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     Volume 4 Issue 42 | April 16, 2005 |

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USA versus UK


Part of the 7 O'clock News of BBC 3 on 11 November 2003 was titled 'The Bush-Blair Relationship' and voiced thus:

"Since the terrorist attacks on September 11, and especially during the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, American President George W Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair have developed a peculiar and indeed deep and 'special relationship' that neither is willing to break despite public pressure to do so.

"The importance of Blair in the relationship became even clearer when other equally powerful nations - France and Germany - opposed the war on Iraq. Since the end of the Second World War, Britain has been militarily and strategically important for the US housing as it does several airbases which serve as America's foothold to Europe, the Middle East and beyond."

There you go! This column was always right about the goings on 'special relationship' as insiders like BBC will tell you. In fact, since nine-eleven the two governments have been behaving more like smitten lovers and have been unable to stay away from each other. Unfortunately a big chunk of water separates the warmly rapport between the leaders of two the most powerful nations. Fortunately for the rest of the world though, the lovey-dovey affair does not have the approval of their people, their electorate as they would want us to say.

"In a poll executed by The Times (London), only 40% of those questioned believed that the UK-US special relationship was positive." That leaves a good 60%, the majority, who thought otherwise.

While the two may be agreeing on everything from North Korea to Iran, from Iraqi puppets to Guantanamo Bay torture there is a definite discord by their governments with reference to Bangladesh.

Here is a VOA report published on 30 March 2005. The internet version reads like this:

(Heading) "US HR Report Expresses Concerns on Human Rights in Bangladesh by Amir Khasru from Dhaka.

(Body) "In a recent report on Supporting Human Rights and Democracy by US State Department deep concerns have been expressed on human rights situation in Bangladesh. The report, which was presented to US Congress, said that in recent years extra judicial killings have taken place in Bangladesh. It also alleged that the government has failed in investigating political killings in Bangladesh. It also mentions continuous corruption and torture by Bangladeshi police. It says that political conflicts have now become normal in Bangladesh. US government wants to see democracy prevails in Bangladesh, democratic rights are maintained, (and) freedom of religion is honoured."

Alarming report that; and deshiyo ijjat was in total disarray even by conservative opinion.

There was however immediate solace and perhaps even an occasion to put out our chest, as America's best friend the UK was in total disagreement with that report, or so it would seem.

Within a week of the VOA dispatch the Daily Star published a UNB (Dhaka) report on April 05, 2005

(Heading) "UK praises improvement of law, order (Body) "The British government has highly appreciated the improvement of the law and order situation in Bangladesh, describing it as a tremendous success of the present government under the leadership of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia.

"The appreciation was conveyed by British High Commissioner in Bangladesh Anwar Choudhury when he called on the prime minister at her office yesterday.

"Briefing newsmen after the meeting, officials said the diplomat also rated highly the measures and success so far achieved in the investigation into the killing of former finance minister Shah AMS Kibria.

"The British government hopes that the transparent measures of the present government will help the authorities bring the culprits to book," the Bangladeshi-born British envoy was quoted as saying.

"During the meeting, cooperation in various fields, including British assistance for training Bangladesh policemen, also came up for discussion.

"The prime minister and the high commissioner also discussed other matters of bilateral interest and issues of common concern."

The two conflicting reports can hardly reflect George W Bush's conviction "We've got no better friend in the world than Great Britain". Friends in world politics usually take cue from one another. It's unbelievable that the USA can goof up on the simple issue of the situation in present day Bangladesh.

The US report somewhat reflects what is presented by our newspapers on a day-to-day basis. In the interest of Bangladesh we sure hope the British High Commissioner knows something that our newspapers do not.

In stretching our interest further we need the two powerful nations to agree on Bangladesh, not differ on the vital issue of law and order. As a developing 'developing' country all we can do is worry.

Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2005