Drug use, terrorism "critical challenges" for South Asia-Bangladesh Envoy

ANI | Updated: Jan 09, 2018 19:49 IST

New Delhi [India], Jan.9 (ANI): Emphasising the strong bilateral relations between New Delhi and Dhaka, the High Commissioner of Bangladesh to India, Syed Muazzem Ali, has identified drug use, extremism and radicalisation of youth as critical regional challenges.

In a wide-randing interaction with UNODC, the Bangladeshi envoy called for greater cooperation between South Asian nations to address pressing issues such as terrorism and the Rohingya crisis.

"Concerning Rohingya refugees, the UN Secretary General, in his latest report, has rightly opined that the devastating humanitarian situation is not only a breeding ground for radicalisation; it also puts vulnerable people, including young children, at risk of criminal elements, including trafficking. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has time and again underscored that Bangladesh would not allow its territory to be used for any terrorist activity. Therefore, we all should play a crucial role in persuading Myanmar for the early and safe return of these Rohingyas to their ancestral home. We also count on continued support from all in the international arena for this cause," High Commissioner Ali said.

Reflecting on bilateral ties, High Commissioner Ali said he was optimistic about the future of the Bangladesh-India relationship.

"There is now a greater recognition from the political leaderships on both sides that the destinies of our two neighbouring countries are inescapably intertwined and we must grow together. Bangladesh figures prominently in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "Look and Act East" policy and both countries are working on strengthening sub-regional connectivity within Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and North-East India under the BBIN initiative. We are keen to establish seamless connectivity with sub-region and beyond which we believe would bring about unprecedented benefit to all the countries," he asserted.

Expressing concern on the security threats posed by extremist groups, the Bangladeshi envoy said that Dhaka was committed to curbing terrorism.

"Our country is committed to work together with other neighboyuring countries for the eradication of the menace of terrorism from our South Asian region and beyond. In our region, several armed terrorist groups are eager to exploit differences among the countries to further their own objectives. Domestically, our government did succeed in disintegrating the homegrown terrorist groups, plugging out their regular financing pipelines and flushing out the regional operatives from our territory. In addition to our domestic efforts, we are working closely with our neighbouring countries, regional organisations and the United Nations to fight this menace. As a part of its commitment to the eventual elimination of terrorism in all its forms, Bangladesh has acceded to all of 14 anti-terrorism conventions/protocols of the UN," said High Commissioner Ali.

He also urged South Asian nations to jointly address the menace of drug use in the region, deeming it a "shared responsibility."

"The Government of Bangladesh attaches great importance to countering drug problem. We are not completely immune from the curse of drugs, as sometimes the drug smugglers use our territory as transit. It is a common and shared responsibility of the countries of the region to take a coordinated approach to fight the menace of drugs. At the regional level, Bangladesh is a party to the SAARC Convention on Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic substance. We have signed MOU with many regional countries, such as India and Myanmar for preventing illicit trafficking of drugs," said the Bangladeshi envoy.

Pushing for joint efforts between neighbouring countries, High Commissioner Ali stressed that the Government of Bangladesh welcomed UNODC's efforts in addressing transnational organised crime in the region.

"It is imperative for our neighbours to join hands to keep the bordering areas stable and peaceful. This necessitates UNODC to proactively coordinate with the countries concerned and organise dialogues on the issues. In addition, through knowledge sharing and technical cooperation projects, UNODC may reinforce countries' capacities to combat the organised crimes. We value the work spearheaded by UNODC in Bangladesh, especially in addressing organised crime and drug-related issues. Besides drug use, the other thematic areas where UNODC's expertise and experiences could benefit Bangladesh are prison reforms, cyber crime, and terrorism. We appreciate UNODC's ongoing activities and initiatives and look forward to further strengthening the ongoing cooperation," he stated.

The interview was part of the 'UNODC Conversations' series that feature exclusive interactions with eminent personalities and experts on issues related to UNODC`s core mandate areas of transnational organised crime, human rights, terrorism and the rule of law. (ANI)