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International Institutions, Governance and COVID-19 Crisis in Pakistan

Asfandiyar Khan

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Authors: Asfandiyar Khan and Areeja Syed  

International organization and global governance are very important factor to run the system of the world. To protect the lives of the world population international institution and global governance can play are very effective and influential role. In the past we have harrowing failures in Rwanda and Somalia still searing our memories, and Syria and Darfur’s. There are many international institution and international organization in the world that are controlling different aspects and affairs of the world. The absence of a robust global regulatory regime governing financial transaction and innovations helped heighten the effects of the 2007-2008 global financial and economic crisis, plunging western economies into more than half a decade of recession and sparring little of the rest of the world. Just a decade earlier, the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 -98 had also drawn attention to the inequalities of global financial governance, including to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) role in exacerbating the crisis. The global development architecture has presided over the feeblest of reductions in the proportion of the world’s population living on less than US$ 1.25 per day. Our world is organized in such a way that around 1.5 to 2.5 billion people have little or no access to the more basic needs. Unprecedented growth in the gap between rich and poor has occurred within and across the nation. These international institution and international organization are trying to eradicate poverty and to provide the basic needs of the life. But the efforts of these organizations and institution are negligible they don’t try honestly. Sometimes these institution and organization are exacerbating the crisis, like IMF. To some extent these organizations are exploiting the poor and 3rd world countries.

International Organizations and the diffusion of Power

There are two schools of thought regarding the relationship between international organizations (IOs) and the diffusion of power. One school suggests that IOs are conservative organization that are designed to freeze the existing configuration of power. If they are doing their job, then they are not diffusion power. The other is that IOs are expected to pluralize power. The world is constituted by radical inequalities of power, with some state having an abundance and others a scarcity, and the United Nations and other IOs essential to global governance help to level the playing field by giving an opportunity for the weak to have a voice and neglected issues to be seen. The essence is that both camps are right: IOs can be defenders of the powerful and agents of reform. International organization plays very important role in the global order. There are several best-known theories see IOs as preserving the existing distribution of power and interests.

There are different theories regarding International organizations; Realists see IOs as playthings of states and Marxists as instruments of capitalism and even institutionalism who grant that IO staff have some relative autonomy and discretion, are limited in their ability or desire to effect real change. Critical and constructivist theories acknowledge that IOs are defenders of the status quo, but they also provide theoretical and conceptual grounds for observing real independence and the attempt to provide greater equality of opportunities for other actors. International organizations preserve and promote the interest of the greater states; World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are able to use their capital to force borrowing states to adopt “best practices,” slash budgets and redirect economics resources. Pakistan have bailout packages many time from IMF but it didn’t help Pakistan. Because of IMF strict conditions and its policies Pakistan could not escape from the grip of IMF.

IOs constituted by global liberalism are defenders of an international order that contains the ingredients for the diffusion of power (through compulsory or institutional power). Compulsory and institutional power illuminate the relationship between IOs and the diffusion of power. IOs are two-faced they can either preserve or diffuse power, altering the underlying social relations that limit or enhance the ability of actors to control the circumstances of their lives. They also are relatively autonomous actors. Lastly, they can be linked to the diffusion and preservation of power in and through their position in existing structures, but they also can be linked to these effects through their actions. The world culture values of democracy and technocracy can help diffuse power, but we want to close with a word of warning: these values can be operating at cross-purposes. A classic dilemma of modern liberal governance is the presumed trade-off between democracy and technocracy. In democracy (or the rule of the people), there is deference to respect the “general will,” the “majority,” and the “will of the people” on various grounds, including autonomy, liberty, and the belief that the people know best. In technocracy (or the rule of experts), there is difference to those who have specific knowledge. The immediate implication is that the rule of experts can be anti-democratic. Experts are not expected to always respect the preferences of the people but instead are supposed to use their presumably objective judgment. In these and other instances, outsiders feel justified in ignoring or dismissing the stated needs of the people. For instance, peacebuilders often argue that they cannot practice the democracy that they preach because war-torn societies do not have the institutions to enable them to debate and aggregate preferences and because listening to the “people” might mean privileging the powerful and thus reproducing existing societal inequalities. This suggests the possibility that moral progress might depend not on the revolutionary character of the “people” but rather on the role of morally minded elite. Regardless of whether on thinks the elitism has its positive qualities, it is indisputably anti-democratic. In the race between technocracy and democracy, arguably technocracy seems to be winning. If so, International Organizations might be diffusing and conserving power for themselves.

