New Delhi, May 25
The US has further tightened the screws on Bangladesh in an effort to conduct what it calls “free and fair” elections in the country early next year.
The Us Secretary of State Antony Blinken has announced a new visa policy ostensibly to support “Bangladesh’s goal of holding free, fair, and peaceful national elections”.
Under this policy, the US will restrict visas for any Bangladeshi individual, believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process.This includes current and former Bangladeshi officials, members of pro-government and opposition political parties, and members of law enforcement, the judiciary, and security services, said Blinken in a statement, adding that the US had notified the Bangladeshi government of this decision on May 3.
Dhaka and Washington have been at loggerheads since December 14 last year. The US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas had to cut short a visit to the home of a missing opposition leader Sajedul Islam Sumon after activists of the ruling Awami League reached the place and began heckling him. There were allegations that the personal staff of a Minister orchestrated the demonstration against Haas.
“America can change power in any country it wants. They want to bring such a government here which will not have any democratic existence,” said Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina. A change in Government in Dhaka will not suit India either as Hasina’s secular impulses have kept the Islamists in the country from being used by the ISI as has happened in the past under her main opponent Khalida Zia when she was PM from 1991 to 96 and again from 2001 to 2006.
Despite the move to implement CAA and NRC as well as several statements about throwing back illegal Bangladeshis from Assam and West Bengal by senior Cabinet Ministers here, Hasina has ensured that this emotive issue was not used against India. Under her premiership, both sides also managed to finalise their boundary. The issue was frequently put on the backburner by non-Sheikh Hasina governments in Dhaka.
Blinken went on to state that the holding of free and fair elections is the “responsibility of everyone—voters, political parties, the government, the security forces, civil society, and the media. I am announcing this policy to lend our support to all those seeking to advance democracy in Bangladesh.”
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