Diplomats’ ‘Melting Noses’ In Bangladesh: For How Long? – OpEd


After the assassination of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, foreign diplomats’ noses in the country’s politics became shamefully public for the first time. What should the government do, how to do it – these instructions keep coming from abroad. With the evolution of time, there has been some change in the image of their interference in the internal affairs of this country, but there is no chance to say that it is decreasing even after fifty years of independence of the country through the liberation war.

As for the second time, the ‘over-enthusiastic and over-active activities’ of some countries’ ambassadors in Dhaka in the run-up to the 12th National Parliament elections are often reported in the media. Now, they start to interfere in forthcoming ‘2024 national election’.

All sides should think deeply about how and why foreign diplomats are poking their noses into the internal affairs of a free, sovereign country without following the internationally prescribed etiquette and taking advantage of any weakness in our politics.

We would like to remind that our Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a letter to all foreign embassies, UN offices and international organizations located in Dhaka last July. The letter called for adherence to the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and the 1963 Principles of Consular Relations.

All diplomats posted in Dhaka must know that their conduct is governed by the Vienna Convention. What they can and cannot do is clearly stated their Foreign diplomats posted in our friendly neighboring country India are not seen to go beyond the regulated conduct.

According to the Vienna Convention, ambassadors shall speak, work, and assist in the development of the country’s mutual relations. This is diplomatic etiquette at its finest. They have no chance to go beyond it. Not talking about the internal affairs of other countries is certainly part of the prescribed and universally practiced diplomatic etiquette. It is not the work or responsibility of diplomats to poke their nose in the internal affairs of a country, give opinions, go to the election commission of that country and meet.

Foreign ambassadors posted to an independent state must inform the foreign office of that country where they will go, who they will talk to or whom they will invite. It is sad but true, it is sometimes not accepted in our country Again, the kind of comments that the diplomats of some countries posted in Dhaka have been making recently about the internal political affairs of this country are without a doubt unseemly and out of line with international etiquette.

We live in an age of multilateral relations, globalization, technological advancement, diplomatic rapprochement and constant media surveillance. Diplomats should keep this in mind. Among the political parties and politicians of this country who invite foreign ambassadors to interfere in internal affairs, they should also remember that the solution to political problems is through mutual discussion and systematic protest. There is no democratic solution in complaining about the country’s internal affairs to foreigners.

It is mainly because of their complaints that foreigners are getting an opportunity to interfere in the internal affairs of the country. And the Election Commission (EC) is responsible for conducting the election around which there are so many complaints. The EC has constitutional and legal powers to conduct free and fair elections. Conducting fair elections and institutionalizing democratic systems requires coexistence between the government and opposition political parties in the interest of the country and democracy.

Politicians of our country have a strangely knee-jerk mentality towards diplomats. When they see foreign diplomats, their enthusiasm increases several times. If something happens, these foreigners are called and complained. They don’t do much to complain to the people, to the voters of the country. They feel comfortable complaining to foreign diplomats. Which shouldn’t be the case.

The responsibility of our journalists is not less in this regard. Journalists get confused when they see foreign diplomats. He was anxious to hear something from their mouths. “How do you think the next election of Bangladesh will be?” “Is there a fair election environment?” “What is the future of democracy in Bangladesh?”

Journalists of our country are bombarded with such questions whenever they see any foreign diplomat. As if the foreign gentleman said it would be authentic, otherwise it is a lie! This is a major weakness of our country’s journalism profession. Many people don’t know who to respect, what to ask, how to ask the right question and get the answer. They have no training in that matter. There is no problem between them.

In no other country in the world do foreign diplomats pay so much attention to journalists. I have never heard of anyone asking for their opinion on the politics of their country. Our politicians are mainly responsible for this. They are the ones who have allowed foreign diplomats to talk about politics and internal affairs. After a few days, they were called and given a briefing. Complain about the opponent. seek remedy Even requested intervention.

When elections come to our country, foreign ambassadors themselves become active, so again different political parties make them active. The open activity of foreign diplomats in our Bangladesh as a poor country has been seen in the past, is still going on, and may continue in the future. Leaders of the party in power don’t like diplomats running around much; But if they are in the opposition party, they again protest to the diplomats.

Foreign diplomats in Dhaka have become interested in the internal affairs of the country around the election. They are making various comments about the mutual distrust of the political parties including the upcoming national parliament election, election commission. Recently, the US Ambassador to Bangladesh, has expressed doubts about the fair elections in Bangladesh. Which usually involves unwanted snooping on the internal affairs of the country.

However, in fact, the political weakness of our country gives diplomats an opportunity to increase their activity. Details of what foreign diplomats talk about when they meet high profile politicians are not known. Some parties who met and spoke also did not divulge the details of the meeting. The transcripts of these interviews are confidential. It is said that they discussed matters of mutual interest. They have no right to express their views on the political issues of Bangladesh.

