Good start, bad ending

A number of major diplomatic moves remained stalled

Rezaul Karim

Despite a boost in bilateral relations with important countries like India and the USA after Awami Leag

ue had assumed power in 2009, Bangladesh is recently having differences of opinion with them on some significant issues.

Issues like the Teesta deal and non-ratification of Land Boundary Agreement with India halted connectivity or transit. The unexpected gesture from the Indian side had sent a wave of shock and dismay to the people of Bangladesh and cast a cloud over the Dhaka-Delhi relations, which had till then been marked by unusual warmth and cordiality under the Hasina government.

Diplomatic relations between Bangladesh and the USA apparently suffered a jolt following the removal of Prof Muhammad Yunus from the office of the managing director of the Grameen Bank on March 2, 2011 and Dhaka’s poor handling of some human and labour rights concerns.

In the recent months, Hasina’s government has cold shouldered some of the US officials during their visits to Bangladesh. In the latest example, visiting US state department official Robert Blake failed to make a call-on with the prime minister despite requests from the US embassy.

While on the other hand, ties with countries like Russia, China, Japan and European countries have improved greatly. However, relations with Germany deteriorated after the government had summoned its diplomat and protested German foreign minister’s remarks during his visit to Bangladesh last June.

Critics say the government has utterly failed to prove its skill and efficiency in negotiations and protecting the interest of Bangladesh while dealing with bilateral issues with neighbouring countries, especially with India, as the common feeling is Bangladesh gave much more than India did to Bangladesh.

Besides, the government could not convince Myanmar, Bhutan or Nepal of exporting hydroelectricity to meet the shortage in Bangladesh, and had to be satisfied with mere assurances.

With Myanmar, the longstanding issue of repatriation of Rohingya refugees still remains unresolved. The Myanmar president, who was scheduled to visit Bangladesh in July, last year, first cancelled the tour and now it has become totally uncertain.

Rather, the government was severely criticised when it totally ignored international calls to allow Rohingyas into Bangladesh during last year’s sectarian violence in Myanmar.

Dhaka’s relations with Islamabad has plunged into all-time low since the Awami League-led grand alliance came to power four years ago, mainly on the issue of the genocide the then Pakistani troops had carried out during Bangladesh’s War of Liberation in 1971.

Despite volatile Middle Eastern political situation as well as economic recession, and some restrictions in UAE and Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh’s manpower export to several countries has increased mainly in the last two years. This year it marked a growth by 11 percent from the previous year.

Meanwhile, the remittance in 2012 is expected to hit US $ 14 billion whereas it was $ 12.17 billion in 2011. Last year’s remittance was considered as the preceding decade’s highest.

A diplomatic tension has been created with Turkey over the Turkish president’s letter to Bangladesh government calling for clemency to the accused of war crimes, and the visit by an NGO delegation misusing on arrival visa facility.

In the last four years, the Awami League government had made a considerable number of attempts to reach different nations. But all in all, it appeared to be very India centric.

Critics say the last four years of Hasina-led grand alliance government witnessed a monotonous performance because of excessive visits by the PM herself and her Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, as they hardly miss any foreign trip.

They said the government had achieved some degree of success in multilateral diplomacy, but it has a very few success stories to pursue its agenda through bilateral diplomacy.

On some vital issues, the foreign minister failed to remove jolt while Prime Minister’s International Affairs Adviser Gowher Rizvi played a vital role in various bilateral settlements, especially with India and the US.

In multilateral level, Bangladesh was elected to different important bodies under the UN systems, including UN Human Rights Council and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

The UN also unanimously adopted Sheikh Hasina’s peace model. Bangladesh has also successfully projected its vulnerability to global warming at different international forums and continued to earn respect for its contribution to the UN Peacekeeping Missions.

One of the biggest successes of Bangladesh was the verdict in the International Tribunal of the Law of Sea (ITLOS), through which it settled the more than three-decade-old dispute with Myanmar on maritime boundary. On March 14, 2012, Bangladesh won the landmark verdict at ITLOS, as the tribunal rejecting Myanmar’s claim sustained Bangladesh’s claim to 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic and territorial rights in the Bay of Bengal.

Source: The Daily Star


  1. If Indians sincerely wants good relations with Bangladesh based on mutual respect for each other’s genuine hopes and aspirations, then this is the time – while Awami League is in power. India should realise this and work sincerely for a lasting good relations with Bangladesh instead of taking it for granted. It would be a great mistake if Indian leaders take Bangladesh for another Bhutan or Sikkim because IT IS NOT………. So,for a starter, my advice to Indians – STOP THE BORDER KILLINGS RIGHT NOW.


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