Bangladesh

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Hasina’s Visit to Delhi: A Prelude

After almost three years, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is going to Delhi again on a state visit on September 5. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit is very significant in India-Bangladesh bilateral relations. The Modi government also wants to give

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Myanmar-Bangladesh ‘Border Guard Diplomacy’ strengthens ties

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Border Guard Bangladesh in a top-level meeting with their Myanmar counterpart Border Guard Police on Thursday called for maintaining peace and curbing trans-boundary crime.

In the meeting held in Myanmar’s capital, Naypyidaw, the Bangladeshi side also urged building mutual trust between the two forces.

The BGP is hosting the eighth edition of this top border conference, where several hours of discussion were held. A joint discussion will be held again today.   BGB director general Major General Shakil Ahmed is leading a 10-member Bangladesh delegation, while police force deputy chief Major General Aung Naing Thu is leading a 15-member Myanmar delegation. The Myanmar delegation includes senior officials from Myanmar’s Border Guard Police (BGP), as well as representatives from the country’s ministries of defence, home affairs, foreign affairs, and labour and population affairs.

Representatives from Bangladesh Prime Minister’s Office, home and foreign ministries, among others, are attending the discussion.

 Bangladesh wants a ‘peaceful’ and ‘crime-free’ border through the building of mutual trust. A press release shared by BGB headquarters said that issues related to recent border tension, including airspace violations, transnational counter-terrorism and criminal activities, drug smuggling, and human trafficking, among others, were on the priority list in the discussion.

The meeting also discussed joint patrolling and trust-building measures, it said. The Bangladesh delegation will return to Dhaka on November 28.

The meeting was held just 10 days after Squadron Leader Rizwan Rushdee, 30, an officer of the Bangladesh Air Force deputed to the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence, and a Rohingya woman were killed and a member of the Rapid Action Battalion was badly injured during an anti-smuggling operation on the Bangladesh-Myanmar border near Naikhyangchari under the Bandarban district on November 14.

The Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army was blamed for the killing.Earlier on October 30, border forces from Bangladesh and Myanmar pledged to improve bilateral relations after shells landed in Bangladesh amid clashes between Myanmar forces and the rebel Arakan Army in Rakhine State.

On October 26, Myanmar’s special operations commander, Lieutenant General Phone Myat, visited Bangladesh’s army chief, General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed, in Dhaka in an apparent attempt to improve relations and boost regional security.

Bangladesh filed diplomatic complaints after fighter jets and drone flights violated its airspace and mortar shells landed on its territory several times between August and September.

On September 16, a Rohingya teenager was killed and five people were injured when a mortar exploded at a Rohingya camp along the Naikhyangchari border.

A 10-member Bangladesh delegation led by BGB Director General Major General Shakil Ahmed are participating in the conference.

The topic of discussion at the conference includes de-escalation of the tense situation at the border caused by the recent internal conflict in Myanmar, violation of the air border, combating inter-state terrorism and preventing the activities of cross-border criminal gangs, prevention of illegal infiltration, prevention of drug and human trafficking, enhancing mutual cooperation to increase security at borders, exchange of various information related to borders, conducting joint patrolling, organising regular coordination meetings/flag meetings at the region and battalion levels, repatriation of detained/punished citizens of both countries, repatriation of forcibly displaced Myanmar nationals to their original abodes and increasing mutual trust between BGB and BGP.

There had always been tension along the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar. Along the 271-kilometer sea and land boundary between the two nations, the 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 Bangladesh’s 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 its 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, or cultural diplomacy. 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 do at that time? First and foremost, Bangladesh found a peaceful and diplomatic solution to the tension it currently experienced at the border with Myanmar. There has never been 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, the Bangladesh 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 instrumental 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 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.

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  took the initiative to develop bilateral relations with the BGP. In June of that year, he led an eighjt-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 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 neighbourly behavior with Bangladesh.

A Myanmar military commander visited Bangladesh and met its Army chief in Dhaka in an apparent attempt to improve relations and boost regional security on October 27.

According to an ISPR statement, the Myanmar military’s special operation commander, Lt Gen 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.

Bangladesh COAS Gen Shafiuddin Ahmed 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.

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 counterpart 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 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 BRB and BGP 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. The 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 km, 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 neighbouring 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: Plaudits to PM Sheikh Hasina for her bold stance

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Bangladesh is a peace-loving nation which has never tried to hurt any country, but if any attempt is made by anyone, be it an outlander or a local to disrupt peace and harmony in the country’s domestic affairs by any means, a befitting reply shall be given.

It is the duty of every citizen to carry forward the ideals and resolutions of our freedom fighters and soldiers, protect the independence, integrity and sovereignty of our nation and play their part in building a strong, prosperous and self-reliant Bangladesh. We always want peace and friendly ties with countries across the world because it’s in our blood and culture.

But we warn of befitting response to any misadventure in our internal affairs by any person or country!

Lashing out at the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, recently a few foreign diplomats and their mango-twigs are making irresponsible and provocative statements in connection with Bangladesh’s forthcoming national voting which is raspingly reprehensible and reflects the chauvinistic mindset, especially of Uncle Sam, which can further exacerbate the already impaired environment.

Let us now turn back, a little while. In 1971, the malevolent US administration under President Richard Nixon and secretary of state Henry Kissinger sided with the vicious Pakistani military junta during the nine-month Liberation war when we were battling life and death to establish our own homeland – Bangladesh.

Moreover, the history of the US Central Intelligence Agency is replete with numerous examples of political assassinations, not only in the US but also of leaders of other countries. So, on 15th August 1975, the world’s cruellest and most disdainful killing outfit CIA of America actively developed various methods for the deliberate elimination of the US’s newest political opponent, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, involving not only special forces in this task but also the special services of countries that cooperated closely with the CIA. Because Pakistan and its strong ally America were given a crushing defeat by the Bengalis in cooperation with our friendly countries India and the former Soviet Union in our glorious Liberation War with Pakistan in 1971 to establish Bangladesh.

Bangabandhu’s worthy daughter Premier Sheikh Hasina places human solidarity, the concern for others, at the centre of the values by which she lives and as she does. Using her experience, moral courage and ability to rise above nation, race and creed, she is making our planet a more peaceful and equitable place to live. Massive development works have happened and are taking place under her able and dynamic leadership for changing a lot of people in the country.

A hero should possess leadership power, be strong, and be devoted to a just cause. Strong willpower would allow the hero to get things done. And lastly, the hero needs to be devoted to their cause, while having the mindset of not giving up until something is accomplished. Sheikh Hasina portrays great leadership, a strong will for what’s right, and a devoted mindset; all of which signify that she deserves the title of a hero. With a strong will to get something done, she has proven that hard work pays off. She has been showing she is a strong leader through her good deeds. She is a strong, determined woman who has stopped at nothing to achieve her goal for people’s welfare in Bangladesh.

But we restate that some Western external strangers – diplomatists under the leadership of an over-enthusiastic American Ambassadors stationed in Dhaka have recently been trying to trespass into national affairs, especially in our upcoming national voting process…

Sheikh Hasina has bravely reminded them about Article 41 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961, the diplomats have a duty not to interfere with the internal affairs of the State they are involved in the diplomatic missions.

They should bear in mind that Bangladesh can also take legal action under the Convention, since it is stated in Article 9 (1) of the Convention that, the receiving State may at any time and without having to explain its decision, notify the sending State that the head of the mission or any member of the diplomatic staff of the mission is not acceptable.

Outrageous enough. The western power countries are also of their own volition and all of a sudden want to rewrite our history, but it is a squall attack on the truth. Their immoral acts have created an impression that they are taking sides with their old local mango twigs of 1971 in the current so-called political situation.

Thus, some foreign diplomats stationed in Bangladesh have been working against our freedom, against the sovereignty of our country. We will not tolerate this any longer.

Some of Sheikh Hasina’s cabinet colleagues have also issued bold statements, warning foreign diplomats against interfering in the country’s internal affairs. 

We do not need to resort to laws from other countries. Moreover, the country does not need an endorsement by any foreign envoy in the next general elections. 

Bangladesh is not a banana republic, and the country can never accept the arrogant behaviour of ambassadors and high commissioners from any foreign diplomatic missions, whatever the country they represent.

We urge foreign diplomats to Bangladesh to respect the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, which stipulated that foreign countries have “the duty not to interfere in the internal affairs of that State.”

Bangladesh is a sovereign and independent state. We have liberated it through a bloody war. We’ll not give any concession on the question of the country’s dignity. It will never bow down to anyone. We must maintain its dignity.

We will never allow being dictated by foreign entities on how we manage our internal affairs. We will be happy to accept the help of our foreign friends. We will never accept dictation on how we are managing our own internal domestic processes. Rather, we chide them angrily.

Foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen hoped that the foreign diplomats here will follow the ‘code of conduct, saying some overseas missions do interfere in Bangladesh’s domestic affairs.“It’s sad… some foreign missions here are interfering in our domestic issues … it’s not right as they interfere in domestic issues beyond their own duties,” he told journalists after attending a programme at Bangabandhu Conference Centre in the capital.

Commenting on the US sanctions on Russia following the Ukraine war, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, “No nation can be controlled through sanctions. She termed the sanctions on Russia as a violation of human rights.”

Speaking as the chief guest at the inauguration of the newly constructed office building of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said, “It is our misfortune as the Russia-Ukraine war is taking place at a time when the whole world is at great economic challenges due to Coronavirus. She said the situation of people around the world is getting worse. People are being harmed due to sanctions. The sanctions that the United States has imposed on Russia are creating a hurdle for countries which are in need of importing various items. Due to the sanctions, transportation costs have increased, while there also are hurdles. The source for importing various items has shrunk. It is not only in Bangladesh, even United States is facing similar hurdles.”

She further said, “The US and developed nations need to think, the sanctions they are imposing is causing suffering to their own people as well. They also need to consider, ordinary people of all countries in the world are suffering more than those countries under sanctions. People in developed, developing and low-income countries are the worst sufferers of these sanctions.”

Sheikh Hasina called upon the United States and the Western countries to lift sanctions as they cannot control any nation ever through these sanctions.

Bangladesh’s Prime Minister said, people living in the US and the Western nations also are complaining of sufferings due to the sanctions. “Everyone’s life is becoming miserable”, she added.

Everyone would also agree with the Bangladeshi Prime Minister, as the sanctions imposed on Russia are failing in causing real suffering or stress in Russia. Instead, these sanctions are becoming counter-productive and are blowing back. Americans and Europeans are actually the worst sufferers of these sanctions, as inflation is becoming intolerable to people.

Thank you, reveredApa, for being who you are, your fearless and truthful standing posture against those arrant people. We stand by you with all our boldness.

Bangladesh-Myanmar: Military Diplomacy

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Myanmar is one of Bangladesh’s closest neighbors, and the two countries have had a long-standing relationship dating back generations. The 271-kilometer Bangladesh-Myanmar border is strategically significant for Bangladesh, despite the fact that it is militarized due to Myanmar’s continuous internal strife. Relations between Bangladesh and Myanmar were formalized on January 13, 1972, when Myanmar, as the sixth state, recognized Bangladesh as an independent entity. However, due to the presence of several unresolved issues such as Rohingya refugees and maritime border demarcation, the scene has changed in an unfavorable way, and ties between these two neighbors have not always been as friendly as envisioned.

Defense diplomacy

Military diplomacy in the twenty-first century goes beyond traditional notions of war and peace.Myanmar’s military-to-military ties with other countries are critical for the country’s long-term survival. To protect mutual bilateral interests, Myanmar’s military (Tatmadaw) should develop ties with Bangladesh’s military.

The military cooperation between Myanmar and Bangladesh has a lot of promise. There are several areas where the two countries may engage and work together, with the most essential being the improvement of relations.In a fresh turn of events, a three-person delegation from the Myanmar army met with the Bangladesh army in Dhaka. The two sides talked about promoting regional security and stability as well as the prompt repatriation of the Rohingyas.The Myanmar Army was reminded by the Bangladesh Army to exercise caution when undertaking any operations in the border regions.

The Rakhine region of Myanmar, which borders Bangladesh, has seen a number of airspace violations over the past few months as border guards there have fought domestic militants. Bangladesh strongly protested the violation of airspace and the landing of shells inside Bangladeshi territory. However, Myanmar border guards have apologized to their counterparts in Bangladesh for these events. Border soldiers from Bangladesh and Myanmar’s junta promised to mend bilateral ties.

The Myanmar delegation led by Lt Gen Phone Myat, Command Bureau of Special Operations, paid Bangladesh Army Chief Gen SM Shafiuddin, Ahmed, a courtesy call on October 26 at the Army Headquarters. The conference happens a few weeks after border tension erupted as a result of border violations committed by Myanmar during hostilities with the Arakan Army, an armed rebel organization in Rakhine State.

The commander of the Bangladesh Army, SM Shafiuddin, urged the Myanmar delegation to cooperate for regional security and discussed ways to strengthen ties between the two militaries, as well as collaborative discussions, training exchanges, coordinated disaster management, and information sharing.The Myanmar delegation provided information about the situation in Myanmar and stated that they are working to keep order and peace in their nation at the meeting between the two forces.

Bangladesh and Myanmar have exchanged military delegations, which could pave the path for the two nations to address their bilateral issues. To address certain common bilateral concerns, both sides might collaborate and share their knowledge and expertise. Military training exchanges between the two-armed forces can benefit both sides in terms of improving operational capabilities. Combined military exercises, UN peacekeeping operation (UNPKO) training, and disaster management cooperation, as well as exchange programs, senior-level visits, and medical cooperation, sports events, adventure activities, military tourism, joint cycling expeditions, and adventure training, are some examples of sectors of cooperation.

The united efforts of the two states may pave the way for closer connections between the two neighbors. Improved military ties between Bangladesh and Myanmar can aid in the smoothing of ties and the resolution of long-standing issues such as the Rohingya crisis, maritime disputes, and border-related trans-border crimes Both forces from Myanmar and Bangladesh should exchange visits, training, and joint exercises on a regular basis.  These will aid in the reduction of mistrust and the promotion of trust and understanding.

This could also help to resolve the region’s long-standing Rohingya refugee crisis.

On the environmental front, the Tatmadaw and Bangladesh military may collaborate to lessen the risk of regional environmental degradation through coordinated disaster management systems, operations, and projects. Cyclonic Storm Sitrang was a tropical cyclone that affected India and Bangladesh on 25 October 2022. Bangladesh, India, and Myanmar could work together. Cyclone Nargis in 2008 was the best illustration of it. This natural calamity wreaked havoc on both countries’ coastlines. Both Myanmar and Bangladesh have several opportunities to work in order to lessen the risk of environmental degradation and loss.

The two countries’ relations are based on cross-border dialogue between ordinary people on both sides of the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar. The most effective strategy to progress together and maintain a peaceful relationship between the concerned countries is to establish a people-to-people connection between the two sovereign countries. This is especially essential when the countries in question are neighbors. The people of Bangladesh and Myanmar must have a harmonious and thriving relationship. Both militaries can essentially promote trade and commerce with one another.

Potential mutual benefit

Apart from India, Myanmar is the only other country on our border. It has the potential to provide Bangladesh with strategic benefits. It could be the starting point for a land-based alternative to the maritime route to China and Southeast Asia. Such a road link has the potential to expand Bangladesh’s communication network with Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Myanmar is also a country with a lot of promise, thanks to its abundant natural resources. Myanmar’s forests and natural resources, such as gas, oil, and stones, are vast, and Bangladesh can considerably benefit from them. As a result, maintaining good relations with Myanmar is more in Bangladesh’s interest for reasons of national security.

