By Sajjad Shaukat
Basically, prosperity of a Third World country depends upon foreign investment which needs political stability in that country in the modern era of economic development. On the other side, political instability which creates uncertainty in a less developed country, is not conducive for external businessmen.
In these terms, the case of Bangladesh is of special consideration, where several people have so far been killed in the bloodshed due to dictatorial steps, taken by country’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajid in connection with the elections 2014, held on January 5.
In this regard, head of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Begum Khaleda Zia who was leading the alliance of the 21 opposition parties was placed under virtual house arrest on December 17, last year.
Earlier, to keep her in power, Prime Minister Hasina amended the constitution for the holding of elections under a non-party set up and the opposition has accused her for manipulating the electoral process to establish a one party state. The opposition alliance led by Khaleda Zia did not file nominations for the polls, sticking to their stance of boycotting the elections over the failure of Hasina Wajid to form a neutral interim government. The country’s largest religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) was also banned from taking part in the elections, while to address old grievances of her party, Awami League (AL), Prime Minister Hasina who was in connivance with the judiciary, hurriedly executed her political opponent, Abdul Qadir Mullah-leader of Jl.
In fact, since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina came into power, India has been employing various tactics to entrap Bangladesh by exploiting her pro-Indian tilt to fulfill its strategic interests. In this context, Prime Minister Hasina has been pursuing Indian directions by conducting anti-Pakistan campaign. Therefore, after passing of 42 years to the events of 1971, which resulted into the separation of East Pakistan, Abdul Qadir was hanged because of his loyalty with Pakistan.
However, due to pro-Indian policies, the government led by Awami League has brought about political instability, social strife and financial problems of grave nature in Bangladesh. Owing to incompetence and flawed policies, its leader Prime Minister Hasina Wajid has totally failed in resolving the problems of the impoverished masses. Therefore, present scenario in Bangladesh presents poor governance, while the government is generally known as an Indian puppet.
As she follows the instructions of New Delhi at the cost of Pakistan and people of her own country by playing wicked tactics of revulsion, division and discord, thus, she has created an atmosphere of hatred, vengeance and conflict which has culminated in violent protests and clashes in Bangladesh.
Analysts warn that obsessed with strong motives of revenge and political expediency, Prime Minister Hasina Wajid’s unilateral steps against the rival political parties will spark more unrest and uncertainty after the bloodiest year in Bangladesh’s short and troubled history.
While, Bangladesh is rapidly moving towards chaos, hence, Pakistani investors in that country are in state of fear because Ms. Hasina Wajid and the workers her party have especially been targeting them in one way or the other.
It is mentionable that Pakistani businessmen motivated by business interests and driven by their deeply entrenched longings to revive old relations with Bangladeshi brethren, decided to invest their capital in Bangladesh. According to the media reports, more than ten thousand Pakistanis invested billions of dollars in Bangladesh. It was a matter of satisfaction for all Pakistanis who always wish that country to flourish in economic field and acquire socio-political stability. Pakistani capital invested in Bangladesh, certainly contributed positively in strengthening economy of that country.
Unfortunately, under the leadership of Prime Minister Hasina Wajid, politics in Bangladesh created an anti-Pakistan environment. This was mainly aimed at appeasing India and finding a cover up for drastically failing to ensure good governance to address socio-economic problems of public at home. As the elections were fast approaching in Bangladesh, the nervousness of Awani League government was growing upward, fearing that their candidates would be rejected by voters. Therefore, they found it convenient to follow Indian fundamentalist opposition party, BJP model in making Pakistan a scapegoat of the election campaign by launching false propaganda against the latter. In this context, Bangladesh government’s decision to hastily execute death penalty of Abdul Qadir Mullah was also meant to appease their Indian mentors who advised Awami league’s leadership to accelerate an anti-Pakistan election campaign, if they wished to win elections.
Such an impulsive scheme has not only created socio-political turmoil in Bangladesh besides sending ugly messages to Islamabad, but has also created a state of constant uncertainty and frightening situation for Pakistani investors who are also considered as out-groups in that country with a stigma of representing Pakistan as a rival state. Most of these Pakistani investors have already decided to return to Pakistan along with their capital. Perhaps, they have already reaped the fruits of business windfall in Bangladesh and are now willing to invest in their own country.
Nevertheless, presently, Pakistani investors in Bangladesh are faced with a constant state of uncertainty, fearing irreversible setback to their business due to revengeful politics of Awami League rulers who are openly asserting that Pakistan is a state having an image of a foe.
In this respect, economists would better understand how much loss the economy of Bangladesh would suffer as Pakistani investors are likely to withdraw their capital amount, invested in that country.
On the other side, Pakistani businessmen prefer to invest their capital in their own country, because there is a new chance to be availed as EU markets have recently agreed to offer economic concessions to Pakistani products in the form of Generalized Scheme of Preference (GSP Plus). Hence, there would be no need for Pakistani investors to keep their investment abroad, especially in Bangladesh where they do not feel safe and secure.
It is notable that Ms. Hasina had directed her staff to close the chapter of water and border conflicts with India. Besides, she has given transit trade facilities to Bharat—a move which has been resisted by the Bangladeshi patriots for the past several decades. In this context, a writer has rightly said, “Hasina Wajid again started Honey Moon Period of relationship with India.”
But, by ignoring public protests and strikes by students and Islamic parties due to pro-Indian tilt, P.M. Hasina Wajid has given secular orientation to the country by purging the society from religious touch. She has issued instructions for the removal of some Islamic books from academic courses.
In this connection, a survey conducted by a local agency pointed out that 98% Bangladeshis are not ready to leave Islamic culture. They also hate undue interference of India in Bangladesh’s affairs. They are quite aware that, New Delhi wants to make Bangladesh its colony. In the recent past, RAW conducted a number of subversive activities in Bangladesh like bomb blasts.
As regards violent demonstrations in Bangladesh , Pakistan’s Foreign Office recently said in a statement that Qadir Mullah’s execution was internal matter of Bangladesh which “is our neighbouring Islamic country…Bangladesh should avoid blame game and try to further strengthen relations with Pakistan.” But by neglecting Islamabad’s positive approach, Bangladesh government has continued its anti-Pakistan approach to please India. It could be judged from the statement of Prime Minister Hasina Wajid who vocally stated, “Bangladesh has no room for the people loving Pakistan.”
Especially, RAW assisted Ms. Hasina Wajid in coming to power. It engineered a judicial coup which allowed the Awami League to win 14 million voters of the opponent parties which were disenfranchised. Now, under the cover of so-called democracy, she has implemented various rude methods to manipulate the elections so as to establish autocratic regime—without bothering about the country which is likely face dire consequences like more instability, disorder and particularly civil war.
This is the right hour that instead of appeasing India by advancing ugly confrontation with Islamabad and at the cost of her own people who are already facing acute poverty, Bangladesh Prime Minister Hasina Wajid must pay greater attention on the economic factor to pull the country out of the mess. Otherwise, uncertainty in Bangladesh is frightening all the foreign investors, especially those of Pakistan, who are likely to return to their native country where they will have better opportunity of investment.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations