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How will Bangladesh adapt to the new world order?

Published : Saturday, 3 June, 2023 at 12:00 AM  Count : 1039
Ahnaf Fahmin

How will Bangladesh adapt to the new world order?

How will Bangladesh adapt to the new world order?

Bangladeshi politics has become more twisted in the recent past. In brief, both of the largest political parties have become more distant than they already were. The real picture portrays that Awami League is far stronger than BNP at the moment as they have been in power for almost 15 years. This was very different before 2014 when BNP were equally strong and convincing to build massive protests. The party's uncompromising attitude was detrimental in some instances. Anti-incumbency sentiments cannot be the sole feature of existence of a political party.

Post 1991, people have preferred change in every election but because of weak electoral process and lack of democratic mindset smooth transition of power was never achieved with 2001 being the only exception. It's funny when someYyoutubers and so-called online activists blabber imaginary nonsense on how the government is falling down but such nonsense will not bring people in the street and turn this distant dream into reality. USA's new visa policy would only apply to those who will hinder free and fair election, and, freedom of expression in the future. This policy also reflects their hope and willingness to see a free and fair election later this year. At the same time, they have already made it clear that they believe in people to people relationship with Bangladesh.

In the global arena, just when Bangladesh was being praised for it's growth in the last 15 years under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina we had to absorb the impact of Covid19 and Russia-Ukraine war. She is not beyond flaws but she is a true patriot who carried her Father's legacy in developing the country to completely change socio-economic picture. Handing over the picture of Padma Bridge, our symbol of pride and respect, to the President of World Bank is just Sheikh Hasina's diplomacy. Those who are suddenly so concerned about our democracy needs to see what happened since 1990's.

From having fake voters to rigged elections our democratic process always remained vulnerable. The history is far worse when the Father of the Nation was brutally murdered and multiple military regimes destroyed the democratic structure differently. Democracy never grew since our independence until little growth was seen since 1991. Bangladesh has plenty of issues that needs to be addressed to strengthen democracy than just replacing one political party with another. Caretaker government was a flawed unconstitutional tool that was never capable of being a permanent cure.

As far as international standards are concerned, none of the countries would ideally want unelected governments to conduct National Election for the politicians who claim to have people's mandate. Thus, our Supreme Court rightly decided that the caretaker government provision was unconstitutional since Bangladesh is a people's republic. However, there is plenty of scope to bring effective and necessary reforms in building a better democracy. Human Rights have always been a global issue. Extra-judicial killings can never be justified and Donald Lu correctly praised the improvement in the recent years during his last visit in Bangladesh.

From my personal research, I have seen that the statistics regarding enforced disappearances lacks accuracy of information. After the brutal terrorist attack at Holey Artisan Bakery we have seen how many people just disappeared to join terrorist organisations. Even people of white collar profession like doctors fled the country with their family to join terrorist organisations. And sadly, the threat of terrorism still exist. And, on top of that, the refugee crisis created by Myanmar is still posing serious threat to our national security.

Free and fair election is one of the key but not the sole cause behind our weak democratic framework. Lack of accountability and lack of balance in power are one of the root causes. While President's powers have been ceremonial, the Prime Minister is the most powerful person in the government. MP's do not have the liberty to vote against their party's decision as per Article 70. Lack of accountability and implied impunity enjoyed by government officials have made politics more difficult for politicians. Separation of the Judiciary created more scope for the judges to intervene on any issue but I still believe appointment and termination of our judges should be done by an autonomous body of the judiciary without having any political influence.

Sheikh Hasina's Indo-pacific outlook in building a peaceful and trade oriented region is praiseworthy. Asian countries took many initiatives to build a strong regional alliance like EU but none were effective in reality. In the near future, global polarisation is inevitable and Bangladesh has become geographically more important with its peacefully settled sea boundaries in the Bay of Bengal. Bangladesh sharing borders, both land and sea, with Myanmar and India is geographically alluring for America and China, but their overwhelming interest is concerning to India.

Recently, French President's remarks over Taiwan issue carried immense significance in assessing Europe's position in the future on global conflicts. Both Germany and France are looking forward to strengthen their relationship with China despite their strong friendship with America. And, at the same time, the formation of "BRICS", increasing use of Yuan, and Saudia Arabia's explicit wish to trade in any currency is being seen as the beginning of "de-dolarisation". The war affected both Europe and America at a faster pace than it was expected.

The hike in fuel prices forced countries like India and Germany to buy fuel from Russia despite American sanctions. While America's sanctions have escalated the conflict and its impacts have become a global issue as it is affecting every economy. Time will tell if Bangladesh can always maintain its friendship to all policy. Too much pressure from America will eventually push Bangladesh away and force it to pick sides. Our PM once again made it clear during her visit in Qatar that any country willing to offer beneficial trade deal will be welcomed.

The writer is a Barrister-at-Law, Lincoln's Inn.

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