There are various crises in the politics of our neighboring country India. There are many types of disagreements, including issues of human rights violations. But they are one on the question of the country. They do not allow anyone outside to talk about the country. This is the lesson we should learn. Bangladesh is an independent country. It has an elected government. There is a consistent direction in the governance of the country. We will decide how the election will be held in Bangladesh, who will monitor it and how. Related individuals and organizations of our country. The intervention of representatives of any foreign state in the policy-making and internal affairs of the country cannot be accepted.

We don’t want foreign diplomats messing with us. It is not auspicious for the independence and sovereignty of the country. There is no such precedent in any other country in the world. Such a situation may have arisen because the two main political parties want to take the blessings of foreigners to come to power. It is not unusual for ambassadors to meet with political parties. Ambassadors talk to everyone in their country’s interests and prepare concept papers. But it does not fall under his jurisdiction to comment on any internal matter of Bangladesh.

Just a few months ago, Bangladesh and the United States celebrated half a century of diplomatic relations. On this occasion, both the countries expressed deep satisfaction with their existing relations. US President Biden also said in a statement that the current friendship between these two countries will continue for the next 50 years or so.

The United States wants to develop multilateral democracy in Bangladesh. It is one of the pillars of their foreign policy. The other two pillars are human rights and counter-terrorism. Whether they really want to expand democracy and human rights or not, they have said this thousands of times. But words and deeds are not the same. If they were one, their position would have been different on the issue of Israeli aggression in Palestine. We also see a different role in relations with Saudi or other Gulf countries.

Wilson Center’s South Asia expert Michael Kugelman also thinks that Washington’s concern about human rights or democracy is just a routine matter. In a lengthy article in Foreign Policy magazine last year, he commented, the Biden administration has made expanding democracy a major goal of its foreign policy. 

In fact, the current relationship between Bangladesh and the United States is excellent, regardless of word of mouth or official commentary. They have a good understanding of most of the questions. After China, the United States is Bangladesh’s main trading partner. Both countries are interested in increasing this relationship. The two countries have been building strategic relations for several years to prevent terrorism, with the aim of holding annual ‘partnership dialogues’. 

Foreign Minister Momen himself said that despite the tensions, the relationship between the two countries is excellent. As evidence, he said, this year too, there have been 16 meetings between the officials of the two countries. He also viewed the measures taken by the United States regarding RAB with a positive eye. At the end of a seminar in Dhaka, he told reporters, “They suggest that we have a good relationship with the United States.” It’s good, there’s no cause for panic or alarm.’ In other words, nothing to worry about.

Foreign diplomats are becoming more involved in the approaching parliamentary elections on a daily basis. Diplomats are still discussing the election, including US Ambassador Peter Haas, British High Commissioner Robert Chatterton Dickson, German Ambassador, and others. To the Election Commission they are going. meeting with a variety of people. Elections are a matter of national interest. It is terrible that foreign diplomats have meddled in our nation’s domestic issues. 

The situation in Bangladesh is the subject of a “strategic” discussion between Russia and the United States. Speaking in turn from their respective national capitals are the two superpowers. Moscow claims that the United States is using human rights as a tool to meddle in the domestic affairs of Bangladesh. Washington, on the other hand, has voiced worries about the safety of US Ambassador Peter Haas and the diplomatic personnel in Bangladesh. The US is also making comments about wanting free and fair elections in Bangladesh. 

During a routine briefing last Thursday, Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry in Moscow, emphasized her nation’s stance on the situation in Bangladesh. The Russian Embassy in Dhaka televised Maria Zakharova’s lecture on Sunday. “We have seen that the efforts of a local organization against the visit of a missing leader of the opposition party in Bangladesh to the US ambassador in Bangladesh have been marketed as a threat to the security of the ambassador,” the letter read. The US diplomat’s conduct led to the anticipated incident.  He frequently speaks about rights while meddling in Bangladesh’s domestic problems. Similar actions are being carried out by the German and British embassies as well. Additionally, they are publicly stating that Bangladesh’s parliamentary elections should be open to all candidates. Such actions, in our opinion, violate the fundamental precepts of not interfering in the domestic affairs of a sovereign state. 

Bangladesh maintains constant contact with the nation to improve ties with the US. Every day, communication takes place on some level. Bangladesh’s stance of “friendliness with all, animosity with none” has not changed. 

We don’t want a discussion about our nation’s internal politics among the superpowers. We oppose this type of heat. We don’t require them to make such frequent remarks. We need to tell both parties to stop talking about us. We must find solutions to our issues. We need to concentrate more on finding solutions to our own issues. 

We, the people of Bangladesh, support free and peaceful elections as well. A fresh, unbiased election commission has already been established. Everyone needs to trust that the Election Commission is independent. There is no chance to worry with the remarks of foreign envoys beforehand. It’s not new for other nations to meddle in Bangladeshi politics, especially after Bangabandhu’s murder when all of the directives for what to do and how to do it came from overseas. 

Kamal Uddin Mazumder

Kamal Uddin Mazumder is a Security and Strategic Affairs Analyst.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *