, Russia and India have been asked to help the Rohingya crisis. They have promised to do so but have failed to do so, or are unwilling due to their own geopolitical agendas.
Japan, a close ally of both Bangladesh and Myanmar, should take a leadership role in dealing with the Rohingya issue. The Japanese government has always stood by Bangladesh in resolving the crisis and Japan believes that the resolution of the crisis can only be achieved through a swift, safe, dignified and voluntary repatriation of the Rohingyas to Rakhine.
It is essential for Myanmar to create favorable conditions in Rakhine State for the repatriation of Rohingyas. Japan urges the Myanmar government to take stronger measures to repatriate the Rohingya and will continue to communicate this request to Myanmar until the issue is resolved.
In 2019, Japan offered to mediate between Bangladesh and Myanmar to resolve the Rohingya issue and said that dialogue between the two countries would continue. Japan wants a speedy solution to the Rohingya issue, finding their long-standing position worrisome. Japan is keen to assist the ongoing talks between Bangladesh and Myanmar to speed up the repatriation of the Rohingya.
Sheikh Hasina’s government has developed an outlook for peace in the Indo-Pacific region through dialogue and understanding.
Areas of engagement are also important. Most documents emphasize securing global trade, exploring economic opportunities, developing connectivity, supporting technological development and combating climate change. Japan has the Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt Initiative (BIG-B).
Bangladesh and Japan have already decided to work together. Bangladesh’s Matarbari deep sea port has become a strategic issue for Japan and India for several reasons. Because the Quad partners aim to counter Chinese influence.
The geopolitical importance of Bangladesh’s first deep-sea port, Matarbari, was evident during the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to India in March 2023. The port has emerged as an important area for the free and open Indo-Pacific agenda.
In the same month, the Japan International Cooperation Agency agreed to give a new loan of 165 billion yen (1.2 billion) to Bangladesh in the infrastructure construction sector. During his visit to New Delhi, Kishida said that Tokyo wants the development of states in South Asia from the Bay of Bengal to Northeast India in cooperation with both Bangladesh and India. Due to this, a discussion meeting was held in Agartala a few days ago.
Hence Matarbari would not only be the most convenient port but also the most prudent choice for Indo-Japan, as Dhaka has much more cordial relations than New Delhi’s other neighbours. Bangladesh-India-Myanmar-Japan will benefit from this opportunity. In this case Japan can work together with Myanmar and Bangladesh. But before that, Japan must play a role in improving relations between Myanmar and Bangladesh by solving the ongoing Rohingya issue.
Bangladesh is now close to adopting the Indo-Pacific strategy. If Japan plays its role before China plays its role, Japan’s acceptance in the region will increase. Therefore, Japan has a strategic advantage in developing Myanmar-Bangladesh relations and solving the Rohingya problem.
Both Bangladesh and Myanmar have economic relations with Japan. Japan attaches importance to relations with these two countries. As a development partner, Japan is interested in helping Bangladesh and Myanmar solve this problem. Japan has extensive investments in both countries.
310 Japanese companies are supporting the development of Bangladesh. Out of a sense of responsibility and morality, Japan has been working silently since the beginning of the Rohingya problem and has been active in solving it. Japanese ambassador’s working in Bangladesh have visited Rohingya camps many times at different times.
The Japanese continue to strive to find a permanent and sustainable solution to problems at individual, organizational and governmental levels. The people of Japan, various organizations and the Japanese government continue to support the Rohingya camps by providing daily necessities and services.
The Japanese government is continuing to communicate with various international organizations such as the Myanmar government, ASEAN and G-7 to resolve Rohingya’s citizenship, repatriation and environmental issues diplomatically. Japan wants a durable solution to the ongoing Rohingya issue and is ready to provide any kind of assistance to Bangladesh in this regard.
Several human rights groups have so far condemned Japan’s position. A 2019 Human Rights Watch report questioned the Japanese government’s response to the situation. Amnesty International’s deputy East Asia director Lisa Tassey told diplomats that Japan was on the wrong side of history when it came to Myanmar’s atrocities against the Rohingya.
The Rohingya crisis has received little attention from Japan, the leader of Asia’s liberal democracies and a long-time strategic, economic and humanitarian supporter of Bangladesh. It has not voted on any UN resolution on Myanmar. Although the Burmese government regularly mistreats the Rohingya and other minorities, Japan has provided the country with financial and other aid for 70 years.
Myanmar has long been a reliable friend of Japan and now Japan wants to do good business in Myanmar. Japan has made significant progress considering Myanmar’s strategic location and China’s growing economic influence. Government development investment and foreign direct investment have made Myanmar a playground for investors. Both the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japan External Trade Organization (JETRO) have government development projects in Myanmar.
Myanmar has become important in Japan’s geopolitical game. Japan is increasing its financial commitment to the Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt, which includes the Special Economic Zone (SEZ), energy sector and communications sector.
