Protecting national interest and regional peace must remain our priority

Published : Tuesday, 27 June, 2023 at 12:00 AM

Bangladesh will hold its next national parliamentary elections at the very beginning of the next year. The political environment is expected to heat up during the upcoming months as the opposition parties especially BNP and its allies are demanding for caretaker government due to their mistrust on the ruling party Awami League. The opposition has been allegedly lobbying to the foreigners to ensure their demands. Foreign powers, especially the USA and its European allies are seemingly trying to put pressure on the Bangladeshi government by imposing sanctions and restrictions eyeing on the next election. Recently, the ploy of the USA to have control over the Saint Martin’s island of Bangladesh came into light and their over-interest to ensure democracy in Bangladesh has been questioned now. Hence, as the foreign powers are trying to serve their ill-interest in Bangladesh, it will remain of great importance to keep stability in the country as well as in the region while we ensure our growth and development.

In an effort to undermine Bangladesh’s plans to host free, fair, and peaceful national elections, the United States has imposed new visa restrictions on Bangladeshis. Any Bangladeshi person suspected of being responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh was subject to the new visa policy, which was announced in Washington on May 24. This group would include current and former Bangladeshi officials, members of the government and opposition parties, law enforcement officials, judges, and security personnel. Every country in the world pursues its foreign policy in the interest of its own national objectives, so there is no reason for the United States to act differently in the case of Bangladesh.

It is wrong to permit another nation to use Bangladeshi territory for any purpose because doing so would be a violation of national sovereignty. Sheikh Hasina, the prime minister, shared her opinion at a press conference in Ganabhaban on June 21. This came after she visited Switzerland from June 13 to 16 and Qatar from May 22 to 23 to attend the World of Work Summit: Social Justice for All of the International Labor Organization. Sheikh Hasina claimed that she might keep her position if she leased out Saint Martin’s Island, but she would not allow others to decide the fate of Bangladeshis. She said this in response to questions concerning a few earlier statements in which at least three government leaders said that the United States wants Saint Martin’s Island.

On June 7, an Awami League leader who serves as the municipal mayor of Companiganj in Noakhali claimed that the US wants a change of government in Bangladesh since it was unable to secure Saint Martin’s Island for a military installation. The United States wants Saint Martin’s Island, according to Rashed Khan Menon, president of the Workers Party, a partner in the government, who made the remarks on June 14 in the parliament. He also claimed that the US visa policy is an attempt to overthrow the government in Bangladesh. Hasanul HaqInu, the leader of the Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, a partner of the government, questioned in the parliament on June 19 if US intervention in Bangladeshi issues was done for democracy or to maintain control of St. Martins Island.

The superpowers’ domination policy is well understood by the people of Bangladesh. Although the USA is quite outspoken about democracy, it doesn’t really matter if there is democracy in Bangladesh or not. It merely wants to use whatever is necessary to forward its goal or interest. For its own purposes, the USA has wreaked havoc on numerous nations, including Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Syria, and most recently Ukraine. To maintain its hegemony, the USA has frequently even violated the interests of its allies. The US has exploited democracy and human rights as weapons.

The earlier US sanctions against the RAB were likewise unfavorable and unreasonable. Despite Israel’s reprehensible slaughter of infants and innocent Palestinians, the US did not impose sanctions on it. The common people of Bangladesh are fully aware of the recent US action regarding the next general election in their nation. If democracy is exclusively practiced in Bangladesh, the US cannot maintain its global leadership.

Security experts believe that these foreign forces would gain a significant military edge in the Indo-Pacific area if they could seize Saint Martin’s Island. None of these super powers can accomplish their long-term strategic objectives without dominating Saint Martin’s and its surrounding regions. Sheikh Hasina would never compromise with the national interests of her beloved country, for which her father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman fought his entire life. This is well known to all foreign nations, particularly the Western nations. Political analysts believed that in the absence of these problems, there would be no justification for these powerful international groups to reject Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Feeling these issues Bangladesh’s people, according to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, will never submit to outside pressure. She went on to state emphatically that the Bangalees will resist any pressure from abroad, no matter how great. We must always keep our mind that this country is ours, Sheikh Hasina added. She pledged that nobody would be able to subjugate the Bangladeshi people. The Prime Minister also said no external force will put BNP in power, rather they will be used.

Sheikh Hasina stated that the United States might not want her or the advancements her government has made to continue in a recent interview with the BBC. She made it quite clear that she was not concerned about international sanctions and that Bangladesh would never purchase anything from any nation that would do so.

The geological location of Bangladesh is very important in terms of global politics due to its close proximity with the two superpowers China and India. To ensure its supremacy, the USA want a hold in this region and Bangladesh can provide them the required passage. But Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, despite severe foreign pressure, did not surrender to the foreign powers to serve their interests and kept focusing on the development of the country. Though Bangladesh tremendously developed during the last decade, the USA and its allies are trying to put pressure on us in the name of democracy and human rights though they violated both democracy and human rights in many other countries.

Myanmar, a neighbor of Bangladesh, tried to agitate the government by pushing millions of Rohingyas to the Bangladeshi soil. Few predicted a war was inevitable. The USA also offered military help to Bangladesh against Myanmar. But keeping the interest of the people and the growth of the country, Sheikh Hasina remained calm and hosted that large number of Rohingya refugees. The USA did not put any sanctions over Myanmar though as if democracy or human rights were not violated there. Sheikh Hasina is calmly balancing with the global power game as she brought most of the superpowers of the world as our development partner like – USA, China, Russia, India, Japan, UK, Germany, France etc. It is her visionary leadership than turned Bangladesh into a role model of development.

We all want a free, fair and credible national election in January, 2024. PM Hasina also expressed her commitment to such cause. But no matter what, our national interest or sovereignty must not be compromised. We must keep peaceful relations with our neighbors as well as our development partners. Heating up this region will never help the progress of Bangladesh and its people. If the government changes in the upcoming elections, the new government must also uphold the national interest as the topmost priority.

Bangladesh will face several obstacles prior to the next elections. We hope the foreign powers will commit to the global peace and will act as the development partners of Bangladesh. We also hope both the ruling party and the opposition will serve the national interests as priority. Unity in national issues will remain vital in this period of global power shift. If our leaders serve the nation and the people, then we believe, none will be able to violate national and regional peace.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA) and Editor at Kishore Bangla

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