Indo-Pacific Outlook of Bangladesh: A Plea for Stability and Prosperity in the Region

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On the eve of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s tri-nation visit to Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom on 24 April 2023, Bangladesh announced its IPO with an emphasis on expanding and engaging in constructive regional and international cooperation processes, which is expected to contribute to regional as well as Bangladesh’s sustainable development and prosperity.  Bangladesh’s Indo-Pacific Outlook (IPO) contains four guiding principles and 15 objectives. Through the announcement of its IPO, Bangladesh has once again brought forward its balanced and non-aligned position in the global arena where the stability and prosperity of the region matter most. Bangladesh believes that stability and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region are key determinants for achieving its “Vision 2041”. The IPO clearly says, “Bangladesh, therefore, envisions a free, open, peaceful, secure, and inclusive Indo- Pacific for the shared prosperity for all”. It is noteworthy to mention that all the guiding principles are in accordance with the foreign policy principles of Bangladesh, particularly, the dictum of Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, which is “friendship to all, malice towards none.”

Bangladesh’s IPO is a clear manifestation of the country’s autonomous foreign policy approach and a unique response to the challenges posed by the changing dynamics of the Indo-Pacific region. By focusing on neutrality, economic growth, and non-traditional security threats, Bangladesh can forge stronger partnerships with regional and global actors while avoiding being bogged down in the great power struggle. As such, Bangladesh’s IPO presents a valuable contribution to the broader regional debate on the Indo-Pacific and could serve as a model for other states seeking to navigate the evolving landscape. It remains to be seen how Bangladesh’s Indo-Pacific outlook will translate into practical cooperation, but it is undoubtedly a crucial step toward shaping the country’s strategic trajectory in the 21st century.

The government of Bangladesh has extended support for an Indo-Pacific region that is free, open, peaceful, secure, and inclusive while carefully avoiding polarizing narratives. Bangladesh’s goal in the region lies in developing economic ties with other countries, and by explicitly mentioning its reluctance to entangle itself in regional strategic rivalry it has successfully avoided overt alignment in favor of any power bloc. Dhaka’s main goal is to collaborate with all parties for its own prosperity and development as well as for collective interests because it sees peace, prosperity, and security in the Indo-Pacific region as essential to achieving the goal of creating a modern, knowledge-based, prosperous nation by 2041.