A significant amount of money was invested in the Thilwa Special Economic Zone and Hydropower Plant Rehabilitation Project. Myanmar and Japan organized the Rakhine State Investment Fair in 2019 to boost investment.
Beyond military-to-military cooperation, Japan plays a very important role in Myanmar politics. According to Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the government has given more than $20 million in aid and development funds to Myanmar.
Bangladesh will have to put pressure on Myanmar to repatriate the Rohingyas to Myanmar, which will not happen relatively soon. Japan, while an economic powerhouse in Asia and a strategic friend of Myanmar, can also portray itself as a friend of Bangladesh by encouraging the Tatmadaw to repatriate the Rohingya.
The protracted Rohingya crisis is a threat to Japan and Japan should take initiatives to strengthen cooperation in areas such as preferential trade agreements, blue economy, power generation, maritime trade and regional connectivity.
In line with its pacifist constitution, Japan must abandon its cold-blooded policy and take a strong stand for human rights and equality in all multilateral forums related to the Rohingya tragedy.
There had always been tension along the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar. Along the 271-kilometer sea and land boundary between the two nations, two have a history of conflict. For instance, a border battle with the Myanmar military in 1978 necessitated the deployment of Bangladeshi troops along the border. When Myanmar sent out its naval ships to place a Korean drilling rig in our exclusive economic zone close to St. Martin’s Island in 2008, Bangladesh too came dangerously close to having a maritime conflict. But the current issue really began in 2017 with the exodus of Rohingyas from Myanmar.
The entire world is aware that in 2017, more than a million Rohingya refugees sought safety in Bangladesh. These refugees have been hosted by Bangladesh on humanitarian grounds. To maintain regional stability, the Rohingya refugee situation must be solved.
Bangladesh is under great pressure due to the current Rohingya crisis. In dealing with this crisis, the country has had to face, and continues to face, some new diplomatic realities. It suddenly discovered that some of Bangladesh’s long-time friends were no longer with it. It has largely failed to achieve the expected results by applying traditional diplomatic methods to resolve the crisis. Therefore, there is a need for new thinking in the successful application of the various methods of modern diplomacy. Such as economic diplomacy, military diplomacy, cultural diplomacy etc. Military diplomacy is a special strategy among the strategies used by various countries to protect the country’s interests and strengthen the state’s diplomatic position in the international arena, and both its influence and application in the current world are increasing.
What did Bangladesh at that time? First and foremost, Bangladesh found a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the tension it currently experienced at the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar. There had never be any notion that it can resolve the issue through violence or armed war. But diplomatic action alone is insufficient.
It must be supported by deterrents because deterrents are what give diplomatic actions bite. Some international experts have also contended that the military balances are likely skewed in favor of Myanmar, making it challenging for us to demonstrate an effective level of deterrence. However, Bangladesh made an effort to make sure that its diplomatic actions have a solid foundation.
In an effort to deliver protest notes to the Myanmar ambassador, foreign ministry has so far used diplomatic channels. It hasn’t changed anything. In addition to civilian diplomacy, the Bangladesh government has taken a step forward in solving the border and Rohingya crisis through successful military diplomatic activities. IT must be of no surprise that in special circumstances, a country’s military diplomacy plays an in strumental role in managing foreign relations.
Relations between the two countries are now at a chilly level, with rounds of talks between Bangladesh and Myanmar surrounding the Rohingya crisis and Myanmar’s last-minute bungling of repatriation. In such a context, Bangladesh is looking for a possible solution to this crisis in military diplomacy.
Just like political diplomacy, military diplomacy has had positive discussions with Myanmar’s military leadership to resolve the Rohingya crisis, and in terms of defense cooperation, the relationship between the two countries will accelerate and strengthen mutual trust with this friendly country.
The Bangladesh army and border guard have seen success in military diplomacy before. In May 2014, the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) member Naik Mizanur Rahman was killed in firing by Myanmar’s Border Guard Police (BGP), causing intense tension on the border between the two countries.
Later, on the instructions of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the then BGB Director General (DG) took the initiative to develop bilateral relations with Myanmar Border Guard Police. In June of that year, he led an 8-member Bangladesh delegation to a meeting of the BGB and Myanmar Police Force (MPF) chiefs in Myanmar’s capital, Nay Pyi Taw.
This was the BGB’s first meeting with the Myanmar Police Force (MPF). The meeting was considered as a milestone in the development of the border forces of the two countries. BGB and BGP worked together for a long time by accepting the land border agreement during the visit of the then BGB Director General.
This brings relief to Bangladesh’s 261 km border with Myanmar. Based on that meeting, Myanmar then expressed good neighborly behavior with Bangladesh.
A Myanmar military commander has visited Bangladesh Army chief General in Dhaka in an apparent attempt to improve relations and boost regional security on October 27, 2022.
