SHEIKH HASINA’S SCORECARD ON RETURN FROM USA
ABDUL GAFFAR CHOUDHURY
Last Tuesday (30th September) I met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in London and we had a pleasant discussion on the country and politics. I had the privilege to talk to her for almost two hours in the presence of Sheikh Rehana only. Then other people joined us and altogether we spent 4 hours. She was in a positive mood and told me that her visit to New York, and her meetings with American President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Modi were a success.
Not only these two leaders, the UN head Ban Ki-moon and USA State department official Nisha Desai Biswal also highly praised Sheikh Hasina and her government. Her meeting with the Indian PM. Modi was particularly successful. Indian Prime Minister Modi has categorically said, ‘India will always remain by the side of Bangladesh’.
Sheikh Hasina has just observed her 68th birthday. On her 68th birthday in New York this year she got greetings from many world leaders. They lauded her on her role as a peace-maker, for her devotion to the cause of child and women welfare, and her constant effort to save the environment. She went to New York to attend UNO’s Conference on environmental pollution.
Bangladesh is one of the most affected countries by environment pollution. She criticized the role of big and rich countries who do not give any importance to this grave danger to the world’s population. President Obama praised her cautionary speech and assured her that America would not ignore this great danger.
No doubt her past efforts and present tour had a good effect on US State Department and moderated their attitude on the election of 5th January in Bangladesh. So long America was critical of this election, now the outgoing American Ambassador Dan Mozena has said, ‘America is not concerned about a mid-term election in Bangladesh. Only the people of Bangladesh will decide about it, we have nothing to say’. This proves the change of American attitude towards the last election of Bangladesh.
Hasina’s meeting with Narendranath Modi in New York, the first meeting between them is also a success. I asked our Prime minister that recently there was a speculation in an Indian newspaper that Modi would talk to her about a conspiracy to topple her government aided by some stalwarts of Trinomul Party in West Bengal. She said, ‘There was no such talk. We talked about our mutual interest and development. Indian PM assured me that his government will remain a trusted friend of Bangladesh’.
It was proved that Hasina has a unique diplomatic skill. Her first government also maintained very cordial relation with the previous BJP government led by Atal Vihari Bajpei. There was a border clash at that time and everybody feared that angry India might take an aggressive posture towards Bangladesh. It was Hasina’s personal contact with Vajpayee and her diplomatic skills that saved the situation and prevented the deterioration of relationship of the two countries.
Generally people think that a traditional friendship exists between Awami League of Bangladesh and Congress of India, hence, BJP would not consider AL as their natural ally. When the new BJP government came to power in Delhi, under Narendra Modi many people thought Delhi will not pursue a policy favourable to Hasina government. In anticipation BNP of Bangladesh was jubilant and even distributed sweets among their supporters. But it was a very short-lived expectation.
Modi extended his support and sent his Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj to Dhaka at the first chance to assure Sheikh Hasina that India’s new government is on her side and they will settle all the disputes including Teesta and Tipaimukh without any delay. The Indian PM even expressed his desire to visit Bangladesh very soon.
An Indian newspaper commented that when Narendra Modi was busy with his election campaign, Bangladesh Ambassador in Delhi suddenly rushed to meet him on instruction from Dhaka. It was a clever diplomatic move on the part of Hasina government to earn Modi’s confidence even before he came to power.
BNP leaders in Dhaka and their supporters, some of them very experienced ex-diplomats could not understand the meaning of this diplomatic move. They were certain Modi government would be their natural ally not Hasina government’s friend. This illusion did not last long. Now BNP leaders
realize that for the greater interest of India Modi government wants to remain friends with Hasina government.
Recently a news was circulated in the media that America is pressurizing Bangladesh to take a stand against Russia on the Ukraine crisis following the European Union. Currently Bangladesh has an excellent relationship with Russia and the economic bond between the two countries is strong. So any pressure from America to involve Bangladesh in the Ukraine crisis would have created great difficulty for Bangladesh. Fortunately, during Hasina’s New York visit there was no pressure from America on the Ukraine issue and the news in the media has not yet proved true. If this sort of pressure comes on Bangladesh, we can hope Sheikh Hasina would overcome the problems with her diplomatic skill.
Sheikh Hasina’s recent visit to America and Europe proved one thing that those inside and outside of the country who wanted to corner her government on the question of the election of 5th January and to make her friendless has failed so far. She entered into treaty with China and Japan at the same time to get substantial economic cooperation.
India’s new government said specifically that they are on the side of this government. At the last American President also praised Sheikh Hasina for her role in improving world environment, and went for a photo session with her and her entourage with a broad smile on his face.
Whatever the shortcomings of Hasina government in dealing with corruption, and establishing law and order in the country our government’s achievement in economic development and improving foreign relationship is remarkable. Her this tour also demonstrates that the country under Hasina’s leadership is neither friendless nor without any world support. Nobody can predict future, but one thing is sure that her government can ensure some sort of stability in our politics in the future to come.
OCTOBER 03, 2014