The Crisis of COVID-19 in the World and a Case Study of Pakistan

COVID-19 outbreak was first time experienced in the Wuhan City of China at the end of December 2019. Which spread rapidly in China and then worldwide in 209 countries of America, Europe, Australia and Asia including Pakistan. There are more than fifty thousand mortalities and one million plus people have been affected worldwide, while figure increases rapidly. Different steps have been taken worldwide for the control of COVID-19. Even with less resources Pakistan also taken rigorous measures like designed special hospitals, Laboratories for testing, quarantine facilities, awareness campaign and lock down to control the spread of virus. We highlighted the efforts of government to combat this deadly pneumonia. The COVID-19 outbreak was treated as a case of pneumonia with unknown etiology appeared in the Wuhan city of China, at the end of December 2019, which spread across the country to worldwide with a high rate. The PRC (People’s Republic of China) Centre for Disease Control (CDC) analyzed the respiratory samples and declared that the pneumonia was caused by a novel coronavirus which named the pneumonia as Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia (NCP). The coronavirus is one of the major virus that target the respiratory system of the human. The Chinese researchers named the virus as 2019-nCoV. Later, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Virus named the novel coronavirus as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2). On the same day, February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization (WHO) name the Pneumonia as Coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19)

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID 19 outbreak as sixth public health of emergency Services (SPHEC) on January 30, 2020. This was not the first outbreak of the coronavirus. The previous coronavirus outbreaks include Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV) outbreak and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreak. The COVID-19 thought the third outbreak of the coronavirus which affected more than 209 countries including Pakistan. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), total of 1,093,349 confirmed cases with 58,620 mortalities. To date, the number of highest positive cases encountered in USA followed by Italy and Spain.

The border countries of Pakistan highly affected including China, where the COVID-19 outbreak experienced first time. In the west, Italy with highest number of COVID-19 mortalities while in the north, Iran a high number of mortalities after the Italy. In Pakistan, the first case of COVID-19 has been confirmed by the Ministry of Health, government of Pakistan on February 26, 2020 in Karachi, Sindh province. On the same day another case confirmed by the Pakistan Federal Ministry of Health in Islamabad. Within fifteen days, the number of total confirmed cases (COVID-19 Positive) reached to twenty (20) out of 471 suspected cases with highest numbers in the Sindh province followed by the Gilgit Baltistan. All of the confirmed cases had recent travel history from Iran, Syria and London. And currently these cases increase by high rate and the situation is worst. The geographical location of Pakistan, with the continuous increases in the number of CVOID-19 positive cases need a high level of action, planes and management. On 12th of February, the Ministry of National Health Services, Regulation & Coordination Pakistan presented a plane “National Action Plan for Preparedness & Response to Corona Virus Disease (Covid-19) Pakistan”, the aims to control the spreading of virus and to strengthen country and community emergency preparedness in order to ensure a timely, efficient and effective response to potential events due to Covid-19 including. The local, regional and national outbreaks that can have a significant impact on the health of Pakistani population and society. To date, different steps have been taken by the government of Pakistan against COVID-19 outbreak. In this review, we highlighted the different steps taken by the government of Pakistan against CoVID-19, such as designated hospitals, quarantine centers, testing facilities, treatments, public awareness and the response of local community against COVID-19 outbreak.

The current situation in Pakistan

According to the Ministry of Health, Government of Pakistan, there are total of 12227 confirmed positive cases in the country with total 287 mortalities on Saturday, April 25,2020. The highest cases appeared in the Punjab province (5046) followed by Sindh 4232, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa 1708, Baluchistan 656, Gilgit Baltistan 307, Islamabad 223, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir have 55 confirmed cases. Total recovered cases are 2,755.

Facilitation by government of Pakistan against COVID-19

The Government of Pakistan is taking all the measures against the COVID-19 to provide and insure the responsibilities of the state for their people. Since the first day when the first case was conformed in Karachi city of Sindh all the services and measures were used with the extreme capabilities to ensure the safeness of life in the region. Meanwhile, all the cases have a travel history, suggesting transmission elsewhere being imported in the country. The government of Pakistan provides the COVID-19 mitigation strategies with their measures. Such as early case detection and Tracing and tracking of contacts, Risk communication, Social Distancing, Quarantine and Isolation to avoid the spread of COVID-19.

The Government of Pakistan has established a COVID-19 Relief Fund to receive donation for the welfare of publics. Social network helplines were launched by the Government in seven (07) local languages. Communication Task Force Baluchistan with the support of UNHCR has developed IEC material in Dari and Pashto Languages. The materials will be distributed in all villages with refugees in Baluchistan. The Government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has issued directives for closure of OPDs and elective surgical services from 1-13 April 2020 in all the Tertiary Care Hospitals, District Headquarters Hospitals and Private Clinics throughout the province. The Central Emergency Relief Fund (CERF) has allocation $ 60 million to Global Response plan for COVID-19. Sindh Government has established first drive through COVID-19 Testing facility in Karachi.

Hospitals for COVID-19 in Pakistan

The arrangements to fight against the COVID-19, there are lots of measures being taken by the government of Pakistan to control the outbreak and facilitate their people. There were many hospitals been working in this scenario to bring back the life and fight against the deadly outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.

In the capital territory Islamabad, there was a single hospital functional. While in the Baluchistan, there were 10 hospitals for COVID-19. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) 7, Punjab (PJB) 6, Sindh (SD) 4, Gilgit-Baltistan (GB) 4, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) 3 hospitals were functional.

Designated hospitals

Specific hospitals have been approved for admission and management of suspected and confirmed based upon availability of quality isolation wards at Federal, provincial and regional level. Each institute and hospital are expected to conduct need and availability assessment of supplies (equipment, personal protective equipment, laboratory diagnostics) and including identification of sources to ensure provision and availability of PPEs and other equipment. Notify and train IPC (Infection prevention and control) team at the designated hospitals. A trained IPC focal person be nominated to ensure the IPC measures implanted and imbedded. The recently drafted National IPC guidelines/SOPs (Standard operational procedure) will be distributed and implemented which are following;

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) have been developed and disseminated for waste    management at hospitals and airports. Local SOPs should be established and available in all HCFs with appropriate training of the staff assigned to handle the waste.

Disinfection and Environmental decontamination SOPs were developed.

Isolation wards were built all over Pakistan to prepare for COVID-19 pandemic, Province/Region wise number of designated Hospitals ICT-01, Punjab-06, Sindh-04, Baluchistan-10, KP-07, GB-04 and AJK-03. The total number of beds in isolation wards in whole country are 23,557 were established. In capital territory Islamabad 350 beds, Punjab 10,948, Sindh 2,100, Baluchistan 5,897, KP 2,760, GB 972 and in AJK 530 beds facilities were established in isolation wards.

Future Prospects and Major Steps Should Take by Government of Pakistan

The COVID-19 coursed by SARS-CoV-2 in the Wuhan city of China which rapidly spread in 208 countries/regions including USA, UK, Italy, Spain and Pakistan. The current scenario of Pakistan is not satisfactory as Pakistan is much populated country where required more facilitation. Pakistan is a developing country where the financial position is not better as compared to China, USA, UK, Russia to combat with COVID-19 outbreak. The number of hospitals and quarantine facilities being not fulfilled as required. If these medical facilities improved, then it will not be difficult to control the transmission of viruses and treatment of patients. Currently the testing facilities are much lower than the required target. The testing facilities could increase by five to ten (5to 10) folds. The right steps should be taken to control the situation more worst such as staying at homes, lockdown, social distancing, using sanitizers, face mask when necessary. Pakistan needs more screening facilities for the arrivals as well as for the departures. It is hoped that Pakistan will overtake the COVID-19.

