Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) organised a lecture in its Eminent Persons Lecture Series (EPLS) titled “Commemorating the Silver Jubilee of Diplomatic Relations between South Africa and Bangladesh”, on 04 September 2019. His Excellency Ambassador Dr. Anil Sooklal, Deputy Director General, Asia and Middle East, Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), South Africa, graced the occasion as the guest speaker. Major General AKM Abdur Rahman, ndc, psc, Director General, BIISS commenced the session with his address of welcome. Mr. Md. Shahidul Haque, Foreign Secretary, Government of Bangladesh, chaired and concluded the session.
General Rahman began with speaking about the silver jubilee celebration of Bangladesh-South Africa diplomatic ties. The countries are deeply appreciative of each other’s ideals of freedom struggle and hold sincere respect for their two greatest leaders: Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Nelson Mandela. He gratefully referred to President Mandela’s visit to Bangladesh in March, 1997. The focal points in Bangladesh-South Africa bilateral relations are to enhance these bonds through solidarity, friendship, and promote south-south cooperation for implementing the 2030 Agenda. Both countries are members of some common organizations, e.g., Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), the Commonwealth, Non-aligned Movement (NAM) etc. South Africa is a member of the BRICS group. Bangladesh has huge investment opportunities in diverse sectors including readymade garments, pharmaceuticals, fisheries, leather products, tourism etc, as it is moving fast towards becoming a developed country by 2041. Here, General Rahman emphasized on working more closely together in identified priority areas that will benefit both countries, especially in changing global and regional dynamics. He concluded by stressing greater cooperation in cricket as Bangladesh’s cricket coaches were mostly South African.
Ambassador Dr. Anil Sooklal, conveyed South Africa’s gratitude to Bangladesh and the Bangladeshi people for contributing to South Africa’s fight for freedom, liberation and democracy. He recalled President Mandela’s visit to Bangladesh with pride, paid homage to the dynamic and visionary leadership of Mandela and Bangabandhu. Bangladesh and South Africa have remarkable prospects given the close relation they enjoy and cooperation they have in different sectors, e.g., trade and investment, sports, wildlife management etc. On racial tensions in his own country, he said the legacy of apartheid would need more time to go away. He recognized Bangladesh’s contribution as one of the largest troop and police contributors to United Nations peacekeeping operations, and the current participation in six missions in Africa. He placed focus on the Indo-Pacific region for bolstering cooperation among members amid the changing global economic, security and geopolitical scenarios.
Dr. Sooklal also spoke on the worldwide economic slump and ensuing problems, rise and spread of racial supremacist/ jingoistic movements in several countries, trade protectionism, withdrawal by the US from many international fora and trade war with China and its impacts, which were gravely endangering the present-day multilateralism-based global structure. He concluded the speech by re-emphasizing his country’s commitment to further deepening the bonds of friendship that exist with Bangladesh.
Mr. Md. Shahidul Haque, Foreign Secretary, Bangladesh, in his closing remarks, thanked the ambassador for mentioning South Africa as a source of inspiration during Bangladesh’s freedom struggle in 1971. He also talked about the visit of President Mandela to Bangladesh and his own involvement during that event. Bangladesh and South Africa are working closely in various organizations, but Bangladesh’s links with Africa are rather very lean; when this was realized some years ago, Bangladesh initiated to increase its presence in Africa. The goal was not only to raise diplomatic or business visits but also connecting people and setting up mission there. Consequently, two missions were set up this year. He further said that in the past, a major war was followed by restructuring of the global order but at present, economic and geopolitical changes were occurring even in the absence of any major war, putting multilateralism at stake from diverse perspectives. Thus, developing countries like Bangladesh and South Africa must keep up their efforts for a fair and justice based society where people could get their equitable share of wealth. On redistribution of wealth, he said Bangladesh attained impressive economic growth in last 10 years but that also brought social inequalities. Distribution of wealth in an economy has always been a debated issue and could not easily be resolved. But the question was how far it could be brought to a certain level where people would not be hurt. He said Bangladesh is deepening and widening its relations with not only South Africa but the whole African continent also. As some of Bangladesh’s traditional partners are slowing down in terms of their economic and political activities, there would be a need to be together for creating a better world for countries in these two regions. He concluded by thanking H.E. Sotyu for her courage for coming out and saying things that had to be said.
