Image source: Weekly Blitz - Photo: 2024

New Bangladesh Govt. May Face Oxymoronic Hegemon from the US and UK

By Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury*

DHAKA | 11 January 2024 (IDN) — Although the 7 January 2024 general election in Bangladesh has been free, fair, and peaceful, which has already been applauded by foreign and local election observers and media, policymakers at the US Department of State are not willing to admit this fact. Instead, they are frantically trying to mislead the Western nations and media by saying “The United States shares the view with other observers that these elections were not free or fair and we regret that not all parties participated”.

While not a single observer raised any doubt about the 7 January election, it is truly astonishing and unfortunate that the State Department came up with a bogus and unsubstantiated claim quoting “observers” saying “these elections were not fair or fair”. Moreover, one may ask—what are the metrics for “free” and “fair” for the US?

Regarding ongoing terrorist acts of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Jamaat-e-Islami (JeI) and other Islamist forces in Bangladesh, which began on 29 October last year in particular, the US Department of State said, “The United States condemns violence that took place during elections and in the months leading up to it. We encourage the Government of Bangladesh to investigate reports of violence credibly and to hold perpetrators accountable. We also urge all political parties to reject violence”.

In this case, it is essential to mention back in 2008, in a classified cable to the State Department from former US Ambassador to Bangladesh James Moriarty, said, “Tarique Rahman, the notorious and widely feared son of former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia…is a symbol of kleptocratic government and violent politics in Bangladesh. His flagrant disregard for the rule of law has provided potent ground for terrorists to gain a foothold in Bangladesh while also exacerbating poverty and weakening democratic institutions. In short, much of what is wrong in Bangladesh can be blamed on Tarique Rahman and his cronies”. This very same Tarique Rahman is the current leader of the BNP and been instigating and instructing violent political activities in Bangladesh through means of radical Islamist parties like the Jamaat-e-Islam.

The US Secretary of State has asked the government of Bangladesh to investigate the “reports of violence credibly” but at the same time has condemned the “arrest of political opposition members”.

This is oxymoronic advice because the BNP has staged multiple demonstrations in Bangladesh before without any opposition from the government. Still, in recent times, when violence has resurfaced, the government has no alternative to taking legal action against the perpetrators of terrorist and subversive acts for the sake of national security. Now, is the Biden Admin advising to find innocent “scapegoats” for crimes the BNP and its allies are committing, exonerating Tarique Rahman and other members of the BNP who are, without any reasonable doubt, and even based on past evidence, directing these violent activities?

It is essential to mention here that Bangladesh was not invited to the last two democracy summits of Joe Biden, while Pakistan was. It is an outward display of hypocrisy. Pakistan, so far, has not experienced ONE democratic transfer of power. Pakistan did not attend either summit, and it was a downright humiliation of the Biden administration.

Biden administration’s failed policy is pushing every country in the Indo-Pacific away from the US, just as had the Nixon administration’s support towards the Bangladesh Genocide. Now it has to resort to making “imaginary friends” like Pakistan in this region, who no longer go to the “social gatherings” that the Biden admin hosts.  If the Biden administration keeps pursuing its agenda of denigrating Bangladesh, it will only help remind the Bangladeshi people of its role during the 1971 war.

The cordial relations and the mutual trust that have since developed will all go in vain. And in the future, the people of Bangladesh will turn against the US altogether, and future administrations in Bangladesh will find it exceedingly hard to rebuild an alliance with the US without violently going against the will of its own people.

The Biden administration is delusional to think that the BNP will safeguard US interests in Bangladesh. Under BNP, Bangladesh became a haven for terrorism, and if they were to return to power, it would have soon turned into Afghanistan, and rather than being a US ally, it would have become a threat not only to the US but also to India as the BNP government had actively funded and aided the insurgency groups in Northeast India.

Counterproductive measures by the Biden admin

These counterproductive measures by the Biden admin not only go against the interests of Indo-Pacific countries but against the will of the people: democratization, development, and denial of space to terrorists, all three of which, according to Moriarty and the past US administrations, Tarique Rahman and the BNP had jeopardized. This is not the BNP’s first decline to participate in the election. They demand a caretaker government. And may I remind the readers that the BNP, knowing its inevitable defeat, was also unwilling to participate in the 2008 general election under a caretaker government (once again, it is clearly mentioned in the same cable from Moriarty). However, the BNP only participated in the election by brokering a deal with the military government to participate in exchange for Tarique Rahman to be released from jail and sent abroad for medical treatment.

Even now, the BNP, knowing that it would be defeated in the polls, is unwilling to participate despite efforts from other countries and the Bangladeshi government itself. Except this time, they found an opportunity to blame the Bangladesh government for the BNP’s own unwillingness to join the election, trying to persuade key policymakers in the US, through its lobbyists, that the Sheikh Hasina government is not an ally to the US which is entirely untrue.Sheikh Hasina’s government has always maintained a balanced diplomatic stance, as we can see from its cordial relationships with both China and India at the same time, and it has no reason to push the US away unless the Biden admin actively goes against the interests of Bangladesh.

*Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is an internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, writer, research-scholar, and Editor, Blitz, a newspaper publishing from Bangladesh since 2003. He regularly writes for local and international newspapers. Follow him on X @Salah_Shoaib . [IDN-InDepthNews]

Image source: Weekly Blitz

IDN is the flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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