Hillary-Pranab Visit and Our Diplomatic Outlook
E A Prince, In-charge, Law and Human Rights
Simultaneous visit of two very acclaimed state guests to our country has made us rather optimistic and freed us from the crestfallen state of mind prevailed for a quite a long time. What that made us thoughtful of that optimism is our feeble diplomatic attitude and national mindset to allow others in our state of affairs. But whatever we name it, it is the fact.
The term ‘interference’ in international diplomatic relations is now about to obsolete so far the concept of ‘global village’ is concerned.
It is observed in the aftermath political history since independence, we had to allow and sometimes had to invite our foreign friends to intervene in our political impasses. We somehow or other had to resolve those crucial political stalemate by their guidance and intervention. Most interestingly, after the crisis moment is over and the upshot is not favorable to one, the deprived party of the changed situation blames the other for foreign interference in the state of affairs. But most unfortunate for us is that neither of the parties could realize the limitation of allowing others in our own internal affairs. However, we are not in such a political stalemate to seek others intervention.
But we want or not, international community is observing the situation of the country as we observe the others. It is the reality of the international relations that most (if not all) of the countries are dependent on others in many ways with regard to trade, security, education, manpower, IP, ICT and so on. In many instances, only maintaining the diplomatic relations is the prime objective of many countries, let alone other bilateral affairs. No other trade-off is required.
However, if we take for example last three months or less, we ourselves observe some agonizing incidents in the country which marked the fall of law and order situation and shrinking human rights condition.
People are skeptical of the true justice over the journos couple murder. However, the case has been shifted from police to RAB to bring the perpetrators to book. The issue has drawn the attention of international community and human rights watch bodies around the word.
Human rights, good governance and democracy are the major areas of concerns for international community and human rights watchdogs. In all those areas, we are in a very frail condition with impunity.
Forceful disappearances of citizens have raised the concern of international community. It is a grave concern of human rights. The disappearance of Ilias Ali; the organizing secretary of BNP; has aggrieved the party which has compel them to go for hartal. But, aLL top BNP leaders were sued for their alleged involvement in the hartal related law breaking activities. This was another such incidents of undemocratic behavior of the government. And very coincidentally, all those happened at the time of Hillary’s visit in Bangladesh. All those incidents have tarnished the image of the government, let alone the country.
However, Bangladesh has raised the demand of duty-free access of Bangladeshi products in the US market. But Ms. Clinton has raised her concerned for another trade union leader Mr. Aminul who was killed earlier. So, what we have achieved from US in negotiation is comprehensible by all.
Besides, the disappearance of Ilias Ali has also been raised by the US secretary of State. She expressed her grave concern to the premier of Bangladesh for disappearances of that leader. After she met the premiere, she went to the residence of the leader of the opposition. There the daughter of Ilias Ali has handed over a letter to Hillary mentioning her feeling about her dad. In a statement, she said that she already have talked on the issue with Sheikh Hasina. So, what is left for us as achievement? Thereafter, the government is claiming to have achieved a lot for the country. And we also want to believe that we have not lost anything.
At her breakfast, she met Dr. Yunus and Fozle Hasan Abed at the residence of the high commissioner of the US. In their very unofficial talks (as they are known to each other for a very long time), she might have been educated about our very recent political conditions of the country.
At the press conference she stressed on fair play for Grameen Bank.
In all her delivery she expressed concern on the issue related to rule of law, human rights and good governance in the country. This is rather a learning and sort of admonishment for us.
All those factors are also relevant for visiting Indian Finance Minister who observed the prevailing political situation of the country, though he had little scope to comment on that. For him, we have raised our agenda of river water sharing, border killing, trade and other issues. How strongly we could negotiated the issue to achieve our dues is a question of fact. Many bilateral issues are still pending for resolution since long. We should have tabled those issues, though we could not do it very confidently. Rather, we were sort of embarrassed of the current situation which we could not hide from our foreign friends. The issues raised by her are not new for us. We; the general citizenry of the country are also concerned as well for all those untoward incidents. For US, law and human rights, democracy and governance issues are prim focus area. It is equally true to their internal politics and international relations irrespective of the region.
However, it was a visit by the US secretary of State after a long time since the regime of Ershad. The last US secretary of State visited Dhaka in the 80’s. But this visit has paved the way to further our diplomatic relations. Though little mortified, this stopover has initiated the rise of new horizon in diplomatic ties with the US. A new window of bilateral trade-off has just opened with newer opportunities especially in the development area.
The importance of the country considering the geo-political location, economic prospect, resource base, trade and so on has been acknowledged through this visit.
The visit will escalate the existing relations to a higher level from where both the countries will allow and trust each other for a free flow of facilities in respect of all possible sectors.