Mukti

Two wings and a prayer

Posted in 1971, Bangladesh, history, South Asia by jrahman on March 19, 2013

Ask for a piece on Pakistan and Bangladesh during December and you’re likely to get something about the 1971 wars — note the plural, because the eastern part of the subcontinent simultaneously experienced an inter-ethnic civil war and ethno-communal cleansing, genocide, inter-state conventional war and a war of national liberation, all climaxing in the crisp Bengali winter of 1971. Naeem Mohaiemen’s seven part series is an example, covering many aspects of that fateful year.

Let me skip 1971 in this post. Instead, I’ll begin by marking the other December anniversary, one that will have a particular relevance for Pakistan and Bangladesh in 2013. And I’ll note the parallels between the post-1971 developments in the two wings of former United Pakistan.

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How about Bangladesh?

Posted in China, foreign policy, India by jrahman on April 30, 2012

The folks at AoD have thrown the gauntlet — they want a conversation.  Well, I don’t have anything terribly original to say about ministers or MPs or ex-MPs or their drivers, whether they are with or without jobs.  Nor do I have anything to say about the return of hartal.  But I think I can say something semi-intelligent about Purboposhchim’s take on foreign policy.

The blogger observes:

Consider that two of our neighbours are China and India – high growth countries with large populations. Over the next century these two countries will grow more powerful and their ambitions will grow with them. There will be opportunities for cooperation and for conflict.

What should the Bangladeshi foreign policy be in response to this ‘new Great Game’? 

Purboposhchim says there are two options: one, “play one against the other” (the Afghanistan option); or two, “make ourselves indispensable to both” (the Switzerland option). 

Of course the blogger is pumping for the Swiss route.  And I suppose if there is a choice between those two options, I would also choose the Swiss —  who wants to be Afghanistan?

It’s just that I don’t think the premise of that choice is particularly sensible.

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