Focused on strengthening the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi- Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), the think-tank also suggested that with massive development work the tri-lateral sub-regional cooperation among Bangladesh-India-Myanmar can be strengthened.
ORF's distinguished fellow Pinak R Chakravarty told a group of Bangladeshi journalists visiting New Delhi on an invitation by the Indian External Affairs Ministry: “Despite many efforts by Saarc, the three-decade old regional forum could not work more effectively due to hindrance from Pakistan.
“I’ll urge Bangladesh government to concentrate on BIMSTEC very carefully. I think East could be more relevant for Bangladesh,” the former Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka said.
“Forget the Saarc at least for the time being,” he said adding that they would take Afghanistan and Maldives from Saarc as observers of BIMSTEC. “So, you will really have (BIMSTEC like) Saarc without Pakistan but with Thailand and Myanmar.”
Chakravarty said they are trying to make BIMSTEC more active for regional cooperation as Pakistan wants to use Saarc as a “leverage for their purpose.”
The remarks came amid the postponement of 19th Saarc Summit, which was scheduled to be held in November in Islamabad, after most of its member countries including Bangladesh boycott it in the wake of terrorist attacks on the Indian army in Kashmir.
Saarc member countries include: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, the Maldives and Sri Lanka; and BIMSTEC member countries include: Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan.
“Connectivity in the region could be a good gesture among the three states. We have settled maritime boundary and Bangladesh-Myanmar and India could work in tri-lateral way to explore energy in the Bay of Bengal. We can share our resources to explore energy and all the three country will be benefited.”
By coining the term of “pipeline diplomacy,” Chakravarty said Bangladesh-India-Myanmar can expand pipeline to share petroleum resources.
Noting that terrorism is a problem in the region, the former diplomat said: “I think Bangladesh and India will have to set up a better structure to fight terrorism.”
He added, “Every country has an army, but in Pakistan, the army has the country. India has no interest at all to carry out fight with Pakistan but it is Pakistan which insisted to carry out fight.”