Acting foreign secretary Admiral (retd) Khurshed Alam briefed the diplomats as situation has been deteriorating in the Ghundhum part of the Bangladesh-Myanmar border recently.

Fresh firing began in Ghundhum border of Bandarban’s Naikhongchhari on Friday. A mortar shell exploded in the zero line opposite to Tumbru border at that night, killing a Rohingya youth and injuring five others including a child.

The foreign ministry on Monday summoned Myanmar ambassador to Dhaka Aung Kyaw Moe and strongly protested the incident, handing over a note varbale. The Bangladesh envoy in Nay Pyi Taw was called to the country’s foreign ministry and was told that Arakan Army and Rohingyas’ armed group ARSA are responsible for this instability in border, and mortars fired by Arakan Army not the Myanmar military landed in the Bangladesh territory.

A retired naval official, Khurshed Alam, however, disagreed with the Myanmar’s claims. He said Bangladesh is in the west and Arakan Army is in the south, so, their shell by no means can land in Bangladesh. Shells should not come to the west and such thing does not happen unless someone does this willingly.

Replying to a query on whether Myanmar is doing this deliberately, the foreign secretary said, “Whether Myanmar does it deliberately or not, this will make the region instable. They are trying to get us involved in this conflict, but we have said that we will not get involved in this. We had informed them and instructed the diplomats to take action whatever they deem necessary.”

Replying to another query on weather Bangladesh army will contact Myanmar military, Khurshed Alam said, “We are trying to maintain contact with Myanmar at all levels so that Myanmar can understand that such an instable situation is also dangerous for them and Bangladesh by no means will tolerate it.”

He said the Myanmar envoy in Dhaka was at first told about the tensed situation and the loss of life along the Myanmar-Bangladesh border and asked to take action so that no shell from Myanmar falls in this side of the border. Similarly, request was also made to the ASEAN member states to this end later.

“We also told the same thing to other diplomats who also came today. Our prime minister said we are working with patience, and in fact, we are working with patience. We did not do anything for which shells from Myanmar will disrupt the security of the lives and properties of our people who live inside our territory. They cannot go out for cattle grazing, they cannot go to paddy field, they cannot live in their home and such cannot be allowed to happen,” Khurshed Alam said.

That is why cooperation of the diplomats has been sought, the acting foreign secretary said, adding, 'We also said we have been observing the situation with utmost patience and we by no means want to get involved in it.'

Once Bangladesh gets involved Myanmar will get an excuse over not repatriating the Rohingays and Bangladesh no longer wants to give Myanmar such excuse, he observed.

Khurshed Alam said foreign diplomats have lauded Dhaka’s stance over Myanmar issue. He said, “We have told all diplomats and almost everyone had come. They have praised us that we are showing utmost patience and not falling into any provocation of Myanmar. Diplomats said they will inform their government. They also assured us that they would do as much as they can in future, especially, anything at the United Nations.”

After talking to the foreign ministry officials, it was learned the Tuesday’s discussion was more lively than the yesterday’s one with diplomats from ASEAN nations where only several diplomats spoke.

On the other hand, today, several diplomats including US envoy Peter Haas, UK high commissioner Robert Gibson and Swedish envoy Alexandra Berg von Linde openly discussed their stance on several issues as well as asked about Bangladesh’s position.

Diplomats of two Western countries separately asked the acting foreign secretary about whether Bangladesh requires humanitarian assistance to pull out people living in border area safely.

Khurshed Alam thanked them for their cordiality saying Bangladesh does not have any plan to evacuate large number of people from border area now and the country can tackle it for the time being.

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