NewAge, 17, 2008
The cross-section of people, including politicians, thinkers, economists, teachers, physicians, political scientists and business leaders on Wednesday harshly criticised the foreign quarters for meddling in internal political affairs of Bangladesh.
They condemned the political parties, their leaders and others who hang out with foreigners to talk local political issues.
Some of them said the US ambassador in Dhaka, James F Moriarty, should be declared persona non grata for interfering in local political affairs.
They said this in reaction to a ‘tea party’ organised by Moriarty at his residence at Baridhara for a select group of politicians and others to discuss political issues, including the state of emergency and parliamentary and local government polls.
Leaders of political parties, including the Awami League, Bangladesh Nationalist Party, Jamaat-e-Islami, Jatiya Party, told him the interim government must hold parliamentary elections before local government polls, especially the upazila elections, and the state of emergency must be lifted before polls. The tea party lasted for two hours and a half from from 4:00pm Tuesday.
‘It is regrettable that foreigners are persistently poking their nose in our political affairs and politicians are hobnobbing with them,’ said the Communist Party general secretary, Mujahidul Islam Selim.
‘The US ambassador should be declared persona non grata for interfering in internal political affairs here,’ he said.
The Workers Party president, Rashed Khan Menon, said, ‘It is very unfortunate that foreigners are openly meddling in our internal affairs.’ ‘It is demeaning the political parties and the history of politics of Bangladesh,’ he said. Eminent thinker Farhad Mazhar said the presence of the leaders of major political parties at this sort of meeting exposed their ‘minimum perception’ of sovereignty.
The leaders of major political parties such as the Awami League, BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami do not sit across the table to discuss local political problems, he said, ‘but they share wine and chips at the meetings sponsored by foreign embassies.’
He said the ambassador should be declared persona non grata for poking his nose in Bangladesh’s internal political affairs. ‘According to the Vienna Convention, he committed an offence by formally inviting politicians to discuss local political issues.’
He said the politicians and others, who joined the meeting, should be arrested and questioned for their role in the meeting. The Jatiya Mukti Council president, Badruddin Umar, and the secretary, Faizul Hakim, in a statement said the meeting between the US ambassador and the leaders of the Awami League, BNP, Jatiya Party, Jamaat-e-Islami and the Progressive Democratic Party was a part of a conspiracy against the country.
The Dhaka Community Hospital chairman, Quazi Quamruzzaman, said, ‘It is regrettable that our politicians instantly rush if foreigners invite them [politicians].’ ‘Foreigners only work for their own interests. They do not share our interests,’ he said. ‘We must protect our interests.’
Political scientist and Dhaka University professor Talukdar Moniruzzaman said, ‘Foreigners get the chance to interfere in our internal politics as politicians hang out with them [foreigners] without considering the consequences.’ ‘Politicians must be careful in responding to foreigners’ invitation,’ he said.
Economist Anu Muhammad said, ‘Foreign embassies, especially the US embassy, have become the centre point of political affairs of Bangladesh, and the ruling class, especially politicians, is gradually becoming dependent on the embassies.’ The US government signed some secret treaties, which undermine the sovereignty of Bangladesh, using the members of that class in the past, he said. ‘The people should identify the members of this class and they must be exposed.’
BRAC University professor Piash Karim said, ‘It is a reflection of a new colonial attitude of the country [United States]’. ‘It [Tuesday’s tea party] also reflects the overall political bankruptcy here as the politicians went to the US embassy to give their views on local politics,’ he said. ‘We should be able to resolve our political problems on our own,’ he said. ‘We should reclaim our politics.’
Former Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industries president Mir Nasir Hossain said, ‘Our leaders have developed a culture to request foreigners to resolve internal political problems. They [politicians] do not even talk with each other and foreigners are taking this as a chance to interfere in local politics. It is disgraceful.’ ‘Our leaders must uphold their dignity,’ he said.
The Bangladesh Political Science Association president, Ataur Rahman, said, ‘Interference by foreigners in local politics is not desirable… But it is a reality and our politicians have accepted it.