Bangladesh needs strong democratic institutes
Despite having a dynamic and fast-growing economy, US officials believe that Bangladesh's future success is going to be fuelled by strengthening its democratic institutions and governing structures.
“That's why, we really do call on the government of Bangladesh to protect that fundamental civil abilities -- especially the freedom of speech and press,” Alice G Wells, US principal deputy assistant secretary, bureau of south and central Asian affairs, told a small group of journalists from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka in Washington DC recently.
The journalists were taking part in a reporting tour titled “Amplifying the Indo-Pacific Strategy” and had interactions with high US civil and defence officials, defence strategists and members of the intelligentsia.
Indo-Pacific Strategy is a concept reemphasised in 2017 by US President Donald Trump and it calls for a “free and open Indo-Pacific” where nations “thrive in freedom and peace” and all states “play by the rules”.
The US diplomat made the remarks as Bangladesh is heading to a crucial general election on December 30.
Alice, who held talks with government and opposition political figures and met journalists during her recent visit to Bangladesh, requested the government to fulfil its commitment to hold a free, fair, participatory and credible election.
She said Bangladesh is a critical partner to the USA. “We're Bangladesh's largest market, we're their largest foreign direct investor, we're on close cooperation in fighting terrorism and peacekeeping and we have extensive people to people ties.”
Narrating her impression after visiting the Rohingya camps in Cox's Bazar in October, the US official said the scope and enormity of the refugee crisis could only be comprehended after seeing it closely.
In the past year, she said, extraordinary steps have been taken by the Bangladesh government in partnership with the international community.
Alice reiterated the US position on Rohingya crisis, asserting that solution to the crisis is a political solution in Burma (Myanmar), and urged the Burmese government to undertake steps to create an environment that allows the Rohingyas to return as full-fledged citizens, who are able to move freely, enjoy citizenship rights and live a life of safety and dignity.