Unfriendly relations between Bangladesh-Myanmar Myanmar can cause instability in the region and pose a severe national security threat for both Myanmar and Bangladesh. So, for ensuring greater regional and bilateral interest, Myanmar and Bangladesh must engage militarily through defense cooperation.

Myanmar and Bangladesh have a lot of potential in their bilateral relationship. There are a lot of areas where the two countries may collaborate and work together, the most important of which is the upgrading of existing military and commercial connections, which are now in poor form. But military diplomacy from the perspective of defense cooperation can help strengthen bilateral ties with a neighborly spirit and solve bilateral problems such as the Rohingya refugee crisis.

Bangladesh and Myanmar have opportunities to strengthen military ties in the face of common dangers.Terrorism and transnational crime are two of BIMSTEC’s key concerns, both of which are impossible for member governments to combat on their own. Over time, the nature of terrorism and militancy has also changed. Cyber risks are more important than ever before in the digital age. This type of fighting in the sovereign space necessitates strong intelligence exchange and capacity building, which can be eased by combining the two countries’ military skills.

Cross-border arms trade, as well as unlawful human and drug trafficking, will be hampered by institutional collaboration in this area Furthermore, high-level delegations would encourage bilateral negotiations aimed at overcoming previous impasses and providing UN peacekeeping deployments with capacity-building opportunities.

Finally, engaging with Bangladesh would benefit Myanmar. Military relations between the two neighboring countries can provide peace, harmony, regional stability, increased regional interest, and other benefits throughout the region (South Asia and Southeast Asia).

Bangladesh: Promoting “culture of peace” through UN peacekeeping

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The establishment and maintenance of stability through cooperation was the key motivation behind the UN’s founding in 1945. The primary objective of the UN is to “maintain international peace and security, and in pursuit of such ends, to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace and for the suppression of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace and to bring about by peaceful means and in compliance with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace.” As a part of a global peace movement, the UN Peacekeeping Operations (UNPKO) were established in 1948 to settle international conflicts. The first mission was to send UN Army investigators to the Middle East to observe the agreement between Israel and its Arab neighbors. In recent years, the UN peacekeeping operation has changed to reflect the dynamic nature of international conflicts and the global political landscape. The UN peacekeeping role was specifically extended after the Cold War.

South Asian countries send a sizable contingent of soldiers to peacekeeping operations. Peacekeeping operations are one area of international activity where the region’s united efforts have had a positive effect. Bangladesh has assumed a leadership position in the UN’s peacekeeping mission and is well-versed in the history of such missions. Bangladesh is one of the UN’s most significant and trustworthy partners thanks to its ongoing commitment, adherence to the organization’s regulations, and prompt adaptation measures. It has stayed committed to acting as an accountable UNPKO stakeholder despite the changing nature of the world’s security environment. Instead of concentrating only on peacemaking and peacebuilding, modern peacekeeping aims to ensure social protection in both pre- and post-conflict environments and to seal harmonious connections. After intrastate warfare ended and armed conflict began, peacekeeping now has a variety of responsibilities that go beyond its core duties. One of the main goals of UN peacekeeping missions may be to increase state efficiency and reduce state fragility. As a result, the current batch of troops may significantly affect the UN forces’ ability to operate.

Despite challenging topographical, meteorological, and other unfavorable conditions, Bangladeshi forces are completing the job with the utmost integrity, dedication, and professionalism. Bangladesh has been actively taking part in peacekeeping operations all over the world for the past three decades, and it has been essential to maintaining world peace and stability. In 1988, Bangladesh participated for the first time in both the United Nations Iran-Iraq Military Observer Group (UNIIMOG) in Iraq and the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG) in Namibia. In addition to multiple successful operations in Somalia, Sierra Leone, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bangladeshi troops ensured that rebels in Liberia and the Ivory Coast (Côte d’Ivoire) gave up and laid down their arms. The country also closely monitored the elections in Mozambique, the Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Ivory Coast, and other African countries. Since 1988, Bangladesh has sent almost 175,000 soldiers, including more than 1,800 women, on 54 peacekeeping operations to 40 different countries on five continents. Presently, around 7,000 military and police are participating in ten distinct tasks. The majority of Bangladesh’s peacekeepers are stationed in Africa. The nations and names of the missions where Bangladeshi personnel are presently stationed are included in the following table.

When they first joined the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia in 1993, a detachment of 1,002 soldiers was headed by the 3rd East Bengal Regiment, an infantry regiment from the Bangladesh Army. The operation in Cambodia was a huge endeavor for Bangladesh, and the military of that nation contributed a sizable detachment to the peacekeeping effort. The Bangladeshi military participated in DDR efforts in Kosovo, Timor-Leste, Sierra Leone, and Liberia as well as demining operations in South Sudan. They have also helped Juba have access to water, sanitation, basic education, jobs, and other means of livelihood. In response to the growing threat presented by improvised explosive devices, Bangladesh’s Engineer Centre and School of Military Engineering and Ordnance Centre and School has started providing specialized training on counter-IED (IED). All peacekeeping units getting ready for deployment to Mali receive specialized training from these two institutes. Bangladesh was one of the first countries to adopt the 2016-introduced Peacekeeping Capability Readiness System. It has accelerated its deployment by contributing troops to the UN mission in Mali. Bangladesh is dedicated to upholding its reputation in order to bring about world peace. The most casualties occurred during three large ambushes against Bangladeshi contingents in 2017 and 2018. Eight valiant Bangladeshi warriors gave their lives in these three ambushes, inflicting serious injuries on 10 more troops.

A brigade-sized force was able to be sent to Freetown, Sierra Leone as a result of Bangladesh’s prompt provision of more troops in response to the UN’s request and in compliance with the mission’s increased mandate. Bangladeshi soldiers continued to serve in places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo by frequently keeping an eye on villages to maintain security. Missions by Bangladeshi contingents in Darfur, Cyprus, the Central African Republic, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo were completed successfully. Former peacekeepers and observers claim that the UN hired the majority of Bangladeshi soldiers for peacekeeping operations worldwide over the previous three decades because of their neutrality, professionalism, and quick responsiveness during the deployment. In addition to their competence, former members of the military forces and the police claimed that Bangladeshi peacekeepers’ high moral standing while serving in UN missions also assisted the country in sending out more troops. In 2011, 2014, 2015, 2021, and 2022, Bangladesh was the country that supplied the most troops.

In November 2019, Bangladesh Police received the Best Police Unit Award for its dedication to UN Peacekeeping missions. The Nyala Super Camp in South Darfur, Sudan, was secured by the Bangladesh Formed Police Unit (FPU) 11, which received praise for its outstanding efforts in boosting the capabilities of the police force. In 2021, some 110 Bangladesh Navy servicemen who took part in the UN mission to uphold stability in Beirut, Lebanon, were awarded the Peacekeeping Medal. Rear Admiral Andreas Mugge, the Maritime Task Force (MTF) Commander of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, presented the medal to the officers and crew of the Bangladesh Navy destroyer “Sangram” in recognition of their contributions to peacekeeping operations. Since the Navy was sent to Lebanon 11 years ago, its personnel have performed their responsibilities with the utmost integrity, commitment, and efficacy. The Navy’s proud participation has strengthened Bangladesh’s status and image overseas. Additionally, Bangladesh was warmly commended this year by the US Embassy in Dhaka for their contributions to UN peacekeeping missions. When Ahmad Tejan Kabbah, the former president of Sierra Leone, paid a visit to Bangladesh in 2003, he expressed his appreciation for Bangladesh’s significant help to Sierra Leone as a result of the performance of the nation’s peacekeepers in Africa. Ivorians frequently called Bangladeshi soldiers “munami,” which is Ivorian for “my friend.” Additionally, the UN awarded medals to about 861 members of the Bangladesh Armed Forces, including 19 women, who were serving with the UN peacekeeping force in South Sudan (UNMISS) in 2020 for their unwavering efforts to ensure the safety of civilians.

