Thesis on Border Conflict And The Future Foreign Policy Of Bangladesh

This thesis is the requirement for the degree of M. Phil of International Relations and it is an outcome of a strenuous but sincere attempt on the role of Foreign Policy of Bangladesh in managing the erotic border issues among Bangladesh and its neighbors. Conflicts disputes between or among the countries is a common problem since human civilization. We cannot disagree that every country in the world faces number of problems with her neighbor whatever friendly and they may be. US-Mexico border is well known for drug and human trafficking, North Korea-South Korea shares onto the most turbulent borders but no where in the world somebody would fond such a deadliest border like the Indo-Bangladesh border. Likewise, the history of Bangladesh-Myanmar relations during 1972-till date has experienced ups and down in their bilateral relations. Many studies have been conducted to consider sustainable relations among the neighboring countries. But this study is an attempt to find out the linkage between the foreign policy in shaping a sustainable border management guideline for Bangladesh and her neighbors as well.
This thesis work has been divided into seven chapters. The first chapter contains the context of the study which includes rationale of the study, research objectives, review of the literature related to the present study and limitations of the study. The second chapter starts with the historical evolution of Borders, Border demarcation and the types of Border conflicts. In the second phase of this chapter, a comprehensive analysis of Bangladesh Foreign policy and the nature and strategies of foreign relations in different political regime have been stated.
The third chapter deals with the methodology of the study. Both primary and secondary data were used in this study. In-depth interview, Key Informant Interview, Focus Group Discussion (FGD), Community meeting, Case study techniques have been used for collection of primary data. Secondary data have been collected from the news papers’ reports, documents and publications of different related agencies such as different NGOs work for Border related issues, different agencies of the Government of Bangladesh, Head office and zonal offices of BDR, Immigration and Customs Office, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics, related web sites and research documents from different library etc.
Chapter four depicts the erotic/tricky border issues between Bangladesh and India which crate serious impact on Bangladesh and India relations. This chapter encompasses the various fields where different sorts of conflicts/disputes either latent or manifest have been arrived. Those issues include anti Bangladesh activities in India, exchange of enclaves, adversely possessed territories, border terrorist activities, illegal trade, trafficking across border, Trans-boundary river issues [i,e, The Ganges Water Sharing Treaty, Farakka Barrage, river linking project issue, Tista and other six rivers, Tipaimukh Hydrological Dam (THD)] Indo-Bangladesh maritime dispute, Construction of Military Wire Obstacle (Barbed wire fencing) etc.

Chapter five also illustrates the core issues of Bangladesh and Myanmar relations. This chapter examines the development of Bangladesh-Myanmar relations during 1972-2009. In particular, it examines and explores the impediments that hinder strengthening the bilateral relations between Myanmar and Bangladesh. It also looks at the analyses the history of Muslim Rohingya refugess of Arakans, cross border smuggling, recent maritime disputes between these two countries.

In the chapter six efforts has been made to reviews the assessments of research findings regarding the role of foreign policy in process of border conflict management. The researcher therefore tries to identify the existing and potential complexities that hinder the friendly relations between Bangladesh and India, Bangladesh and Myanmar. In this connection the researcher has found some important issues that are of concern in border management include -porous nature of Border, difficulty in identifying Indian/Bangladeshi nationals, over population in border areas, border fencing, criminal-administration-police nexus, circuitous international boundary, limitation to applicability of Law of the Land, firing across the border, lack of border development etc. The chapter also suggests the ways and means to overcome the existing constraints in promoting and strengthening friendly relations among these neighboring countries. Initially it starts with the examination of Bangladesh India border management strategies and then discusses on a healthy Bangladesh-Myanmar border relations in the eye of foreign relation. To make a sustainable border management the researcher finds that Bangladesh and its neighbors can achieve sustainable situation in border area through goodwill, diplomacy and continuous dialogue and an attitude of sensitivity towards each other’s concerns. In fact, the bottom-line of the research findings is that supporting a dispassionate, cooperative and rewarding relationship with all the neighbors through greater contacts, negotiations and dialogue should have been a very important objective of Bangladesh’s foreign policy in view of its implication for national security as well as border security and finally development.

Chapter seven is the concluding assessment of this thesis. It says that in order to make our Border safe and sound, Bangladesh has to establish a sustainable Border Management Guide Index. This border management guide doest not indicate only to improve the efficiencies of Border Forces rather it should encompass many things, like the structural development in the border area, improve and integrate all the border agencies of neighboring countries to work together, regular and frequent meeting from grass root level to top level of the government officials, settle disputed issues through negotiation or peaceful settlement, use track II diplomacy (people to people contact) to build a good report among the neighbor’s mass etc. It also encompasses some Action Plans which include-commitment of neighboring countries to shared values, a more effective political dialogue, connecting the neighborhood through trade, energy, economic and social development policy. Finally, the readers will find that our foreign policy should not only vow for official meeting and treaty in order to achieve a good border rather it covers multidimensional and multifaceted efforts that could really help out from this protracted problem of Bangladesh.

