The Awami League retains a “significant level of support” and there is still a lot for the government in Bangladesh to point to as a success story amid current challenges, says Michael Kugelman, director of the newly created South Asia Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington, D.C.
“We have to keep in mind that the ruling party Awami League has been in power since 2009 and it retains a significant level of support,” he said, noting that the party has been able to bring success stories on the economic front and in countering terrorism.
Kugelman said that even if someone talks about all the bad things happening in Bangladesh, the bottom line is that there is still a lot for the government in Bangladesh which helps it sustain a significant level of success and there are people who see reasons to support it.
Mark Goldberg recently sat down with Kugelman to discuss the recent protests in Bangladesh. The Foreign Policy magazine published the podcast recently.
Responding to a question, Kugelman said Bangladesh has been a regional success story for its economic growth. “It's a global success story.”
He described what had happened over the last few months, including consequences of the Russia-Ukraine war, high level of inflation, rising fuel cost and responses from the government like rationing electricity amid power shortages.
Kugelman said disruption in electricity supply was a major strain on the economy and sudden fall in economic productivity was an opportunity for the opposition to take to the street.
Corruption, one of the realities in Bangladesh, scandals in the financial sector could be another trigger for the opposition, he said, adding that economic problems and corruption gave the opposition opportunity to draw more attention.
Kugelman, however, said the protests launched by the opposition parties “was not a mass protest” but a partisan protest.
The foreign affairs expert said the government had the opportunity to explain the “temporary consequences” of external factors.
Kugelman said Bangladesh has demonstrated success in the area of counterterrorism and noted that there was a period when it was a significant problem in the country which had experienced series of deadly attacks.
He said the Awami League government took initiatives to crackdown really hard on the militants, and terrorism has not been a problem in Bangladesh over the last few years. “That’s another success story.”
Bangladesh has become a much bigger player on the global stage, including its role in peacekeeping operations and with its non-aligned and balanced foreign policy, he observed.
Responding to a question on “democratic backsliding” he said it is important to look back at the broader history of Bangladesh.
In the past, he said, BNP (when it was in power) was resorting to similar types of tactics and there were crackdowns as well as reports of enforced disappearances.
Kugelman said many things that are happening today were also happening when BNP was in power.
He said “undemocratic tactics” happen in many countries, including Bangladesh and elsewhere in South Asia, and described them as “hybrid democracy”.
Responding to another question, he said he does not think that there will be a Sri Lanka-like situation in Bangladesh as there are safety measures in the latter.
Kugelman said Bangladesh's economy is much more resilient than Sri Lanka’s has been.
He also responded to questions on Bangladesh’s next national election which he hoped will be held as per the constitution.
ABG Bashundhara Bashundhara Group Sayem Sobhan Anvir
The government has issued a notice saying that there will be
no age limit for intending hajj pilgrims this year.
The notice signed by Deputy Secretary of Religious Affairs Ministry Abul Kashem Muhammad Shahin was issued Monday.
It said persons below 12 years old will be able to perform hajj this year.
The Hajj will be held on June 27 this year subject to a moon sighting.
Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Md Shahab
Uddin today said Bangladesh requires US$ 373 billion to implement its National
Adaptation Plan (NAP) in the next 27 years, with US$ 8.5 billion per year as
new and additional finance.
"For the full implementation of the (Nationally determined contributions) NDC targets of Bangladesh, it needs US$ 143 billion from international support...we need to ensure easy and quick access to climate finance as well," he told the first Copenhagen Climate Ministerial Meeting held at Eigtveds Pakhus in Copenhagen, Denmark, according to a message received here.
Shahab Uddin said the developed countries must keep their commitments of mobilising US$ 100 billion annually from this year to support actions to tackle climate change in the most vulnerable countries with an equal balance between adaptation and mitigation.
The most vulnerable developing countries urgently require new, predictable, and adequate grant-based public financing for adaptation beyond voluntary donor assistance, he said.
