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4 August, 2019 11:30:38 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 4 August, 2019 11:31:15 AM


PM's London visit— the other side

We can surmise that Sheikh Hasina's recent foreign tours were with a purpose and that purpose has always been achieved
Abdul Gaffar choudhury
PM's London visit— the other side

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina just concluded her London tour. When she last visited London some days ago she came for a short stay.

But this time her stay was longer and she was under treatment. Though the main purpose of this tour was treatment, characteristically she did not forget to perform her duty as prime minister. Bangladeshi ambassadors appointed in different European countries were called to London for a consultation with her where they informed the PM of the current critical situation in Europe and Sheikh Hasina also briefed them on how to tackle it with diplomacy and efficiency.
During her presence in London, a big change in British politics has happened. Tory Prime Minister Theresa May resigned and Boris Johnson was elected as the new prime minister by the majority of Tory MPs. Boris Johnson is not unknown to Bangladesh and he also knows about Bangladesh. When he was the foreign minister in Theresa May's government he visited Bangladesh and offered his help in the Rohingya problem and praised Sheikh Hasina's handling of the issue. Perhaps, during her present visit to London, Hasina might take the opportunity to strengthen Bangladesh’s relation with the new government.

For a long time Britain has been the key centre for Bangladesh to keep in contact with the European countries. Now Boris Johnson has taken a position that deal or no deal Britain will come out of the EU by the promised 31st October. If that happens and Britain's relationship with Europe becomes cold than Bangladesh will have to review their position and evolve a plan to keep a cordial relation and cooperation with both Europe and Britain. My presumption and information gathered from some diplomats who attended the conference is that the BREXIT situation has been duly discussed and the diplomats were briefed on how to deal with the situation efficiently. Bangladesh, under Hasina government has earned the diplomatic skill to deal with any sudden changes in the world situation.

Although Bangladesh's envoys to Middle-eastern countries were not called to this conference nevertheless, the threatening situation in the Persian Gulf and the effect of a possible war breaking between Iran and the western countries on the subcontinent, especially on Bangladesh was touched upon in the conference. Some observers of Middle-east situation do not think that a new war is imminent. It is now almost known to the world that Donald Trump's new tactics is not to get involved in war but issue thunderous threats to cow down his opponents. This tactics did not work with North Korea and Trump very conveniently has retreated from his war mongering posture. These observers think that Trump is playing the same game with Iran.

But some experts who have closely observed Donald Trump's psychology, fear that there is a danger of war in the Persian Gulf where America will tactfully involve Britain, Saudi Arab and Israel against Iran remaining behind the scene with their military help and might. That is why Trump administration provoked Britain to seize Iranian oil tankers and in retaliation Iran also seized two of British tankers. On one hand Trump is openly trying to negotiate with Iran and on the other, beating his war drum by sending war ships in the gulf and has deployed a huge number of American soldiers in Saudi Arab. But most of the experts on world situation are sceptical about both this war and Donald Trump. With a presidential election next year it is doubtful whether Trump will dare to start a new war in Middle-east when the old war with Iraq and Afghanistan is not yet over.

God forbid if a direct war against Iran starts in the Middle-east it will affect Bangladesh also, like other countries of South Asia. We have experienced these effects seriously during the last two Gulf wars. A diplomat of Bangladesh informed me in a private discussion that Hasina government is aware of and prepared to tackle this situation when it arises. Fortunately this time the country has a strong leadership and dependable foreign policy. If any new situation arises in the Middle-east Bangladesh will handle it with diplomatic skill, not with a subservient policy to the western interest.

The flood situation and the epidemic spread of Dengue along with the Rohingya problem were also informally discussed in the conference. The three Heads of defence held a meeting with the deputy commissioners of different districts to deal with the flood situation. The government has kept the European countries informed about the flood and Rohingya issue.

To pressurise the Myanmar government to solve the Rohingya problem Bangladesh needs help from the European countries. In this respect Bangladesh also needs more Chinese help to pressurise Myanmar to take back the Rohingyans and fulfil the promise of rehabilitation of these people speedily. Sheikh Hasina's personal diplomacy has achieved this purpose in her last China visit.

We can surmise that Sheikh Hasina's recent foreign tours were with a purpose and that purpose has almost been achieved. The combination of her personal ability and her government's diplomatic efficiency has made Bangladesh an important and influential country in South Asia. We can hope that her London visit will also produce the desired outcome. This time the BNP branch of UK did not arrange any demonstration against the PM's visit. There is rumour that they postponed their planned demonstration because of the PM's illness. In the past Hasina visited London for treatment more than once. But BNP did not stop their day and night demonstrations. At times it crossed the boundary of civility. So why this magnanimity this time?

I heard from the local BNP quarter that they have run out of their steam in Europe also. The exasperated BNP leader Tareq Rahman now fears that after coming to power for another 5 years Awami League might pressure the British government for his extradition and it might be successful this time.

In Bangladesh BNP has given up hope that they will achieve the release of Khaleda Zia with the help of a movement. So they are trying to come to an arrangement with the government behind the curtain. Perhaps sitting in London Tareq Rahman is thinking that this is their only way out from the intricate web that he is in now. So stopping the demonstration is not a magnanimity from Tareq, but perhaps his expectation of kind consideration from the ruling party?

London, Thursday 01 August, 2019



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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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