The UN peacekeeping deployment is a significant illustration of internationalism and world collaboration. It has been proven to be one of the best strategies for promoting and upholding global peace and stability. The “Blue Helmet” now stands for global cooperation and collective leadership for world peace. Bangladesh eventually joined the “Blue Helmet” family with pride due to its enormous commitment to UN peacekeeping efforts over time. The nation of Bangladesh has reached unprecedented heights as a result of its participation, service, and sacrifice in UN peacekeeping missions for world peace. Bangladesh has been building its reputation in the UN for more than three decades thanks to its diligence and commitment. As a global peacekeeper and advocate, Bangladesh may be regarded as exceptional and exemplary. Bangladeshi peacekeepers have served in Africa’s arid regions and continue to do so. They have made a significant contribution in a variety of fields as security personnel, medical professionals, engineers, trainers, and advisors while dealing with numerous security threats, difficulties, and challenges. Around the world, threats are currently taking on new dimensions, which is likely to jeopardize world peace. Radicalization, environmental concerns, enormous human migration, the growth of right-wing extreme nationalism, catastrophic catastrophes, trade conflicts, etc. are some of the primary security dangers of the new millennium. The UN may react to the fresh challenges and change its emphasis to take into account the developing nature of the dispute and the evolving role of PKO. If Bangladesh is to keep up with the rate of global development and manage difficult disagreements, it may need to make progress.

Bangladesh: The heinous jail killings of 1975

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6 mins read
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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 savage killings. Nor has the Nation gotten any redress for the tragic loss of their icons. Jail is supposed to be the safest place in the city. If some citizen’s life is at risk or either the government or he himself feels any deficiency in safety or security, he may be taken into protective custody in a jail or sub-jail. The law and order situation of the country was so poor and vulnerable during the period after 1975 that the safest place was not safe anymore. Some rouge personnel of the Bangladesh army executed one of the most criminal operations in the history of Bangladesh, Indian subcontinent and the whole world.

Similar or even more cruel was the same group’s operation on 15 August of the same year when Bangabandhu and almost his whole family were massacred at his Dhanmondi residence. Even the kid son of the leader, Sheikh Russell was not spared. Our Honourable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her sister Sheikh Rehana escaped as they were on a Europe tour. Bangabandhu being the father of the new Nation loved his people. That was a great quality. But he perhaps loved them too much and believed them too much. He had to pay the price of that belief with his blood and the lives of almost his entire family. He was advised time and again by the Bangladeshi individuals deputed for his security to shift to a properly protected residence which he always ignored showing the reason that he had faith in his people who could do no harm to him. The same happened when some of his friends among world leaders gave him the same advice. Oh, how wrong he was!

We do not need to study rocket science to understand that the few junior army officers in the rank of Major/Captain and their JCO/NCO associates could not plan and execute such a merciless, heinous, bloody coup to annihilate a leader of Bangabandhu’s stature together with his whole family. They must have had influential planners and supporters at home and abroad. Bangabandhu did not realise that with the emergence of Bangladesh, many countries of the then world politics were not happy since they supported Pakistan during our Great War of Liberation. It was a serious blow to their foreign policy. Similarly, a section of Bangladesh’s population and politicians were also having anti-Awami League agenda. That they would be able to strike with such venom was inconceivable. So the saddest day of 15 August came about.

Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad was an arch-rival of Bangabandhu all through his political life. He was cunning and shrewd but nowhere near our great leader in politics of the masses. He was envious of our Father of the Nation and being involved in the coup took over the Presidency of the country immediately. The junior officers executing the coup became all-powerful. They stayed back in Bangabhavan with Mostaq and wielded power. There was no chain of command in the army but the top brass showed visible cowardice and they kept silent. It was reported that they were rather engaged in a power struggle. Most of the political leadership was dumbfounded after the lightning happenings of 15 August and expressed allegiance to Mostaq. Many of them were sworn in as Ministers. Though most of the top Awami League leaders betrayed the blood of Bangabandhu and his family and were busy having their piece of cake in the state power, there were exceptions.

The trusted aides of Bangabandhu were the four national leaders having integrity and unflinching faith in the leader. They were Syed Nazrul Islam,Tajuddin Ahmad,Capt M Monsur Ali and AHM Kamaruzzaman. These four great national leaders together with Col Osmany steered our Freedom struggle to a glorious success. Of course traitor, Mostaq was a part of the cabinet but he always played deterring roles and even planned a confederation with Pakistan. When approached by Mostaq to join his cabinet to run the country, all four of them upheld their dignity and refused. They did not budge even after being threatened with serious consequences. All four ended up in jail soon thereafter.

The killers stationed in Bangabhavan including Mostaq could fathom that they could not sustain very long under the existing disturbing and uneasy circumstances. So, it seems that they were drawing contingency plans. Their plans were all drawn against these great leaders. The thugs and their masters knew that these leaders could lead Awami League to bounce back into mainstream progressive political activities. There was no other leader close to them who could lead Bangladesh.

So, when a counter-coup was staged by Brig(promoted to Maj Gen)Khaled Musharraf to bring back the chain of command in the Armed forces on 3 November 1975, the shameless criminals understood that they were kaput and executed the most heinous crime of jail killings.

In the early hours of the night between the 3rd and 4th of November, five uniformed individuals appeared at the gates of Dhaka central jail in the old quarters of Dhaka. They were led by Risalder Moslemuddin(Moslehuddin). They demanded to be let in which is a grave violation of the jail code by any standards. The jail authorities kept on refusing but finally succumbed to a telephonic order from President Mostaq. These rogues demanded to the jail officials that the four national leaders be assembled in a particular cell. They were in three different cells with other political prisoners. The jail officials did as directed and when the leaders were together in a particular cell, this military personnel having Sten guns and SLRs went there and fired indiscriminately at them. Taking them all as dead, they were leaving the jail premises as they were late and had other agendas. But as some of the leaders were still groaning and asking for water, one of the jail guards ran towards the jail gate to inform same to the killers. They raced back to the cell and bayonetted the four bodies heavily to make sure of their death.

Finally, they left. Awami League leaders like Mofazzal Hossain Chowdhury Maya, Amir Hossain Amu, SP Mahbubuddin were detained in nearby cells. Though they could not see anything being inside the four walls of the cell, they could figure out everything but were undone. An unthinkable crime was perpetrated and no one could be held responsible. Rather, the killers were later appreciated with prize postings at Bangladesh foreign missions.

A case was registered with the Lalbagh police station one day later. Initial procedures started. But not much headway could be made due to the promulgation of the indemnity ordinance. A commission of enquiry was also constituted which too could not work till preparing and submitting a report. The files were destroyed deliberately presumably during the next 21 years of unfavourable governments. No paperwork could be found when the Indemnity ordinance was repealed when in 1996 favourable Government came to power. The investigation had to start anew. Though a very difficult task, the concerned police investigators produced a miracle. The case was heard for years in a regular court of a District and Sessions Judge. In 2004, the court dished out a verdict. 3 of the JCO/NCO gang of Moslemuddin, Marfot Ali Shah and Abul Hashem Mridha were given capital punishment and eight officers of the army were sentenced to life imprisonment.

Strangely enough, the High court division of the apex court commutated the sentences and only one criminal remained with a punishment. All others went scot-free. A real shame indeed! The prosecution, of course, moved the Supreme court division. The Apex judicial body of the country duly considered the appeal and nullified the High court judgement. The judgement of the trial court was withheld. The Court also observed that such a conspiratorial savage killing inside the jail could not have happened without any involvement from high places. A thorough probe of the conspiracy behind such political killings was suggested.

