As a retired career diplomat, I follow the events concerning our Foreign Ministry and matters related to Bangladesh foreign policy almost like reflex action. Sometimes I wish I did not for the way the Foreign Ministry is being marginalized is really sad.
After this government came to power, it has named as Ambassador to all the important posts, individuals who are not from the Foreign Service cadre. A couple of them though are retired diplomats but still, the message to the foreign service cadre has been that they are not considered good enough for such posts; the first time that has happened with them.
Recently, an Adviser to the Prime Minister has been given the task of coordinating the inter-ministerial review of the Joint Communiqué reached during the Prime Minister’s official visit to India. As a former Director-General for South Asia, I cannot even believe that a day would come when our Foreign Ministry would be so by-passed in dealing with India!
Then there has been the news about the Foreign Ministry being deprived of its authority of issuing diplomatic passports which has now been given to the Ministry of Home Affairs. As if all the above was not bad news for the Foreign Ministry, Ambassadors and High Commissioners will henceforth be appointed by the Cabinet!
All the above relegates the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry to be now bereft of most major roles and functions that its counterpart plays in other governments. It is just not bad for the Ministry; in an age of globalization where all governments are strengthening their foreign Ministry for upholding its national interests, the marginalization of the Foreign Ministry is bound to harm Bangladesh’s national interests. It is sad that as the Foreign Ministry is being systematically marginalized, there is not even a murmur from those who are supposed to lead it.