Bangladesh getting increased world attention

Bangladesh is getting increased attention from economically and militarily powerful world powers due to its geopolitical location and Dhaka wants to take full advantage of it without compromising its interests, diplomatic sources have told The Independent over the last few days.
In doing so, they said, Bangladesh will not hesitate to engage with any country that will benefit the nation in all aspects, especially that of economy and defence.
The sources referred to few developments that took place in last one year or so like the visits of Chinese President Xi Jingping and former United States Secretary of State John Kerry to Bangladesh, and just-concluded visit of Prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s to India and Foreign Minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali’s visit to Russia.
The visit of Foreign Minister Ali to Moscow right after the Prime Minister’s tour to New Delhi was the first bilateral trip by a Bangladeshi foreign minister, they pointed out to reflect the importance of the visit during which defence issues were discussed between the two foreign ministers.
“Indeed, we are enjoying the increased world attention due to our geopolitical location, which is considered strategically important for the world powers,” said a senior diplomat.
And, he said, “We will take the full advantage of it making sure that our national interest remains at the top.”
Agreeing with his senior colleague, another diplomat said, “We have an independent foreign policy, which allows us to engage with the countries in those aspects that will bring good results for our nation.”
“We don’t want to be dictated by anybody to choose the countries with which we will engage,” he said. To a question, he admitted, “Yes, sometimes, we face challenges in engaging with countries over sensitive issues. We try to overcome the challenges without affecting the relationship. At the end of the day, we do not live in an ideal world.”
“It is true that sometimes a particular powerful friend of us does not like our engagement with another country with regard to a particular aspect. We try to balance it in our ways driven by our independent foreign policy,” said another senior diplomat.
Regarding the reactions from the countries like the US and China about the much-talked about defence deals signed with India on April 8 in New Delhi, the sources said that they have yet to get any formal and informal reaction from them.
“A Chinese semi state-controlled media did give a negative reaction,” said a diplomat, adding that the Chinese water resources minister visited Bangladesh from April 11-13.
“You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand that China will closely monitor Bangladesh’s engagements with India and feel certain degree of discomfort with regard to defence purchase as Bangladesh’s military heavily relies on Chinese arms. And, China is the major arms suppliers to the countries in the region including Bangladesh, Pakistan and Myanmar,” he said.
With regard to the US, the sources said that the Trump administration is yet to take a complete shape and to some extent ‘Washington views Dhaka through the eyes of New Delhi’.
Refusing to describe the defence MoUs as big deals, they said that perhaps Bangladesh helped its neighbour a bit to be portrayed as a big player in terms of defence on the face of the world.
“Look, India itself is one of the largest arms exporters. There are also questions regarding the quality of their arms. And, defence purchase does not necessarily means the purchase of guns, tanks etc. It could well be things like military software, radars etc,” said another diplomat.
“By signing the MoU on defence purchase worth $500 million, we have just kept a window open that could be or could not be used. We can have same arrangements with other countries as well,” he said.
To a question, he added, “We are very much aware of the people’s sensitivity to procure arms from India and China’s possible reaction to this regard.”