The foreign secretary said there can be nothing more important than the elimination of the scourge of terrorism and ethnic strife
Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen on Monday said the United Nations should step up efforts at this critical juncture in Afghanistan as Bangladesh does not want to see people in Afghanistan suffer anymore.
"While we welcome peace talks involving important players, I think, the United Nations as a neutral broker should step up efforts at this critical juncture," he said adding that Bangladesh wants to see a fellow South Asian State, a fellow member of Saarc and its people remain free from any sufferings.
Bangladesh thinks the strengthening of democratic institutions, including endogenous ones and unimpeded socio-economic development in Afghanistan – with the active participation of the international community – remain important.
"The daunting task ahead is to build an efficient public service delivery system suitable for the Afghan people given the geography and ethnic divide and millennium old, decentralized structure," said the Foreign Secretary.
Masud Momen was addressing a webinar titled "Current Afghan Situation and Bangladesh" organized by North-South University.
Prof Taufique, South Asian Institute of Policy and Governance, Vice Chancellor Prof Atiqul Islam, Brig Gen Shakhwat Hossain, Faruque Ahmed, former executive director of Brac International, Shahidul Haque, former foreign secretary and professorial fellow, SIPG, NSU and Dr Masroor, representative of the Afghan Government spoke at the event.
Prof Lailufar Yasmin, Department of International Relations, Dhaka University, presented the keynote paper.
On the fast-evolving situation in Afghanistan, the foreign secretary said they are currently observing a radical transformation taking shape in Afghanistan, which is sure to have a profound effect on the geo-political balance of power in the region and beyond.
Right now, he said, there can be nothing more important than the elimination of the scourge of terrorism and ethnic strife, which can only be possible through dialogue and cooperation amongst stakeholders both within Afghanistan and outside.
Highlighting Bangladesh’s South Asia policy, the foreign secretary said the prime minister's visionary policy is that the region must rise and prosper together, leaving no space for inequality; otherwise, there will be instability in the region allowing foreigners to interfere in their affairs.
"In short, our South Asia policy rests on the guiding principle that the countries of the region must work together and cooperate to reach our common goals of socio-economic development and prosperity," he said.
Masud Momen said it is in this spirit that Bangladesh engages with the international community on matters of reconstruction and development in Afghanistan.
He said Bangladesh has remained consistently and actively engaged with Afghanistan through participation in various international meetings and conferences on the reconstruction of the country.
Bangladesh was an eager proponent for Afghanistan’s membership to the Saarc in 2007.
Bangladesh closed down its Embassy in Kabul following the Russian invasion of Afghanistan and though it has been decided to reopen the embassy, it has not been possible to do so because of security concerns.
The Bangladesh Ambassador to Uzbekistan is presently concurrently accredited to Afghanistan.
"As soon as the situation becomes conducive, we would like to reopen the embassy," said the foreign secretary.
Despite being a landlocked country that should not hold back its economy as the country is situated in a vital juncture on the Silk Route, he said.
The Foreign Secretary said China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Russian initiated TAPI, all have the potential to significantly reshape the Afghan economy.
"Connectivity potentials in broader South Asia hinge on a stable Afghanistan. As a country believing in realizing the full potential of connectivity, we will be following the developments very closely," he said.
Masud Momen said Bangladesh firmly believes in the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Afghanistan. "A democratic and pluralistic Afghanistan as chosen by its people can only guarantee stability in the country and continue its path of socio-economic development."
In this regard, he said, Bangladesh considers itself a potential development partner and a friend of Afghanistan.
Bangladesh’s interest in expanding relations with Afghanistan stems from a genuine desire to assist the people of Afghanistan.
"We firmly believe that it is upon the people of Afghanistan to rebuild their country and decide the course of the future themselves. Bangladesh welcomes Afghan people’s commitment to carry forward the ongoing peace process in quest for an inclusive society," said the Foreign Secretary.