Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov remembers one thing when it comes to setting foreign policy. He says, ‘I don’t believe there are any ideals in international relations.’ Lavrov has been Russia’s foreign minister for nearly 20 years. Before that, he worked as a senior official of the ministry for a long time. As a result, his words are not completely false.
The reason for this sudden topic is the twelfth national parliament election of Bangladesh. From the very beginning, the issue became complicated as BNP, one of the largest parties in the country, said that it would participate conditionally in this election. Ultimately the party did not participate in the elections as their main conditions were not fulfilled. Like-minded parties also follow BNP. As these political differences within the country could not be resolved by themselves, the foreign countries naturally started commenting on this as their own. Some of it goes to the government party Awami League. BNP assumed that a large part went in their favor. As a result, throughout the election, the speeches of the senior officials of some countries started to gain more importance than the people of the country, who are sometimes called the owners of the country. Which people did not expect at all from the wise politicians of a fifty-year-old country.
Noteworthy here—America was the central character among the foreign participants in this dispute. The country has said from beginning to end—elections must be free, fair, impartial and participatory. But those who assumed that free, fair and impartial elections meant the establishment of a non-partisan, neutral government with the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and participation of the BNP and its like-minded parties meant that the elections were participatory—they were wrong. In fact, they have put up their own interpretation of the official statement of America as a country. And that explanation has been fueled by the announcement of the US visa ban and ‘monitoring the situation’ type of talk.
But if you look a little, everyone will understand that free, fair and impartial elections do not mean elections under a neutral non-partisan government. And the BNP’s own decision to boycott the election means that the election was not participatory – it is not. Because it is difficult for America to say such specific things. The supervisory system we had here is not present in most democratic countries. There are many questions about the procedure and program of elections in those countries, where the ruling party is also leading the polls. Pakistan is the only imitator of this caretaker government system. Look at the problem there. The caretaker government that took power last August had promised to hold elections by November. It went back and forth on February 8. Now Pakistan’s conflict situation with Iran has increased the duration of the unelected government along with the fear of elections. For these reasons, it is very difficult to argue for such a system in countries where democracy has become permanent. And America! In a country where the incumbent president (Donald Trump) himself lost as a candidate and questioned the vote, claiming he was forced to lose—is there a need for a new system? It teaches that if we have to build our own system, we must do it ourselves. No one from outside will do it. It is the responsibility of the political parties to do the agitation-struggle required for this.
Here is the big mistake of BNP. The leaders and workers of the party had become so confident in the words of America and other Westerners that it shook their confidence. The Aladdin’s lamp they were waiting for during the election period is really all imaginary. They assumed that it would not be possible to announce the schedule of polls, and even finally to hold elections. And all of this will be done by foreign pressure, that Aladdin’s lamp. But now they have to pay the price of this happiness. Many of the party in the country and outside the country are sleeping peacefully this winter, but a large number of BNP leaders and workers including Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir are spending a miserable night in jail.
Some are attending the funeral of their relatives wearing dandabederi. Who will take responsibility? One does not need to be a great scholar to understand that this can happen. This can happen in a movement-struggle – the top leadership of BNP does not have the right to talk in comfort in a heated living room. Of course, they may still be waiting for this, ‘See how long this government can last by voting unilaterally?’
If BNP’s estimate about the election is correct, after 10 days, the US ambassador appointed in Dhaka, Peter Haas, the new foreign minister. Hasan did not meet Mahmud. What did Peter Haas say after this meeting? He said, America wants to advance relations with Bangladesh through cooperation in security, defense, business expansion, solving the Rohingya problem and climate change. Notice three words—security, defense and business expansion.
Immediately after the election, however, US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said in a statement, “The United States agrees with other observers that the election was not free or fair and we are disappointed that not all parties participated in it.” The western world keeps commenting on the elections held in third world countries. Because it will take a long time for these countries to reach what they consider to be the standard, as the speakers seem to think.
Bangladesh has not done and will not do anything that goes against US security or defense interests. Losing America’s interest in these two issues in the current context is unimaginable for any country in the world. In terms of geopolitical location, Bangladesh is in a somewhat advantageous position, but the government of this country will not abuse it. Times have changed, the image of the world has changed, it has been proved that nothing good can be achieved through hostility.
Let’s take a look at the business in the third position. America is the largest foreign investor in Bangladesh at the moment. The amount of this investment is 4100 million dollars. And China is in fifth place with an investment of 134 million dollars. And in this list neighboring India is at the 10th place. On the other hand, the biggest creditor country of Bangladesh is Japan. So China is not the number one foreign investor or lender. So Bangladesh is going into the clutches of China, what is the rationale behind America’s hyperactivity to save it from there?
Secondly, US companies invest 60 percent of Bangladesh’s energy sector. Companies like Chevron, Excelerate Energy are working there. This year, Bangladesh will invite tenders for oil and gas exploration in 26 wells in the sea. By participating, US companies have a greater chance of receiving this responsibility. And currently operating in Bangladesh – such US companies include Visa, Mastercard, MetLife, Meta (Facebook), Uber, Exxon Mobil, Standard Chartered Bank, Boeing, General Electronics. Need more names?
Now a large number of people of Bangladeshi origin are living in America as immigrants. And living with reputation. Their number is increasing day by day. With these people, the country’s spiritual and financial ties are unbreakable. A large number of Bangladeshi students are studying in various educational institutions in America. Many more are waiting to go in the future. American higher education institutions are definitely world class, no doubt about it. But they spend a lot of money during this study. And those who get scholarships, talk about them? Tell me from where else can such talent be caught so easily without any effort. Don’t they feel a little important in these judgments? Just stick to clothing export accounts? But you may not think that those who run the world take all the factors into consideration and make the final decision. There is no reason for them to be so stupid.
And Bangladesh is going to be a middle income country. Believe it or not, the middle class population with purchasing power is growing. This is a big market. What fool will miss it? It is not normal to question the intelligence of those who expected this stupidity from them!
Author: Executive Editor, Digital Division, Independent Television