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US visa policy to help ensure safe entry to, exit from power

Opinion 2023-05-28, 2:57pm


US visa application confirmation


Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen has said the new US visa policy is supportive of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's commitment for credible elections as Washington issued a pre-emptive warning to impose visa restrictions against individuals who would hinder fair polls. The new US policy rather made our position stronger to hold the free and fair election, he said.

The foreign office that Momen heads meanwhile said in a statement, “The government expects that the local undemocratic forces that resort to violence, arson and destruction would remain cautious and refrain from their misguided efforts to jeopardize the electoral process as mandated by the Constitution. It is entirely up to the people of Bangladesh to sustain the hard-earned democratic process, political stability and development gains in the country.”

In a reaction BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir said the new visa policy of the USA targeting Bangladesh’s next election has reflected the people’s long-standing demand for restoration of voting rights.

Terming US policy as clearly reflecting the long-standing demand of the democracy-loving people of Bangladesh, including BNP, for ensuring people's right to franchise,” he said free and fair elections will not be possible under the current government and demanded  the current government resign immediately dissolving the parliament.

The Ganatantra Manch (Platform for Democracy), a component of the opposition alliance now in movement for free and fair election under an interim government said on Thursday that the new US visa policy is an insult on the people for which the present government is responsible. 

The platform urged the government and all concerned to create the field for free, fair and credible election in a democratic atmosphere through its resignation, creation of an interim government and dissolution of Parliament. Alongside this it called for stopping all forms of repression, oppression and terrorism, the platform added.

In response, the United States said they were "heartened" by the announcement from the government of Bangladesh that welcomed the steps taken by Washington regarding visa policy. "We believe that democracy is the most enduring means to advance peace, prosperity, and security. It’s why we made the announcement, and we look forward to working with the Bangladeshi Government going forward," Spokesperson at the US Department of State Matthew Miller told reporters at a regular briefing.

In fact none in Bangladesh has so far opposed the new visa policy of the US. Only State Minister for foreign affairs of the Govt. Shahriar Alom has urged the US not to apply the policy indiscriminately while AL executive committee member Mohammad A Arafat has called upon Secretary of State Antony Blinken to apply the policy against senior BNP leaders who, he said, were threatening to resist the upcoming national elections. 

Under the policy announced on Wednesday, May 24, the United States will be able to restrict the issuance of visas for any Bangladeshi individual, believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh.  This includes current and former Bangladeshi officials, members of pro-government and opposition political parties, and members of law enforcement, the judiciary, and security services.

Actions that undermine the democratic election process include vote rigging, voter intimidation, the use of violence to prevent people from exercising their right to freedoms of association and peaceful assembly, and the use of measures designed to prevent political parties, voters, civil society, or the media from disseminating their views, the announcement said.

One can deduce from the statements mentioned above that the new visa policy of the US would alert people who visit the US, look forward to doing so, send their wards for higher studies would debar them from undermining national election. It would act as a barrier to those who have created wealth in the USA by laundering money.

The new visa policy has clearly created conditions for settling political problems peacefully through the ballot as against the fear of revenge attacks that was spread to activate political workers during general elections in the past. Those who will win election will hopefully be able to assume power peacefully and the losers to have safe exits.