According to ISPR statement, the Myanmar military’s special operation commander, Lieutenant General Phone Myat, explained the situation in Myanmar and how the junta was trying to maintain law and order while working with friendly countries.The statement said Bangladesh army chief discussed improving military relations, discussions between commanders and training exchanges. He called for Myanmar to work with Bangladesh to ensure regional security and the rapid repatriation of the Rohingya community. Myanmar’s delegation expressed interest in cooperating in professional growth and training exchanges, increasing friendship and solving problems bilaterally, the statement said.
Army chief General Shafiuddin stated in September that Bangladesh’s armed forces were prepared to act if Myanmar’s troops continued to fire across the border while pursuing the Arakan Army. He claimed that he complained strongly to his colleague in Myanmar about the shelling, gunfire, and interference with jet and drone flights that resulted in the death of a Rohingya refugee and injuries to others in the Bandarban district.
Tatmadaw, the military of Myanmar, has been engaged in combat with the AA in northern Rakhine State, close to the Bangladeshi border. Since August, Bangladesh has complained to the international community about fighter jet and drone flights over its territory as well as mortar and machine gun rounds that cross the border.
Mohammad Ikbal, a 17-year-old Rohingya teenager, was killed by at least three mortar rounds that were launched into Bangladesh on September 16. Six other people were also hurt. The visit was welcomed and is a great development.
A battalion-level flag meeting between Border Guard Bangladesh and Myanmar Border Guard Police on Sunday decided to improve bilateral relations between the two countries, while the Myanmar side regretted the recent incidents of shelling along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border.The meeting stressed the need to take necessary steps to boost communication, confidence, and trust between the border guarding forces of the two ‘friendly countries.’
Although it has a long history, military diplomacy is currently being addressed in several nations. The Rohingya issue and the most recent border dispute have a negative impact on the peace, security, and stability of the region. Regional peace and security will be threatened by the Rohingya repatriation’s delay. Military influence and diplomacy may play a decisive role in ending the Rohingya Crisis. Additionally, given that Myanmar is currently governed by a military government, the military’s position will be able to strengthen bilateral ties. Bangladesh foreign ministry can therefore develop plans and measures to end the Rohingya issue with this goal in mind. The solution to the border conflict between Bangladesh and Myanmar lies in multilateral diplomacy. Strengthening military diplomacy is necessary in this regard.
Although Bangladesh and Myanmar share a border of 271 kilometers, the Rohingya refugee crisis has been a long-standing bilateral issue between Myanmar and Bangladesh. But in order to assist in resolving this regional humanitarian crisis, both involved parties must participate in meaningful political dialogue. To establish a long-lasting political solution, Myanmar and Bangladesh could use military diplomacy as a tactic.
Basically, there should be regular exchanges of visits, training sessions, and joint exercises between the military forces of Bangladesh and Myanmar. These will lessen mistrust while boosting assurance and comprehension. Additionally, this may assist in resolving the region’s ongoing Rohingya refugee problem.
Bangladesh and Myanmar must forge military-diplomatic ties in order to successfully handle the Rohingya repatriation process. The Rohingya situation might be resolved with the use of military diplomacy and clout. The military role will be able to promote bilateral relations because Myanmar is governed by a military regime.
Military diplomatic communication is an effective strategy in strengthening relations with neighboring states. As Myanmar is Bangladesh’s only neighboring country after India, its strategic importance is undeniable for Bangladesh. It has tried all kinds of bilateral and multilateral efforts to deal with the ongoing Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, but so far, no promising results have been achieved. The influence of the military on state power in Myanmar is immense. Apart from that, the current Rohingya crisis falls within the ambit of the army. As a result, any move to deal with the crisis without involving the country’s army is bound to fail. Had there already been a close professional relationship between the Bangladesh and Myanmar armies, that relationship could have been put to good use in de-escalating the current crisis.
Bangladesh Army Chief General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed left for India on Wednesday (April 26) on a three-day official visit at the invitation of Indian Army Chief. During the visit, he will attend the passing out parade of commissioned officers at the Officers Training Academy in Chennai, India as the chief guest and take the parade salute. During the visit, he will have a courtesy call on the chiefs of the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force, as well as the Chief of Defense Staff, Defense Secretary and Foreign Secretary and other senior officials.
During the meeting, they will discuss various issues of mutual cooperation and development of bilateral relations between the armies of the two countries. Besides, he will visit various important installations of the Indian Army during this visit.
It should be noted that the existing relationship between Bangladesh and India Army has improved tremendously in the last two years due to the initiative of the Chief of Army Staff. After the tour, the army chief will return to the country from India on April 30.
The visit is obviously as part of the “outstanding” bilateral defense relations between Bangladesh and India. The two may discuss ways to enhance and strengthen bilateral defense cooperation.
