Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Tuesday said terrorism remains the single largest threat to peace and stability in the region.
“To achieve the desired regional cooperation, it’s essential to have peace and security in the region,” he said.
The High Commissioner was addressing the closing session of ‘Bimstec at its 20: Towards a Bay of Bengal Community’ in the city. Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali spoke at the inaugural session as the chief guest.
He said Bimstec (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) is an opportunity for combining the complementary strengths of South Asia and South East Asia.
Shringla said all the member states have agreed to draw up a Bimstec Master Plan on Connectivity with a view to creating a seamless and multidimensional connectivity and people-to-people contact for the betterment of the region.
“Connectivity is crucial for growth in cooperation under Bimstec and it’s the backbone for a regional integration arrangement,” he said.
Bimstec’s major strength comes from the fact that it represents 1.6 billion people, an overwhelming majority of which are young, he said.
“The region has countries with the fastest-growing economies in the world. The combined GDP in the region is around US$3 trillion which will undoubtedly keep growing, given the vast untapped natural and human resources available in the region,” said the High Commissioner.
Shringla said at a time when the strategies of terrorists are evolving rapidly and their networks are getting stronger, transcending even the geographical boundaries, it is imperative that countries facing threat must respond cohesively.
“Efforts are being taken to tackle traditional and non-traditional security challenges confronted by the region,” he said.
In this regard, the diplomat said, the second meeting of the Bimstec National Security Chiefs which will be hosted by Bangladesh next week will deepen the cooperation in the security domain, including Maritime Security.
“Bimstec at the 20th milestone anniversary should be appreciated for its achievements and progress it has been able make thus far,” said the High Commissioner.
He said South Asia and Southeast Asia are poised to reap the benefits of the swing of the global economic epicentre towards Asia and of the rapid economic transformation taking place in this region.
“Bimstec has become increasingly more important in deepening regional cooperation and as a means of tackling the critical challenges that confront us,” he said.
Shringla said Bimstec provides the Bay of Bengal nations an opportunity to work together to create a common space for peace and development.