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South Asia

Pakistan can maximize the benefits of CPEC by involving China experts

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Mr. Yao Jing, who has been to Pakistan three times at various diplomatic postings – very junior, mid-career, and senior-most position as Ambassador, a perfect expert on Pakistan. He was in touch with Pakistan for almost 25 years, and have deep interaction with various segments of the society, seen several Governments and virtually all political and regional leaders in Pakistan. He has also served in India and Afghanistan and understands well Pak-India, Pak-Afghan relations in a comprehensive manner. Being an Ambassador, he had interaction with the highest level official, military and civil bureaucracy, and leadership. His understanding of Pakistan is unmatched. At the end of his tenure as Ambassador to Pakistan, before departing, in one of his farewell, he expressed that the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) would be better served if Pakistan would have appointed officials who are experts on the functioning of the Chinese government and its market. He was happy at the progress that had been made between the two countries, and that CPEC was on the right track. Pakistan can maximize the benefits of CPEC by involving China experts.

There exist around 20,000 China-graduates in Pakistan in various fields and various age groups, with various lengths of experience to fresh graduates. The first badge of Pakistani students traveled to China for higher education in 1977-78. Initially, there were very few students, but a sharp increase was witnessed since year-2000 and onward. Currently, there are around 30,000 Pakistani students studying in China, almost all majors field of emerging specializations, in leading Chinese Universities. They are at various levels – Undergrads, Masters, PhDs, and Post.Docs, etc.

A vast pool of around 20,000 China-graduates in Engineering, Agriculture, Health Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Economics, Management Sciences, Social and Natural Sciences are available in Pakistan readily.

China graduates are the human resource required for CPEC, as they understand China in addition to their professional qualification. While studying in China, they interact with the Chinese teachers, students, and society and learns Chinese culture, Traditions, History, Philosophy, Thinking, Ethics, Values, and Psyche, Politics, Governance, etc. Based on their understandings of Chinese systems, they can negotiate with Chinese and work with them in harmony and successfully. The involvement of China-Graduates in the CPEC is key to success and may maximize benefits for Pakistan.

Chinese Ambassador further said,“CPEC is now well connected, much to the satisfaction of both sides,” furthermore. “The biggest concern, if there is one, is that Pakistani officials lack expertise on China, and do not know how the Chinese government works, and also how Chinese companies operate.” Due to a lack of understanding, some time faces misunderstandings and misinterpretations.“In China, for example, we have some experts that advise us on Pakistan’s governance model. There is a lot more to be done for Pakistani authorities to learn the functioning of Chinese markets and governance model,” he added. While considering CPEC as Oxygen to Pakistan’s economy and catalyst for economic take-off the country, there is no single interpreter of the Chinese language in the Government of Pakistan. In the private sector, there are few Chinese language experts, with 50% interpretation capability only. Communication and understanding may be a hurdle, which can be resolved by involving China-graduates simply. Pakistan needs to change its mindset from the Western approach toward understanding China, which may benefit in the smooth execution of CPEC.

Currently, those who are handing CPEC has little knowledge about China and sometimes face an embarrassing situation. It is not an individual’s  fault, but if China experts are given this task, they can perform much better. CPEC is handled by Western-educated or trained personnel, having little or no understandings of China can not achieve the desired results or optimal outcomes. Often, they compare China with the Western World, which is the wrong approach and may lead to a total disaster sometimes. China is a unique civilization, and having its own traditions and values, much different from the West. It will be highly productive, if the Government of Pakistan, utilize the China-graduates and China-trained human resource, to maximize the outcomes of CPEC.

Ambassador Yao Jing is a sincere friend of Pakistan; his advice carries high-value and may be taken seriously. Especially while we are entering into the Second-Phase of CPEC, where the private sector may be involved in Industrialization, Agricultural Sector, and Services Sector, China experts can play an instrumental role and maximize benefits for Pakistan.

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Interpreting Sheikh Hasina’s Foreign Policy

Shariful Islam

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September 28, 2020 marks the 74th birthday of Sheikh Hasina, the Honourable Prime Minister of Bangladesh. On the occasion of her birthday, it becomes important to examine the foreign policy of Sheikh Hasina and the policy imperatives for Bangladesh. Sheikh Hasina brought dynamism in Bangladesh foreign policy. In fact, the peace-centric foreign policy of Hasina becomes pertinent for world peace, stability, and prosperity. To make Bangladesh a developed country by 2041, the constructive, cooperative and peace-centric foreign policy of Hasina can play leading role. Thus, in this birthday, this article attempts to analyse Sheikh Hasina’s foreign policy for a peaceful and better world.

