Can Myanmar-Bangladesh Strategic Engagement Ensure Peace And Stability For South And Southeast Asia? – OpEd


Myanmar-Bangladesh Strategic engagement can ensure peace and stability for South and Southeast Asia According to media reports, 12 decisions were taken at the end of the five-day long border conference between Border Guard Police (BGP) and Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB). In addition, the BGB expressed Bangladesh’s concern about the speedy repatriation of the Rohingyas in meetings with the country’s officials outside the conference and conference. Director General (DG) Major General Sakil Ahmed informed this information.

BGB Director General held a press conference on BGB-BGP border conference at Shahid Captain Ashraf Hall of BGB headquarters on Tuesday (November 29) around 2 pm. From last November 23 to November 27, the Eighth Border Conference at the director-general level of the two forces was held in Nay Pyi Taw, the capital of Myanmar. 10 members of other agencies of the Ministry of Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs participated in it under the leadership of the DG of BGB. And 15 members participated on behalf of Myanmar.

Major General Sakil Ahmed said that they sought the continued cooperation of BGP by pointing out the need for joint efforts of both forces to prevent the flow of drugs from Myanmar to Bangladesh and to deal with various types of cross-border crimes including illegal infiltration. Besides, he expressed concern about the tense and unstable situation on the border caused by the ongoing conflict inside Myanmar in recent times. BGB Director General urged BGP to take necessary measures to solve the crisis.

Apart from the conference, BGB Director General also held separate meetings with Myanmar’s Deputy Home Minister and Union Home Minister. During this, he discussed the speedy repatriation of Rohingyas forcibly displaced from Myanmar as well as various and other bilateral issues related to the mutual interest of the two forces.

What happened in the conference

In the conference, the BGB DG called for maintaining a friendly and brotherly spirit between the two forces and not creating any differences between each other. He urged for the resumption of coordinated patrolling between the two forces to counter the possible threats and challenges of separatist terrorist groups, including curbing drug trafficking and border crossing.

The 12 decisions taken by the two forces at this conference include – immediate exchange of information to maintain peace and order in the border areas; Coordination meeting/flag meeting at battalion commander level once every two months between both parties; Consent to hold Border Conferences twice a year at the Region Commander level and twice a year at the top level; Considering the situation, it has also been asked to hold a BOP or Company Commander level meeting.

The two forces agreed to work together against various separatist or terrorist organizations along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border. In this regard, Bangladesh emphasizes the issue of ‘zero tolerance’ policy. The meeting agreed to cooperate effectively with each other in preventing illegal infiltration and border crossing. Both sides have agreed to effectively cooperate with each other, including immediate information exchange, to prevent the activities of cross-border criminal gangs and terrorist groups on both sides of the border.

The BGP will conduct anti-narcotics activities following the country’s national drug control policy to prevent the illegal smuggling of Yaba and crystal meth ice from Myanmar to Bangladesh. Both sides agreed to work together to improve the ongoing border situation and establish a stable and peaceful border through mutual information sharing and informing the appropriate authorities.

Both sides have agreed on the formal handover and reception of nationals detained in the prisons of the two countries after the expiry of their imprisonment in accordance with the prevailing laws of their respective countries through battalion-level flag meetings and ad hoc meetings.

Both sides agreed to abide by existing laws and regulations relating to the border. Expressing deep concern over the installation of barbed wire electric lines and landmines on the border, the BGP assured that the matter would be considered on top priority.

The two countries have agreed to undertake various initiatives to increase trust, including exchange of sports, training activities and goodwill visits between BGB and BGP. Both sides have agreed to provide quick response in case of mutual communication on the basis of highest priority following the conventional procedures of the country.

Both parties agreed to hold the next ninth border conference between BGB and BGP in May/June 2023 in Dhaka. The 8th Border Conference between Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and Myanmar Border Guard Police (BGP) which started on Thursday (November 24, 2022) in Myanmar’s capital Nay Pyi Taw, continued for 5 days.

A 10-member delegation led by BGB Director General Major General Sakil Ahmed participated in the conference. In addition to the senior officials of BGB, the delegation includes representatives of the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs.

On the other hand, a 15-member delegation led by Myanmar Police Force Deputy Chief of Police Major General Aung Naing Thuy participated in the conference. Apart from senior BGP officials, the team includes representatives from the ministries of Defence, Home Affairs, External Affairs and Immigration and Population Affairs.

The conference started with a formal meeting at 9 am local time in Myanmar’s capital Naypyitaw on Thursday (November 24).

