Following announcement of visa policy for Bangladesh on May 24, 2023, US Embassy in Dhaka has already started implementing it by refusing visas to individuals “believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process”. At the same time, visa restrictions also are being applied for “undermining the democratic election process include vote rigging, voter intimidation, the use of violence to prevent people from exercising their right to freedoms of association and peaceful assembly, and the use of measures designed to prevent political parties, voters, civil society, or the media from disseminating their views”.
Meanwhile, there is strong speculations that the United States may bring a large number of individuals from Bangladesh under sanctions on allegation of corruption and money-laundering by using the Global Magnitsky Act.
In my opinion, such steps from the United States or any other Western nation would only result in deterioration of existing relations with Bangladesh, which may ultimately bring adverse effect especially as because Bangladesh is now seen geopolitically extremely important, while the Western nations are determined in keeping Bangladesh free from rise of radical Islamic militancy forces.
In an increasingly interconnected world, the relationships between nations play a crucial role in shaping global diplomacy and cooperation. Bangladesh, a densely populated South Asian country, has been making significant strides in economic development and social progress. As Western nations consider various foreign policy measures, the imposition of sanctions on Bangladesh should be carefully reconsidered.
Under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, over the past few decades, Bangladesh has achieved remarkable economic growth, lifting millions out of poverty and making significant progress in human development indicators. Its ready-made garment industry, agriculture, and growing service sectors have contributed to its robust economic performance. Imposing sanctions on such a dynamic economy could disrupt trade and investment, potentially causing unintended negative consequences for both the country and Western businesses.
Bangladesh faces a unique set of challenges, including climate change, natural disasters, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. These issues require international cooperation and support rather than punitive measures that might exacerbate existing vulnerabilities. Western nations have an opportunity to collaborate with Bangladesh in addressing shared concerns, such as climate change mitigation and adaptation, which can be more effectively achieved through dialogue and collaboration.
Bangladesh plays a crucial role in regional security, particularly in South Asia. It shares borders with India and Myanmar, and regional stability is of paramount importance for peace and prosperity. Instead of imposing sanctions, Western nations should engage in constructive dialogue with Bangladesh to address regional security challenges and promote conflict resolution.
Bangladesh has been accommodating a large number of Rohingya refugees who fled violence and persecution in Myanmar. This influx has put considerable strain on the country’s resources and infrastructure. Rather than imposing sanctions, Western nations should provide assistance to support Bangladesh in its efforts to care for the refugees and work towards a peaceful resolution to the Rohingya crisis.
Bangladesh has made significant progress in strengthening its democratic institutions and governance. Encouraging and supporting democratic principles should be the cornerstone of Western engagement with the country. By nurturing democratic values through diplomatic channels, Western nations can positively influence Bangladesh’s trajectory toward greater democratic consolidation and human rights protection.
Diplomatic engagement provides an avenue for Western nations to address concerns about human rights, governance, and rule of law in Bangladesh. Constructive dialogue enables an exchange of ideas, fostering a better understanding of each other’s perspectives and laying the groundwork for positive change.
Bangladesh-US Partnership: A crucial alliance in combating terrorism and militancy
In the fight against terrorism and militancy, international cooperation and alliances play a critical role in ensuring global security and stability. Bangladesh, a South Asian nation with a strategic geographic location, has emerged as an essential partner to the United States in countering terrorism and militancy in the region.
Bangladesh and the United States share common security interests in combating terrorism and militancy. Both nations recognize that these threats know no borders and require coordinated efforts to mitigate risks and prevent their proliferation. As a result, they have developed a mutual commitment to address these challenges together, recognizing that cooperation is essential to maintaining regional and global security.
Bangladesh has been actively engaged in countering transnational terrorist groups operating in the region. It has taken measures to disrupt terror networks, curb terrorist financing, and prevent the use of its territory for planning and executing terrorist activities. The country’s intelligence agencies have collaborated with their American counterparts to exchange crucial information and intelligence, enhancing their collective capacity to thwart potential terrorist plots.
Like many countries, Bangladesh has faced challenges from homegrown militant groups. The government has responded proactively by strengthening its counterterrorism capabilities and implementing deradicalization programs. The US has been supportive of these efforts, providing technical assistance, training, and sharing best practices to help Bangladesh effectively address the root causes of militancy.
Bangladesh’s strategic location in South Asia places it at the crossroads of geopolitical interests. Stability in the region is vital for the US in its broader efforts to promote peace and prosperity. By partnering with Bangladesh, the US enhances its ability to address regional security issues and prevent the spillover of terrorism and militancy into neighboring countries.
The Bangladesh-US partnership extends to intelligence sharing and law enforcement cooperation. Timely exchange of intelligence has helped prevent potential attacks and dismantle terrorist cells. Joint training exercises and capacity-building programs have enabled Bangladeshi law enforcement agencies to adopt best practices in counterterrorism and militancy.
Engaging with Civil Society
Both Bangladesh and the US recognize the importance of engaging with civil society to counter radicalization and promote tolerance and inclusion. The partnership includes supporting grassroots organizations, religious leaders, and community initiatives that work to prevent the spread of extremist ideologies and provide alternative narratives.
Bangladesh is one of the largest contributors of troops to United Nations peacekeeping missions. Its participation in these operations helps maintain peace and stability in conflict zones worldwide. The US acknowledges and appreciates Bangladesh’s commitment to global peacekeeping efforts and collaborates on enhancing peacekeeping capabilities.
The Bangladesh-US partnership in combating terrorism and militancy exemplifies the value of international cooperation in addressing shared security challenges. As both nations continue to work closely together, they strengthen their collective capacity to confront terrorism and militancy effectively. Bangladesh’s strategic location, regional influence, and commitment to peacekeeping operations make it a crucial partner for the US in promoting stability in South Asia and beyond. Through ongoing collaboration, intelligence sharing, and support for civil society initiatives, the alliance between Bangladesh and the US stands as a testament to the power of partnerships in building a safer and more secure world.
It is important to mention here that the complex global challenges of the 21st century demand cooperation, dialogue, and understanding between nations. Imposing sanctions on Bangladesh, a country that has been making significant strides in economic development and social progress, risks undermining the progress achieved and could have far-reaching negative consequences. Western nations should prioritize diplomatic engagement with Bangladesh, recognizing the potential for positive change through constructive dialogue. By fostering understanding, collaboration, and respect for each other’s sovereignty, Western nations can forge stronger partnerships and collectively address the pressing global issues of our time.