BD Army chief this visit can strengthen relations between the two armies on a bilateral level and served as a catalyst for improved coordination and collaboration between the two nations on a variety of strategic problems. India-Bangladesh relations would reach a new level. Bangladesh could gain trust from the Indian government because India is an active member of the Indo-Pacific alliance. Bangladesh, on the other hand, can handle the Chinese predicament intelligently because its goal is to engage structurally rather than militarily. Bangladesh essentially sets an example for the other littoral nations by outlining its Indo-Pacific orientation. Bangladesh’s Sheikh Hasina Wajed government has recently set an outlook for peace in the Indo-Pacific through dialogue and understanding. The foreign ministry of Bangladesh published the guidelines and objectives for the region at a press conference on Monday ahead of Prime Minister Hasina’s key visit to Japan, the US and the UK.
The outlook has four guiding principles and 15 objectives. Four principles are mentioned in the outline. The first of these is ‘friendship with all, enmity with none’. The principles emphasize constructive regional and international cooperation for sustainable development, international peace and security, humanitarian action and upholding fundamental rights and freedoms.
It has 15 objectives. One of them is to maintain mutual trust and respect with a view to maintaining peace, prosperity, security and stability for all in the Indo-Pacific region. Expanding areas of partnership and cooperation and emphasizing dialogue and understanding. To contribute meaningfully and of international value to international disarmament, peacekeeping, peacebuilding and counter-terrorism activities in collaboration with relevant partners in the Indo-Pacific region.
Bangladesh has to clarify its position on the Indo-Pacific so that no one can misunderstand or mislead. As a result, Bangladesh has moved to a better position. Because there will be important bilateral discussions with the BD Army chief’s during his visit to India. Before this, India clearly knew Bangladesh’s position on the Indo-Pacific. The country’s relationship with Bangladesh will move forward based on this position.
The deep-sea port at Matarbari in Bangladesh has become a strategic issue for Japan and India due to various reasons. Because the Quad partners aim to counter Chinese influence. The geopolitical importance of Bangladesh’s first deep-sea port, Matarbari, was evident during the visit of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to India last March. The port has emerged as an important area for the free and open Indo-Pacific agenda. Again, in the same month, the Japan International Cooperation Agency agreed to give a new loan of 165 billion yen (1.2 billion) to Bangladesh in the infrastructure construction sector. During his visit to New Delhi, Kishida said that Tokyo wants the development of the states from the Bay of Bengal to Northeast India with the cooperation of both Bangladesh and India in South Asia. For this reason, a discussion was held in Agartala a few days ago.
Hence, Matarbari would not only be the most convenient port but also the most prudent choice for Indo-Japan, as New Delhi has much more cordial relations with Dhaka than its other neighbours. Bangladesh-India-Japan will benefit from this opportunity.
Bangladesh is now inching closer to embracing the Indo-Pacific Strategy. However, Bangladesh has never strayed from its founding principle of nonalignment and wisdom drawn from its independence hero Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman which can be summed up as Friendship to all and malice toward none.
Bangladesh essentially aims to balance relations with rival states. Many explain that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina does not keep eggs in one basket. Thus, she wants to maintain diplomatic, economic and strategic partnerships albeit “unequally” with the United States, Russia, China, European Union, Arabs and of course India.
Bangladesh is moving closer to an embrace of the Indo-Pacific Strategy pursued by the Americans and its partners in the region, which revolves around countering China. This move comes as the US and a few key allies have signalled that Bangladesh should be a part of the Indo-Pacific Strategy, according to a Foreign Policy magazine brief. Dhaka has friendly ties with the USA, and other members of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (known as the Quad) including India, and Europe.
The current governments in Bangladesh and India are very close, and New Delhi is likely to have encouraged Dhaka to embrace the strategy, according to the brief by Wilson Centre.
On the other hand, in South Asia, Bangladesh is an important ally of the India. The two nations work closely together on problems like climate change, counterterrorism, and regional security. This visit may serve to cement bilateral defense ties. Defense cooperation between nations could strengthen bilateral ties. Both India and Bangladesh are essential to the region. Despite some bilateral issues, both countries are greatly interested in further solidifying their bilateral ties, which can made clear by this visit. This could assist in bolstering bilateral ties and reflecting better bilateral understanding. This visit is highly important for Bangladesh and India in the region. Bangladesh and the India must work together as reliable partners to address some shared issues. Through this visit, India and Bangladesh have further reinforced their defense ties.
India played a significant role in the Bangladesh War of Liberation in 1971, helping the then-East Pakistan transform into the new country of Bangladesh, which permanently altered the dynamics of South Asia. India and Bangladesh agreed to a “Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation” that would last for 25 years. Given the numerous cultural, diplomatic, economic, and security linkages that exist between India and Bangladesh today, the two nations’ bilateral ties are now stronger than ever. Bangladesh occupies a special place in India’s heart as a close neighbor and an essential part of the country’s “Neighborhood First Policy.”
Defense, security, and strategic connections between India and Bangladesh are expanding daily. Bangladesh is seen by India as an enduring strategic ally. In addition to giving 18 brand-new 120mm mortars to the Bangladesh Army in December 2020 as part of army-to-army cooperation, India has granted a $500 million line of credit to Bangladesh for defense procurement from India.
A 122-member group from Bangladesh’s tri-services also took part in the Republic Day parade in India in January 2021. From March 8–10, two Indian naval ships—INS Kulish and INS Sumedha—visited Bangladesh’s Mongla Port, making it the first naval visit India had made in the previous 50 years. Bangladesh is still India’s “closest neighbor,” and relations with it are at a “golden age.” India wants to strengthen its relationship with Bangladesh just as the US wants to engage with it more strategically. Of sure, both nations would benefit from the situation.
In an effort to improve bilateral defense cooperation, Bangladesh’s army chief Gen S M Shafiuddin Ahmed and India’s new army chief General Manoj Pande spoke via video chat earlier last year.
It is believed that the two army commanders will also discuss how the geopolitical landscape was changing and how that would affect regional security.
In recent years, India and Bangladesh’s defense and security relations have improved. The 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s Liberation was in 2021. Both India and Bangladesh have highly trained, experienced military, and they work together to keep the Eastern region peaceful.
Due to the close ties between the two countries, India is also hosting a number of events to commemorate the liberation of Bangladesh 50 years ago. The Bangladeshi and Indian militaries are increasingly collaborating on defense. Through a variety of initiatives, such as joint training and drills and defense discussions, the two countries’ armed forces have been working together more and more.
Two defense agreements were signed between Bangladesh and India during Sheikh Hasina’s four-day trip to New Delhi in April 2017. These were the first such pacts inked by India and any of its neighbors. According to the accords, the troops of the two nations would engage in cooperative training and exercises.
In order to achieve self-sufficiency in defense manufacturing in Bangladesh, India will assist Bangladesh in setting up manufacturing and service facilities for the defense platforms that both nations currently possess. Additionally, India will offer the Bangladesh military specialized training as well as technical and logistical support. India also gave a neighboring nation, Bangladesh, its first ever line of credit for defense-related purchases, in the amount of $500 million.
Additionally, the forces of the two nations have taken on a significant role in conducting training programs for dealing with counterterrorism challenges, natural catastrophes, and ensuring humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR).
The visit most importantly took place at a time when Myanmar and Bangladesh are trying to solve the Rohingya crisis from the inspiration of the Chinese mediation. Discussions would also be held about various ways to improve the conduct of military exercises at a more rapid and decisive scale.
Defence and security are significant elements of India and Bangladesh’s bilateral relations, and the armed forces of the two nations cooperate and coordinate with one another on numerous levels.
As some selected items are being prioritized, Bangladesh would soon import goods connected to defense from India under the US$ 500 million Line of Credit offered by New Delhi, according to Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on December 16.
On December 15, 2021, President Ram Nath Kovind met with the top officials of Bangladesh during his first state visit there at the invitation of his counterpart, M Abdul Hamid, to attend the golden jubilee celebrations of Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan in 1971.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina welcomed President Ram Nath Kovind, and the two leaders spoke about a range of topics of bilateral cooperation and shared interest. They talked about the development of their intricate and extensive bilateral relations.
The defense issue came up during President Kovind’s meetings with Bangladesh’s top officials.
India has added an additional $500 million to its line of credit for defense products. Under this line of credit, a number of items have been identified and are being accelerated quickly; their processing is at a fair degree of sophistication. (In accordance with news reports)
India presented Bangladesh with a $500 million line of credit in 2019 to help the neighboring nation purchase defense equipment.
The Armed Forces Division of Bangladesh and the Export Import Bank of India (Exim Bank) inked a contract on April 11 to allow the latter access to a US$ 500 million line of credit (LOC).
The Memorandum of Understanding aims to finance Bangladesh’s acquisition of defense equipment. In April 2017, India promised to provide Bangladesh with a US$ 500 million Line of Credit during Prime Minister Hasina’s visit to New Delhi.
India and Bangladesh have been providing the most soldiers to United Nations peacekeeping missions in terms of bilateral military cooperation. The two Armies’ collaboration has grown in the field of counterterrorism.
India’s determination to combat terrorism in all its manifestations was echoed by Bangladesh’s resolute stance against terrorism. India is aware of Bangladesh’s efforts to prevent terrorist organizations from using space to conduct activities against India. In response, India should keep up its efforts to stop any terrorist group from using its territory to harm Bangladeshi interests.
India had encountered challenging circumstances in some of the States bordering Bangladesh, but since Prime Minister Shiekh Hasina’s government came to office in 2009, it has provided all assistance.