During the BIMSTEC National Security Adviser/Chiefs first meeting held in New Delhi, India on 21 March 2017, decision was taken to commence a Track 1.5 BIMSTEC Security Dialogue Forum. Accordingly, the first meeting of Track 1.5 BIMSTEC Security Dialogue Forum was organized at IDSA, New Delhi, India on 22 September 2017. In continuation of the process, the second meeting of Track 1.5 BIMSTEC Security Dialogue Forum has been organized by Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) on 30-31 July 2019 at BIISS auditorium.
Major General Tarique Ahmed Siddique, rcds, psc (retd), Security Affairs Adviser to the Hon’ble Prime Minister, Govt. of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, graced the session as the Chief Guest. Major General A K M Abdur Rahman, ndc, psc, Director General, BIISS, Chaired the Inaugural Session and delivered the welcome address. Ambassador M Shahidul Islam, Secretary General of BIMSTEC delivered the introductory remarks. Acting Foreign Secretary Mr. Karmrul Ahsan also delivered his remarks in the Inaugural Session.
The hon’ble Chief Guest Major General Tarique Ahmed Siddique, rcds, psc (retd), noted that security threats have changed in recent times and globalization has created new challenges for security personnel. He underlined that it is not possible to achieve absolute security, but the goal of BIMSTEC is to minimize the security concerns. He noted that Bangladesh Prime Minister during the Goa Summit held in 2016, suggested the inclusion of security issues in BIMSTEC. He added that there are a number of common security concerns which the BIMSTEC countries share among themselves are the driving force for cooperation. He mentioned that ‘cooperative security’ is the ideal security concept, which reflects common interests and shared risk. He also mentioned about ‘hybrid threat’ with regard to forcibly displaced person of Myanmar. He stressed on the importance of effective measures to be taken on forced migration, terming the Rohingya problem as ‘Tsunami’ and the vicious cycle which will affect all of us.
Major General A K M Abdur Rahman, ndc, psc, Director General, BIISS, remarked that, as a region, BIMSTEC hosts a diverse range of complex non-traditional security threats including trafficking of narcotics, weapons and people, forced displacement, insurgencies and terrorism, natural disasters, money laundering and financial fraud and great power rivalry in the Pacific and Indian Ocean.
Ambassador M Shahidul Islam, Secretary General of BIMSTEC, noted that today counterterrorism and combating transnational crimes have become the most active sectors of cooperation under BIMSTEC framework with frequent meetings and well-developed institutional mechanism. Established in 2014, the joint working group on counterterrorism and transnational crimes and its 6 sub-groups are working to enhance regional cooperation on diverse subjects including intelligence sharing, financing of terrorism, legal and law enforcing issues, trafficking in illicit drugs, human trafficking and countering radicalization.
Acting Foreign Secretary Mr. Kamrul Ahsan said that regional cooperation is one of the top priorities of Bangladesh’s foreign policy of the government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. He highlighted that there are multiple challenges- traditional and non-traditional threats toward mutual cooperation. Hence collective solutions should be sought.
There were four working sessions: working session I on Threat of Terrorism and Violent Extremism, and Responses by BIMSTEC Countries; working session II on Maritime Security (Capacity Building, Maritime Connectivity, etc.); working session III on Non-Traditional Security Threats with Emphasis on Cyber Security and Transnational Crimes (Illicit Trade and Trafficking in Arms, Narcotics Drugs Smuggling, Human Trafficking, etc.); and working session IV on Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR). Nineteen foreign delegates from the BIMSTEC countries and designated local experts participated during the sessions of the two-day “Second Meeting of the Track 1.5 BIMSTEC Security Dialogue Forum”.
Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) organized a seminar on Bangladesh – India Cooperation in the Changing Regional and Global Context on 03 July 2019 at BIISS auditorium. H.E. Professor Dr. Gowher Rizvi, Adviser to the Hon’ble Prime Minister on International Affairs was present as the Chief Guest. Ambassador Munshi Faiz Ahmad chaired the inaugural session. Major General A K M Abdur Rahman, ndc, psc, Director General, BIISS, and Ambassador Sujan R. Chinoy, Director General, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) delivered the introductory remarks.
Chief Guest of the Seminar Professor Dr. Gowher Rizvi, Adviser to the Hon’ble Prime Minister on International Affairs, mentioned that Bangladesh and India have witnessed remarkable progress in cooperation over the last decade in different areas like connectivity and infrastructure development, energy and security cooperation, and people-to-people contact. He expressed that Bangladesh is looking forward to jointly celebrating more success stories of collective endeavours between India and Bangladesh in the coming days. He said that even though the world is going through a turbulent phase, there is hope for better tomorrow because the world is turning from a unipolar world order to a multipolar one. In this reality, Bangladesh wants to join Indo-pacific initiative, but it also cannot ignore the BRI. He noted that Bangladesh did not expect India to go beyond its own national interest to support the Rohingya issue, though he warned that if the issue is not handled properly, it can also pose serious security threat, and destabilize the whole region.
Major General A K M Abdur Rahman, DG, BIISS highlighted on the long-standing relationship between Bangladesh and India. He focused on the importance of the bilateral relations between the two counties to explore every opportunity to work together to guarantee all potential enhancements of this relations for the sake of mutual progress and prosperity. He added that Bangladesh-India relations have come a long way in developing a mature relationship based on mutual necessities and complementarities. The landmark visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to New Delhi ushered a new era in our bilateral relations to forge closer ties of goodwill. Successive initiatives and achievements since then have driven our relationships into new heights. Cooperation has increased in the areas of energy in terms of electricity import from India, which can be a stepping stone for the regional electricity grid in South Asia.
Ambassador Sujan R. Chinoy, DG, IDSA mentioned about the warm relationship between Bangladesh – India. Both countries are working to strengthen the scope for connectivity, trade and economic cooperation, and enhancing security cooperation. He stated that protectionism is not only for ensuring state’s national interest, rather it is also essential for regional trade arrangements. He added that greater intraregional trade and investment flow is possible as it is identified that Bangladesh needs India’s FDI participation in 13 areas. Besides, Bangladesh and India have made progress in airspace and coastal shipping connectivity as well. He also opined that bilateral impediments in SAARC can be overcomed with trust and confidence building measures. His speech reflected the neighbourhood first policy of India which believes in cooperative relation within a peaceful territory.
Ambassador Munshi Faiz Ahmad, Chair of the Inaugural Session, noted that in the last five years, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina held 10 meetings, jointly inaugurated 19 projects and signed over 90 bilateral agreements in different sectors. And as one of the major development partners, India has extended 3 lines of credits to Bangladesh in the last 7 years amounting US $ 8 billion. In the last five years, total trade between the two countries has grown by more than 17 percent. In future, Bangladesh is eagerly looking forward to an early conclusion of the Teesta Agreement, as it will open up newer opportunities for cooperation.
