Narinjara news

28th February, 2002


Speakers at a brainstorming session yesterday stressed the need of aggressive diplomatic initiative for strengthening bilateral cooperation with Myanmar.

Former ambassador and editor of the Weekly Holiday AZM Enayetullah Khan presented the keynote paper at the section organised by the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) at its auditorium. Chairman of BIISS MR Osmany presided. Former Adviser of the 2001 caretaker government A Muyeed Chowdhury, Chairman of Bangladesh-Myanmar Business Forum Rashed Maksud Khan, joint secretary of DCCI Ferdous Ara, Prof CR Abrar and Imtiaz Ahmed of Dhaka University International relations Department, Chairman of the Peace and Strategic Studies Centre Major Gen(retd) Syed M Ibrahim and business Nizamul Haque Selim participated in the discussion.

Enayetullah Khan said there should have been sufficient aggressive diplomatic initiative to Myanmar. He said Myanmar should occupy a very important position
In the list of our foreign policy dispensation. He said we have no history of hostility with Myanmar and that the country still offers finest opportunities for Bangladesh. Khan stressed on the need of revival of our bilateral relations with Myanmar. He said Bangladesh was in a more advantageous position in bilateral relation with Myanmar as the anti-alien feeling of the people of Myanmar was not directed towards Bangladesh. He said we were resource poor while Myanmar was resource rich. He stressed on the need of regular formal trade arrangements between the two countries.

Khan said there is no civil society structure in Myanmar. He said as General Ne win militarised the entire society it was very difficult to build up a democratic structure there. He said there was a kind of national pride inherent in the people of Myanmar. Khan said required weight age to Myanmar at political level was still missing in Bangladesh. He said we could build up Bangladesh-Myanmar relation without BIMST-EC.

A Muyeed Chowdhury said we should seriously consider a free trade zone at Takanaf. He said costal shipping was imperative for developing relationship between the two countries. He said Asian Highway would be suicidal for us.

Rashed Maksud Khan said Myanmar should be our target business wise. He said there should be regional and sun-regional cooperation to build up our economy. Myanmar was slowly and gradually encouraging private sector, Khan said, adding we should look into opportunities for co-operation in different fields including forest resources. He said our communication with Myanmar was still poor. He said Myanmar export to Bangladesh was US$70 million while export from Bangladesh was less than US$ one million.

Prof CR Abrar said the civil society in Bangladesh has a lot to do in terms of exposing the brutalities of the Myanmar ruling junta. He said we need to have a refugee law that woukd be able to deal with the problems created by the Rohingya refugees.

Major General (Retd) syed M Ibrahim said Myanmar economy would jump up after about four to five years and hence we should build up economic co-operation wityh Myanmar at present.#

Source: today the independent