Studies on Indo-Bangladesh relations often highlight the importance of geographical realities in depicting Bangladesh’s security dilemma vis-à-vis India. Often termed as an India-locked country, Bangladesh shares 4427 kilometers of land border on three sides with India and Myanmar and the fourth side is opening to the Bay of Bengal. Bangladesh and India also share a 180 kilometers long maritime boundary. Maintaining such long extended border relation often tensed to deterioration, which is not exception in case of these neighboring countries. In this regard, this research is very much rational to find out the real picture.

This study would provide us with valuable information about the factors of border conflict among Bangladesh and its neighboring countries, i,e, India and Burma (Myanmar). It will also help us to analyze the core aspects of our foreign policy in determining the border relation with India and Myanmar. The policy implications of the research findings will be of particular interest to government decision-makers to focus upon enhancing effective cooperation with our neighbors through solution of border issues, as well as formulation of coordinate foreign policy.

1.2 Objectives of the Study:
The goal of this research is to document the erotic border issues that lead to conflict among the three neighboring countries. At the same time an attempt would be made to manage these contentious issues where the role of foreign policy will be emphasized. However, the objectives of this study include-

Ø To identify the main border issues (specially among Bangladesh, India and Myanmar) that lead to untoward conflicts between these neighboring countries,
Ø To review and assess the consequences of these border conflicts in terms of physical destruction and deteriorating mutual trust and relationship between these two countries,
Ø To justify the role of our foreign policy in reducing the intensity of border conflict,
Ø To assess the level of willingness of different governments of these counties to solve this problem peacefully as different political governments believe different political ideologies,
Ø To find out some possible recommendations for dealing with this problem.

1.3 Review literature relevant to the present study
India- Bangladesh Border: where millions of people reside between death and fear, News Network (A News- Feature Agency of Bangladesh), No-3, April 2003, (published in Bangla).

Here Goutam Mandol, a prominent journalist of Bangladesh and his associates have described the overall socio-economic and human rights condition of the inhabitants of the enclaves. But the main emphasis put on different problems (e.g. firing between BDR and BSF, mass killing by the BSF, push–in, push-back etc) that are faced by the people residing in the border areas. The report has also pointed different major problems like –enclaves problem, adverse possession of territories, illegal trade, women trafficking etc that generally intensify the border tension between these two neighboring states in different times.

Border Fencing: A major Irritant in Indo- Bangla Relations, News Network (A News- Feature Agency of Bangladesh),No-36.
A team of journalists led by Ekram Kabir, conducted a comprehensive study to report on the above title. This study presents an assessment of the divergences in relations between the next- door neighbors and attempts to understand the sources of discords between these two countries. At the same time this study also focuses on the fencing work by India on Indo- Bangladesh border in detail. In this regard the cases of other border fencing in the world, like- the US fence along Mexican border, and other cases of territorial disputes between different neighboring countries, like- territorial disputes between Ecuador and Peru are also discussed elaborately.

In Bangladesh: A fragile Democracy, author Sreeradha Dutta made an attempt to trace how the Naga movement spearheaded by the National Council leader AZ Phizo, used Dhaka in 1956 as a route to escape to London on a false passport provided by Pakistan. The Naga insurgents have been receiving weapons and training in East Pakistan until the formation of Bangladesh. Similarly, East Pakistan provided a helpful hand to the Mizos. When the Mrzo National Front (MNF) failed to win the district council in1963, its leader Laldenga and his supporters reached out to Pakistan for arms training. According to The Hundustan Times, in 1966, about 200 trained volunteers had returned to Mizo hills from East Pakistan. When the Indian Government declared the MNF unlawful in February 1968, the Mizo National Army was forced to go to underground and crossed the borders into the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Exploiting the proximity and favorable terrain, Laldenga and his volunteers were trained by the Pakistani army. In recent years, Bangladeshi immigrants into India have increased and the sudden growth of Muslim population in Indian districts bordering Bangladesh is a direct outcome of his trend. Periodically, various Bangladeshi Governments (while maintaining their complete non- involvement) have been promising to intervene and close these bases.

In his article, Indo-Bangladesh Maritime Border Dispute: Problems and Prospects, Alok Kumar Gupta, Assistant Professor, National Law University, Jodhpur, addresses that there are three issues between the two nations that impede a settlement. First is the claim over New Moore (South Talpatti) island. The dispute is over the ownership of this tiny island which emerged in the estuary of the border river, Haribhanga after the cyclone and tidal bore of 1970 and is still in the formation stage. Flow of the river Haribhanga has also been a major source of discord between India and Bangladesh. India claims that the main channel of the river flows to the east of the new island, whereas Bangladesh maintains that it flows to the west, which would clearly make the island an integral part of the Bangladesh territory. Demarcation of Sea Boundary remains, as always, the biggest challenge. It has also delayed the demarcation of territorial waters, the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and Continental Shelves, which are essential for the exploitation of marine resources.