US visa policy has widespread impact

From left professor Ali Riaz, former foreign secretary Touhid Hossain, professor Shahiduzzaman, professor Zahedur Rahman and Saimum Parvez
Taken from Webinar video

The US visa policy will ensure free, fair and neutral elections in Bangladesh -- a notion that is not utterly right, claimed the country’s eminent citizens who were comprised of former foreign secretary, security analyst and the professors from different universities.

However, they termed the US visa policy a warning, which has a widespread impact. The United States may come up with more actions in future -- between now and till the national elections.

The eminent citizens came up with these observations in a webinar titled ‘Fresh US visa policy and Bangladesh’s next elections’.

Forum for Bangladesh Studies organised this on Sunday morning.

Saying the visa policy has a widespread impact, former foreign secretary Touhid Hossain said if this policy would be taken 20 to 30 years ago, it won’t have that much impact.

Now, the families of many government officials and the political leaders -- who actually executive instructions of irregularities in the elections -- stay in the United States. So it will have an impact in ensuring fair elections. However, there will be a question if it is enough. Now it is needed to observe what the government decision is -- will the government face it or go for a negotiation.    

He said there needs to be an environment in the country to ensure fair elections. Many are advocating for the caretaker government. It is still possible. This system once prevailed, which was enacted for the sake of the nation. Elections under the caretaker government were fair.       

But this diplomat expressed his doubt over the effectiveness of the foreign pressure in ensuring fair elections.

He said the pressure from abroad didn’t work over the last 20 to 30 years. There is an interest of China and India in Bangladesh. The Awami-League government is favourable for India. It doesn’t seem that India will change its policy due to the US visa policy. No matter what happens here, India is capable of protecting its interest here. It has such capacity and importance. China also prioritises its interest.