Keeping the Peace?
Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, visited Bangladesh amidst growing tensions between the current government and the BNP over the disappearance of former BNP lawmaker, Ilyas Ali. Ali was abducted recently and the BNP, under the guidance of Khaleda Zia, has staged massive protests and riots throughout the country bringing the economy and the state to a halt for five days.,
Clinton’s visit marked the first senior level official visit to the country after 2004. She met with both Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Opposition leader, Khaleda Zia to discuss the current political scenario. Clinton also met with Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus, whose removal from the Grameen Bank has been criticized by Washington and Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder of BRAC, to discuss Bangladesh and broader global development, as well as the challenges confronting civil society.
Her visit came at an opportune moment, when both Bangladesh and the U.S are exploring an enhanced partnership. It illustrated U.S commitment to building a peaceful, secure, prosperous, healthy and democratic country. During her meetings, Clinton raised the issue of abductions and also floated the idea of holding elections under a non-party caretaker government.
The visit proved critically important for Bangladesh, which hopes to see itself as a middle-income nation by 2021, a drive that seems to be taking a hard hit, following political violence in the country. U.S assistance with the program could of course, be a godsend.