Bangladesh Needs a New Foreign Minister

Dr. A K Momen || Photo: Collected

Dr. A K Momen || Photo: Collected

The point ought to be obvious. After the latest gaffe from Dr A K Momen, we need a new foreign minister, one who will not keep embarrassing us in the country and abroad. Momen’s latest statement comes within days of his declaration that in comparison with other nations, Bangladesh’s people happen to be living in paradise.

The foreign minister has tried, unconvincingly, to explain that statement away. And now comes this blunder -- of his having appealed to the Indian authorities to do everything to ensure that Sheikh Hasina’s government, here in Bangladesh, remains in office. 

Delhi will shape our politics and not we, the people of Bangladesh? 

The foreign minister’s comments throw up a disturbing set of circumstances. In the first place, they inform the world that Bangladesh’s diplomatic establishment is incapable of formulating and carrying out the country’s foreign policy objectives. In the second, they let the world know, to our intense shame, that the political party now in power in Dhaka will remain in office on the strength of Indian support for it. Our votes do not and will not matter.

In the third place, the foreign minister’s remarks have clearly undermined our diplomats in Shegun Bagicha, and have certainly made them feeling redundant given that it will be the Indian government (to go by Momen’s words) that will speak for us in the councils of the world. 

We have not forgotten the minister’s appeal to India to speak for us abroad on the Rohingya issue. Neither have we forgotten his comparison of India-Bangladesh ties as being akin to the relationship between a husband and a wife.

Now that minister Momen has committed this new embarrassment and left an entire nation, across the board and across the overall political spectrum, angry and upset, the government owes it to the country to come forth with an official statement on the minister’s comments. 

Is the government in tune with its foreign minister? Is Momen’s statement part of government policy?

We surmise that the government, like the rest of us, has gone red in the face with Momen’s latest gaffe. It needs to do something about it. And that something is to expect AK Momen to tender his resignation and make his way out of government. 

That is the least, the decent thing he can do. If that does not happen, it should be for Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to ask him to resign so that she is free to appoint his successor. If that too does not work, the prime minister should dispense with his services and have him replaced by a new man or woman at the foreign office.

In our history, we have had quite a few men and women in the corridors of power come forth with statements which have flung our national reputation in the mud. But nothing has been more shaming and more damaging for us than the serial gaffes coming from foreign minister AK Momen. 

We as a people have had egg on our face, repeatedly, as a consequence of his freewheeling comments.

It is time for a change at the top of the nation’s diplomatic edifice.

[Syed Badrul Ahsan is a journalist and biographer. The article was first published on UNB]

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