US policy on South Asia must adhere to assistance and alliance

Published : Tuesday, 8 February, 2022 at 12:00 AM

The USA has been carrying out the role of the world leader during the last three decades due to its economic, technological and defence supremacy. Its strong and loyal allies have also contributed to its supremacy. They have spread their influence in almost every part of the world. US, as the iconic leader of the democratic world, engaged on different matters throughout the world for the sake of protecting democracy as well as human rights. Unfortunately, that did not bring in positive results for the world on several occasions, particularly for the South Asia. Moreover, competition for the USA is on the rise. Hence, in today’s world, USA must focus on extending assistance rather than using force to strengthen its hold at different parts of the world including South Asia.

South Asia is an important region of the world for many reasons. South Asia is a region of plenty of resources and home to about one fourth of the world’s population and is the most populous and densely populated geographical region of the world. Strategically it is vital for trade and water resources. Neighbourhood of China and connectivity with West Asia make it strategically important. Asia pacific, Indian Ocean and the Arabian sea is vital for world peace.

China’s growing influence in Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and Maldives is a factor of tension for India. Internal political instability in South Asia, deepening economic crisis and ever-growing population has made it pierced with many concerns. South Asia’s stability can have long lasting importance for world politics and peace.

The US and its allies backed the counter-revolution in both Afghanistan and Bangladesh in the 1970s to prevent a socialist takeover, ending up tarnishing one and failing to collapse the other. Bangladesh, whose rise as a free sovereign nation after the 1971 liberation war was seen by the US as a defeat because it backed the Pakistani military regime of General Yayha Khan.

On multiple accounts, the most prominent being that of American journalist Lawrence Lifschultz in his book “Bangladesh: The Unfinished Revolution”, point to CIA involvement in the 1975 coup that killed Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman with most of his family. Dissatisfied military officers were involved in the coup that led to two successive Bangladesh military regimes, strongly backed by the US and China.

It is during these military regimes that Bangladesh’s secular democratic state was forsaken. Mujib was seen in the US as an Indian and Soviet ally. But Indira Gandhi’s India did not make the military intervention after the 1975 coup. It led Bangladesh’s political parties like the Awami League to reorganize and fight to bring down the military regime of Ershad. Then towards the end of the highly unpopular BNP-Jamaat regime during 2001-06, when Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s eldest daughter and Awami League chairman Sheikh Hasina hardly escaped a grenade attack, the US reinforced a military-backed caretaker government and tried to promote Nobel laureate Mohammed Yunus to form a political party to take charge due to his personal relation with Hilary Clinton.

It is a matter of record that how other Western-backed world leaders openly supported Yunus as the man to rescue Bangladesh, when an illegal caretaker government took over Bangladesh. As the US and India drew closer following the nuclear accord into a strategic partnership, Delhi prevailed on Washington to push for a free and fair poll in Bangladesh. Former Indian president Pranab Mukherjee has narrated these details in his book, his long arguments with Hilary Clinton to pave the way for an election and a couple of years later thwarted other attempts to unseat Sheikh Hasina.

During the last two decade, it was observed that, due to personal relations to the US President or other influential personnel of the US administration, the foreign policy of that country changes a lot. Moreover, lobbyists play a great role in feeding misinformation to the US administration, which take those seriously and act on those. The US administration needs to come out of this attitude to keep up their supremacy.

Awami League convincingly won the December 2008 polls and turned Bangladesh into the role model of development during the last decade. But all through this decade, beginning with the World Bank’s faltering over financing the country’s mega infrastructure project – the Padma Bridge, to rattling her government on other counts to possibly sponsoring a regime change operation; the US has been on toe with the present Bangladesh government.  Even as the Western media lauds Hasina for her leadership in ensuring an amazing economic turnaround to promoting gender rights, inclusive distributive justice and the fight against terrorism, the US has been less than supportive of the Hasina regime.
Afghanistan is a country ravaged by four decades of war and deprivation, now going to be ruled by a radical conservative Islamist regime. US has taken help from Pakistan during its fight against the Al-Qaeda but later came short in protecting that friendship. Oppositely, Bangladesh, being a Muslim majority country, is a success story, both in its emergence as an Asian economic bull from a basket case and also in thwarting the possible takeover of political power by a radical Islamist group. But fighting fundamentalism or terrorism sometimes calls for strict measures along with other crimes like; drug abuse, murder, rape and nevertheless, corruption.

The lack of cooperation from the US towards different South Asian countries has opened doors for the US-counterparts to enter the realms of these nations. China and Russia came out as the saviour on times. US has destroyed its good grip in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Maldives and specifically from recent events, Bangladesh. Though US has been a good developing partner of Bangladesh for a long time, they have come short and others, especially China was there to fill in. Bangladesh’s longstanding relationship with its greatest neighbour India also comes under challenge due to the rigid South Asian policy of the US administration.

For the sake of restoring democracy or protecting human rights, the US has interfered and entered different countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria etc. during the last few decades. But their interference created heavy chaos everywhere and all those countries turned into failed states. Moreover, human rights at those countries were severely crucified. Hence, the US intervention did not bring much good for the global period. Rigid South Asian policies will also not bring any good for South Asia or the US. The US supremacy is also getting challenged with economic turbulence for COVID-19 pandemic, rise of China as economic giant, rise of Russia’s influence over the globe etc. Hence, US must focus on cooperation to restore and protect its supremacy.

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, despite being challenged by the US policy towards her government, remained welcoming towards the US assistance for the sake of the country’s development as she is only focused on the greater welfare of the country and the countrymen. Her subtle leadership has taken the country much forward and the US intervention must not create barriers to that progress.

The US can count on one thing–Bangladesh will be open to any assistance for the sake of country’s progress and will not bend to any threats as we are quickly moving towards a bi-polar world again. While keeping the policy of upholding democracy and protecting human rights, US must act as a unconditional development partner of the South Asian nations including Bangladesh and that will definitely strengthen their position in the region.

We hope the US administration will learn from mistakes and come out as a strong ally for the whole South Asian region. Only their absence as a good partner and wrong foreign policy is creating scopes for its rivals. Bangladesh will also welcome actual friendship. Rather than serving political interests, the US must focus on alliance and assistance as that will automatically strengthen their grip over the region and they will be appreciated as development partner. The people want development and progress in South Asia and that is the only way to win here. We believe, the US will realize that and will make an offer that South Asia cannot refuse.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA), Editor at Kishore Bangla and Chief Patron, Bangabandhu Shishu Kishore Mela

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