Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's cancellation of Pakistan visit to Islamabad in connection with the upcoming D-8 summit has raised more questions than answers.
What seems intriguing is the abruptness of the PM's decision to call off the visit after she had accepted the invitation that was conveyed by the Pak foreign minister in Dhaka. In fact, the PM's press secretary had informed that she would visit Islamabad on November 21.
Reportedly, her close colleagues had advised her against the visit in view of what they perceived as security risks. We think Sheikh Hasina's security concerns are a genuine issue and one that must always be given high priority. Her stand against extremist forces makes her particularly vulnerable in countries like Pakistan where extremists often play havoc with security bastions. However, if security reasons have prompted cancellation of the visit then why weren't these given due consideration before conveying a positive response in the first place? We think the PM was badly served by her staff.
The manner in which the matter has been handled is very disturbing. What message does it convey to the diplomatic circles at home and abroad? What is worrying is that the visit was not a bilateral one. Countries with important trade prospects like Turkey, Malaysia, Indonesia and Iran are also a part of the D-8 group.
The Bangladesh foreign ministry must be very careful about planning foreign visits by our head of the government as this kind of unpredictability in our diplomatic behaviour at the top level may tell upon our foreign relations and credibility abroad.