Sheikh Hasina came to power in 2009, and took oath for the third time as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh in 2019. This long period provided political stability in Bangladesh except some incidences of political violence at the beginning of 2014. This has also helped Bangladesh to maintain a consistency in foreign policy pattern/priorities. It is argued that political leaders play important role in the field of international relations and foreign policy formulations and executions. The personal characteristics of the leader, i.e. beliefs, motives, decision style, and interpersonal style become critical in understanding the foreign policy behavior of a state (Hermann 2011).

In fact, in the context of Bangladesh where the Prime Minister play vital role in the foreign policy formulations, the beliefs, ideologies, personal characteristics, norms, values, and the bold and visionary leadership of Sheikh Hasina play crucial role in the formulation and execution of an independent foreign policy of Bangladesh based on norms, values and enlightened interest. One can identify the following key parameters of Sheikh Hasina’s foreign policy.

First, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the founding father of Bangladesh, laid down the foreign policy principle of Bangladesh, i.e. ‘Friendship to all and malice to none’. This policy helped Bangladesh to achieve Bangladesh’s recognition from states around the world and building cooperative partnership. However, except Awami League, this policy is not followed by other political parties in Bangladesh. After coming to power for the second time in 2009, Sheikh Hasina made a strategic shift in the foreign policy formulations of Bangladesh prioritising both India and China in the development trajectory of Bangladesh. Hasina government strongly followed the foreign policy principle, i.e. ‘Friendship to all and malice to none’ in the case of Bangladesh’s relations with both India and China. In fact, Bangladesh has been able to maintain the good relations with all countries including India and China due to the ‘friendship to all, malice to none’ foreign policy principle of Sheikh Hasina. According to Sheikh Hasina, ‘[W]hat’s the problem with it (maintaining ties with both China and India)? We have ties with all our neighbours. Bangladesh has no animosity with anyone because we are following the lesson taught by the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’ (bdnews24.com, July 4, 2019).If the world would follow such peace-centric foreign policy of Sheikh Hasina, the world would be a better place to live in, one can argue.

Second,Sheikh Hasina follows a peace-centric foreign policy. As the earlier section notes, the foreign policy dictum developed by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is strongly followed by Sheikh Hasina. For instance, while the major powers in the region and beyond closed their doors to the Rohingya refugees, Bangladesh opened the door for them. As a result, more than 1.1 million Rohingyas received shelter in Bangladesh. Bangladesh with limited resources is providing food, shelter, medicare and other facilities/services to this huge number of Rohingya refugees since 2017. To resolve the crisis, Bangladesh strongly believes in peaceful resolution through mutual understanding and dialogue.

Third,under the Sheikh Hasina government, Bangladesh prioritises economy over security or strategic issues in its foreign policy formulations. At Bangladeshi envoys conference, held in July 2019 at London, Sheikh Hasina has asked Bangladeshi envoys based in European countries to pursue economy diplomacy as top most priority to sustain the ongoing development in Bangladesh. At the World Economic Forum Economic Summit in New Delhi in October 2019, Sheikh Hasina presented Bangladesh as the economic hub in the sub-region and thus asked the global investors to invest in Bangladesh. Under the leadership of Hasina, Bangladesh is setting up 100 special economic zones, with one-stop service across the country to attract foreign direct investments.

The agreements on economic cooperation between Bangladesh and different countries shows the importance Bangladesh attaches to economic diplomacy in its foreign policy formulations and executions. Due to the prioritisation of economy diplomacy, the GDP of Bangladesh has grown from US$102 billion in 2009 to US$302 billion in 2019 (Hasina 2019). In addition, foreign direct investment has also increased from US$ 700 million in 2009 to US$ 3613 million in 2018 (Table 1). In 2018, Bangladesh was the second recipient of FDI in South Asia. In addition, Table 2 demonstrates that the volume of trade has increased between 2009 and 2018 which underscores the priority of economic diplomacy in the foreign policy formulations of Bangladesh under Hasina regime. According to UNCTAD, there is 9.5 per cent merchandise exports growth rate in 2018. Among the export products, 95 per cent covers manufactured goods. According to the UNCTAD statistics, among the top five export destinations of Bangladesh in 2018 included USA (US$ 5672 million), Germany (US$ 5626 million), United Kingdom (US$ 3460 million), Spain (US$ 2709 million), and France (US$ 2288 million).