Some of the convicts of jail killings were hanged to death for their complicity in the Bangabandhu killing. The others still remain absconding. They are sheltered by some countries under one context or the other. Bangladesh Government is following up on the issue of their repatriation to face the judgement with all seriousness. We don’t see much development in this regard though.

The patriotic forces of Bangladesh expect that a proper commission of enquiry will be formed soonest to investigate the 15 August and 3 November 1975 criminal activities by a small section of the armed forces leading to the killings of the founding father of the Nation and the four great National leaders. The conspirators behind the scenes should be exposed. The people of Bangladesh also expect that process to bring back the culprits from abroad should be expedited. Our deepest tributes to the four great national leaders and of course to Bangabandhu. They will be remembered by all patriotic Bangladeshis for all time to come.

Views expressed are personal

The Mouse Squeaks in Bangladesh

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5 mins read
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People in Bangladesh want the upcoming national elections to be held in a festive atmosphere and improve the atmosphere so that voters can vote for the candidate of their choice. And that will be sure as shooting.

But it is grossly offensive to decency or morality that foreign diplomats stationed in Dhaka are all rabbiting on over the next general election in Bangladesh, whereas their own countries are at colossus faults in many affairs including the election processes. So, when they want to prescribe us in our national matters, we can take them as if rogues supplant justice.

The next parliamentary elections are still more than a year away. However, like every other time, foreign diplomats are becoming involved in Bangladesh’s election process. But they must cease their interference in the national matters of Bangladesh. The government also does not take kindly to their criticisms and opinions on the election process and the internal affairs of the country. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already informed the foreign diplomats working in Bangladesh to stop all these trumperies.

We remind them of the Geneva Conventions to observe etiquette. Besides, media representatives must not ask any question to the foreign diplomats about our election process.  

Last July, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reminded foreign diplomats working in Bangladesh to comply with the Vienna Code of Conduct. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has sent a letter in this regard to the United Nations office located in Dhaka, all international organizations and all foreign missions located in Dhaka on July 18. But the statements of the diplomats and their continuous close interaction with the opposition political camps have not yet decreased.

In addition, the Minister of Foreign Affairs. AK Abdul Momen and State Minister Shahriar Alam also urged the diplomats to speak according to etiquette. The foreign minister also expressed his anger at the behaviour of diplomats.

Experts say the letter of adherence to the Geneva Conventions means the government does not want foreigners to interfere in the country’s internal affairs. Therefore, foreign diplomats have been warned ahead of national elections.

Earlier on June 13, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was told in the meeting of the National Committee on Security at the initiative of the Cabinet Division that the diplomats of various foreign missions located in Bangladesh should be requested to comply with the Vienna Convention. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina presided over the meeting.

And so, on July 18, the letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes the United Nations Office in Dhaka, all international organizations and diplomats and representatives working in all foreign missions located in Dhaka to follow the relevant rules and etiquette in conducting diplomatic activities.

In view of the recent events, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would like to respectfully inform everyone that diplomats at the public and private levels shall conduct their diplomatic activities in accordance with the proper diplomatic protocol as stipulated in the Vienna Convention of 1961 and the Vienna Convention on Consular Affairs of 1963.

In the letter, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also stated that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs promises on behalf of the Government of Bangladesh that the Government will provide all the necessary support to all diplomatic missions, UN offices and all international organizations to work.

Several foreign diplomats working in Dhaka said that it is not their job to interfere in Bangladesh’s internal issues. They want everything in the country to go well and be peaceful. This is not true. They say one thing, but they do diametrically the opposite.

Investors from many countries have invested and are doing business in Bangladesh. For this, we want a stable environment and do not want any unstable situation to be created in Bangladesh.

German Ambassador Akhim Troster, Netherlands Ambassador Annie Von Leeuwen and European Union Ambassador Charles Whiteley held a meeting with Road Transport and Bridges Minister Obaidul Quader on July 24.

After the meeting, German ambassador Akhim Troster said in a tweet that it is the main responsibility of diplomats to keep in touch with the political parties and institutions of the host country. So, their temerity is irremissible under any setting.

A meeting was held with Awami League General Secretary, Roads and Communications Minister Obaidul Quader and his colleagues on July 24. The European Union and its member states are tested friends of Bangladesh. Ambassador of the Netherlands Anne Von Leeuwen said in a tweet that a diplomat always tries to communicate with all partners to understand the situation of the host country and to advance development. This abracadabra harangue is not worthy of acceptance or satisfactory.

On June 2, the US Ambassador to Dhaka invited five representatives of civil society to lunch at his residence on the issue of the upcoming national elections. Several representatives of the civil society who participated in the lunch at that time said that America and Europe have great interest in the upcoming national elections. Look at how much brazen-faced and insolent Uncle Sam is!

Former Additional Secretary and Ambassador of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mahfuzur Rahman said, the last July letter is a warning. Basically, ahead of the national elections, the government is warning foreign diplomats in advance that the government does not want to see any foreign interference in the country’s internal affairs.

Because, past experience has shown that foreign diplomats have also entered the country’s politics with their own evil agenda. If the government party and the opposition parties, i.e. all political parties, are responsible, there is no chance for foreigners to turn their noses up.

Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen said that the foreign diplomats posted in Bangladesh are mature. We believe they will follow diplomatic etiquette. When asked whether the government can make a statement or protest to prevent foreign diplomats from commenting on Bangladesh elections, the minister said, “We believe that the diplomats in our country are mature. They are honorable people. We trust that they will follow diplomatic etiquette.”

Regarding the recent comments of the US ambassador Peter Haas about the upcoming parliamentary elections, the foreign minister told the reporters that because the journalists asked questions to the ambassadors, they commented on the internal affairs of Bangladesh. He said, “You force him. The poor man was forced to answer. It is better if you don’t go up to foreign countries.”

Come to us. They dare to speak because some of our people go to them. The foreign minister said, due to the colonial mentality, we still prefer something foreign. We have to get out of this habit.

Abdul Momen said, democracy is different in different countries. Bangladesh is the leader of democracy. We gave blood for democracy in 1971, 3 million people gave their lives. Where else in the world? We have struggled in this country when people’s voices have been stifled. When people’s right to democracy is taken away.

He also said that when the genocide was happening in this country in 1971, they did not even come close to us. When the genocide was going on in Myanmar, no one gave shelter to those people. Who did it, Bangladesh did it. Sheikh Hasina has opened the border. Protected human rights.

The foreign minister also said that the current government is committed to conducting free, fair and transparent elections and is not in favour of the death of a single citizen of the country during the election process. We are trying so that not a single person dies.

He said, there are good and bad in every country’s democracy. It is not always accurate. It’s a process. Democracy matures through efforts. We also have weaknesses. We are trying to work out how to fix the vulnerability. This does not mean that they are the best. They also have weaknesses, problems…

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam said that foreign diplomats should not talk about the internal politics of Bangladesh. They should speak according to etiquette. They should mind in their own business. An old but significant proverb reminds us, “Let not the shoe-maker go beyond his last.”

-The End-

Time to Deescalate Myanmar-Bangladesh Border Tension

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3 mins read

Myanmar’s persistent use of mortars to invade Bangladeshi land amounts to a declaration of war on Myanmar’s part and a diplomatic blunder on the part of the government of Bangladesh. In the most recent incident, Myanmar fired three mortar bombs on September 16 into Bangladeshi territory near the Tambru border in Bandarban, killing one man and injuring six others, who were taken to the hospital that night. On September 3, Myanmar fired at least two deadly shells 120 meters into Bangladesh at the Tambru border. On August 28, it launched two additional mortar shells across the same border into Bangladesh, but they did not explode. On August 20, a comparable occurrence occurred at the same border.

