Dhaka – Dhaka does not want to engage in any conflict with Naypyidaw to resolve the largest Asian refugee crisis unfolded after hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims crossed into Bangladesh fleeing a brutal military crackdown in Myanmar in 2017.
Rather, it wants continuous discussion with its South Asian neighbour to find a sustainable and dignified solution to the crisis as the Rohingya minority group has been persecuted at their homes for decades by the military-dominated polity in Myanmar.
Bangladesh, which is now hosting more than a million Rohingya Muslims in its south-eastern district of Cox’s Bazar, has time and again urged the international community to mount pressure on Myanmar so that Naypyidaw respect the minority group’s identity and arrange dignified repatriation of the refugees.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who opened the border in August 2017 to shelter the hapless Rohingya on humanitarian ground, on Thursday iterated that her government would resolve the crisis through talks.
Despite Dhaka and Naypyidaw in November 2017 signed an agreement for dignified and voluntary return of the refuges to their homes, Myanmar failed to make any visible effort to create an atmosphere conducive for repatriation of the refugees.
Many believe, Aung San Suu Kyi’s military dominated government has been following a dilly-dally trick to make the Rohingya issue forgotten at some point.
But, Bangladeshi Prime Minister has repeatedly been urging the international community to raise their voice to protect the interest of the persecuted community as per the Rohingya Commission.
“Our aim is to solve the Rohingya crisis through talks and we’re working to this end,” Hasina said in her introductory speech during her visit to the Defence Ministry at Sher-e-Bangla Nagar in Dhaka.
Hasina, who is also in-charge of the Ministry of Defence, paid her maiden visit to the ministry after assuming office as the prime minister for the fourth time after her party’s landslide victory in the December 30 elections.
She referred to Bangladesh’s foreign policy ‘friendship to all malice to none’ saying Bangladesh would never go for conflict with Myanmar.
“Rather our efforts will have to continue so that Myanmar takes back their forcibly displaced nationals through discussion,” she said calling everyone to discharge their duties to that direction.
Bangladesh has set a unique example in the world by giving shelter to over 1million Rohingya, of whom more than 750,000 crossed the border after the August 2017 military crackdown in Buddhist majority Rakhine state of Myanmar.
“We did it on humanitarian grounds as we experienced a similar displacement,” she said recalling the displacement of more than 10 million Bangladeshis to India during the 1971 war of liberation from Pakistan.
Hasina herself and her younger sister, Sheikh Rehana, had to stay abroad as refugees after the assassination Bangladesh’s independence architect Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1975.
“We didn’t engage in any conflict (with Myanmar) … we held talks and signed agreement with Myanmar for their repatriation,” she said.
Bangladesh has proved that it is capable of tackling any situation whether it is created by nature or manmade, she said adding that the country keeps strength to combat any disaster.
As an independent country, Bangladesh wants to maintain peace with all countries. “We want peace, not war … we want to maintain peaceful relations with all and we are moving with the foreign policy adopted by Bangabandhu,” she said.
The Prime Minister, however, said the country will have preparation to give fitting reply if anybody attacks. “We will have preparation so that we can safeguard our independence and sovereignty … we should also have preparation for peace,” she said.
“If any problem exists with any country, we can solve it through discussion,” she said referring to the peaceful solution of the maritime boundary disputes with India and Myanmar as well as the decades-long land boundary problem with New Delhi.
Acting Army Chief Lieutenant General Md Shamsul Haque, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Aurangzeb Chowdhury, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Masihuzzaman Serniabat and Principal Coordinator on the SDG Affairs at the Prime Minister’s Office Md Abul Kalam Azad were present.
Besides, PMO Secretary Sajjadul Hassan, Defence Secretary Akhtar Hossain Bhuiyan, PM’s Military Secretary Major General Mian Mohammad Zainul Abedin, Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim and senior military officials were present.
newsnextbd.com/ reporting by Nazrul Islam