Table 1: Foreign direct investment flow in Bangladesh (Millions of dollars)

Year2009201020112012201320142015201620172018
Value70091311361293159915512235233321523613

Source: UNCTAD (2015: A5; 2019:214).

Table 2: International merchandise trade: Total merchandise trade (millions of US$)

Sector2005201020152018
Merchandise exports9297191943237939252
Merchandise imports13889278214204760495
Merchandise balance-4 592-8 627-9 669               -21243

Source: UNCTADstat (https://unctadstat.unctad.org/CountryProfile/GeneralProfile/en-GB/050/index.html).       

Fourth, after came to power in 2009, Sheikh Hasina resolved the long-standing maritime boundary delimitation dispute with India and Myanmar peacefully through the help of international regimes. Bangladesh now has sovereign rights on all living, and non-living resources of over 200 nautical miles of Exclusive Economic Zone and up to 354 nautical miles of the continental shelf of the country. Thus, blue economy has become a key area of Sheikh Hasina’s foreign policy. Though India and China are rivals in many aspects, Bangladesh has signed Blue Economy agreement with both of them.

Fifth, resolving Rohingya crsis through internationalisation of the issue became a key foreign policy priority for Sheikh Hasina government. Thus, at bilateral, regional and international forums, Bangladesh advocated Rohingya issues strongly.

Sixth, under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh strongly advocates rules-based international order. Thus, Bangladesh promotes the agency of rules-based international order, i.e. regional and international institutions. The country respects the norms of the international institutions like the United Nations. In fact, the constitution of the United Nations is also reflected in the drafting of foreign policy principles of Bangladesh.

Seventh, conventionally, Bangladesh does not participate in power politics whether at regional or international level. Instead, regional and international cooperation based on rules and norms has been the guiding principles of Sheikh Hasina’s foreign policy. In fact, cooperation and partnership at bilateral, regional, and global level are key defining features of Bangladesh foreign policy under Sheikh Hasina regime. Bangladesh is a strong advocate of regional and international cooperation. For instance, Bangladesh strongly supports South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multisectoral and Technical Cooperation (BIMSTEC), Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) Economic Corridor, Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) and the United Nations. The country strongly promotes sub-regional cooperation. The country has already allowed India to use its land, water, and ports to access its Northeastern states. For instance, Bangladesh has asked Nepal and Bhutan to use its Saidpur airport, and Chittagong and Mongla ports which demonstrates the importance of constructive engagement with the neighbours and beyond.

Finally,South-South Cooperation is another defining feature of Sheikh Hasina’s foreign policy. Bangladesh sees South-South Cooperation as an effective mechanism for development cooperation among the Southern countries. For instance, Bangladesh has included South-South Cooperation in its National Policy for Development Cooperation. Bangladesh has been awarded ‘South-South Award’ in 2013 to make a remarkable progress in the poverty alleviation. In addition, in September 2018, Bangladesh has received a special award in Bangkok from the UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific and UNESCAP in recognition of its outstanding contributions to South-South Cooperation.

This article also focuses on some policy imperatives. First, the above identified eight defining features of Sheikh Hasina’s foreign policy need to be promoted in the days to come especially economic diplomacy. Second, the dearth of scholarship on Bangladesh foreign policy studies implies that it becomes important to promote foreign policy studies in the country. In this regard, the role of the state, and scholars becomes important. Bangladesh is a rising power which requires both knowledge production and dissemination. Consequently, Sheikh Hasina government needs to promote foreign policy scholarship both in the country and beyond.