Following each incident, Bangladeshi authorities called the ambassador of Myanmar to Dhaka and gave him protest letters. What started with mortar rounds that hadn’t detonated has so far come to a close with the deaths and injuries caused by shell explosions. Bangladesh has reportedly handled the situation professionally on a bilateral basis up to this point, but all that seems to be happening is escalating tensions, which, according to Myanmar, is a provocation for war. Bangladesh is correct to resist giving up.
All of this suggests, however, that despite their repeated claims to be the best of friends, India, China, and Russia have not been persuaded to help prevent Myanmar from inciting a war with Bangladesh. These countries include India, which has cordial bilateral relations with Myanmar, China, which exerts significant influence over Myanmar, and Russia.

According to media reports, Bangladeshi authorities consider bringing the matter before the UN for resolution if diplomatic attempts to date have been unsuccessful.

In December 2018 China and Russia abstained from UN negotiations, and in December 2017 they opposed a UN resolution on the Rohingya problem. It is understandable that the military-run Myanmar, which has a population one-third that of Bangladesh’s and suffers from low credibility throughout the world, would appear to be breaking international law by shelling Bangladesh, given Bangladesh’s weak strategic and political position on the world stage.

In response to recent casualties at Bangladesh’s Bandarban border, the foreign ministry of Bangladesh summoned Myanmar’s ambassador in Dhaka, Aung Kyaw Moe, and delivered a stern protest letter. Since mid-August, the ministry has summoned the Myanmar ambassador four times for violations of land and airspace by Myanmar along the border in Bandarban’sNaikhongchhari, as well as many incidences in which mortar shells from the neighbouring nation landed on Bangladeshi soil.

To counteract any effects of the unrest in the Rakhine state, the Coastguard and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) are still on high alert in the border region. The Myanmar Armed Forces have fired mortar shells into Bangladesh territory on numerous occasions, leaving the population living near the Bangladesh-Myanmar border areas feeling uneasy. In the most recent incident, which happened on Friday night, five mortar rounds fired from Myanmar detonated at a Rohingya camp in a no-land man’s close to Tumbru bazar in Bandarban’s Naikhongchhariupazila, killing a 28-year-old man named Mohammad Iqbal and injuring eight others. An earlier land mine explosion in Bandarban’sNaikhongchhari border area injured a young Bangladeshi man.

The ambassador for Myanmar confirmed that many mortar bombs had been fired into Bangladeshi territory, but he asserted that their insurgent groups had also fired heavy artillery and mortars, some of which had landed on Bangladeshi soil. In this regard, the foreign ministry reaffirmed the government of Bangladesh’s policy of “zero tolerance” toward terrorism and its refusal to harbour any forces threatening the security of its neighbours.

The current crisis is instilling terror among the defenseless citizens residing in Myanmar’s border regions, it has been warned Myanmar.

Bangladesh requested Myanmar to stop engaging in actions that endanger local residents’ lives and means of subsistence. Bangladesh also urged that Myanmar stop its careless military actions close to the border and make sure that no Myanmar-made ammunition enters Bangladeshi territory.

Bangladesh has already said clearly that it wishes to resolve its differences with Myanmar amicably. Therefore, the nation hopes that Myanmar will learn from their error and stop taking actions in the future that would harm bilateral relations.

The Myanmar Armed Forces kept firing many mortar shells into Bangladeshi territory on purpose in an effort to stir up trouble near the border. Bangladesh is working to find a diplomatic resolution with Myanmar because it doesn’t want a war. And the nation will make every effort, taking the matter to the UN if necessary (UN).

The government of Bangladesh, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, never supports armed conflict and always favours peaceful resolution. Bangladesh is attempting to resolve the issue on a bilateral and multilateral level. We are hopeful that the international community and the UN will step up and take the necessary actions to put an end to this disturbance.

Although a battle with a neighbour is not desirable, a diplomatic solution to the problem should still be sought. If necessary, Bangladeshi authorities should raise this with the UN. To find a solution, it must intensify its diplomatic efforts on a regional and global scale.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh should maintain a standing national army to defend its borders, fend against Myanmar, and avert any dangerous situations.

Views expressed are personal

Bangladesh: Military Diplomacy

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4 mins read

As the Indo-Pacific region represents the world’s economic and strategic center of gravity, the Indian Ocean today is becoming the centrepiece of all geo-strategic play. So, Cooperation in the region is crucial to implementing the international community’s global agenda, including achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Major powers like the US have enhanced and deepened their strategic engagement and leadership roles with countries in the region. The Indo-Pacific Armies Management Seminar, or IPAMS, is a U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) initiated conference that is aimed at facilitating and enhancing interactions among the armies of the Indo-Pacific region. This year’s 46th Seminar, co-hosted by the Bangladesh Army and US Army Pacific (USARPAC), concluded in Dhaka. The objective of IPAMS is to promote peace and stability in the region through mutual understanding, dialogue, and friendship. It is the largest conference for land forces in the region and one of the preeminent army engagements that provide a platform for the senior military leadership of Indo-Pacific regional ground forces to exchange views and opinions on peace and stability.

This year’s conference brought together senior officers of the military forces of 24 countries. Under the theme of “Possibilities and Challenges for Maintaining Peace and Security in the Indo-Pacific Region,” the main focus of the event was “robust peacekeeping,” “women empowerment,” and “land power in regional cooperation.” Apart from these, peacekeeping operations, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, leadership development, countering transnational crime, and empowering women were being discussed.
Significance of Military diplomacy

Bangladesh has historically been part of ancient Indo-Pacific connectivity. It is indeed in Bangladesh’s interest to advocate and work for an open, resilient and interconnected Indo-Pacific. In a broader sense, its own continuing sustainability as an independent, sovereign, prosperous nation-state depends on this idea. With close to 40 nations comprising its make-up, the Indo-Pacific region covers more than half of the earth’s surface, home to 60% of the world’s population producing 60% of global GDP, contributing two-thirds of current global growth. By 2030, the overwhelming majority (90%) of the 2.4 billion new members of the middle class entering the global economy will live in the Indo-Pacific. 7 of the world’s 10 largest armies are in the region where border disputes and sovereignty concerns are headline events. Therefore, maintaining peace and security across the region is central to global progress.

However, the conference brings army senior leaders together to discuss differences, establish trust, mitigate miscalculations, resolve challenges, and find commonality among multinational-professional soldiers.There are issues that cannot be solved in isolation by just one or two countries. This platform allows military leaders in the region to get together, share their ideas, and find a collective solution to a pressing and immediate problems. The relationships developed throughout the seminar and through Army-to-Army engagements would help to identify issues of common interest for arriving at pragmatic multi-lateral solutions, and dealing with the escalating threats.

It is imperative to build trust at the strategic level. So, the armies need to work together with the public sector in policy-making and lay out a development foundation that links economic and social development with the protection of the environment and natural resources. The IPAMS promotes network building among military chiefs at all levels to join forces in coping with the world’s various changes and challenges for sustainable advancement of the region. The forums provide a unique opportunity to advance understanding of key issues while showing respect for each other’s role in promoting security and stability. It would build interpersonal relations, mutual trust, and confidence among the ground forces in the region, which would reduce tensions. “The IPAMS can create a sense of friendship and warmth so that peace and stability prevail in the region,” PM Sheikh Hasina said while addressing the opening ceremony of the seminar.

The meetings are yet another symbol of the close cooperation between Bangladesh and the United States. It also paved the way for stronger cooperation between the armies of the two countries. Charles A. Flynn, commanding general of the U.S. Army Pacific, assured that the United States will cooperate with Bangladesh and other Indo-pacific countries to ensure the security of this important region. Again, the Bangladesh Army Chief expressed hope that working together will give the Bangladesh army a lot of scopes to learn as the US Army is one of the best in the world and very developed.

While the militaries of the participating countries discussed disaster management, transnational crime, security issues, and women’s empowerment, the issue of Rohingya refugees who have fled from violence in Myanmar is not overlooked. It is undeniable that since the Rohingya crisis erupted in the Indo-Pacific region’s heartland, it has all the potential to directly threaten the peace and stability in the region.

