The US decision to impose sanction on top six Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and seven of its current and former officials debarring them from entering US has probably disappointed Bangladesh as it has been imposed at a time when Bangladesh had regular contact with the US administration and no information was given for such an abrupt sanction. It was the members of opposition parties within the country who had repeatedly been approaching some countries especially UK and USA to take action against Bangladesh since the government of Sheikh Hasina according to them has taken away their democratic rights and carried out extrajudicial killing. But the way the opposition has been getting involved in terrorism, killing innocent people and damaging properties was not probably taken into consideration while imposing sanction against RAB, the most disciplined and elite force of the government.
The elite force formed by the government has efficiently contained terrorism and helped ensure maintaining law and order. The criminals are on the run and the law and order situation in the country has been effectively controlled due to their activities. It is strange that while sanction has been imposed on RAB the US administration has frankly admitted the role of the RAB in maintaining law and order.
The US Bureau of Counterterrorism in a report said that Bangladesh experienced a fall in terrorist activity in 2020, accompanied by an increased in terrorism-related investigations and arrests. It said there were three specific terrorist incidents, but no death. It is funny to comment that the US decision to impose sanction on RAB personnel seems to be contradictory with its opinion about RAB. Since US has so many channels to oversee, the decision of one channel is contradictory to the other or may be that could be a policy to disturb Bangladesh. But it’s not difficult to understand that the motive behind imposing such sanction is to tarnish the image of Bangladesh, a country that has emerged as fastest growing economy in the world and is no more dependent on foreign aid through which the big powers want to assist the developing country’s economy. The decision of Bangladesh to build the Padma Bridge from its own resources ignoring the World Bank’s decision to stop it and successful completion of the bridge probably has made the US unhappy to deal with Bangladesh.
BNP allegedly has engaged lobbyist to work against
the government of Sheikh Hasina.
Many believe that the sanction imposed by US
administration is the outcome
of engaging lobbyist
However, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a phone call and talked to his Bangladesh counterpart foreign minister AK Abdul Momen. Two foreign ministers discussed on advancing relations between Bangladesh and US. They expressed a consensus to strengthen bilateral relations further maintaining existing good relations for the last five decades.
Meanwhile the opinion of the US Bureau of Counterterrorism as to RAB functioning efficiently has raised hope in the minds of Bangladesh government that the issue regarding sanction could be minimized through future dialogue which both the governments are willing to hold. Many within the country feel that the decision has been taken in response to repeated approach of the opposition. They believe that such a decision could be helpful for the opposition politics at a time the government has not been looking the opposition voice into cognizance. The decision to satisfy the opposition by the US government imposing such sanction is being felt by many as an interference in the internal affairs of Bangladesh by the US administration. Since there is election and since the election may not be participated by the opposition like in the past, the US government has put pressure on the Sheikh Hasina government so that it takes a more acceptable behavior towards the opposition making concession for them.
The opposition BNP reportedly has engaged lobbyist to work against the government of Sheikh Hasina. Many believe that the sanction imposed by US administration is the outcome of engaging lobbyist. The opposition now feels that it is their victory over the government of Sheikh Hasina. However, Sheikh Hasina is a stubborn lady and cares little for those who from both within and outside the country want to dictate her government. We all know that the role of USA during our War of Liberation was deceptive. It sided with Pakistan against the national interest of Bangladesh. Many people believe that CIA, the intelligence agency of USA had its involvement behind the killing of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu. However, despite the role of USA against the birth of Bangladesh, its leadership forget and forgive the great power that shared our economic development since the birth of Bangladesh. Some convicted killers of Bangabandhu has still been sheltered in USA against the interest of Bangladesh.
Even after due request for returning the killers, the US administration is still supporting them probably for the reason that they acted as per desire of US administration. This act is contrary to the humanity, democracy and rule of law. But since Sheikh Hasina wants relationship with all big powers she has probably asked her foreign minister to do the needful. We maintain good relation with USA, China, Russia and also with India.
Dr S A Malek is a member of Awami League Presidium and President of Bangabandhu Parishad, former political adviser to the Prime Minister, member of parliament and columnist