Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu said, ‘It is time that we turn `Waters of Sorrows’ to `Waters of Hope’ in the shores of Bay of Bengal. Amicable sharing and collective harnessing of water resources is the golden key of regional cooperation.’
The minister was addressing `Integrating BIMSTEC 2018’ conference as guest of honor at the spectacular city of Gangtok in the Sikkim province of India on Tuesday.
Minister for Sikkim Tourism, Bhim Prasad Dhungel attended as the chief guest at inaugural session of the day-long conference on integrating BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) organized by Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in association with Ministry of External Affairs of India.
Bangladesh Information Minister said, `We know our miseries but we are yet to learn to share our virtues and the shores of Bay of Bengal are cris-crossed by thousands of rivers that apart from being resources often cause sorrow. And it is time that we turn `Waters of Sorrows’ to `Waters of Hope’.
`Strong regionalism is the survival kit in the era of globalization. And one can change his wife or husband, but cannot change neighbors, so it is better to learn to live peacefully’, he said.
Focusing on the conference theme of `Neighborhood First’ and `Act East’, Hasanul Haq Inu proposed five points to ponder that included making BIMSTEC market-induced and people oriented from mere a policy-induced regional cooperation and resolving bilateral issues amicably while deep-freezing and de-linking the difficult and touchy issues for time being on the road of cooperation.
Inu’s proposals also included building peoples’ confidence on BIMSTEC through `Easy traffic system with Multi-modal transport corridor’ and `Liberal visa process’, Cross-border infrastructure with associated software and terrestrial optical fiber network and, adoption of a Ganga-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) Mega-project to harness water resources collectively by Bay of Bengal nations which would act as a golden key to open the front door of cooperation.
We are now in an Asian century, the Information Minister observed as he said, `The global economic epi-centre is swinging towards Asia and a rapid economic transformation is taking place in our region. And it is BIMSTEC, the unique cooperation among South and South-east Asia, which is poised to reap the benefits.’
Hasanul Haq Inu, who is also the President of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal (Jasod) further opined for reduction of dependency on Middle-East oil, re-vitalizing the dormant markets of the region to attract more FDIs, opening new tourist spots in the region and letting BIMSTEC be the economic link between SAARC and ASEAN, would augment the regional cooperation of seven countries of South and South-East Asia.
Information Minister focused on past 20 years of BIMSTEC, its present scenario and way forward to the future, as he said, `The past two decades of BIMSTEC have not gone in vain. Gradually affirming our trust on each other, we had- three Summits, 15 Ministerial Meetings and our Senior Officials met 18 times over 20 years. And, thus BIMSTEC extended its areas of co-operation from initial 6 to now 14 including Climate Change in the latest that is shouldered to Bangladesh as Sector-Leader along with the sector of Trade and Investment.
Rajat Nag, Chairman of ACT East Council of ICC chaired the inaugural session that focused on `BIMSTEC as the natural choice to fulfill key foreign policy priorities of Neighborhood First and Act East’.
Secretary General of BIMSTEC Secretariat, Ambassador M Shahidul Islam, President of IBCCI, Bangladesh, Matlub Ahamad, Prof. Emeritus Dr. Gamini Keerawella from Sri Lanka, Joint Secretary of Indian External Affairs Piyush Srivastava also spoke at the session.
S M Nazmul Hasan, Director of BIMSTEC Secretariat, Dhaka and Muhammad Abdullahil Quayyum, APS to Information Minister are also attending the conference from Bangladesh.
Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation- BIMSTEC formed in 1997 has now seven member states- Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand. This intra-regional cooperation platform homes about 1.5 billion people, which is 22% of global population with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.7 trillion dollar economy. Its permanent Secretariat was established in Dhaka in 2014.
Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu is scheduled to return home on Thursday, 26th.