by F R Chowdhury
Ever since the present Government led by Sheikh Hasina came to power in Bangladesh in December, 2008, the public and national institutions have been badly damaged and destroyed. Most of them have been damaged in the process of turning them into an extended part of their political party. Talented young people do not come forward for civil service because they have no connection with BAL (Bangladesh Awami League) or BCL (Bangladesh Chatra League). I do not know of any BCL leader being an outstanding student; but jobs are reserved for them. The police force, top to bottom, is all made up of party cadres. The same is gradually extending to armed forces and judiciary. The process of politicising has gone to such an extent that a high court bench sent a case to chief justice because a minister telephoned them to influence the verdict. It came out openly in newspaper; still the Government is totally silent about it. We shall confine our today’s discussion only within the purview of our foreign ministry because if we also want to write about other institutions then we will not be able to conclude the article.
We shall start the discussion with the appointment of the former foreign minister Dr. Dipu Moni. She never got a doctorate in international relations or any other social science. She was a little known physician in her local area. She never performed any diplomatic assignment or duty or even represented Bangladesh in any UN or other international forum prior to becoming the foreign minister. The result was a national disaster. Bangladesh failed to win any new friend and relations with existing friends nose-dived. So far Dipu Moni is concerned, she remains the most well travelled foreign minister that we ever had.
During this period, lot of people were employed on diplomatic service, not through any process of selection but because of political connections. There was an ambassador in Oman (former MP Nurul Alam Chowdhury) who put his hand around the shoulder of the Omani Foreign Minister (a member of the royal family). On various occasions he tried to address expatriate Bangladeshis in Oman but made a fool of himself. The video recordings were passed everywhere for people to enjoy. We had another ambassador in Nepal (Nim Chandra Bhowmik) who was known as night club expert. He created lot of embarrassing episodes for Bangladesh. Then we had a lady ambassador to Philippines who employed her husband and children as casual workers for the mission and made money in the name of diplomatic receptions.
An ex-BCL leader Aparna Rani Pal was appointed on contract as an assistant secretary and then posted to our mission in Canada. Another ex-BCL leader Suchana Rani Haldar got a similar employment and was posted in Malaysia. Some employees of our mission in Malaysia are now under investigation for disappearance of some five hundred Bangladeshi passports. Ms. Irene Parveen Badhan, another ex-BCL leader (and wife of BCL Secretary General), already a civil servant, is now posted in Bangladesh High Commission in Singapore as a Counsellor.
Dewan Mahmudul Islam who was APS to Adviser H T Imam has been appointed as First Secretary to our high commission in Canada purely on political consideration. Similarly Maqsud Ali Khan, APS to Foreign Minister Dipu Moni also obtained a posting in Canada. Monirul Islam Kabir, PRO to Dipu Moni got a posting in our mission in the United Kingdom. The common factor in all those postings is political connection.
Most interesting of all Mr. Barun Dev Mitra, a former food secretary went as an Economic Minister (equivalent to joint secretary) to our mission in the USA. This remains the biggest surprise.
Mr. Abdul Momen, brother of Finance Minister and a US national has been appointed as our permanent representative to the United Nations. He has been a total flop. On several occasions he misled the Government with wrong information.
I failed to understand why Bangladesh had to cast its vote in favour of a Russian city for the World Expo Festival of 2020. Was it because of the prime minister’s arms deal with Russia? Bangladesh always had exceedingly good relations with UAE and it was expected for Bangladesh to support Dubai’s bid for the exhibition. This was another big blunder of our foreign ministry. Because of this mistake we are likely to lose our business opportunities with UAE and perhaps employment opportunities of Bangladeshis. Our remittances from UAE so far stood only second to Saudi Arabia. Now UAE is likely to stop issuance of tourist visas to Bangladeshis.
I was fortunate enough to visit two of our missions abroad. In both missions I found the portrait of the prime minister and not the president who they supposed to represent.
The foreign ministry now requires a big overhaul to get rid of these political appointees. Then it has to be revamped with professional diplomats. Above all we need a dynamic foreign minister who can project the right image of the country abroad and his/ her policy and work must be followed by our missions abroad.
London, 05-February-2014 <firstname.lastname@example.org>