It made sure that no one could hurt a neighboring country by using Bangladeshi soil. Bangladesh has made a commitment to not support terrorism or radicalism in any form and to prevent these activities from taking place on its soil.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Indian President Ramnath Kovind, Indian Foreign Minister, Indian Home Minister, and Chief Ministers of surrounding states have frequently voiced their praise for Bangladesh’s zero-tolerance approach to combating terrorism.
As a result of the insurgency’s current low point in North-East India, Chief Minister of Assam Hemant Bishwa Sharma has thanked Bangladesh for its assistance and emphasized his wish to improve trade and connection between Bangladesh and North-East India.
To strengthen the defense and security facets of their alliance, Bangladesh and India can cooperate in the field of defense. The two nations should be dedicated to further developing the defense and security component of their partnership based on the needs expressed and each party’s ability to respond to them using different methods, including through capacity building and potential technology transfer. India can assist Bangladesh in achieving the goal of implementation of Bangladesh’s visionary military plan “Forces Goal 2030.”
The Institute for Economics and Peace, an Australian-based organization that studies terrorism, published a report on April 10, 2023. According to the report, Bangladesh ranks much better than Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, and even the United States and the United Kingdom in the Global Terrorism Index. The index is created by analyzing a country’s annual number of terrorist incidents, hostages, and casualties. According to their index, Afghanistan is the number-one country for terrorism. Pakistan’s position is 6, India’s position is 13, the United States’ position is 30, the United Kingdom’s position is 42, and Bangladesh’s position is 43. According to the data from the Institute for Economics and Peace, Bangladesh was ranked 40th in 2022, 43rd in 2023, and 22nd in 2016. In other words, since 2016, Bangladesh has continuously improved its position in the fight against terrorism. However, other South Asian countries, including the United States, were always far behind Bangladesh. That’s why the report is very positive for Bangladesh.
Terrorism and militancy are important issues in the history of current international relations. Earlier terrorist activities were limited to certain regions of the world. But since the beginning of the 21st century, there has been a wide spread of terrorism and militant activities. Using science and technology, terrorist and militant organizations have spread their webs around the world. Today, terrorism have taken a transnational and intercontinental form.
In Bangladesh after Sheikh Hasina’s government came to power in 2009, it took various steps and made plans to suppress militancy. Passes the Anti-Terrorism Act. Amendments were made to the relevant laws. During the coalition government in 2009–2013, a series of attacks on bloggers, writers, publishers, Hindu-Christian-Buddhist priests, university teachers, human rights activists, followers of dissident Islamic ideologies, law enforcement officers, and foreigners undermined the anti-militancy activities in the country and challenged Sheikh Hasina’s government.
No doubt, the militant attack on the Holey Artisan Bakery in Dhaka on July 1, 2016, which left 29 people—mostly foreigners—dead, also dealt a big blow to the image of Bangladesh. Many international agencies decided to shut their offices in Bangladesh, and a large number of foreigners left the country following the attack, posing a great challenge to the government in maintaining foreign relations and keeping the pace of development activities. The government, however, handled the issue so effectively that Bangladesh has become a role model for other countries in combating terrorism and militancy.
As different steps helped Bangladesh to regain the confidence of the international community in the government, the international agencies revised their decision of closing their offices in Dhaka while the foreigners who had left Dhaka came back. At present, a large number of foreigners are working in the country and traveling to different parts of the country with great confidence. Bangladesh’s law enforcement agencies are now sharing their experiences and tactics for combating terrorism with various countries. A good number of countries have sent their anti-militant officers to Bangladesh to gain the practical knowledge and training that Bangladeshi law enforcers displayed during their various anti-militant operations across the country.
Bangladesh has benefited from Sheikh Hasina’s government’s zero-tolerance policy against militancy. So far, 8 militant organizations, namely JMB, Shahadat-e-al-Hikma, JMJB, Hizbut Tahrir, Huji-B, ABT, Ansar Al Islam, and Allahr Dal, have been banned by the Bangladesh government. Sheikh Hasina’s tough stance made it possible to dismantle the militant network in Bangladesh.
Security forces, especially the Bangladesh Police and RAB and their intelligence units, have also played a leading role in countering militancy. The government formed the Anti-Terrorism Unit (ATU) as a specialized unit only to combat militants and terrorism. The Anti-Terrorism Unit of Police, Counter-Terrorism and Transnational Crime of DMP, Cyber Crime, Investigation Center, and Lawful Interception Unit of Police Headquarters are working directly to suppress militancy. RAB, police, NTMC, and the cyber team are all working together to eliminate all forms of extremism and terrorism. These forces are also alert to prevent the activities of militants on social media and online. This effort is quite effective.