Because of the prolonged stay of more than 1 million Rohingya refugees in crowded camps, the economy, environment, security, and socio-political stability in the region will be seriously affected. A delegation of top military officials from 24 countries, including the U.S., Canada, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, and Vietnam, visited the refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, where Rohingyas expressed their desire to go back to their home country of Myanmar’s Rakhine State and not to any third country. The members of the group witnessed the plight of the Rohingyas firsthand and developed a “clear perception” of the gravity of the refugee crisis and the need for their repatriation to Myanmar.
Organizing such an international military conference is a great achievement for Bangladesh Army.

Noteworthy, The Bangladesh military’s positive and active role has earned the nation an international reputation with political and diplomatic mileage. The Armed Forces of Bangladesh have glorified the country on the global stage through their brilliant participation in UN peacekeeping missions. As the UN peacekeeping operations have been evolving continuously, Bangladesh has regularly been carrying out the performance appraisal of its peacekeepers and taking measures to cope with future challenges.

Despite being a late entrant (in 1988) as a troop contributor, Bangladesh has emerged as a credible UN partner over the last three decades. Since 1988, Bangladesh has participated in 54 peacekeeping missions in 40 different countries across 5 continents with more than 175,000 uniformed personnel, including over 1,800 female peacekeepers. Currently, there are over 7,000 troops and police deployed in 10 missions (as per data from the Armed Forces Division). Praising the Bangladesh Army, US Army General Charles A. Flynn said: “The Bangladesh Army is known for its leadership globally because of its contributions to UN peacekeeping operations. Its peacekeeping campus and training center are not just known within the region, they are known internationally. There are many, many things that the US Army and so many other armies can learn from the experiences of the Bangladeshi Army in their international and global commitment to humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, and peacekeeping operations. “This acknowledgement has once again proved that our armed forces are a vital factor in upholding global peace and are able to keep our country safe from the subversive activities of internal and external enemies.

Last but not least, this conference is a critical opportunity to connect with the world’s military leaders to foster alliance partnerships and cooperative relationships. It is expected that dialogues like these will further strengthen ties between the Indo-Pacific countries and the Bangladesh Army and increase possibilities for mutual cooperation to cope with recent challenges in order for the region to move forward in a secure and sustainable manner.

Assam: Emerging Epicenter of Islamist Extremism?

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4 mins read

There are few noted arrests were made by police to nullify multiple ABT (Ansar al-Islam/Ansarullah Bangla Team)-linked/inspired modules, spread across Dhubri, Barpeta, Bongaigaon, Goalpara, Morigaon, Kamrup (Metropolitan) and Nagaon Districts, which have come to focus since March 2022. On March 4, 2022, the Assam Police arrested five ABT cadres including Saiful Islam aka Haroon Rashid, a Bangladeshi national, from Barpeta.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) took over Saiful Islam’s case on March 22, 2022. According to the NIA First Information Report, there is an active module of ABT in Barpeta District, led by Saiful Islam, who entered India illegally and was engaged as an Arabic Teacher at the Dhakaliapara Masjid. Saiful Islam was active in motivating impressionable youth/men to join jihadi outfits and to work in modules, Ansars (sleeper cells), to create a base for Al-Qaeda and its manifestations in India. The other members of the module were Khairul Islam, Badshah Suleiman Khan, Noushad Ali and Taimur Rahman Khan. All the accused persons were involved in the commission of various offences, including conspiracy, waging war against the state, harbouring, and collecting funds for committing unlawful and terrorist acts.

According to partial data compiled by the South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP), at least 30 ABT-linked extremists have been arrested by the Police from different Districts of the State since March 4, 2022, (till September 11, 2022).

Though details about ABT activities are still emerging, Assam Chief Minister (CM) Himanta Biswa Sarma stated on August 4, 2022, that ABT had increased its focus on Assam during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the administration and police were busy handling the crisis. He disclosed,

These people [ABT cadres] were working as preachers in mosques – as a cover job – their aim was to wage jihad against India and establish ‘shariat’ law. Several training camps were organised by these people especially during COVID-19 times. They were trained in tradecraft (techniques/technology used in modern espionage), radicalisation, indoctrination, gun training and bomb-making… They [ABT] do not use mobile calls but use chat apps to communicate. Not Telegram, but these chat apps found are unheard of. They are peer-to-peer encrypted chat apps and are more sophisticated and beyond the end-to-end chat apps.

Further, on August 28, 2022, Special Director General of Police (Law and Order) G. P. Singh noted that, “till now, we haven’t received any indication of arms training’’. When asked whether the madrasas (seminaries)-linked to ABT were registered, he asserted, “We will take action if they are not as per govt guidelines.” Earlier, on April 25, 2022, Additional Director General of Police (Special Branch) Hiren Nath added that, though “there was no formal arms training” by the ABT, they have “started indoctrination”.

Also, on September 1, 2022, a long-time observer of militancy in the Northeast, Rajeev Bhattacharya, comparing ABT with others like Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), wrote, “Jamatul-ul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), for instance, was structured unlike the ABT which is loosely organised and decentralized.”

There have been earlier instances of infiltration by ABT into Assam as well. The interrogation of a Bangladeshi ABT cadre, Faisal Ahmed, arrested from the Bommanahalli area of Bangalore city, Karnataka, on July 1, 2022, revealed that he had arrived in Silchar in the Cachar District of Assam in 2015. He, thereafter, made a fake voter ID card under the name, Shahid Majumdar, and also obtained an Indian passport. Importantly, Faisal Ahmed was one of the four ABT militants convicted for killing Bangladeshi blogger Ananta Bijoy Das in thr Subidbazar area of Sylhet on May 12, 2015. On March 30, 2022, the Anti-Terrorism Special Tribunal-based in Sylhet convicted and sentenced four persons, including Faisal Ahmed to death.

Meanwhile, another Bangladesh-based Islamist terrorist group, the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) continues with its efforts to extend its influence in Assam. The presence of JMB came to notice when, on October 2, 2014, Shakil Ahmed and Suvon Mandal aka Subhan, both active members of the JMB, were killed, and Abdul Hakim aka Hassan sustained injuries in an accidental explosion in a rented two-story house at Khagragarh under the Burdwan Police Station of Burdwan District, West Bengal. All three were found to be Bangladeshi citizens. A spate of arrests that followed the incident underscored the extent of the spread of the outfit.

According to the SATP database, since October 2, 2014, at least 61 JMB cadres have been arrested in Assam. The last arrest was made on July 7, 2022, when two JMB terrorists, Mokkodos Ali Ahmed and Sofiqul Islam, were arrested from Barpeta District.

The interrogation of arrested JMB militants revealed that their objective was to counter purported ‘Bodo aggression’. Between 2008 and 2014, there have been periodic clashes between Bodos and Muslims in lower Assam.  In 2008, at least 55 persons were killed in such clashes; 109 were killed in 2012 and 46 in 2014.

Before the advent of these Bangladesh-based jihadi groups, several Islamist extremist formations existed in Assam. The then Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rockybul Hussain informed the State Assembly on December 15, 2014, that between January 2001 to November 2014, a total of 130 Islamist extremists, including 106 Muslim United Liberation Tigers of Assam (MULTA) militants, 14 Harakat-ul-Mujahideen (HuM) militants and 10 JMB militants had been arrested in the State. Since then (December 1, 2014) another 149 Islamic extremists [including 55 JMB, 30 ABT, 26 Muslim Tiger Force of Assam (MTFA), 21 MULTA,10 Hizb-ul-Mujahedeen (HM), five Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), one each from Muslim Liberation Army (MLA) and Peoples United Liberation Front (PULF], have been arrested in Assam.

