Wed, 27 September 2023
The Daily Ittefaq

Bangladesh’s Indo-Pacific Outlook focuses on inclusive development, not about critical choices between major powers: Shahriar Alam

Update : 03 Sep 2023, 02:48

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam on Saturday said Bangladesh believes that cooperation and collaboration among countries in the Indo-Pacific region are essential for the shared prosperity of all.

“Our Indo-Pacific Outlook is an attempt to tell the world that the region is for common prosperity, not just for those who live in it, but also for the whole world,” he said.

The state minister was speaking at an international seminar on ‘Bangladesh’s Indo-Pacific Outlook: Opportunities and Way Forward’ at BIISS auditorium.

Shahriar Alam said a “free, open, peaceful, secure and inclusive” Indo-Pacific is essential for peace, security, stability and growth in the region and beyond.

“Thus, our Indo-Pacific outlook is not security-centric, rather we focus on inclusive development of this region. It is not about critical choices between the major powers,” the state minister for foreign affairs said.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, Chairman of BIISS AFM Gousal Azam Sarker, Convener, Centre for Research on Strategic and Security Issues, New Delhi Pankaj Saran and Chairman, BFRS ASM Shamsul Arefin also spoke at the opening session of the event.

Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) and Bangladesh Foundation for Regional Studies (BRFS) hosted the daylong seminar.

As a demonstration of the world’s renewed interest in the Indo-Pacific region, various Indo-Pacific strategies, visions, outlooks, guidelines have been introduced and advocated by countries/associations like the USA, EU, UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, India, ASEAN, Australia, Republic of Korea, Canada, Czech Republic, and Bangladesh at different points in time.

Asia Rebalancing Strategy, Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP), Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD), Trilateral Security Pact (AUKUS), Indo-Pacific Tilt, Security and Growth for All in the Region (SAGAR), Indo-Pacific Economic Forum for Prosperity (IPEF) have been adopted by countries centring on Indo-Pacific region to address the new security challenges as well as infrastructure, economic and technological developments in this region.

As a littoral state of the Bay of Bengal, the state minister said, Bangladesh’s appreciation of the Indo-Pacific narratives is based on her foreign policy dictum “Friendship towards all, malice towards none,” set forward by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Foreign Secretary Masud Momen said Bangladesh does not afford to pursue a divisive or exclusionary approach to the Indo-Pacific as we strive towards collective resilience and prosperity in tandem with their own development trajectory.

He said the fact that Bangladesh launches IPO in the same year as signaling its interest in enhanced engagement with BRICS is perhaps reflective of our conscious choice to associate with multiple configurations in a multi-polar world.

“While we keep in mind the primacy our government attaches to economic diplomacy, we also remain mindful that we can achieve our national development objectives only in an environment of regional peace and security,” said the Foreign Secretary.

Like all Indo-Pacific partners, he said, Bangladesh faces a number of non-traditional security threats that can be a serious detriment to our economic growth and development aspirations unless we tackle them through effective regional and international collaboration.

“Here, we would like to stress that security or defence cooperation does not necessarily entail joining any military bloc or alliance,” he added.

Looking ahead, the Foreign Secretary said Bangladesh will continue to attach priority to regional connectivity in pursuance of their political leadership’s vision to position the territory as a connectivity hub in the Indo Pacific context.

Pankaj Saran said the India-Bangladesh relationship offers a model of cooperation in which openness, connectivity, and integration of two economies is creating scopes across the sub-region.

Noting that all eyes are now on the Indo-Pacific region, he said Indo-Pacific is not exclusive, but it is supposed to be inclusive.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen was scheduled to speak as the chief guest at the closing session.

Experts from all around the world, including Japan, India, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Australia and the USA participated in the seminar.

Secretary General of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Salman Al Farisialso attended the conference as a panelist.

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