Superpowers’ growing focus: Bangladesh’s progress on display

Published : 04 Sep 2023 08:29 PM
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The upcoming election in Bangladesh has garnered significant attention from superpowers due to its strategic geopolitical location and its potential impact on regional stability. Bangladesh, with its sizable population and economic growth, has become a key player in South Asia. Its stability and democratic governance are crucial for maintaining peace and security in the region. Moreover, the country's strategic positioning, with its proximity to the Bay of Bengal, makes it an important player in maritime geopolitics. Superpowers have a vested interest in ensuring that Bangladesh remains politically stable and adheres to democratic principles.

Over the years, Bangladesh has indeed positioned itself as a solid and influential player on the international stage. It has achieved remarkable economic growth and development, reducing poverty levels and expanding its global trade footprint. Its commitment to democratic principles and hosting of regular elections has contributed to its reputation as a stable and democratic nation. Furthermore, Bangladesh has actively engaged in regional forums and partnerships, such as the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), strengthening its diplomatic ties and influence in the region. Consequently, the outcome of Bangladeshi elections holds implications not only for the country itself but also for the broader stability and dynamics of South Asia, attracting the attention and involvement of superpowers.

Bangladesh's increasing prominence on the global stage has compelled superpowers to take a more proactive stance on various matters concerning the country. A striking example of this is the heightened interest shown by the United States in Bangladeshi politics in recent months. The U.S. government has taken a significant step by implementing a new visa policy. This development underscores the intricate geopolitical dynamics in play as various superpowers deliberate on their roles in the forthcoming elections. 

According to the US government's perspective, the primary rationale behind this policy shift is to prevent the entry of individuals who could potentially disrupt democratic proceedings or impede the conduct of free and equitable elections in Bangladesh. While they emphasize their intention to support Bangladesh's democratic aspirations by deterring those who might subvert the democratic process, it is evident that this policy realignment is also influenced by broader international and regional political considerations. Consequently, there has been a notable surge in high-ranking US government officials visiting Bangladesh in recent months. 

Over the years, Bangladesh has positioned 

itself as a solid and influential player on the

 international stage. It has achieved remarkable 

economic growth and development, reducing 

poverty and expanding its global trade footprint

The recent decision of the US government has elicited various responses from different stakeholders. Within Bangladesh, the opposition has embraced this development, asserting that it may exert pressure on the government to relinquish power for elections to be conducted under a caretaker administration, even though no US government officials have explicitly mentioned such a scenario. Conversely, the ruling government in Bangladesh has voiced reservations, fearing that the US government's decision could be seen as an intrusion into the nation's internal political affairs. Nevertheless, they have reiterated their dedication to conducting free and fair elections in strict adherence to the constitutional provisions governing election-time governments.

This unfolding situation has not gone unnoticed beyond the borders of Bangladesh, particularly drawing the concern of neighboring India. As one of Bangladesh's nearest neighbors and a significant regional influencer, India has expressed reservations about the potential ramifications of this policy shift. Indian officials view it as a development that could potentially unsettle the broader region and upset the delicate balance of power, particularly concerning the issue about the potential weakening of the Sheikh Hasina government. 

Geopolitical factors are progressively molding the narrative concerning Bangladesh's forthcoming elections, with numerous international actors evaluating their contributions to regional stability and democracy. The consequences of this policy alteration, along with the reactions of diverse stakeholders, are expected to be vigilantly scrutinized in the run-up to the elections, both in the coming weeks and months.

Despite various superpowers expressing their concerns regarding the necessity of free and fair elections in Bangladesh, it's noteworthy that none of them has endorsed the opposition's demand for elections under a caretaker government. This absence of support for such a transitional arrangement suggests that, at this juncture, it is more likely that the upcoming elections will be conducted under the existing government. While superpowers may advocate for transparency and inclusivity in the electoral process, their reluctance to endorse a change in the government structure implies a pragmatic recognition of the political realities in Bangladesh. It underscores the complexity of the situation and the careful balance that international actors must strike between promoting democratic principles and respecting the internal dynamics of the country.

Now, a pertinent question arises: will the country undergo any political upheaval in the face of the opposition's demand for the reinstatement of a caretaker government and external pressure from certain countries? Presently, there is no indication that the government will yield to such pressure. Sheikh Hasina's unwavering commitment to upholding the existing democratic process underscores her government's dedication to stability and continuity. In this dynamic environment, Bangladesh's political future remains the subject of ongoing discussions, creating an atmosphere conducive to constructive debates and engagement among various stakeholders. The international community closely monitors these developments, acknowledging the nation's steadfast adherence to democratic principles and maintaining hope for a peaceful and democratic electoral process. The ultimate outcome will depend on collective efforts to ensure a fair and inclusive election that upholds the nation's democratic values.

Dr. Pranab Kumar Panday is a Professor in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Rajshahis