Patricia A. Butenis, US Ambassador to Bangladesh, is coming to the end of her ambassadorship to this country. She has had quite a busy time here, from talking about Bangladesh’s anti-terror tactics to women empowerment to directly trying to mediate in the political standoff that finally resulted in the State of Emergency. Hang on a minute, is it within the purview of an ambassador to sit and try to maneuver the political parties into a solution? Isn’t that “meddling”? Busybody America’s busybody ambassador was busy lecturing Bangladesh on protecting democracy (free and fair elections), on human rights (secret detentions and RAB cross-firings), on women’s empowerment (their low self-confidence was getting in the way!) and what not.
I would applaud her efforts, except that when the ambassador of a government who came to power through two dubious elections speaks about “free and fair polls”, and when the same ambassador speaks of human rights when the ambassador’s government has been publicly identified as being a major abuser of rights due to its “extraordinary renditions” and the inhumanity of its army, the whole thing smacks of hypocrisy and double standards. Butenis insisted that the international community will not try to force any solution on the political deadlock, yet she continues with calls to lift the ban on indoor politics and reinstitution of the Constitution and civil rights. She should sing one song. The bans have worked to a great extent to curb the spiralling violence and bring about a sanity that would allow the people to think things thoroughly. True that the curb on indoor politics is not being effectively enforced (there is some activity with the creation of a new party), but that should be dealt with by Bangladesh, not the US. It is up to the people to realize what is good and bad for them. The only thing the US would do is create a new problem situation; we only need to look at Iraq and Afghanistan.
Unfortunately, for Bangladesh, this is not the end of a problem, but the beginning of a new one. With the exit of one ambassador, we will have another coming in. Another one who will parrot to us the virtues of democracy and vices of direct rule, who will tell us that selling gas at $1 to our neighbours is a great idea and that we should keep raising the prices of domestic goods while supplying them with cheap clothes made by laborers who get paid peanuts and cannot afford the pricey domestic goods.
That has to sound like “scam” to you. Economic exploitation at its best. What do we get in return? One old man who killed another 30 years ago*.
*(See the extradition of Mohiuddin to Bangladesh, one of the Mujib assassins. I didn’t know cases as old as 30 years were open to trial proceedings.)