Started in 2009, the India-Bangladesh Security Dialogue provides a platform to discuss issues pertaining to bilateral relations and security cooperation.
Strengthening the security cooperation between India and Bangladesh is very important for securing peace and stability in the region. This point was reiterated by participants at the eighth edition of the India and Bangladesh Security Dialogue, organised jointly by Observer Research Foundation (ORF) and the Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) in Dhaka on 10 & 11 October.
The Indian delegation was led by Mr. Pinak Chakravarty, Distinguished Fellow, ORF, and a former Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh. The 12-member team comprised former diplomats, former officials from the defence forces, security analysts, senior journalists and academics. The Bangladesh side was led by Mr. Farooq Sobhan, President, BEI and a former Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh.
The dialogue was initiated in 2009 and since then, it has been taking place alternatively in Dhaka and Delhi. The dialogue had been providing a platform to discuss various overarching issues pertaining to the bilateral relations and issues concerning security cooperation.
At this year’s dialogue, besides the inaugural and closing sessions, there were five plenary sessions and an off the agenda session on the Rohingya issue. In each of the working session, there were two theme paper presentations — one each from India and Bangladesh. The presentations were followed by remarks by the discussants. However, the session on Rohingya, the most important issue during this time, had two keynote addresses, followed by an open floor discussion.
Professor Gowhar Rizvi, the Foreign Affairs Advisor to the Bangladesh Prime Minister, was the chief guest at the inauguration. In his address, Prof. Rizvi recognised the growth in the India- Bangladesh relations and stressed on furthering the security cooperation between the two countries. He also expressed concern over the recent exodus of Rohingyas from the neighbouring Myanmar to Bangladesh and warned of security implications for the entire region. Other speakers at the inaugural session also expressed the need for sustaining the bonhomie between the two countries. Mr. Sobhan chaired the session while Mr. Chakravarty spoke on behalf of ORF.
The first working session, themed “Bangladesh-India Relations: An Overview,” delved into details about the overarching issues in the bilateral relations. It took stock of the major achievements and the factors that deterred the growth. Participants recognised that the progress has been phenomenal. However, they expressed the need for constant monitoring of the wide list of agreements that have been signed between the two countries, especially their implementation, for furthering the relationship. The session set the tone for detailed discussions on the security cooperation between the two countries. The paper presenters were Dr. Mohammad Humayun Kabir, Director General, BEI, Dhaka and Dr. Joyeeta Bhattacharjee, Senior Fellow, ORF Delhi. Discussants for the session were Prof. Delwar Hossain, Dhaka University and Dr. Sreeradha Dutta, former Director, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad Institute of Asian Studies, Kolkata. Mr. Sobhan was the chair for the session.
The theme of the session two was “Territorial Demise of ISIS”: Implication for South Asia.” The session at length discussed not only the rise and fall of the Islamic State, but also its implication for the region. Pointing to the influence of the group globally, including countries in South Asia, participants agreed on the need for greater vigilance. They recommended deeper cooperation, especially in intelligence sharing and joint actions, between the two countries to thwart the challenges due to the falling of the ISIS. The paper presenters were Mr. Faiz Sobhan, Research Director, BEI and Mr. Kabir Taneja, Associate Fellow, ORF. The discussants were Dr. Yaqoobul Hasan, Researcher Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis, Delhi and Air Commodore Ishfaq Illahi, Treasurer, the University of Asia-Pacific, Dhaka. The session was chair by Mr. Pinak Chakravarty.
The session three was themed “Maritime Issues in the Bay of Bengal: Options for Cooperation between India and Bangladesh.” It discussed in detail various maritime issues in the Bay of Bengal and opportunities for cooperation. Pointing to the large deposit of natural resources and the rising interest of various powers in the Bay, participants expressed the need for cooperation between the two countries. They said a peaceful Bay of Bengal region is in the interest of both the countries and for that, maritime cooperation between the two countries will be crucial. The paper presenters were Captain Wahidul Hasan Kutubuddin of the Bangladesh Navy and Commodore Abhay Singh, Research Fellow, Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis, Delhi. The discussants were Vice Admiral Shekhar Sinha, former Fo-C-in-C, Western Command, Indian Navy and Commodore Muhammad Abdur Razzak, Bangladesh Navy. Rear Admiral (Retd) ASMA Awal was the chair of the session.
The session four dealt with “Sub-regional Cooperation in the Eastern South Asia: Role of India and Bangladesh.” In this session, the participants discussed various sub-regional cooperation initiatives in the eastern South Asia, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) cooperation and BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation). The paper presenters were Dr. Anasua Basu Ray Chaudhury, Fellow, ORF and Mr. Ashish Banik, Deputy Director, BEI. The discussants were Dr. Manoj Joshi, Distinguished Fellow, ORF and Dr. Khondaker Golan Moazzam, Research Director, Centre for Policy Dialogue, Dhaka. Mr. Jayanta Roy Chowdhury, Editor, The Telegraph, chaired the session.
The session five discussed “Cooperation between India and Bangladesh on Countering Radicalisation Leading to Extremism.” Expressing concern over the rise of radicalisation and extremism, which participants recognised as a global phenomenon, they stressed on the need to fight this issue jointly. The session not only highlighted the causes of radicalisation but also the ways and means of countering it. The emphasis was on learning from each other’s experiences and focussing on cooperation to check this trend. The paper presenters were Mr. Shantanu Muklharji, Independent Security Analyst, and Mr. Shahab Enam Khan, Research Director, BEI. The discussants were Mr. Jayanta Roy Chowdhury and Brigadier General Shahedul Anam Khan, Associate Editor, The Daily Star, Bangladesh.
The dialogue also had an off-the-agenda session on “The Rohingya Crisis: Humanitarian and Security Implication for Bangladesh and India.” It discussed various aspects of the issue and ways to manage it.
This report is prepared by Dr. Joyeeta Bhattacharjee, Senior Fellow, ORF New Delhi.