Bangladeshi diplomatic retaliation

Those who can’t shut up, please get out!

Prime Minister Khaleda Zia’s government is not taking ‘interference into its internal affairs’ kindly at all.

Pakistan’s high commissioner to Dhaka has already been sent back and the Danish and German governments have been informally asked to replace their ambassadors too. What gives?

Manzar Shafique, until recently Pakistan’s man in Dhaka, invited the ire of Bangladesh’s foreign minister for a perceived slight. The perception of the slight was even greater when it appeared that Pakistan’s man was actually siding with Veena Sikri, India’s woman in Dhaka. While the Pakistani government denied any link between the incident and its decision to replace its diplomat, the ruling party in Bangladesh is already cashing in on its political mileage.

It remains to be seen what Bangladesh gains by retaliating against the European envoys. Their crime, according to the Bangladeshi government, was insisting on tougher conditions on development assistance in view of the poor political climate in Bangladesh. Besides being an aid donor, Europe is also a key market for Bangladesh’s textiles. Sparking off a diplomatic row with the EU does not good sense. Moreover sending the German and Danish envoys back makes little sense when the most vocal European envoy of them all, Britain’s Anwar Choudhury, is not likely to be replaced any time soon.

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