Due to the principles of the state, belief in non-communal ideals, and the strong, efficient, and visionary leadership of Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh today sets an example in the international arena in combating terrorism and militancy. The success in suppressing the terrorists has brightened the image of the country at the international level. The members of parliament of Germany’s Hesse province have praised Sheikh Hasina’s government for fighting terrorism and militancy. At a meeting organized by the World Anti-Terrorism Organization, speakers said that Sheikh Hasina’s government’s zero-tolerance policy in countering terrorism can be an exemplary example for world peace. Again, the United Nations has advised some countries affected by terrorist attacks to follow Bangladesh.
The people of Bangladesh are religious but not fanatical. If they were bigots, they would not have freed the country from Pakistan in 1971. Bangladesh is a peaceful country with a diverse population of different religions, castes, and ethnic groups. The constitution of the country guarantees the right of every citizen to follow his own religious rules and regulations in a free and independent environment. Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Chakma, Marma, and Santal people of all races and religions have been living together in harmony in this country.
While it is true that terrorism and militancy in Bangladesh could not be fully eradicated, but it has been possible to control them strictly. The present government’s zero-tolerance policy on terrorism and militancy, the concerted efforts of law enforcement agencies, and the awareness and responsibility of the people meant that the radical extremist militant groups could not consolidate their position in Bangladesh.
Combating terrorism is the highest priority of the government. Similarly, the anti-militancy mentality of the people makes it easier for the law enforcement agencies to suppress militancy. There is no other precedent in the world for the unity of political organizations, civil societies, teacher-student societies, parents, intellectuals, businessmen, various professional organizations, and people from all walks of life to build mass resistance against militancy and radical sectarianism, along with the concerted efforts of the law and order forces.
Sustainable democracy and development require sustainable peace, and sustainable peace requires sustainable security. Behind all the democratic, political, and socio-economic development of Bangladesh is the country’s overall security system. Bangladesh is now one of the great wonders of the world because Hasina government has managed to build a safe Bangladesh by suppressing terrorism and militants. According to the World Economic League Table, Bangladesh will be the 25th largest economy in the world in 2035. In order to continue this progress in the economy, it is necessary to build a country free from terrorism and militants. So, National unity should be built against terrorism and militancy, and each should work against terrorism and militancy from their respective positions.
Views expressed in this article are the author’s one
The state has nothing to do with religion. Religion is purely an individual’s own affair. The two-nation theory was graved through our glorious Liberation War in 1971 and in establishing Bangladesh.
Secularism is a wider view to the world that assures the independence in connection with all its strengths, qualities, values and behavior towards all sects, religion and other spiritual actions. This is a view that requires action and not just abstract thinking. Independence in a sense that the world as true self value.
The secularism we adapt is that of the positive and non-bias that respects all religions and groups. It is one of the basic elements to build a Bangladesh’s society that is surrounded with unity. It should create equality, justice, freedom, peace and democracy. It is the right road towards growing a nation that owns a base of one law taken from freedom and the declaration of human rights.
This fact clarifies the true meaning of secularism. It verifies to the world with all its value and independence. We chose Bangladesh as a result of its historical background in relation to this matter specifying secularism in relation to politics, social values, employment, law, identity, institutions and humanitarian values.
Secularism is the equality that comes from the law without any civil, religious or group as mediums.
This coincides with the meaning of patriotism that makes each individual a national person. Therefore, who has a duty and right which is specified by the civil laws; example, personal secularism is the independence of the person and his religious beliefs among society; As a result, as a total right to express it. In other words, to respect every person and not to discriminate, and is alliance to a country and not a religion.
As for political secularism it is an independence from religion and not belonging to a religious group; in other words, to differentiate between religion and politics. The sovereignty of the president or any other president not matters what the religion is.
Sovereignty to practice politics without religious interference that have the right to practice their leadership as patriotic not in accordance to religion.
Employment secularism: total governmental independence not to associate any job to the amount of religions and not to discriminate between employees according to religion but to treat each one fairly.
As for group secularism: allowing total independence for a civil society with its individuals and groups without the intervention of religious institutions either through law example federalist or spontaneous.
Not to consider any religion a part of the government and not considering them have to special benefits. Lack of intervention of social institutions with the religious, such as, participation in religious lectures.
Another part of secularism is that of cultural secularism it is independent from education, health, and social to religion; canceling religions description from these institutions in its name or community or the conditions from benefiting from it or their programmes. Support of governmental and people and not to religion.
Dividing religious education from official institutional education and substituting with general culture about various religions with civil, patriotic, and social unity.
it is the independence of the law from religious laws without contradicting what religion thinks as valuable putting laws in according to civil rights, in the name of the people, not in the name of religion even if is taken from religious books. To delete all the subjects in the constitution, laws and documents that are written; especially elections and army; updating the civil rights, especially the bends chosen with respect to religious beliefs building civil courts that is responsible for implementing the civil right with its chosen bends.
Constructing judicial court that is requisite to implement the civil rights with optional bends. It is the independence of human values, such as, freedom, justice, equality, democracy, peace and ethnic background. Considering it a humanitarian value no matter about its historical background; to activate for the person and only the person.
