The nature of Bangladesh's foreign policy has been a balancing one since the time of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, said academics.
Leadership, wisdom, and personal relations with world leaders enabled Bangabandhu to achieve diplomatic successes, they told a webinar titled "Bangabandhu and Bangladesh: Leadership and Foreign Policy" organised by Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) Sunday.
State Minister for foreign affairs Md Shahriar Alam said, "The guiding principle of our foreign policy was derived from the philosophy that was enshrined in our constitution by Bangabandhu; which is 'Friendship to all and malice towards none'."
In a world marred by conflicts, war, and rivalry, Bangabandhu clearly understood that it would be important for a country like Bangladesh not only to maintain equidistance but also to uphold multilateralism particularly through the United Nations, said Shahriar.
"Hence, this became Bangladesh's diplomatic strength to engage as an active voice in various normative and policymaking initiatives," Shahriar said, adding, "Bangladesh in future will continue to follow Bangabandhu's footsteps in its peace-centric and sustainable development focused approach in the international forum."
The state minister said Bangladesh enjoys the best of its relations with its largest neighbour India. He mentioned that Rohingya influx from Myanmar into Bangladesh has created a humanitarian crisis and soured the relations in recent times.
"We hope the problem to be resolved permanently with the peaceful return of Rohingyas to their homeland as expressed by our prime minister at the UN General Assembly," he said.
At the webinar, Dhaka University Professor ASM Ali Ashraf, in his paper titled "Balancing Divergent Global Powers", highlighted five aspects of Bangabandhu's foreign policy.
Professor Ashraf said Bangabandhu took up the proper strategic steps to achieve the UN membership. Besides, as a Muslim majority country, he emphasised the relationship with the Muslim world and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
"During the Cold War, Bangabandhu maintained a balance relationship with the two superpowers – USA and Soviet Union. The non-aligned identity building was his another achievement," he noted.
The professor mentioned that Bangabandhu aspired to become the leader of the third world.
On the topic, Indian Ambassador to Bangladesh Vikram K Doraiswami said, "The foreign policy of Bangabandhu is a great asset for Bangladesh."
Dhaka University Professor Gobinda Chakraborty, Jahangirnagar University Professor Shahab Enam Khan, Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses Research Fellow Smruti Pattanaik, BIISS Senior Research Fellow Sufia Khanom and Research Fellow M Ashique Rahman also presented papers in the programme.
BIISS Chairman and former ambassador M Fazlul Karim moderated the webinar while BIISS Director General Major General Md Emdad Ul Bari delivered the welcome speech.