THE HASINA MOMENT
Ban Ki-moon, in his statement marking Bangladesh’s 40 years in the United Nations, praised Bangladesh for taking strides forward
I was watching the CNN and NDTV coverage of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s meeting with US President Barack Obama. The man once banned from entering the United States was now Washington’s most sought after man. The coverage called it “the Modi moment.”
Looking back, I had this feeling that despite the debacle of Minister Latif Siddique, which again is not new, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to the US cannot be overlooked. I am calling it “the Hasina moment.”
To begin, I quote a Facebook status by her son and IT adviser, Sajeeb Wazed Joy: “A highly successful UN General Assembly trip by our PM. I got to meet President and Mrs Obama on Tuesday at the annual reception. They were most gracious, as always. There, we also chatted with His Excellency the President of Sri Lanka, His Excellency the President of Turkey, the Honourable Prime Minister of Nepal, and her Highness the Queen of Netherlands.
Senior officials from the US, Russia, and the UN, including Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, attended the celebration of Bangladesh’s 40th anniversary at the UN.
They all praised Bangladesh and our Awami League government for all our development work, contribution to global peace, and fight against terrorism. It is because of our AL government that we can hold our heads up high on the global stage.”
I wish he had mentioned the crucial meeting between Sheikh Hasina and Modi, because that really capped the visit with important results.
From what I could make out from the television footage of the summit between Bangladesh and India on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, I have to say the chemistry was very good.
Modi reiterated his statement that “Bangabandhu brought Bangladesh, and his daughter Sheikh Hasina is saving it,” and added that he was looking forward to meaningful bilateral ties. He also assured Sheikh Hasina of finding a solution to the much sought-after land boundary agreement and water sharing of the Teesta and Feni rivers.
Washington has made it clear that it would work closely with the Modi administration, forgetting the stand it took against Modi some five years or so back, and that includes regional and international politics. If we take that as true, then Bangladesh, or rather Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, can look forward to better ties with New Delhi.
Modi and Sheikh Hasina have invited each other to visit their respective countries, but it will be better if the Indian leader first delivers on his promise and ends the two unsolved long-standing issues. Sheikh Hasina cannot return empty-handed from New Delhi, which has to think hard about whether it wants a friendly government in Dhaka or not.
As the Bangladesh leader met Obama at an annual reception, the US envoy in Dhaka, Dan Mozena, reflected a possible change in the US stand on the Januray 5, 2014 general elections. He had continuously demanded “inclusive polls,” but said recently that the voting was Bangladesh’s “internal matter.”
Just ahead of his departure from home after ending the Dhaka stint, Mozena was possibly indicating what his successor would say on arrival in Dhaka. That might help Hasina to further ignore demands for elections by the BNP-led alliance.
Foreign Minister Mahmud Ali told reporters returning from New York that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon did not bring up the issue of elections during talks with the Bangladesh leader. He said that if one disbelieved his words, he should ask the UN secretary-general himself.
Ban Ki-moon, in his statement marking Bangladesh’s 40 years in the United Nations, praised Bangladesh for taking strides forward. “I am pleased that the dream of “Shonar Bangla” (Golden Bengal) that Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had for this country is steadily becoming a reality,” he said.
This is indeed an important statement as far as the world body and Sheikh Hasina’s government is concerned, if one looks at it from a point of international approval. It is notable that it did not have anything on democracy or elections.
Thus, it was, as far as I am concerned, a “Hasina moment.”
What is sad is that the prime minister returned home to simmering tension linked to statements of the sacked minister, Latif Siddique. Power is not more than that of the premier or absolute, some politicians forget.
Sheikh Hasina has taken the right decision to sack him, but also reprimand others like him in the cabinet or party. If need be, he should be punished if found guilty in court.
OCTOBER 30, 2014