No doubt after mentioning the all these details about secularism, it reveals that there should be willingness and completeness for personal secularism is the bases for the rest, for if a person considers himself of value, and equal to others everyone in society will be influenced by that. Secularism exceeds the meaning that we mentioned to include institutional secularism, law, political, and employment. All this creates a cultural or valuable secularism.
If the state accomplishes these goals, Bangladesh will reach an advance state in regards to the nation, parties, groups, social, economic, politics and religion.
There will be enough elements to produce the sense of nationalism instead of religious belonging. And the constitution will relinquish the religious document to make it an independent nationalistic not based on religion.
Therefore, the government will have total authority if it declines from religion so there will no longer be states within a state. It extracts the fact that any religious image, without considering Muslim or Hindu or Christian or any other religious people. Furthermore, people of all religions will become more attached to one another, because they no longer are afraid of being divided; as a result of religion and therefore, will gain strength in order to protect and participate in building a better country.
To get rid of the rightist and leftist parties even those that state secularism from a long time from a religion that they instated with consciousness or not. We will strengthen it and make it more attractive especially those who are interested in constructing a modern government; reinforce its political activities especially after adjusting certain laws in relation to elections and that the parties present its candidate without any religious favours.
Complete secularism helps in building a fair and active society for everyone; gives priority to the areas, societies and lands that are deprived from all the essential things in life putting aside for any religious favours. Restores to all the people their rights without any discrimination. Furthermore, assists on acting with complete freedom, no chaos or distinction for religious preference. Moreover, to give the people to behave in total freedom without interference from they are political or religious leaders so as to restore a healthier democratic state in association with a complete political and active responsibility from the people; instead of depending on their representatives.
In addition, lessen the conflicts among the political leaders that breaks in most times all the possibility of a strong and just ruling. To free the country from governmental advantages in favour of those who are of the same religion act in harmony to their own advantages. This mechanism of ruling will be easier without any fear of negative reactions and also enhances to clarify the conflict in classes. Of society by demolishing the religious advantages by discovering the bonds, economic, and social laws which is our duty to adjust so as to serve the society of those who are less fortunate and to work in changing without the fear of religious outbreak of lie and unjust.
Secularism helps in distinguishing between faith and living a blissful life, on one hand and the elements of a religious society on the other hand. It offers the opportunity for the religious and non-religious to have the freedom to choose something based on their own beliefs without any religious dominance from society.
It helps in freeing religion twisted problems and suspected alliances that are used from far ranges from its genuine aims. It provides assistance to help free religion from its misconception that is fabricated by religious society so as to justify the state and render it from criticism. These conceptions, such as, those that make God the strength and victor to the believers against their enemies, to violent killing, and bias against those who are not in their place.
Secularism helps in setting free Muslims (psychologist) from the complex of fear and benefits, and freeing the Hindus from the complexity of injustice and stupidity. It aims at release both parties from caution, arms depot, equalising of fear and militates. Moreover, releasing the Christians from the constant search towards the west for support and depending on them for strength and the Muslims from constant searching to eastern Islam for support and strength as well.
In addition to freeing the sects from bias thoughts, in other words, freeing the group of religious believers or those who are a member of a sect, who are influenced in being a part of this cultural belonging that is creating an ill-tempered atmosphere for those who offend their religion. Hindus….
However, we are aware of how difficult and complicated it will be in Bangladesh to build such a society, but in order to construct a healthy, strong, and modern society there must be secularism. In the possibility of accomplishing this complete secularism from one point or the likelihood of being without it creates a big challenge among Bangladesh’s people. So, eventually there will be a clear plan that divides the stages in detail for secularism that is feasible for later, and distribution of the stages to attain it.
The first point that should be focused on is the clarification of secularism with all its aspects thought the media. At the same time, we should condemn all misunderstanding or part of it, that could be attempted either to confuse or the will to confuse so as to strike the accurate of secularism.
The second thing is to gather all those who are convinced of secularism and organising them to be among the annual conference of secularism in Bangladesh. This should be able to gather all those groups of secularism, in arrival to an ultimate understanding and trying to persuade them to accept the other difficulties that are obvious.
Furthermore, fulfilling an agreement among those of the annual conference to form a possible strategy that will be conceivable. Moreover, the chance to invite all people to a discussion about secularism and rooting it one by one.
Dividing this learning through stages regularly or inevitably is imperative.
The third point is to put a detail description of a plan, with a schedule to fulfill it gradually or regularly. This should be done through research examining every point and organising it in a file that will be able to answer all objections and criticism. Besides that, it should follow a lengthy programme so these strategies will start to be easier and faster, at the same time, considering the methods of other teachings that looks harder and demands longer time.
There is no place of communalism in Bangladesh. We created our homeland in 1971 for people of all religions to live together in peace.