‘Dhaka should avoid rivalry of powerful countries in Indian Ocean’

Staff Correspondent

The Bangladesh authorities should ‘carefully watch’ increasing influence of powerful countries in the Indian Ocean, Iskender Rehman, a fellow of The Brookings Institution, a Washington-based private nonprofit organisation devoted to independent research, said in Dhaka on Monday.
He said Bangladesh also needed to pursue a strategy so that the country would not engage in potential rivalry among the big global powers.
Rehman said this at a seminar on future of strategic cooperation in Indian Ocean organised by the Bangladesh Institute of Peace and Security Studies.
He said Indian Ocean was critically important for presence of two nuclear and economic powers — India and China. India’s presence in the region ‘is prominent’ and the country ‘is going to expand it’. China ‘is also expanding’ its presence keeping its planned maritime silk route in consideration. The US’s ‘is rebalancing ‘its influence towards Asia. Other powerful countries, especially super powers, have also long term interests in this region.
In this situation, countries have been forging clear strategic cooperation centring the Indian Ocean which is a main artery of goods transportation in general, energy supply in particular, he said.
For the country’s geo-strategic location in the mouth of the Bay of Bengal, Bangladesh should pursue a clear path so that its national interests can get critical leverage, he said, adding that Bangladesh’s major export item readymade garment products were exported through the Indian Ocean.
Indian Ocean rim nations can also play positive role to keep the region rivalry-free, discussants said.
BIPSS president ANM Muniruzzaman presided over the seminar. Daily Prothom Alo editor Matiur Rahman, Bangladesh Institute of International Strategic Studies chairman Munshi Faiz Ahmad and former Army chief and minister Nuruddin Khan, diplomats and civil and military officials, among others, participated in the discussion.

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