US-Bangladesh security meet: you should wear ‘own shoe’

Sheikh Shahriar Zaman

Sheikh Shahriar Zaman

it is good thing to engage in security dialogue as it is always better to talk than no talk at all. But one should understand how Bangladesh addresses its security issues would depend on many internal factors including its national interest, act of political force, perception of people and culture of the country.

In the first ever security dialogue between Bangladesh and US held on Apr 19, Dhaka and Washington discussed about core security issues along with its humanitarian aspect. It is yet to be clear that Bangladesh is breaking the ice or skating on thin ice but apparently Dhaka is on the right track to engage itself with the most powerful country on security issues.

It is always better to have an assistance arrangement before the incidents take place than calling for help sitting on a pile of debris. US already has strategic partnership with India and Pakistan, the two big players in the region, and joining of Bangladesh in the bandwagon, although in a lesser way, would also give the regional security a boost.

Bangladesh indeed has security cooperation with US under different separate arrangements. For instance, Bangladesh signed military-to-military training agreement in 1989 and since then defense personnel of both the countries train themselves in the countries. The US government has given SWAT training to our police personnel and it is expected that it would offer more of such training in the future. In disaster management, they also have cooperation and US sent its naval ship, Sea Angel, under one time arrangement. But in the latest dialogue, substantive and friendly exchange of views took place between the two parties for expanding the scope of cooperation.

Addressing security issues is not only important for US in the global perspective but also for Bangladesh, as it is trying hard to establish an image of moderate Muslim country and headed towards to become a middle-income country by 2021. Bangladesh’s zero tolerance stance on terrorism has earned good reputation for the country and it was manifested when the third influential person in the US State Department Wendy Sherman during her visit to Dhaka in early April publicly said, “Bangladesh could be congratulated for its ‘zero tolerance’ for terrorism.”

There is another security dimension and that is humanitarian security. The globe is more vulnerable to disasters ever before due to climate change and other things. It is always better to have an assistance arrangement before the incidents take place than calling for help sitting on a pile of debris. US already has strategic partnership with India and Pakistan, the two big players in the region, and joining of Bangladesh in the bandwagon, although in a lesser way, would also give the regional security a boost.

In this broad perspective, it is good thing to engage in security dialogue as it is always better to talk than no talk at all. But one should understand how Bangladesh addresses its security issues would depend on many internal factors including its national interest, act of political force, perception of people and culture of the country. If any situation arises where the most powerful country bargains hard to make Bangladesh wears US shoes, it would not be beneficial for both the countries. As the foreign secretary Mijarul Quayes in his inaugural remark at the dialogue said the Bangladesh and US partnership is characterized by convergence of values, aspiration and an expanding scope of cooperation but there must be some scope for dissonance in such a partnership while pursuing greater convergence.

We must wait and see how things are evolved in the future and hope that both the countries can able to address their security concern keeping their national interest in mind.


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