Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said Bangladesh would keep up its efforts to repatriate displaced Rohingyas through negotiations and not by engaging in conflict with Myanmar.
“Since they [Myanmar] are our next-door neighbours, we'll never engage in any conflict with them. Rather, we'll have to continue efforts so that they'll take back their nationals through negotiations,” she said while visiting the defence ministry in the capital.
The PM said Bangladesh provided around one million Rohingyas with shelter on humanitarian grounds. “It's surprising to the world how we could provide such huge number of people with shelter and save them.”
She added, “We don't want to engage in any conflict with Myanmar. We have discussed and signed agreements with them. Our aim is to send them [Rohingyas] back to their country through dialogue."
Hasina, also the defence minister, asked all the authorities to discharge their responsibility according to the goal.
Acting army chief Lt Gen Md Shamsul Haque, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Aurangzeb Chowdhury, Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Masihuzzaman Serniabat and PM's Military Secretary Maj Gen Mia Md Jainul Abedin were present.
Defence Secretary Akhter Hussain Bhuiya delivered the welcome speech.
The PM underscored the need for having a strong defence system to give a befitting reply to safeguarding the country's independence and sovereignty in case of any attack by anyone.
“We want a peaceful environment. But if anyone attacks us, we'll have to have this preparation always so that we can give a fitting reply to the attack and protect our independence and sovereignty.
“We'll not engage in any war with anyone. We don't want any war. We want a peaceful environment with all,” she said, adding that Bangladesh's foreign policy adopted by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is “Friendship to all and malice towards none”.
Noting that Bangladesh has the capacity to face any natural or man-made disaster, Hasina said, “We can face any situation. We've proved that.”
She put emphasis on developing the armed forces with newer and modern technologies, alongside providing the officials with modern training to keep pace with the modern world.
Describing the armed forces as the symbol of the country's independence and sovereignty, Hasina said members of the armed forces were playing a very important role in safeguarding the country.
The armed forces have been developed with the latest tools and technologies through imparting necessary training, she said.
About maritime boundary disputes, the PM said it was a tough task to win the cases against India and Myanmar at international courts maintaining good relations with the two friendly countries.
She said it had been possible only because all concerned in Bangladesh worked with sincerity, responsibility and dutifulness.
The PM went to the ministry as part of her regular visit to different ministries after forming her government for the third consecutive term in January this year.