Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Khalsa College, University of Delhi, India.
General Md. Abdul Mubeen, SBP (Retd.)
Former Chief of Army Staff, Bangladesh Army.
Dr. Pushpita Das
Research Fellow & Coordinator of Internal Security Centre, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi, India.
Dr. Rashed Uz Zaman
Professor, Department of International Relations, University of Dhaka.
Lt. Gen. Syed Ata Hasnain
Former GOC 15 Corps & Military Secretary, India.
General Mubeen initiated the session by mentioning that it is a good sign that a large number of MoUs, agreements on peaceful use of nuclear energy and defense cooperation have been signed provided that they are implemented within a given practical timeframe. He also remarked on recent comments made by the Indian Army Chief, General Bipin Rawat regarding the migration of Bangladeshis to Assam, which in his opinion is a proxy war by India’s western and northern neighbors and it was implied in those remarks that Bangladesh is also conniving with this venture. He mentioned that Bangladesh and India share a symbiotic relationship focusing on economic relations that are intrinsically interlinked and intertwined with security aspects. He emphasized that the people in Bangladesh are of the opinion that, even though Bangladesh has taken rapid strides in India-Bangladesh relationship, India is yet to fully match that endeavor towards Bangladesh. He mentioned the onus to allay the misgivings of the people of Bangladesh lies on the shoulders of the Indian government. India needs to dispel this notion of non-cooperativeness with greater engagement in economic, cultural and security aspects to strengthen the India-Bangladesh relations.
Dr. Pushpita Das commented that India’s security concerns with Bangladesh are divided into mainly three parts. First concern is of the insurgent groups establishing bases in Bangladesh, and the terrorist and radicalization groups in Bangladesh setting up operational bases in India. Second, illegal migration and refugee flows and third, smuggling of illegal products. She mentioned that these challenges can be tackled by improving border security and greater cross-border cooperation. Securing and managing such a complicated border is a challenge for both India and Bangladesh and both countries have identified mutual concerns and are set to implement mutual steps to tackle the problems, through a mutual cross-border management plan by jointly identifying vulnerable spots and conducting coordinated patrolling. It is necessary to facilitate greater dialogues between concerned security organizations to foster greater trust, understanding and respect for each other.
Prof. Rashed uz-Zaman mentioned two things were very important with security. New issues keep cropping up with security and the perspectives related to security tend to change. There exists a structural asymmetry in South Asia and persistence of political and security problems have prevented a rational assessment of the benefits of connectivity and economic integration. He also highlighted important non-conventional security issues such as tensions over water sharing and mass migration due to climate change etc.
General Ata Hasnain said, borders cannot create fully functioning barriers between states. Both Bangladesh and India will have to maximize the effectiveness of the border but realize that borders will leak. He mentioned that terrorists today are finding newer ways to attack and operate through global networks. He mentioned that in spite of ISIS being defeated on the ground, the network of ISIS is still existent and can emerge anywhere and anytime in the world.
Proceedings from the Panel Discussion
General Hasnain opined that a negative narrative has been spelled out to the people by the proxy conflict managers from across the borders, who are trying to instigate the youth of Kashmir into the radical narratives of Islam. He stressed the importance of espousing the moderate and correct teachings of the religious scriptures to counter radicalization and terrorism. He particularly stressed the importance of correct teachings for youth, not only in India, but all over South Asia.
Prof. Zaman opined that terrorism, while a vital security threat to any nation, does not have the power to end a nation, rather can just cause harm.
Dr. Das mentioned that India can offer a higher level of humanitarian support the Rohingya crisis and facilitate talks with Myanmar to put indirect pressure on them to take back the Rohingyas.