A politician would be as much successful in his political career as much he acquires the tactics and strategies of diplomacy. In fact, diplomacy makes politics perfect.
In the field of politics, a politician needs to be diplomatic to go to the higher echelon of the party structure. Sometimes, a politician can get higher position using internal grouping, conflicts or political coup. But there remains every possibility of collapsing at any moment. The political benefit that is achieved through improper politics or dishonesty is not something ‘earned’, even the way used cannot be called diplomacy. Politicians in many countries of the world are wandering constantly between these two situations. Such a situation, more or less, exists in all countries – democratic or undemocratic.
It is natural that a close relationship between politicians and diplomats is developed for various reasons. The way a politician extends his political circle nationally and internationally, a diplomat also follows the same to integrate international interests with national interests. Their objectives and responsibilities are the same, though their working methods and fields are different. So there is nothing wrong if they communicate each other for their benefits. But it is desirable that they remain within their limitations. The exception is never appreciated or does not yield good results.
Diplomatic relations are established once two countries reach to a friendly relationship. It helps both the countries to further strengthening their relations. Relationship is not only established between the two countries, it is established between two people. Political leaders of both the countries are pledged to maintain close cooperation for mutual benefits and development. Being this relationship very sensitive, no country interferes in other’s internal affairs. In diplomacy, interference in a country’s internal affairs is considered to be a very reprehensible conduct. But it all depends on the position of the country in the political world.
In all the countries of the world, relationship between politicians and diplomats is considered as a normal practice. In our country, it should also be the same. But sometimes we cross the limit. Our deeds, misdeeds or dignity wrongly walk on the wrong way. May be the reconciliation comes back. But, by that time, the country starts facing its consequences. We, actually, hurt our own feet. We cannot even cure the wound.
On 8 February 2018, the court awarded BNP Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia five years imprisonment in a corruption case related to Zia Orphanage Trust. In that context, BNP has organised a number of political programmes including a closed-door meeting on 13 February with the foreign diplomats working in Bangladesh. According to media, the meeting was attended by about 15 diplomats of different countries including Saudi Arabia, UK, France, USA, Germany, Turkey, Japan, Pakistan, India, Australia and Spain. At the meeting, diplomats were briefed about the imprisonment of the BNP Chairperson and its related issues, other cases, upcoming national elections, party’s future planning, etc. Diplomats, who attended the meeting, might have noted those points and informed their respective government as well. However, the people who were present there can only say how the presentation was and how the diplomats have accepted the story. But a question remains there. Is BNP hopeful of getting any support in such a corruption issue from the foreign diplomats? I would not be surprised if one or two countries extend their supports.
If a political leader, a former head of state or government is victimised for political reason, it deserves proper attention of the world community. But if it happens due to financial or moral corruption, that would be a totally different story. Normally the government plays a major role in an incident that happens due to political rivalry, that is, the government does this in order to wreak the opposition. But when there is financial corruption, then that issue is handled by the court. In that case, the court punishes the person involved in corruption following appropriate evidences and procedures. In the first instance, the political parties, sometimes, do this for political purposes, particularly to suppress the opposition. It means, this is done for political gains. But the second one falls entirely under the jurisdiction of the court. There is no way for a government to interfere in an independent and powerful judicial system. Every law abiding person is aware of this.
There are examples in many countries of the world that the head of state or government had to go to jail due to financial or moral corruption. Just a week ago, South African President Jacob Zuma, who was accused of corruption, had to leave the government. May be he will face the court. Even such example is available in Bangladesh. President Ershad, who is known for his authoritarian regime, was sent to jail. And there were political programmes organised by his party. If anyone is jailed for political vendetta, then not only in Bangladesh but all the people in the world have the right to protest. But due to financial or moral corruption, if the court punishes anyone, there is no way to protest. And if anybody does that, he will not only dishonour the court but would encourage corruption. Party men may support this, but neither the diplomats working in Bangladesh nor any leader or common man of any country in the world would support. It is better to let the law go on its way. Like us, the people of the world also like to see that the rule of law is established in Bangladesh.
According to various sources, the government has also taken some steps in this regard. BNP has taken, the government might take. But I have something to say. I feel it would be better not to let the outside world know the internal matters that damage our country’s image. She is not only the Chairperson of BNP, but also a former Prime Minister of Bangladesh. Please, do not earn shame for the country by telling her corruption story to the foreigners. We earnestly request them to save us from further humiliation. Why not one would be the best because the other one is the worst?
Briefing for the diplomats by the government, political parties or other organisations on different occasions is a routine work. Obviously, the government or political parties may like to meet the foreign diplomats. This process should continue. However, these briefings should be done in a respectful manner safeguarding the interests, values and sovereignty of Bangladesh. We must remember that Bangladesh was not created at the mercy of others. Therefore, it would be wiser to abandon the tendency of begging others’ mercy because it ultimately ends with nothing but disregard.
The writer is a former Ambassador and Secretary