Ahead of the arrival of high-powered American diplomats, a six-member European Union delegation began a two-week visit to Bangladesh early on July 9. The delegation held a meeting with leaders of various parties including the opposition BNP, heads of ministries and religious minority organizations. The EU delegation met at least 12 foreign ambassadors and representatives soon after arriving in Dhaka.
They also met the European Union ambassador to Bangladesh, Charles Whiteley. The visit will ultimately determine whether Brussels will send a team of observers to Bangladesh for the upcoming elections. The team is led by Riccardo Celleri, policy officer at the European External Action Service (EEAS). He had previously led a similar delegation to Sri Lanka in 2019.
Since prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s government came to power, Bangladesh has experienced massive economic and social development and the economy of Bangladesh has achieved enviable success in the 50 years since independence. Bangladesh is at the forefront of economic and social indicators, leaving competitors behind. Behind this success are agriculture, garments and remittances. About 90 per cent of total foreign earnings come from garments and remittances. And more than 40 per cent of the total labor force is in agriculture.
Not only the economy, the sectors are playing a role in the socio-economic development of the country. Another driving force of the economy of Bangladesh is the garment industry. Currently, Bangladesh ranks second only to China in the export of ready-made garments to the world. This product has given ‘Made in Bangladesh’ fame all over the world. Export income from this sector is about 85 percent of the total export income of the country.
According to IMF calculations, Bangladesh’s per capita income surpassed that of India in 2020. In 2015 itself, our per capita income surpassed that of Pakistan. In 2019, the poverty rate decreased to 20.5 per cent. The country’s investment in public and private enterprises has increased significantly. Investment in medium and large industries has increased the production of ready-made garments, food-beverage-tobacco, steel, cement, leather and leather products, jute and jute products, edible oil, rubber and plastic products, electronics, light engineering products, bicycles, motorcycles, etc.
As a result, it is possible to meet both domestic demand and export. As of March 2021, the amount of foreign investment in Bangladesh is 20 billion dollars. As many as 100 economic zones will be established across the country by 2030 to attract domestic and foreign investment.
A recent survey by Goldman Sachs included Bangladesh among the 11 most promising countries in the world, along with Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The latest Mackenzie/USUD report says that if the current rate of reduction of dependence on others decreases due to employment growth, Bangladesh has the potential to employ about one and a half million people in the next 10 years. Undoubtedly, today’s Bangladesh is on a growth trajectory as fast as the Southeast Asian countries. Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, after exceeding $2,400 per capita in the 1980s and 1990s, have taken the path to over $4,000, and Bangladesh is likely to follow suit this decade (Bangladesh’s per capita income has surpassed $2,800).
If we continue on this path, the per capita income of Bangladesh can exceed 4,000 dollars by 2026. According to an official document of the Ministry of Planning of the Government of Bangladesh, the size of the economy of Bangladesh will be 1 trillion dollars (US) by 2040. It will be achieved by 2030 if the current continuous growth rate of more than 6 percent and growth rate of more than 8 percent is achieved. Even if growth falls below 5 percent, Bangladesh’s economy will touch the trillion-dollar milestone by 2040.
India, US and China are trying to influence the upcoming elections in Bangladesh. In December 2021, the United States announced that it would impose a visa ban on Bangladeshi officials who undermine the ‘democratic electoral process’. Earlier, the US Treasury Department imposed human rights sanctions on Bangladesh’s paramilitary force, the Rapid Action Battalion (JAB), and six of its senior officers. But criminals shot and killed a Bangladeshi named Ramim Uddin Ahmed in the Missouri state of the United States. On December 4, Bangladeshi student Syed Faisal Arif was shot dead by the police in Boston, US. Innocent people are being killed by the police in countries where various countries of the world are concerned about human rights and impose various restrictions as punishment; But he has no judgement. An average of 1,000 people die at the hands of the police in the United States every year. When their own country is like this, how can they say that there is no human rights in Bangladesh.
Did the world take any action on American human rights in Iraq and Vietnam? In 1971, there were massacres in Bangladesh, when America supported Pakistan. What is America’s role in human rights issues in 1971? The British, who looted India for hundreds of years, looted wealth, oppressed Swadeh activists like Master Da Surya Sen, are talking very well about human rights! America, Europe, British are silent about overthrowing a government of Pakistan, oppressing opposition, women. The pious people of our country do not bow down to anyone but the Creator. Religious scholars give us explanations. So America, Europe, why bow down to the British? We cannot fix the independent policy of our country? America-Europe-British destroyed the country in which they went to fix democracy. Because of their inability to understand the interests and culture of those countries. In America-Europe-Britain, the government resigns before the election?
In response to US pressure, prime minister Sheikh Hasina publicly claimed that the US was trying to topple her government. China’s foreign ministry has expressed support for Hasina. It is said that foreign diplomats in Bangladesh are playing the role of domestic political activists. With election time approaching, foreign diplomats have become active – as if they were a political party. Which is a violation of etiquette and Vienna Convention. Article 41 Clause 1 of the Vienna Convention states that persons enjoying diplomatic status and privileges in another country shall be bound by the laws and policies of that country. Besides, they cannot interfere in any internal affairs of that country. According to subsection number two of the article, all the office work of diplomats, which the sending country will assign to the diplomatic mission, must be done through the ministry of foreign affairs of the receiving country or the related ministry. In subsection number three, diplomats may not use the premises of their mission office for any purpose unrelated to their activities. The agreement also states that diplomatic relations shall be based on mutual consent between the countries. Besides, one of the most important clauses or Article 9 of the Vienna Convention states that a country can declare a diplomat of another country posted in that country as ‘persona non persona’ or inadmissible without reason.
Finally, as a nation with self-respect let us have a nice acceptable election, respect the opposition, say no to all state sponsored torture. We have made this country independent; we have brought economic development to this country. We can gift a beautiful country to future generations. The inaction of these foreigners is a product of the politics of revenge. They are the ones who burn the Koran, they are the ones who persecute the Palestinian brothers and sisters, they are the ones who are against the hijab.
Our policy is friendship with all countries, not enmity. Henry Kissinger who wanted to destroy Bangladesh visited China. He is now 100 years old. Some countries always like to treat us authoritarian. Let us say no to this dishonorable intervention of foreigners.
The writer is an educator, columnist, international affairs analyst and freelance researcher. Views are personal.