“We never know who’s going to take advantage out of it - external force or internal force"
Prime Minister's Security Affairs Adviser Maj Gen (retd) Tarique Ahmed Siddique on Tuesday feared that there could be a hybrid security threat having its far-reaching impacts all around, including Bangladesh’s neighbours and beyond, if the Rohingya problem remains unresolved for long.
“We never know who’s going to take advantage out of it - external force or internal force. You never know,” he said seeking effective efforts from all countries to help resolve the problem peacefully.
Tarique was responding to questions after delivering his remarks at the "Second Meeting of Track 1.5 Bimstec Security Dialogue Forum” as the chief guest at Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) auditorium.
Secretary General of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (Bimstec) Ambassador M Shahidul Islam and acting Foreign Secretary Kamrul Ahsan also spoke at the inaugural session chaired by BIISS Director General AKM Abdur Rahman.
Bangladesh is hosting over 1.1 million Rohingyas and most of them entered the country since August 25, 2017 as they were forced to leave Rakhine State, their place of origin.
The security adviser said they are getting into a “vicious cycle” and from where it will be very difficult to come out if any effective mechanism is not taken to deal with the issue.
"It's a vicious cycle we're getting into....if it becomes hot, it’ll be very difficult to cool down," he said adding that he is seeing danger in future.
Tarique said all should go above egoism and look into the practicality and solve the situation. “We should solve it amicably.”
The adviser said his signal is that if something happens here it may be a big blast but it will have effects all around, including Bangladesh’s neighbours and beyond, as it is a globalised world.
He said Bangladesh is now in a position to talk to its neighbour Myanmar amid tremendous international support from various countries which are putting a lot of pressure to find a peaceful solution to the Rohingya crisis. “I feel something effective has to be done.”
The PM’s security adviser urged the international organisations working on the Rohingya issue to work more on the other part of the border - Rakhine State - instead of only focusing on inside Bangladesh to help boost confidence among Rohingyas to return to their place of origin.
He said NGOs are mainly trying to make their (Rohingyas) stay here comfortable but not doing anything to create a required environment. “I always say, please do something on the other side.
Otherwise, these people won’t dare to go back because they’ll find themselves again in an awkward position.”
Tarique, while addressing the inaugural session of the event, said the recent terrorist incidents in Sri Lanka in April and Pulwama attack in India in February in fact justify the necessity for regional cooperation in countering violent extremism and terrorism in the Bay of Bengal region.
He laid emphasis on cooperation to address the shared security concerns and threats saying no one can be absolutely secured but should focus on keeping it at a tolerable level. “That should be our main aim.”
The adviser said Bangladesh has always shown firm commitment towards stronger regional cooperation and Bimstec is an outcome of that commitment.
He said keeping the existing and emerging traditional and non-traditional security challenges in mind, Bangladesh has been enthusiastic to promote stronger security cooperation through participatory processes.
Ambassador Shahidul Islam highlighted Bimstec activities and ways to further cooperation among member states of Bimstec.
Acting foreign secretary Kamrul Ahsan emphasised strengthening cooperation among Bimstec countries on all fronts, including in the areas various security issues.
BIISS DG Abdur Rahman said the Bay of Bengal is of pivotal importance to the countries bordering it and effective cooperation among the countries of this region will certainly lead to shared goal of a prosperous and more integrated world.
There were four working sessions and nineteen foreign delegates from the Bimstec countries and local experts participated in it.