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The AEDSB Washington Seminar Series


Reconfiguring Bangladesh-India Relations Toward Regional Cooperation in South Asia PPT

Speaker: Ambassador Tariq Karim, former Bangladesh High Commissioner to India

Moderator: Ahmad Ahsan, Lead Economist, East Asia and Pacific Region, World Bank

When: Wednesday, January 28, 2015; 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm

Where: World Bank, Main Complex Room No: MC 8-100, 1818 H Street NW, Washington D.C.

Visitors, other than IMF/WB staff, will first need to collect a pass from the World Bank's Main Complex (MC) Building Visitor's Center on the corner of 18th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Please allow an extra 15 minutes for this. If you need a pass to attend the seminar, please send your name and institutional affiliation to Ms. Cecile Wodon (at:  cwodon@worldbank.org or  202-473-2542) by 11 am, Wednesday, January 28, 2015.



Regional cooperation in any region must necessarily begin with the forging of a few sets of good bilateral relationships. The European Union of today, which the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) purportedly sought to emulate when it was established in 1985, had humble beginnings with six European countries, two of which at least had been historical enemies, coming together with the common purpose of rebuilding their economies and societies. While ideally, the entire SAARC region, host to one-fifth of humanity, needs to move forward together to a shared prosperous future, the region’s historical legacy may make it unrealistic to expect all the countries of the SAARC region to engage in such cooperation from the beginning. It is far more likely that a smaller group of contiguously located countries of the SAARC region commence such cooperation on a sub-regional basis, and gradually expand this framework of cooperation. In the last few years, Bangladesh and India have achieved marked success in reconfiguring their relationship to a trusting and mutually beneficial cooperation that can be the basis for such a framework for cooperation. Drawing on his experiences and analysis, Ambassador Karim will suggest that sub-regionalism, based on such bilateral relations, is the way forward if the SAARC is to achieve a respectable modicum of success as a regional grouping. Fortunately, the amended Articles 7 and 10 of the SAARC Charter, makes it possible for three or more member states to undertake any project that is of mutual benefit to them but in which other member states have no immediate interest. Ambassador Karim will argue that this it makes it possible for Bangladesh, Bhutan and India to commence on discussions on collaborative management of the Brahmaputra River basin and triangulate their separate sets of bilateral relations into one holistically integrated process. Similarly it is hoped that Bangladesh, India and Nepal would replicate this on the Ganges basis.

About the Speaker

Ambassador Tariq Karim is currently Advisor to the World Bank’s South Asian Regional Economic Integration program. Concurrently, he is also a Distinguished Fellow at the Vivekananda International Foundation in New Delhi. Prior to this, Ambassador Karim was High Commissioner (Ambassador) of Bangladesh to India from 2009 to 2014. After joining the Foreign Service of then Pakistan in 1967, he has held numerous positions including Ambassador of Bangladesh to the United States, High Commissioner to South Africa and Ambassador to Iran. During his tenure as High Commissioner to India from 2009-2014, he played active role in improving Bangladesh-India relations including initiating the process for embarking on sub-regional cooperation encompassing water management on a basin-wide configuration, joint hydroelectric power generation with Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal as partners in development, and promoting connectivity and trade. Ambassador Karim has also been Ford Fellow at the University of Maryland in the capacity of Distinguished International Executive in Residence (1999-2000), Senior Advisor at the Center for Institutional Reforms and the Informal Sector (IRIS), (2002-2005) and Adjunct Faculty at the University of Maryland at College Park, George Washington University in Washington D.C., and the Virginia International University, Fairfax, Virginia (2005-2008). He graduated from the University of Dhaka in 1965 with Honors in English Literature and with Political Science and Philosophy as subsidiary subjects. He obtained his MA from the University of Maryland in 2007 in Government & Politics with distinction in International Relations.