Reiterating her call for a dialogue to resolve the political crisis in Bangladesh, US Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs Nisha Desai Biswal has said the solutions are not going to come from the international community as solutions are there within the people, institutions and parties of Bangladesh.
“The solutions are not going to come from the international community. The solutions are there within the people and the institutions and the parties of Bangladesh, and what needs to happen is for that dialogue that allows a compromise…,”she said at a press interaction on US Foreign Policy Priorities in South and Central Asia in Washington on December 3.
Nisha also said a compromise might emerge through dialogue that will allow elections to take place that the people of Bangladesh can have confidence in and can feel are credible.
In her opening remarks, Nisha said there have been three big political transitions that lie ahead in Bangladesh, in India, and in Afghanistan. “And since I just came from Dhaka, let me just start there to say that while we really welcome the announcement of elections on January 5, we do think that there is an urgent call for concerted efforts for dialogue to bring the two major political parties closer together.”
She also called on all sides (political parties) to restrain violence saying violence has no place in the democratic process. “And we think it’s very important that all sides find ways to move forward to have free, fair, credible, and peaceful or violence-free elections in Bangladesh.”
Asked what is the US’ stand in case of military intervention (hypothetically) Nisha said “…the major challenge in my opinion that stands in the way of Bangladesh realizing that future is if there is not a political transition that is free, fair, smooth, and acceptable to the Bangladeshi people. We would like to see this country continue to move forward on the path towards development and prosperity.”
It was the first time for Nisha Biswal to be at the Foreign Press Center since being sworn in on October 21, 2013, according to the US State Department.
She also said the United States and its friends in the international community do not have a stake in who wins what election. “But we would like to see a process that is free, fair, credible, and free from violence. That has been the message that we have underscored. And for that to take place, both of the major political parties need to come together.”
And that has been their underlying message publicly and privately, the US Assistant Secretary added.
The US diplomat said this is a region of extraordinary geographic, linguistic, cultural diversity, extraordinary beauty, and incredibly vibrant societies. “But it’s also a region that’s facing great challenges and in the middle of very important transitions.”
“So while many see these transitions as a source of anxiety or uncertainty, I actually see them as a source of opportunity. And that’s what I want to talk about a little bit, are the opportunities that I see ahead of us.”
In the past year alone, five countries in the region have gone to national elections: the Maldives, Tajikistan, Nepal, Bhutan, and Pakistan, she mentioned.
“And certainly in some of these elections - in Nepal and in Pakistan - these have been historic and consolidations of strong democratic traditions and gains. And we work with these countries on strengthening their democratic institutions and seeking greater political participation and recognising the progress that has been made.”
She said her visit to Bangladesh was an important one for her because she has seen such enormous progress and such enormous future potential in Bangladesh.
Nisha mentioned the economic growth that Bangladesh has experienced over the past decade, the gains that it has made on developments, on the improvements in health, in maternal mortality and child mortality, the drops in fertility rates and the improvements in food security.
She said this is an incredible story of progress that they have seen in Bangladesh, and an incredible potential for the future as they talk about this more integrated region between South and Southeast Asia.
B’desh has to solve its own problem: USA