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Bangladesh: National Interest Group Report – April-July 2008
August 6, 2008, 11:06 am
Filed under: Bangladesh
Bangladesh: National Interest Group Report – April-July 2008
 

Executive Summary

1. The world has markedly changed since the collapse of Soviet Union and transformation of China into a capitalist economy. Along with the rapid global economic transformation India rose as a contender in global economic theatre and broker in power relations becoming the `natural ally’ of USA and Israel. These radical changes have set into motion processes undermining aspirations of the relatively weak political communities in South Asia, particularly Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Maldives. In total disregard to the specific structural needs of least developed countries the neo-liberal economic policies implemented through World Bank, IMF and WTO have further undermined the economic sovereignty of these countries. These countries needed to `adjust’ their economies to gain a strong position within the international division of labour in order to enhance their capacity to compete in the global economy. The multilateral and bilateral institutions did the opposite.

2. In this context new power alliances developed, globally as well as within these countries either to dismantle or to recast these states to fit into the logic of the global Empire. It has been blatantly argued that that these states are either `failed’ or in the process of being `failed’; since such `failed state’ are security problem regionally as well as globally, the political proposition was global and regional powers must intervene in Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Maldives. These policies have gained significant momentum but so far stalled by the people determined to defend their sovereignty and succeeded in various degrees depending o the political history and cultures f these states.  

3. Advent of two new doctrines called `clash of civilization’ and `war against terror’ have further jeopardized the political existence of these states.  In both cases Islam has been particularly targeted as a religion `breeding terror’ and Muslims as poor and impoverished population easily drawn to terrorist outfits.  It has become a major challenge for the people of Bangladesh to demonstrate their commitment to liberty, social and economic justice and democratic state building in such a hostile global and regional environment. The sole global super-power has unilaterally taken the role of judge, jury and executioner in their relentless hegemonic pursuit to create so-called `new world order’. United Nation has been relegated to the role of abettor to any adventurous scheme taken by United States. As a result, the world has become less secured for geographically smaller and militarily weaker countries like Bangladesh. India’s sole desire to control their backyard, reduce Bangladesh to serve its political, military and economic interest has reinforced by the new global alliance with USA and Israel and is being consolidated through various economic, security, defence and most importantly, nuclear deal. The present strategy of US and Israel to select at least one regional power as their ally and dominate target nations in the region will further deteriorate the situation.  We have long been witnessing implementation of this strategy in Bangladesh. Therefore, it is no surprise that US supported multi-lateral agencies like World Bank and IMF always advocate in favour of India in various bi-lateral issues like granting corridor, giving market access, etc. by Bangladesh to her giant neighbour. To further their joint interest the diplomats of these countries have been speaking in one voice since 2001 regarding internal matters of Bangladesh in complete disregard of international law and convention on bilateral diplomacy.  

4. The above context is important to understand the formation of National Interest Group and its challenges to build Bangladesh into a democratic polity and enable her exercise sovereign political power to thwart all external intervention and aggression in order to ensure social and economic justice to the people.  It is urgent to ensure stability and peace in Bangladesh, which is extremely important for the region as a whole and crucial for the international community.

5. Despite our understanding of the complexity of the situation and the urgent tasks to be accomplished, it is beyond the capacity of National Interest Group to address all issues we briefed above to contextualize our initiative. We obviously cannot undertake to solve the complex scenario that is still evolving. Nevertheless, to become strategically effective in creating environment of dialogue, understanding and constructive engagement, NIG has undertaken a specific task for immediate implementations: highlighting blatant interventions by the diplomats into our internal political affair. Intervention in the politic affairs of Bangladesh has already alienated the people of Bangladesh from any constructive democratic engagement and the situation may deteriorate further if we cannot stop it.

6. At the time of formation of National Interest Group (NIG) in March 2008 we the organizers clearly spelt out our mission of monitoring the behaviour of foreign diplomats accredited to Bangladesh. Accordingly we have compiled our first quarterly report for the period April-July and pleased to launch the same today, the 30th July 2008. During this period we have found that diplomats from US, UK, EU and India in particular, have been most active and consistently flouted both Vienna Convention on Diplomatic and Consular Relations by blatantly interfering into our internal affairs. They have publicly spoken on our governance, political process, anti-corruption drive, election procedure, foreign policy, economy and even security matters. The present un-elected, weak government has tolerated this interference without any protest in most of the times. In one or two occasions where they have shown courage of protesting as in the case of Indian Border Security Force incursion into Bangladesh territory and killing of both BDR jawan and innocent civilians, the nature of protests have been extremely meek.  

7. Unfortunately our politicians belonging to all leading political parties like BNP, Awami League, Jamaat, and Jatiya Party are also encouraging the diplomats to freely violate international norms by attending regularly to close door meetings at various foreign diplomats’ residences and discussing their internal grievances with the foreign host. Extent of political bankruptcy of our major political parties were reflected when some of them forcefully defend such attendance in such meeting claiming that this is acceptable international norm (Ref# Amar Desh 17th July 2008). We can take this statement as representative position of all the political parties, since no one so far has made their position clear in this respect.

8. Our media also has to take their own share of responsibility for the present sorry state of our sovereignty. They in fact instigate diplomats and visiting foreign dignitaries to make derogatory remarks about Bangladesh by asking leading questions. The media space created by such exercise has already become threat to our sovereignty and security because diplomats use this space to dominate public opinion to realize the foreign policy objectives of their respective countries.

9. A classic example of double standard was displayed by the attendance of a leading English newspaper editor in one of such meeting along with politicians at the residence of US ambassador Mr. James F. Moriarty (Ref# New Age on 17th July). Surprisingly on the same day `The Daily Star’ published an editorial titled `US envoy’s tea party; raising question of diplomatic propriety’ criticizing both our politicians and US envoy for meeting behind closed door and discussing our internal matters. While we are aware that there are occasions when professional necessity may dictate the media to meet some diplomat, the overall performance of the media is so dismal in this regard and against the interest of the peoples of Bangladesh that one can hardly distinguish between professional assignment and other questionable relations of media with the diplomatic enclaves in Baridhara – Gulshan. NIG urge upon the current rulers, political leaders and members of the media to uphold the honour of the country by refusing to attend this type of meeting at the residence of diplomats. We also take this opportunity to remind diplomatic corps about their obligations under Vienna Convention and desist from interfering into the internal matters of Bangladesh.

Full Report:  http://www.nigbd.org/report/NIG_QR_2008_2.pdf

Posted by Isha Khan bdmailer@gmail.com

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