Political Bangladesh has shown unfathomed fidelity to its neighbours. Yet, the country has remained hostage to the crisis looming from 1.1 million Burmese refugees, and no water deals along with a legal endorsement of being one of the three states that persecute minorities from its most giant neighbour, India. Bangladesh is still generous enough to consider anti-Bangladesh rhetoric as India’s internal affairs. Nonetheless, Bangladesh will have to wrestle against three major neighbourhood cataclysms.
India would be the first one here. Neither CAA nor NRC was stopped, nor the downslope of its economic growth stabilised. The populists made smaller gains than what they expected out of socio-political polarisation, and the biggest propaganda machines—Internet and the media—couldn’t firm up its foreign relations with neighbouring countries either. Bangladesh remained as its last cohort in the region. Indian Prime Minister Modi’s saffron flavoured government’s hiccups may well give political space for internal instability, with potentials for spillover effects on Bangladesh as no credible plan to tackle the economic and political woes are in sight. However, economic growth may recover marginally, but India will struggle to regain enough momentum to come closer to even a stagnant China. The Bangladesh’s awkward balancing act between two asymmetric economies—China and India—will continue to be a fallacy.
Instead, to sustain Bangladesh’s national interest and stimulate the Indian economy, a more coordinated Bangladesh-China-West tie can help, something that the foreign policy community should think about. At the end of the day, Bangladesh is already the most significant external and political security provider to India, not the other way around.
The Burmese political community will continue to act delusory. The Rohingya issue will still not be their priority, apart from embarking on their periodic genocidal spree. Aung San Suu Kyi will be on the test to prove her Burmese political blood—she needs the Constitution to be amended to climb to the highest point of power. The military will be busy in guarding the Constitution against amendment to ensure 25 percent of the seats in parliament are reserved for them. And of course, this time, its big neighbour—the mandarin dragon—will tame the Burmese generals from going strategically overboard with their newfound friends. Flying high with Pakistani built JF17s is not a substitute to the Burmese generals’ romance with an old Russian-built Indian submarine. That too after the Rajapaksas legibly regained their throne and the Nepalese gained alternative paths for their global connectivity. Hence, Bangladesh will have to rethink its complex Burma front if it wants to retain the spirit of ICJ to ensure dignified return of the Rohingyas.