Third, it becomes also important to promote the soft power diplomacy of Bangladesh. In this context, nation branding (a peaceful country, an emerging economic power, a strong promoter of regional and international cooperation) to the world community becomes crucial. Bangladesh’s contributions to the world peace and stability needs to be highlighted by writing op-eds, making presentations, publishing research articles and so forth by both the policy and academic community.

Fourth, internationalising the Rohingya issue will be another key issue area of Sheikh Hasina’s foreign policy in the days to come. In this context, the role of active diplomacy at both Track I and Track II level becomes crucial. There are more than 10, 000 University teachers in Bangladesh who can write a piece on the Rohingya issue and publish it at regional and international media. This will be imperative to internationalise the issue and thus resolve the crisis.

Fifth, deepening economic cooperation, attracting foreign direct investment, promoting trade and commerce, sustaining the development partnership with major and emerging powers will become serious challenge for Sheikh Hasina government in the post-COVID-19 era. Thus, it becomes important to rethink Bangladesh foreign policy and diplomacy based on economic diplomacy in the post-COVID-19 era.

To conclude, in this troubled world where narrowly defined interest defines the foreign policy actions of states, arms races, and competition for influence, power and position becomes rampant, the foreign policy of Sheikh Hasina based on peace, friendship, and cooperation becomes important for the welfare and benefits of the people in the world. The foreign policy of Bangladesh under the Sheikh Hasina regime is improving Bangladesh’s relations with the major development partners of the country including with both India and China especially in the areas of economic and development partnership which has resulted in economic growth and socio-economic development in the country. And this has impacted the lives and livelihoods of tens of thousands of people in the country. Thus, the continuation of Sheikh Hasina’s foreign policy becomes important for Bangladesh and the beyond. This article concludes that there is no alternative to Sheikh Hasina and her peace-centric foreign policy for the 170 million people in Bangladesh and beyond.

In this great day, I wish, Happy Birthday to our Honourable Prime Minister. Long live Bangladesh, long live the Honourable Prime Minister.

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Russia expanding influence in India and Sri Lanka

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Authors: Srimal Fernando and Vedangshi Roy Choudhuri*

In the post-World War II era the diplomatic influence of former Soviet Union on newly  Independent India and its southern neighbour, Sri Lanka redefined a new foreign policy order based on Non Aligned principles. The changes  following the cold war marked the beginning of a new era of  diplomacy  between   Moscow with  New Delhi and Colombo

  Russia is a global superpower and a permanent member of the United Nations which paves a path to withhold a  significant influence on the global south. India is a  rising regional power being a  UN Security Council member and its southern neighbour Sri Lanka is geostrategically positioned in the Indian ocean which results in being vital nations for  Modern-day Russia’s Foreign policymaking. This Trilateral diplomacy needs greater assessment to reframe a new foreign policy doctrine to enhance economic diplomacy and for greater defence cooperation.

 Soviet  Union (USSR) and India

The USSR diplomatic collaboration helped  India on achieving its self-sufficiency in food production and to become an industrialised nation. The same period saw specific defence cooperation between  New Delhi and Moscow due to the changing security dynamics in the global security arena. In mid-1991, India accelerated the process of liberalizing the economy by removing controls as it was trying to adjust to the post-Soviet reality. The first phase of the post cold war diplomacy was marked by a Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, and after a year they lined it up with a Military-Technical Cooperation agreement.

Russia – India

Historically India and Russia have had stable and cordial political relations and elevated the diplomacy to a ”Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership”. The Bilateral relationship between the two nations is robust, with a wide agenda for cooperation. There are regular excessive-degree visits between the two nations. Moreover, for  Russia, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) continues to be an instrument for establishing better relations with India and with other South Asian neighbours

On an international level, Russia, and India are the predominant members of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) organization of rising powers set to reshape the world economy. At present, India and Russia continue to share a common strategic rationale for their relationship: aside from bilateral collaborations, the two are members of various multilateral associations including BRICS, RIC, G20, East Asia Summit and SCO—where roads for cooperation on issues of common significance exist.

