Can't please one friend at the cost of antagonizing another: Army Chief

Screen shows army chief SM Shafiuddin Ahmed addressing seminar on defence diplomacy at BIISS. Dhaka, 18 AprilProthom Alo

Chief of Army Staff SM Shafiuddin Ahmed has stressed that one friendly state cannot be pleased at the cost of antagonizing another state.

The army chief was addressing a seminar on defence diplomacy organised Thursday afternoon by the Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS).

Dwelling on the suggestion whether there is a scope to engage with Myanmar, Genaral Shafiuddin Ahmed said, "Yes, we have engagement with military leaders and we do everything to do. Some of the Myanmar military leaders have international sanctions. So there is a risk of putting ourselves into trouble when you do that. Because all of us our friends. So to make one friend happy we cannot antagonize another."

"So we have to look into the dynamics at the same time practical connotation has to take into consideration. I like to ascertain that we are on the right track," the army chief added.

The army chief said it cannot be denied that all agencies of the government are working in the interests of the country. The best task is to search for opportunities and to work in favourable environment. It is not possible to achieve success alone. The big challenge is how to cooperate with everyone."

There may be misconception among many about defence diplomacy, but out diplomats understand the need for this very well."
Chief of General Staff (CGS) Lt. Gen. Waker-Uz-Zaman

SM Shafiuddin Ahmed said, "Military strategy is required for the country's interests and strategy and it is on this basis that we determine our position with various countries. There is no way to achieve this in an isolated manner. That is why we sometimes think of who will lend leadership, who will hold control. This can create problems."

Placing importance on having an agency to coordinate government work, the army chief said, "There are many things that we started but could not complete because it later was not in our hands. Whenever I found potential in the business sector, it later went to the commerce ministry. And so I support the proposal that has been made here and feel that an agency is required to ensure that integrated initiatives are taken so we do not lose what we achieve and to determine future initiatives."

Stressing the need to increase capacity, the army chief said that circumstances may change at any time, but capacity doesn't change suddenly. Today's friend may not be a friend tomorrow. We must be prepared to protect national interests and the motherland. The foreign policy's main mantra is 'friendship towards all and malice towards none'.

The army is doing everything to achieve the objective of the foreign policy. He said, "The main task of the armed forces is to protect the sovereignty of the country and we never forget this. We are always prepared."

Chief of General Staff (CGS) Lt. Gen. Waker-Uz-Zaman, speaking at the seminar, said, "There may be misconception among many about defence diplomacy, but out diplomats understand the need for this very well."

BIISS chairman FM Gausul Azam said, defence diplomacy functions on the larger dimension of foreign policy.