Published: Monday, May 27, 2013

Sherman cancels Khaleda meet

Stresses need to get rid of 'cycle of election-year violence'

Wendy R Sherman, US under secretary of state for political affairs (2nd from right), speaks at a press briefing at State Guest House Meghna in the capital Monday afternoon. Photo: SK Enamul Huq

Wendy R Sherman, US under secretary of state for political affairs (2nd from right), speaks at a press briefing at State Guest House Meghna in the capital Monday afternoon. Photo: SK Enamul Huq

Wendy R Sherman, US under secretary of state for political affairs, has cancelled her meeting with opposition leader Khaleda Zia.

The US top official, who arrived here on Sunday to attend the second US-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue, was scheduled to meet Khaleda Monday afternoon.

Asked about the meeting cancellation, Kelly S McCarthy, press and information officer at the US embassy in Dhaka, told The Daily Star that the Under  Secretary had regretted that a hartal marked the first day of the partnership dialogue, and subsequent schedule changes precluded her call on with the chairperson.

Sherman herself explained the reason at a joint press conference at State Guest House Meghna.

“My schedule required me to make some changes…I met with the opposition leader last time I was in Dhaka.”

Talking to reporters after addressing the partnership dialogue at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel later in the day, the Under Secretary said: “I was rather surprised when I arrived yesterday, a hartal was underway.”

In her remarks at the partnership dialogue, Sherman pointed out Bangladesh’s success in different sectors.

She however cautioned that the ultimate success of the country’s story is not guaranteed.

“My colleagues and I, along with a great many Bangladeshis, have watched with dismay as the streets of Dhaka have been shut down by hartal after hartal, by angry demonstration after angry demonstration.”

She continued: “I cannot presume to tell the people of Bangladesh or your leaders what issues demand attention, what wrongs must be righted, or what approach your country must take as it faces the grave challenges of the future. In Bangladesh, as in any democracy, this is for the people alone to decide.”

She expressed her worry that about series of shutdowns.

“…I worry about a cycle of violence that shuts down a city of millions on what seems like a daily basis, that dramatically slows Bangladesh’s economic growth, that feeds a political culture that rejects compromise, that breeds fear in minority populations, that brands some citizens and their beliefs less worthy than others, and that radicalises segments of the population.”

“To truly prosper, Bangladesh must free itself of this long-standing cycle of election-year violence.”

  • Ashique

    First the Indian president, and now this. Well done, BNP. :/

  • Ash C.

    People respect those more who find time for others in their busy schedule & those who never look at their schedule when others need them!

  • Iftekhar Hassan

    Third highest ranking American diplomat, US under secretary of state for political affairs, cancelling meeting with BNP chief was a very good idea to show American concern regarding unnecessary violence. BNP must come up with the civilized way to protest ad create public support for their cause, including their demand for CG in a non-violent manner.

    • Dev Saha

      A huge rebuke from a benevolent friend!

  • Sujon Islam

    I don’t think even P’alo editor can save BNP now, first the Indian President & now the U.S. undersecretary, if the editors who keeps a blind eye to all of BNP’s misdeeds must wake up now,this is there own doing,ultra right wing fundamentalism is & always will be against any progressive nation( read Pakistan ), just read Muntasir Mamumns feature in ‘ Janakantha’ today about the editors & the role they play in influencing peoples opinion,makes us suspicious of any hidden agendas by a certain quarter. For the sake of our development we need all our progressive minded editors to stand united. As an ex DS employee , (and my great respect for Mahfuz Bhai) I request all editors to unitedly shun fundamentalism & expose its roots to the society,our fathers did not liberate this country so that we can turn it back to Pakistan.

    • Zman7

      I concur with the view that freedom fighters and their supporters did NOT liberate this country to turn it back (again) to Pakistan, and sing something “Bangla-(pak)istan Zindabad”. Yes, they did NOT make Bangladesh to be satellite-state of Pakistan or any country in the world. And Yes, in this regard, not only editors but all politically conscious Bangladeshis must (abandon their self-interest and) be united for the common greater interest of the country. I
      also have respect for all the honorable editors so long as they are Pro- Independent Patriots. Long live Bangladesh (as a friendly and
      prosperous country).

  • MH Khan

    Whatever was the reason for rescheduling her program I liked
    the cancellation of her meeting with Khaleda. Khaleda has gone to the extreme.
    If she has a point she can highlight that point in various ways. Her followers
    can form human chains, she can go on hunger strike or she can boycott elections.
    But the violent and destructive options she has chosen in projecting her views
    and opinions to the people of the country are not acceptable. She cannot take
    the people of the country and its economy hostage to highlight her concerns and
    opinions. Her politics is not for the people
    or for the country; her politics is for something else.

  • Abul Khan

    Hartal has placed the US Under Secy in sheer predicament forcing to cancel the meeting with leader of the opposition.Even if meeting could take place,,hardly it would have been fruitful.The crux of the problem lies in the formation of govt during coming general election.Earlier a number of high level foreign dignitaries visited both the PM & the leader of the opposition but hardly,it yielded any positive result.Let it be done by both in dialogue of which there is no alternative to reach a settlement.BNP calls for dialogue & at the same time clamps hartal resulting in street fight & burning/destruction of public properties/transports.Parliament has been called into session.on 3rd June.The formula for the composition of neutral govt can be raised there without street fight & hartal thereby creating congenial environment.Alas! this is not the way for the party which has linked up now so many issues needing hartal.

  • Reader

    Shame on you all who think bangladesh issues, created by Bangladesh politicians, yellow media and unscrupulous intellectuals, should be solved by foreigners without serving foreigners interest at the cost of ordinary people of Bangladesh!!

  • sa

    Bangladesh is heading in the wrong direction with all this potential just wasted because of the greed of the politicians. The people need to rise with one voice and take the country back from these illiterate greedy lowlifes.

  • Dev Saha

    A bridge to repair very fast! BNP and its partners have been totally oblivious about the health and civility of the country. This is a huge blow for BNP and it should come back to middle before it becomes an international pariah. All local politics are also global!

  • nds

    It is, I think, a sort of humiliation for all of us. Opposition leader is not only a party chief but she represents our national image which definitely got tainted by this cancellation.Its a slap in our face. But unfortunately we have lost the moral ground to blame the visiting dignitary for it. It is our political leaders on who are to blame for it.