A seminar on the opportunities and challenges in attaining regional connectivity has identified nearly two dozens of challenges, including influences of China and India, in getting a successful regional cooperation in South Asia.
The daylong seminar on Monday repeatedly stated how and why the South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation, better known as SAARC, had turned into a ‘dead-horse’ instead of having successful cooperation like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and North American Free Trade Agreement.
The NDC in collaboration with two leading think-tanks—Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies, and Bangladesh Enterprise Institute—organised the seminar titled ‘Regional Connectivity: Opportunities and Challenges’ at the National Defence College at Mirpur Cantonment.
Hossain Zillur Rahman, the executive chairman of Power and Participation Research Centre, called for keen cooperation among the regional countries and the international community for the greater interest of all.
A set of NDC course 2018 members presented a joint paper at the seminar which tried to find out the necessity, opportunities, and challenges of regional connectivity.
Presenting the paper, NDC course member Captain Sharif Uddin Bhuiyan of Bangladesh Navy identified 21 challenges for Bangladesh.
The joint paper stated that all countries in the region usually suffer from external mistrust and severe compelling internal challenges, resulting in ‘inward-looking mindset’ rather than a ‘well-balanced outlook’.
‘One of the main challenges [in forging regional connectivity] is India’s hesitation over Chinese dominance in South Asia. India seems suspicious that the BCIM [an initiative of Bangladesh, China, India, and Myanmar], and BRI [Chinese Belt and Road Initiative] are to facilitate Chinese import and export in the region which would create massive trade deficit between India and China,’ Sharif added.
NDC commandant Lieutenant General Sheikh Mamun Khaled said it was necessary to have adequate measures to address the barriers so that goods, vehicles, and people
could move across international borders.
In the first session of the seminar chaired by BIISS director general Major General AKM Abdur Rahman where BEI’s senior research director Fiaz Sobhan discussed the transport connectivity of region and BIISS research officer Lam-ya Mostaque discussed the opportunities of importing hydropower from Nepal and Bhutan.