In the conference, de-escalation of the tense situation on the border caused by the recent internal conflict in Myanmar, violation of airspace, combating inter-state terrorism and preventing the activities of cross-border criminal gangs, prevention of illegal infiltration, prevention of other drugs and human trafficking including yaba and crystal meth ice, increasing mutual cooperation in the overall security of the border, Exchange of various information related to the border, conducting joint patrols, organizing regular coordination meetings or flag meetings at the region and battalion levels, repatriation of detained or imprisoned citizens of both countries, return of forcibly displaced Myanmar citizens to their original homeland and discussion on various ways to increase mutual trust between BGB and BGP was the important issues..

In addition, the conference was very effective and fruitful discussions on the repatriation of detained or imprisoned citizens of both countries, the return of forcibly displaced Myanmar citizens to their original homelands and various ways to increase mutual trust between BGB-BGP. The Bangladesh delegation is scheduled to return to Dhaka after the conference on November 28. 

A flag meeting was held between a nine-member Bangladesh delegation led by the captain of Teknaf 2 BGB Battalion and a nine-member delegation led by Lt. Col. Kao Na Yan Shor, commanding officer of Border Guard Police Branch No. 1, Myanmar Maungdu, at Shahpari Island in Cox’s bazar on Sunday at 10 am.

Last August and September, massive gunfire and mortar shelling erupted between the country’s army and the Arakan Army, an insurgent group in Rakhine state, inside Myanmar on the Tumbru border in Naikshyongchari. On August 28, two shells fired by Myanmar landed in the territory of Bangladesh. Bangladesh strongly protested by summoning the Myanmar ambassador several times over the incident of firing on the border.

In a flag meeting on October 30 at Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar, Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and Myanmar’s Border Guard Police (BGP) both expressed remorse for recent border incidents. BGB discussed the issue of border shelling at the beginning of the meeting. Several times there were protests against mortar shells and helicopter flights violating the airspace inside Bangladesh. 

Myanmar expressed grief over the border tension, helicopter flights, firing and mortar fire from Myanmar and the loss of life and property on the border of Bangladesh. Also, Myanmar’s BGP has promised that such incidents will not happen in future. At the same time, BGB-BGP agreed to work together on the border situation. The meeting discussed working to stop infiltration, drug smuggling.

BGP pledged to uphold a peaceful stance on the border in order to prevent the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar from being impacted by the civil war in Myanmar. Such a meeting demonstrates that all parties have a culture of open communication, mutual trust, and confidence that will serve to clear the road for the repatriation of the Rohingya.

The border conference between Myanmar-Bangladesh gives senior leaders of participating militaries and security personnel the chance to forge closer ties of friendship and collaboration. Participants are also able to share best practices and lessons learned.

Additionally, it strengthens participants’ mutual understanding of each other’s advantages and main challenges in border regions, fostering cooperation in the face of transnational threats.

The militaries cooperate to find solutions to problems that they share and to look for chances for training exchanges between the participating countries. Myanmar and Bangladesh both can consider the conference to be a crucial occasion for Armies to comprehend the regional ties.

Recognizing that it is more difficult to detect security issues such as transnational threats, narcotrafficking, illicit mining, illegal immigration, and other transnational crime in the border areas due to their thick topography.

The security of the border is a challenge and a shared goal for all neighboring states. Our two countries have long-standing cooperation, but it was strengthened between the two forces with this conference, strengthening cooperation and building trust measures, which is a key factor in achieving hemispheric security objectives. The participants can openly discuss the issues at hand as well as the successful solutions put forth in each nation.

Bangladesh and Myanmar must place a high priority on maintaining a secure state border and takes the necessary precautions to stop the flow of terrorist combatants, illicit drug and weapon trafficking, and other international organized crime.

Cross-border and other security threats have grown more complicated over the past few years, and difficulties are piling up quickly. Threats including international organized crime, human trafficking, terrorism, and drug trafficking are too great for any state to handle on its own. It is essential to increase cooperation on both a regional and global scale.

We encourage regional cooperation to increase readiness and foster confidence in fending off global dangers while upholding human rights.

In order to combat terrorism and violent extremism within border security and management and implement the holistic approach to security, both parties should emphasize the importance of enhancing cooperation between the government, law enforcement, and civil society. Results are only attained by employing comprehensive and constructive – hard and soft – solutions to border security management including both government, security and defense enforcement forces and civil society players.

Dr. Arpita Hazarika

Dr. Arpita Hazarika is a Gauhati University, Assam, India based researcher. She is very interested in refugee affairs, political economy, security and strategic affairs, foreign policies of the Asia-Pacific region. She has visited a number of countries such as Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, UK, USA, France, Japan, Australia, Thailand, Singapore, Canada. She has research works on India-Bangladesh affairs.

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