Former British Prime Minister David Cameron has called upon all to unite to battle the violent ideology of terrorism, a key challenge facing the world today.
Speaking at a programme in Dhaka, he also stressed the need for maintaining high-quality democracy and fighting corruption -- two other major global challenges -- to reach the next stage of development.
“It's not just a fight against violent people, it's a fight against violent ideology,” Cameron said, adding, “We only win if we unite against this ideology and then we can succeed and grow.”
He termed Bangladesh a “shining example” of progress in the world and laid importance on addressing the three key challenges. “We must face these challenges together.”
He lauded Bangladesh's growth of over 6.5 percent for the past few years and the progress made in other areas.
Cameron, who resigned as PM last year after Brexit voting, met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, visited a garment factory in Dhaka and attended a close-door roundtable of the International Growth Centre during his less than 24-hour stay.
Delivering a key-note speech on “Global Challenges in 2017” at Hotel Four Points in Gulshan in the afternoon, the former British PM also touched upon various other issues.
Cameron was addressing a select group of audience comprising Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed, other political leaders, civil society representatives, economists, business leaders, educationists and journalists before departing Dhaka.
The British-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BBCCI) organised the event moderated by journalist and TV presenter Zillur Rahman. BBCCI President Enam Ali made the welcome speech.
“This is not a clash between civilisations. It is a clash within a religion,” he said referring to Islamic militancy, adding that a vast majority of Muslims did not believe in that extremist idea.
“If we believe that [it is a clash between civilisations], all of our policies will be wrong.
“Terrorists want us to believe it is a clash between civilisations. Their whole narrative is that ultimately we [different religions] can't live together. Their message to young Muslims is that it is impossible. You cannot survive and thrive in a society that is not one along the line of ISIL.”
He further said, “It's not just a fight against violent people … it's a fight against violent ideology. Let's fight against them. We have to have security.”
In reply to a question from the audience, he said, “We cannot give up the rule of law in combating terrorism.”
Giving example of Bangladesh's development and utilisation of foreign aid, the British leader said those who claim that aid did not work should come and visit Bangladesh to witness the extraordinary success in terms of aid utilisation.
The next stage of Bangladesh's development would involve massive investment in infrastructure, huge investment in energy as business continues to grow and also investments in skills and professional education.
And for that, he said Britain, would remain as a partner of Bangladesh as always even after the Brexit.
Cameron also spoke about having quality institutions, including college and universities, to help produce skilled professionals required for taking the country forward and reach the next stage of development.
On high-quality of democracy, he said it was not all about elections; rather it was about governance, rule of law, accountability and ensuring rights of all.
Touching on corruption, he said it needed to be addressed if money was stolen in a poor country but spent in rich a country.
“The idea that little bit of corruption is okay… is wrong. It's a cancer that destroys the faith in politics and faith in our country,” he said, adding: “Western world is lecturing everyone else about corruption, but the money is stolen in poor countries and hidden in rich countries.”
Earlier, Cameron attended a roundtable discussion with Bangladeshi civil society members, economists and business leaders at Westin Dhaka.
The roundtable titled “Fragility, growth and development: Bangladesh's progress” was organised by the Bangladesh chapter of International Growth Centre (IGC).
Prof Rehman Sobhan, IGC Bangladesh Country Director Sultan Hafeez Rahman and Country Adviser Prof Wahiduddin Mahmud, businessman Saluddin Kashem Khan, Sujan Secretary Badiul Alam Majumdar, Barrister Sarah Hossain, among others, were present.
The IGC is based at the London School of Economics and in partnership with the University of Oxford it works to promote sustainable growth in developing countries.
Cameron is the chair of the Commission on State Fragility, Growth and Development, which aims to generate innovative ideas to help tackle state fragility and state failure.