A majority of the Islamist militant groups in Assam were founded between 1990 and 1996 with the prime objective of safeguarding the ‘overall interests’ of the minority Muslim communities in the region. These groups had the backing of Pakatan’s Inter-Services Intelligence and the then Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)-led regime in Bangladesh. According to SATP, at least 21 Islamist terror formations have operated in Assam at different periods.

The entry of the Bangladeshi groups is partly due to the severe crackdown by the Sheikh Hasina-led Awami League government of Bangladesh that had disrupted the networks of all Islamist groups, including the JMB and ABT, forcing them underground or to seek refuge in bordering regions of Indian states like Assam, Bengal or Tripura, where the demographic composition is favorable for concealment.

Moreover, the present polarized political debates have created a perception of targeting/isolating religious minorities (especially Bengali speaking Muslims) in the state, due to recent events, including the Supreme Court monitored updating of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) 1951, followed by the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), as well as administrative measures such as ‘anti-encroachment drives’ to free government land. The division of Muslims along ethno-linguistic lines can also be a pull factor for these jihadi groups.

The conflict in Assam is largely shaped on the discourse of identity-based politics based on insider-outsider identification, as well as claims to autochthonous status and primacy over local resources, but has gradually been transformed into a religious struggle, and a polarizing politics to consolidate electoral gains. The dominant narratives are likely to be counterproductive, rupturing social bonds and leading to destabilization.

This article is a part of SLG Syndication project. Giriraj Bhattacharjee, Research Associate, Institute for Conflict Management in Delhi wrote this for South Asia Terrorism Portal, where this piece first appeared. Click here to read the complete article.

Hasina’s India Visit: A Balance Sheet of Diplomacy

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On Sept 5, India welcomed one of the closest friends in the neighbourhood, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who visited India on a four-day visit. During the course of her trip, she hold a bilateral meeting with PM Narendra Modi as well as interacted with President Droupadi Murmu. The immediate outcome of the visit was the signing of the seven memorandums of understanding (MoUs) in various fields, including the withdrawal of water from the cross-border Kushiyara river, cooperation in space technology, collaboration on IT systems used by railways in areas such as movement of freight, science and technology cooperation, training of Bangladesh Railway personnel and Bangladeshi judicial officers in India, and cooperation in broadcasting between Prasar Bharati and Bangladesh Television, aimed at boosting ties between the two countries.

Among the seven pacts signed on September 6, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on withdrawal of 153 cusecs (cubic feet per second) of water from the Kushiyara by Bangladesh is most welcomed by Dhaka. It is the first such deal the two countries have inked after the Ganges River water-sharing agreement in 1996 and is seen as a breakthrough in addressing an issue that has cast a shadow on their otherwise close ties. The deal came to the Sylhet region as blessings that are expected to help alleviate some of Dhaka’s concerns. A pact to share water resources from transboundary rivers that run downstream from the Himalayas from India into Bangladesh has long been a priority for Bangladesh, a lower riparian state that suffers from crippling water shortages. Earlier, India and Bangladesh finalised the Teesta water-sharing deal in 2010 and it was likely to be signed in 2011. But it could not be inked due to opposition from West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banarjee.

The agreement will benefit southern parts of Assam state in India and the Sylhet region in Bangladesh. According to the agreement, the withdrawal of 153 cusecs of water from Kushiara river through Rahimpur canal will bring major changes in dry season farming in Jokiganj upazila bordering Bangladesh. At the same time, the farmers of Kanighat and some parts of Biyanibazar Upazila will benefit.

The two leaders engaged in talks on connectivity, trade, flood management, counter-terrorism, food security, and nuclear energy partnerships. In a bid to help Bangladesh deal with the energy crisis, the two leaders unveiled the first unit of the Maitree Thermal Power Plant, a 1320 MW supercritical coal-fired thermal power plant at Rampal in the Khulna division of Bangladesh. The project is being set up at an approximate budget of $2 billion out of which $1.6 billion was Indian Development Assistance that will enhance Bangladesh’s power generation capacities. Experts believe that the Maitree Power Plant will give citizens of Bangladesh access to affordable electricity, boosting Bangladesh face the difficulties that the country is facing in because of the growing energy prices worldwide.

Both leaders also discussed the issue of counterterrorism. “Today we also stressed on cooperation against terrorism and fundamentalism. To keep the spirit of 1971 alive, it is also very necessary that we face such forces together, who want to attack our mutual trust,” PM Modi said. In flood management, India has extended the period of sharing flood water-related information in real-time which will help Bangladesh counter the annual floods.

Connectivity boost

An important project that was inaugurated was the Rupsha bridge. The 5.13 km Rupsha rail bridge is a key part of the 64.7 km Khulna-Mongla Port single-track Broad Gauge rail project, connecting for the first time Mongla Port (Bangladesh’s second largest port) with Khulna by rail, and thereafter to Central and North Bangladesh and also to the India border at Petrapole and Gede in West Bengal. “The inauguration of the railway bridge over the Rupsha river is a remarkable step towards enhancing connectivity. This bridge is an important part of the new railway line being built between Khulna and Mongla Port under India’s Line of Credit” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a statement during a joint media appearance with Hasina.

An announcement was also made that India would supply road construction equipment and machinery in 25 packages to the road and highways department of the Bangladeshi government. The Khulna-Darshana railway line link project was also announced to upgrade the existing (doubling of broad gauge) infrastructure, linking the current cross-border rail link at Gede-Darshana to Khulna and thereby augmenting the rail connections between the two countries, especially to Dhaka, but also in future, to Mongla Port. The project cost is estimated to be USD 312.48 million. Another project, Parbatipur-Kaunia railway line, will see the conversion of the existing metre-gauge line to dual-gauge line at an estimated cost of USD 120.41 million. The project will connect the existing cross-border rail at Birol (Bangladesh)-Radhikapur (West Bengal) and enhance bilateral rail connectivity. The connectivity initiatives are part of the ongoing projects in Bangladesh that are aimed at converting the country into a major connectivity hub of South and Southeast Asia.

It is mentionable that, India has provided concessional loans worth $9.5 billion for development projects in Bangladesh, especially connectivity initiatives. These initiatives include improving rail connectivity between Khulna and Dhaka, Chilahati and Rajshahi and connecting Mongla port with Darshana-Gede at a cost of $312million, the Parbatipur-Kaunia rail project to facilitate the transportation of fuel that is being built at a cost of $120million, and the supply of road construction equipment and machinery worth $41million to repair and maintain Bangladesh’s road network. With the expansion of connectivity between our two countries, and the development of trade infrastructure on the border, the two economies will be able to connect more with each other.

Trade prospects under CEPA

It is true that While India is Bangladesh’s largest trade partner in South Asia, with bilateral trade reaching a record $18 billion in the last financial year, there has been a significant trade imbalance between the two countries. To narrow the trade gap and to further accelerate this growth, two sides agreed to begin negotiations on a comprehensive economic partnership agreement (CEPA) this year. When the CEPA is operationalised, bilateral trade potential would be USD 40 billion. Moreover, the CEPA will boost bilateral and sub-regional connectivity that Bangladesh is championing in its policy initiatives.

During this trip, PM Hasina met with Indian industrialist Gautam Adani, who recently became the world’s third-richest person, according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index. Adani Power, a subsidiary of Adani Group, will supply power to Bangladesh from its upcoming 1,600 MW thermal power plant in the Godda area of Jharkhand. The project is significant as Bangladesh has been recognised as an important partner under India’s “Neighbourhood First” policy.

Finally, it is observed that the cooperation during the visit extended to all fields, including trade and commerce, power and energy, transport and connectivity, science and technology, rivers, and maritime affairs. The visit will act as a catalyst for closer coordination and cooperation in resolving all issues, including Teesta river water sharing. It is also expected that Indo-Bangladesh ties will touch new heights and will continue to add more depth and momentum in the coming days.