Experts on Wednesday said that Bangladesh required maintaining balanced foreign relations in the changing global political and economic situations as well as creating strategic deterrence for upholding national interests.
They said this at a seminar titled ‘changing global dynamics: Bangladesh foreign policy’ hosted by Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies in Dhaka.
Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh executive director Ahsan H Mansur said that Bangladesh ‘cannot be hostage to India’ as the neighbouring country had been maintaining its stakes in ‘sharing rivers’ and creating citizenship crisis for Bangla-speaking people in Assam.
He observed that Bangladesh ‘doesn’t have friends in real crisis’ and ‘no one from our region [South Asia] stood by us’ during Rohingya crisis.
Bangladesh’s geographical location ‘doesn’t mean anything’ to global economies unless stakes, including huge foreign investment opportunities, are created for other countries here, he said.
He suggested easing trade protection mechanism, increasing trade among South Asian countries and granting selective investment abroad from Bangladesh.
Dhaka University’s political science Professor Tasneem Siddiqui, a migration expert, observed that Bangladesh was losing grounds in negotiations for securing safe jobs abroad. ‘Negotiation is going down and down and down.’
Multilayer trading of work permits in the employing countries, high cost of migration, poor working conditions, non-payment and irregular payment of wages, ill treatment, untimely return and deportation are common, she said, foreign policy required to address both the needs of migrating works and humanitarian repatriation.
Inter-ministerial coordination bodies were not functioning properly, she alleged.
Dhaka University’s international relations Professor Imtiaz Ahmed stressed the need for balanced foreign relations keeping options open for availing opportunities offered from different corners of the world.
Dhaka University’s development studies Professor Rashed Al Mahmud Titumir stressed the need for Bangladesh to remain strategically important in the changing global situations and creating strategic deterrence for upholding national interests.
Foreign minister AH Mahmood Ali said that the issue of Rohingya influx with Myanmar remained as an irritant in bilateral relations between the two countries.
Myanmar orchestrated an unprecedented exodus of Rohingyas who faced the worst form of human rights violations in Rakhine State because of their religion and race, he said, adding that more than 6,55,000 desperate Rohingyas entered Bangladesh crossing a border of 40 miles only.
Bangladesh ‘enjoys the best of its relations’ with India, he said.
State minister for foreign affairs M Shahriar Alam said that the government was working for permanently resolving problems with Myanmar through sustainable Rohingya repatriation.
Foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque said that Bangladesh’s foreign affairs were conducted on the basis of pragmatism, peace and stability, innovations and humanitarian aspects with broader and deeper engagement with Europe, building strategic relations with India and China, enhancing maritime cooperation, maintaining strategic relations with Islamic countries, as well as keeping momentum in multilateral fronts, including the United Nations.
BIISS chairman Munshi Faiz Ahmad and director general Major General AKM Abdur Rahman also spoke at the seminar.
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