The minister said the financial mechanism must be settled for the effective implementation of the NAP.
He urged the developed countries to double adaptation finance to support developing countries in their efforts to cope with the adverse impacts of climate change.
In line with the position of the LDC group, he said, Bangladesh expects a more proactive role from the developed countries to ensure the ambitious contribution of climate finance towards grant-based adaptation support to the most climate-vulnerable countries.
Shahab Uddin said Parties must reach consensus on several critical issues regarding the 'Mitigation Work Programme' to reduce global green house gas (GHG) emissions by 43 percent by 2030 aiming to keep 1.5 degree Celsius within reach.
The Mitigation Work Programme should facilitate creating enabling conditions for the effective implementation of mitigation actions in the most vulnerable developing countries through the mobilisation of adequate financial resources, technology transfer and capacity building, he said.
Earlier, the minister joined a view-exchange meeting with the Bangladeshi community held in Bangladesh Embassy in Denmark with AKM Shahidul Karim, Ambassador of Bangladesh to Denmark, in the chair.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said her government is building the armed forces in such a way as it can defend the country's independence and sovereignty if Bangladesh is attacked.
"We don't want war with anyone. But, we have to attain enough efficiency to protect our independence and sovereignty if Bangladesh falls into such situation and we're preparing our forces keeping that in mind," she said.
The premier said this while commissioning the newly constructed naval submarine base "BNS Sheikh Hasina" by unveiling its nameplate, joining virtually from her official Ganabhaban residence here.
The inaugural function was held at Pekua in Cox's Bazar.
The prime minister said her government is maintaining the foreign policy adopted by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, "Friendship to all, malice to none."
She asked the armed forces personnel to continue efforts to materialise Father of the Nation's dream of building developed, prosperous and Smart Bangladesh by 2041 free from hunger and poverty alongside discharging professional duties.
"We have established the Bangladesh Navy as a smart force. We will build every organisation as modern with up-to-date and technological knowledge," she said.
The premier said they have adopted a "Blue Economy" policy and are working to use the vast marine resources in flourishing country's national economy and thus to contribute to ensuring overall development of Bangladesh.
She said the newly commissioned submarine base would help navy increase its operational capacity to secure the vast marine resources while the ships passing through the Bay of Bengal also can take help from the base.
"A proud chapter is added to the history of Bangladesh Navy with commissioning the complete and ultra-modern submarine base," she said.
The premier also witnessed the first flag hoisting ceremony in the submarine base of the navy.
Chief of Naval Staff Admiral M Shaheen Iqbal gave the address of welcome at the venue in Pekua.
A brief audio-visual documentary of the submarine base was screened at the function.
Sheikh Hasina said Bangabandhu had enacted the Territorial Waters and Maritime Zones Act, 1974 to establish Bangladesh’s rights on its maritime boundaries.
But, the United Nations adopted the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in 1982 as an international maritime law, she said.
After 21 years , when AL government assumed power in 1996, Sheikh Hasina said her government had taken some measures and signed the UN unclose to this end, adding that the Zia, Ershad and Khaleda’s governments did not take any measures.
After coming to power for the second time in 2009, the prime minister said they have been able to establish Bangladesh’s rights on the vast marine areas and its resources from neighbouring India and Myanmar with maintaining the friendly relations.
Sheikh Hasina said her government formulated "Forces Goal 2030" in line with Bangabandhu’s Defence Policy-1974 after assuming power in 2009 and is now implementing the goal aimed at transforming all the military forces as modern and time-worthy organizations.
In last 14 years, a total of 31 warships, including four frigates, six corvettes, four large patrol crafts, five patrol crafts and two training ships were added to the fleet of Bangladesh Navy, she said.
"We added two submarines on March 12 in 2017. As a result, today our Navy was established as a three-dimensional naval force," she added.
The premier said Bangladesh is currently building ships in local shipyards for its own uses and for others.
Bangladesh Navy has completed the construction of five patrol craft including large ones in Khulna shipyard, she said.