In two sessions of the Seminar eight presentations were made in four different themes. Two presentations were made in theme 1: “Trade, Investment and Economic Cooperation” while the presenters were Dr. Mahfuz Kabir, Research Director, BIISS and Mr. Rajorshi Roy, Research Analyst, IDSA. Theme 2 was “Bangladesh-India Maritime Cooperation” while the presenters were Dr. Smruti S Pattnaik, Research Fellow, IDSA and Mr. ASM Tarek Hasan Semul, Research Fellow, BIISS. The third theme was “Enhancing Security Cooperation between Bangladesh and India” and the presenters were Dr. Smruti S Patanaik, Research Fellow, IDSA and Mr. M Ashique Rahman, Research Fellow, BIISS. Theme of the fourth session was “Managing Water Resources” while the presenters were Dr. Sufia Khanom, Senior Research Fellow, BIISS and Dr. Ashok Behuria, Senior Fellow, IDSA.
The seminar included two lively open discussion sessions where senior officials from different ministries of Bangladesh, representatives from different foreign missions, business personalities, media, academia, researchers, and teachers from various universities participated and expressed their valuable opinions and observations on the subject. They expected a strongly bonded relationship between Bangladesh and India in the field of development and mutual cooperation.
Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) organised a public lecture on “Bangladesh and United Kingdom Relations in the context of UK’s exit from the European Union” on 24 April 2019 at BIISS auditorium. H E Sir Simon McDonald, Parmanent Under Secretary of British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) was present as the Guest Speaker. Major General A K M Abdur Rahman, ndc, psc, Director General, BIISS, delivered the Welcome Address.
In his address, Major General A K M Abdur Rahman highlighted on the long standing relationship between Bangladesh and United Kingdom. He mentioned that the UK, for long, has been one of the largest development partners of Bangladesh and It also remains the country’s largest foreign investor. In his speech, H E Sir Simon McDonald mentioned that the United Kingdom is looking for strengthened relations with the Commonwealth countries and for sharing opportunities with Bangladesh. He added that the UK is investing in different sectors of Bangladesh including retail, banking, energy, infrastructure, consultancy and education
The programme included a lively open discussion where Senior officials from different ministries of Bangladesh, representatives from different foreign missions, business personalities, media, academia, researchers, teachers from various universities participated and expressed their valuable opinions and observations on the subject. They expected a strongly bonded relationship between Bangladesh and UK in the field of development and mutual cooperation.
Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) organized a Seminar on “Importance and Challenges of Protecting Heritage of Small Ethnic Groups in Promoting National Culture” on 18 April 2019 at BIISS Auditorium in Dhaka. Mr. K M Khalid, MP, honourable State Minister, Ministry of Cultural Affairs was the Chief Guest of the Seminar. Professor Dr. Syed Anwar Husain, Bangabandhu Chair, Bangladesh University of Professionals delivered the keynote presentation. Mr. Naba Bikram Kishore Tripura, ndc, Chairman, Chattogram Hill Tracts Development Board; Professor Dr. Pradanendu Bikash Chakma, Vice-Chancellor, Rangamati Science and Technology University; Md. Mesbahul Islam, Acting Secretary, Ministry of Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs and Brig Gen Khandaker Md Shahidul Emran, afwc, psc, Region Commandar, Bandarban Region were present as the panel discussants. Major General A K M Abdur Rahman, ndc, psc, Director General, BIISS chaired the seminar and delivered the address of welcome.
Professor Dr. Syed Anwar Husain explored different important aspects of ethnic groups’ culture that include language, tradition, festivals etc. He also highlighted on how these groups are contributing to enrich the cultural diversity of Bangladesh through diverse social customs and cultures. He discussed the opportunities of cultural exchange and cooperation for their development. He added that the development of ethnic culture could bring unity in diversity which ultimately could promote and strengthen national solidarity.
In his welcome address, Major General A K M Abdur Rahman, ndc, psc, Director General, BIISS, noted that the active participation of small ethnic groups with their creative thoughts, perception and knowledge is important for the successful implementation of vision 2021. He also added that understanding cultural diversity would help Bangladesh to prevent racial and ethnic divisions. In his remarks as the Chief Guest, K M Khalid, MP said that this seminar would contribute in strengthening communal harmony between the Bengali people and people of different small ethnic groups in Bangladesh through cultural exchange and co-operation. He also said that current government has been working to realize CHT Peace Accord and has taken all kinds of initiative for promoting the cultures of ethnic minorities.
Representatives of different small ethnic groups in Bangladesh, scholars, academia, policy makers, former and current government officials, former ambassadors, military officials, students, representatives from media were present in the seminar. They highlighted and deliberated on various aspects of promoting cultural diversity of different small ethnic groups in Bangladesh.
Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) organized a commemorative seminar on "1971 Genocide in Bangladesh” on Sunday, 24 March 2019 at its auditorium. Mr. Adama Dieng, the United Nations Special Advisor on Prevention of Genocide, was present at the seminar as the Chief Guest. Mr. Md. Shahidul Haque, Senior Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh chaired the programme. Major General A K M Abdur Rahman, ndc, psc, Director General, BIISS, delivered the welcome address at the seminar. Mr. Mofidul Haque, Director, Centre for Genocide Studies and Justice and Member, Advisory Board, Liberation War Museum delivered a speech on the topic. Ambassador Munshi Faiz Ahmad, Chairman, Board of Governors, BIISS, delivered the concluding remarks in the seminar.
In the world history, the carnages committed by the Pakistan occupation forces on the night of 25 March 1971 is one of the most brutal and bloodiest events the world has ever witnessed. Throughout the nine-month Bangladesh liberation war, the Pakistani forces killed three million people, while two hundred thousand women lost their dignity. This monstrous crime, a heinous genocide, needs to be sufficiently recognized by the international community. The current government of Bangladesh has declared 25th March as National Genocide Day and has engaged in drastic efforts for gaining UN recognition on the issue. The speaker, in his speech, talked about the heinous attack of the Pakistani Military on the unarmed civilians throughout the Bangladesh liberation war. He also mentioned about the current Governments vigorous endeavor towards attaining UN recognition for the 1971 genocide and gave suggestions to raise awareness about this grave mistreatment of humanity at both domestic and international levels.
The seminar included a lively open discussion. Senior officials from different ministries of Bangladesh, management authorities, representatives from different organizations, academia, researchers, teachers from various universities and media representatives participated and expressed their valuable opinions and observations on the topic. They asked many questions and gave their suggestions about how Bangladesh can proceed at attaining international recognition for the genocide of 1971 genocide successfully.
Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) and Embassy of Japan in Bangladesh jointly organised a lecture on “Bangladesh-Japan Development Cooperation for Enhanced Connectivity” on 21 March 2019 at BIISS auditorium. Professor Naohiro Kitano, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Waseda University & Visiting Fellow, JICA Research Institute was present as the Guest Speaker. Mr. Takeshi Ito, Minister, Embassy of Japan was also present in the programme. Major General A K M Abdur Rahman, ndc, psc, Director General, BIISS, delivered the Welcome Address.
In his speech, Major General A K M Abdur Rahman highlighted on the long standing relationship between Bangladesh and Japan which is based on shared values of peace and prosperity. In his speech, Professor Naohiro Kitano mentioned that Bangladesh’s economic and social development has been remarkable. He focused on different aspects of mutual cooperation between Bangladesh and Japan for deepening the relationship more. He highlighted on Japan’s various Connectivity Initiative, especially the Bay of Bengal Industrial Growth Belt (BIG-B) and Transport Network Development for Regional Connectivity. He also focused on cooperation with Bangladesh in energy sector development, urban transport network development, waste management, establishing economic zone and academic exchange. Mr. Takeshi Ito, Minister, Embassy of Japan also gave his valuable remarks.
The programme included a lively open discussion where Senior officials from different ministries of Bangladesh, representatives from different concered organisations, business personalities, media, academia, researchers, teachers from various universities participated and expressed their valuable opinions and observations on the subject. They expected a strongly bonded relationship between Bangladesh and Japan specially in the field of peace, development and mutual cooperation.