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Statesmanship of Sheikh Hasina and Bangladesh’s foreign policy

Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh, Asian Development Bank, South Asian

Oped

Statesmanship of Sheikh Hasina and Bangladesh’s foreign policy

On September 28, Bangladesh shall celebrate the 75th birthday of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, whose magnanimous statesmanship has not only transformed an under-developed country into an economic rising star in Asia, she also has helped the nation in gradually emerging as a regional power. Dhaka is confident in playing important role in resolving regional and global issues, while according to experts, being the leader of a majority Muslim nation, Sheikh Hasina can play effective role in resolving crisis in the Middle East. With the tremendous socio-economic prosperity, Sheikh Hasina also is focusing on financially helping the neighboring nations as well as struggling nations in other continents.

Early this year, Bangladesh announced of providing US$200 million in aid to Sri Lanka. Economic experts are seeing such gesture of Bangladesh as a sign of country’s increased financial capabilities due to years of high economic growth. They say, Dhaka is emerging as an economic superstar, and has attained the position of becoming an important player in the region.

Back in 1971, when Bangladesh won victory in its war of independence against Pakistani occupation forces, a newly born country was mocked by the US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger as “basket case”. But today, just after fifty years of its independence, Bangladesh is a confident country of 160 million people with a booming economy, mostly dependent of export earnings. Bangladesh economy has grown at an annual average of 6 percent for decades. Economic growth of the country had slowed to 5.2 percent in 2020 due to the pandemic, while according to Asian Development Bank (ADP), it will bounce back to 6.8 percent in 2021 and 7.2 in 2022. Bangladesh’s GDP per capita now stands at US$ 2,227, higher than India’s US$ 1,947 and much higher than Pakistan’s US$ 1,543.

In many social indicators, including health, life expectancy, birth-rates and employment of women, Bangladesh too scores well in comparing to those of India and other South Asian neighbors.

Economic experts say, Bangladesh’s pace of socio-economic progress is a result of the current political stability in the country, which has been especially prevailing since 2014. Despite the fact of such tremendous success track record of the country, political opponents of ruling Awami League as well as Islamist forces such as Jamaat-e-Islami, Hefazat-e-Islam and others are continuously conspiring in destabilizing everything by hook or crook. Analysts say, although currently the ruling party enjoys advantageous position because of inactions of anarchist forces, from the middle of 2022, Bangladesh’s ruling party may face well-orchestrated propaganda offensives as well as domestic violence, and there are alarming signs of those evil elements silently taking preparations in putting the government into discomfort both at home and abroad. While political opponents of the ruling party as well as anti-Bangladesh forces are actively getting prepared for all-out offensives from the middle of 2022, unfortunately the ruling party or the state machinery are rather reluctant in taking necessary steps to efficiently counter such evil acts.

Another key factor that our policymakers need to keep into their consideration is, while Bangladesh has been maintaining cordial relations with India, it also needs to put equal emphasis in maintaining and further deepening relations with countries such as China. Bangladesh should not step into any trap that would jeopardize its existing relations with China. To Bangladesh, especially for the sake of continuing its economic progress, relations with China is vital, as any other nation does not have the financial capabilities of financing hugely in infrastructural and industrial development in Bangladesh. In this regard, our policymakers should think thrice before joining the anti-China bloc named Quadraliateral Security Dialogue or Quad, as such joining would ultimately bring nothing for Bangladesh. Moreover, Quad may finally turn into a failed vessel with competition of dominance withing India and the US. In my opinion, Quad is a necessity for India and the US to check China’s further growth as a global power. It may initially benefit India in finding a tool of countering China as well getting further economic, technological and defense benefits from the US, this platform will be actually of no use to a country like Bangladesh.

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An internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research-scholar, counter-terrorism specialist, and editor of Blitz. Follow his on Twitter Salah_Shoaib

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