Trade Relations

 The agreement on trade and economic and scientific-technological cooperation until 2010 was signed in New Delhi in December 1998 which sought to boost bilateral trade and economic interaction in a qualitative sense between the two nations. Hence Economic interaction and trade are key focus points. On the trade front, India and Russia have called for enhancing and developing economic ties in priority areas to meet the bilateral trade target of $30 billion by 2025. Eurasian Economic Union (EEU)–India trade pact is a proposed platform which is to be used by the two countries to have a free flow of trade and eliminate trade barriers as currently, they have no bilateral free trade deals in place.

 Defence Cooperation

 In the post-cold war era, the diplomatic process of one of the most critical factors of the Indo-Russian strategic partnership is defence. The 1994 Moscow Declaration is a charter for Russian–Indian cooperation in their national and international security. However, Since the early 1960s, India purchased over 40 billion dollars’ worth of defence equipment from Moscow. The key partnership among India and Russia was marked in the year 2000 and the two nations plan to extend their strategic partnership, particularly in the areas of defence, nuclear energy and trade and investment.

The 2001 long-term Russian  Naval Doctrine goals in the Indian Ocean was to pursue a deliberate strategy of turning the Indian Ocean into a zone of peace, stability and neighbourly relations ensuring periodic Russian naval presence in the Indian Ocean.

Over time India has developed the  BrahMos Missile System, Joint development of the 5th generation Fighter aircraft and the Multi transport aircraft, in addition to the licensed manufacturing of SU-30 aircraft and T-90 tanks. Lately, the plan is to assemble about 400 Kamov Ka-226 T twin-engined Russian helicopters in India.

 Soviet. Union (USSR) –  Sri Lanka

The predominant step towards the beginning of complete bilateral ties between the Soviet Union and Ceylon was in 1956 under the patronage of Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike. Later, in the mid-Sixties when Sirimavo Bandaranaike won the elections and became Prime Minister, many believed that the new government would share a socialist ideology. however, the world’s first woman premier’s foreign policy was guided by the ideas of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Russia and Sri Lanka have crafted a grand approach based on the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) ideas and old Soviet connections. As a result, looking back, one can declare the entire diplomatic process to be noticeably exceptional.

 In the course of this period, the Soviet Union was instrumental in reworking the agriculture-based economy into a competitive manufacturing country through her technical cooperation. Setting up Ceylon steel, Tyre and Sugar companies with the aid of the USSR created employment opportunities that significantly advanced manufacturing efficiency.

Russia- Sri Lanka

Comparing then and now, steps must be taken to make sure the free flow of foreign policy ideas to reshape external policy outreach. For a small country like Sri Lanka, it is vital to outline a new balance between external outreach and internal stability. For instance, tapping into Russian billionaires would possibly help Sri Lanka to draw foreign direct investment (FDI) opportunities. For Russia, the geographical position of Sri Lanka is a bonus for gaining access to the 1.3 billion Indian consumer market through the Indo-Lanka free trade agreement (ISFTA).

After the fall of the Soviet Union, these bilateral ties were tested, but Russia kept a close watch on the South Asian island nation until they had been revived to their old glory. In the past fifteen years, Russia has been even more steady in its foreign policy towards Sri Lanka than earlier.

Six decades of international relations among Russia and Sri Lanka have yielded strong accomplishments in retaining the long-standing partnership. it is determined that Russia’s foreign policy approach regarding Sri Lanka has played a firm role in turning a new chapter in each other’s diplomatic practices. Presently, evidence of this is substantial in the closeness between Moscow and Colombo. In most recent instances, the time-tested, deep-rooted friendship got stronger when Russian President Putin stated “Moscow remains a reliable partner of Sri Lanka” following the Easter Sunday bombings.

Conclusion

Lately, South Asia is perhaps one of the most challenging regions for Russia from the point of view of not only security in its traditional meaning but also of Russia’s prospects of emerging as an economic power. Russia attempts to pave a path between the developed  Russian constructive multilateral relations with the countries of South Asia and the further manifestation of its soft diplomacy in the region have opened the gates to its substantial regional influence.

*Vedangshi Roy Choudhuri is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts (BA hons.) in Journalism and Mass Communication at the Jindal School of Journalism & Communication (JSJC). She mainly focuses on Indo-China global media relations. She was also a recipient of the ICASQCC Gold Medal in Mauritius. Roy is member of the SGRC at Jindal Global University and a social activist in Chennai.

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