The Rohingya crisis has come as a new challenge for the peace and security of South Asia, said foreign policy experts in Bangladesh on a Sunday webinar.
Regional peace and stability will certainly improve if the Rohingya people are repatriated to Myanmar in a lasting and dignified manner, they said.
Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) organised the virtual seminar, "Revisiting Contemporary Peace and Security Challenges in the South Asian Region".
Speaking as chief guest, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said, located as it is between South Asia and Southeast Asia, Bangladesh has been severely hit by the exodus of more than 1.1 million Rohingyas from Myanmar.
This has badly impacted the socio-economic, socio-political and environmental condition of Bangladesh, he added.
The foreign minister said that, in the greater interest of these persecuted people and the stability of the region, the Rohingya crisis needs to be resolved in a durable manner with the utmost priority.
Abdul Momen said the Covid-19 pandemic has caused the greatest all-encompassing economic, political and social damage to humanity since World War II.
But at the international level, possibly the first and most obvious victim of the pandemic has been international cooperation and its ability to provide global public good.
Major General Md Emdad Ul Bari, director general at BIISS, delivered the welcome speech at the webinar. He said, with China and the gradual shift in the centre of gravity, South Asia is becoming the global hub of 21st century economic opportunities, and central to geopolitical calculations.
Recently, South Asian politics has become more complicated by external realities such as bloc politics, the fight against terrorism, and the escalation of Sino-US competition in the Indo-Pacific region, he added.
Major General Md Emdad Ul Bari said the Rohingya crisis is a new challenge to peace and security in the region and hoped that all regional and extra-regional actors will come forward to solve the Rohingya crisis.
Ambassador M Fazlul Karim, chairman of BIISS, who presided over the session and delivered the introductory speech, said political interaction among South Asian countries has not grown to the expected level relative to others, a vital setback and failure of regional cooperation and integration.
"When challenges are common, responses should also be similar. South Asian countries must come forward sincerely to meet these differences," he added.
Senior officials from different ministries, ambassadors and high commissioners, senior civil servants and military officials, journalists, academics, think tanks, business personalities, students, and teachers from different universities attended the seminar.
Five papers were presented at the webinar.
Professor Imtiaz Ahmed of the Department of International Relations at the University of Dhaka presented a paper on "Contemporary Geopolitical Competitions in South Asia".
Another paper, "Inter and Intra-State Conflicts in South Asia (Indo-China, Indo-Pak Border Conflicts, and Bangladesh-Myanmar Border Issues)", was presented by Professor Rashed Uz Zaman of the Department of International Relations, also of Dhaka University.s
Brig Gen Monirul Islam Akand, director of the Overseas Operations Directorate at Army Headquarters, presented a paper on "Peacekeeping Challenges in the Present Time: Bangladesh Perspective".
Md Monirul Islam, additional inspector general of police, presented his paper, "Recent Trends in Terrorism and Violent Extremism", and M Ashique Rahman, a research fellow at BIISS, had a paper on "Covid-19 and the Geopolitical Changes in South Asia".