Why Bangladesh Can’t Afford QUAD

Mohammad Zainal Abedin:  Bangladesh seems to have denied its entrance to the four-nation military alliance QUAD (Quadrilateral Security Dialogue), consisting of the U. S., Japan, Australia, and India. These four countries   since 2007, aiming China, separately conducted naval exercises in the South China Sea, and Indo-Pacific region.

Quad is purely an American-sponsored alliance that will ultimately promote and establish Lilliputian superpower India to supervise, even control, entire Asia on its behalf.  Comprehending the far-reaching adverse effect of Quad, Chinese ambassador to Bangladesh alarmed Dhaka saying bilateral ties between Bangladesh and China would undergo ‘substantial damage’ if Dhaka joins or backs Quad.

Bangladesh foreign minister promptly reacted saying, such an assertion is ‘premature’ and Dhaka didn’t get any invitation to join Quad. He reiterated that Bangladesh is committed to the principles of Non-alignment Movement and akin to its stated foreign policy — amity to all, but enmity to none.

Vested quarters propagate that Bangladesh declined to enter Quad due to Chinese pressure. Such an assertion is not true. Being a freedom fighter and tiny research worker, I find so many logics, why Bangladesh should deny Quad.

If the forum had a minimum vision of establishing peace in the Indo-Pacific region, it could have included many other major countries of the concerned regions particularly China, North & South Korea, New Zealand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, Pakistan, Iran, and even South Africa.

How Quad, without including the democratic countries of the region, will promote one of its visions — democracy? How can a military alliance establish democracy? How can a Quad member, Lilliputian superpower India, can promote democracy or peace, whence India’s democracy became questionable?  People’s sentiment and human rights are denied in India. Freedom of speech and press is suppressed. Sexual assaults and rapes are random. Communal riots and ethnic hatred are officially encouraged. International organizations are no more ready to recognize India as a democratic country. India severely denies democracy to the people of its occupied territories from Kashmir to Nagaland and uses its forces to indiscriminately kill them. India itself extremely suffers from political and social chaos, unrest, uncertainty, poverty, and dependency (on others).

India posies itself as the lord of its neighboring countries. To cede its neighbors India infiltrates agents, terrorists, even trained secessionists inside Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, and even China. It creates disunity, political chaos, social unrest, and subversive activities to keep them economically poor and nationally weak. None of the South Asian countries find India as a trusted and safe neighbor.  So, how can it boost democracy or peace? Inclusion of such a hegemonic, restive, and semi-dictatorial country having poor images undermined the status of three other Quad members and made it unacceptable to many countries.

Independent observers and military analysts believe, despite having so many differences between the two, the shade of NATO spreads in Asia through Quad, to restrict China’s ever-expanding influence and power in the South China Sea and Indo-pacific region. Chinese leadership feels that Quad works to isolate China to halt its eco-strategic expansion.  China may not bend down under such a military and psychological pressure, rather to counter Quad, it may engage its absolute strength, which will create a warlike situation in the region.

Question surfaces why America, avoiding all other Asian countries, singularly asked Bangladesh to join Quad, though it is neither militarily nor economically an effective country. Even countries like New Zealand, Fiji, East Timor, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Mauritius, Madagascar, Seychelles, Comoros, etc., though are situated inside the Indian or Pacific Ocean, were not invited to join Quad.

So, question normally arises why Bangladesh is, at least indirectly, asked to join Quad. Knowledgeable sources opine, it is perhaps a trick of Lilliputian superpower India that persuaded America to press Bangladesh to become an uneven partner of Quad, as India possesses an ulterior evil design to keep Bangladesh within its orbit.

India historically does not believe in the existence of its neighboring countries, particularly, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Nehru in 1946 declared in writing that if ‘India is divided, Bengal and Punjab would have to be divided, so the parts of Bengal and Punjab that would go to Pakistan could come back soon to India.’ (Nehru’s letter to Ashraf Uddin Chowdhury, the then President of Tripura (now Comilla) district of Bangladesh.

Indian National Congress in a resolution in 1947 said, we accept the partition of India for the time being, but we would work to reunite India. On December7, 2016 Ram Madhav, a member of BJP, in an interview with ‘Al Jazeera TV’ reiterated, “The RSS still believes that one day the parts, which have historical reasons separated only 60 years, will again, through popular goodwill, come together and Akahand Bharat will be created.”  Even Novel Lautarite Amrtya sen and journalist Kuldip Nayar separately prescribed Bangladesh to join Indian Union.

The combined region (once) based on “Hindu cultural” similarities. (The Indian Express, January 4, 2016)

Military analysts opine, India is desperate to keep Bangladesh as its undeclared satellite. India wants to bring Bangladesh to Quad, so that Indian army can openly enter Bangladesh a Quad-member country. If that is possible Bangladesh will remain under Indian occupation forever. The Bangladeshis having minimum sense of patriotism can never accept any offer that may harm their motherland.

I want to quote Prime Minister (PM) Sheikh Hasina, who on May 18, 2021 while addressing a meeting of the National Economic Council (NEC) indicated to certain quarters that her government will not accept any suggestion that can harm the country in any way. She joined the meeting through video conference from Gana Bhavan. She recalled, “Once upon a time the country ran on the prescription of others, but I will not do it. Because the country is ours and we know very well what will improve the country and the people.”  She advised the concerned officials saying, “You have to think about your country. You don’t have to be empty-faced all the time.” She added,” “The country is ours. We know how to improve the country. But we will take advice and that advice will not be something that will be harmful to the country.”

Let the country be above everything. Let all Bangladeshis raise one voice: No to QUAD. No to India. *

Ø Mohammad Zainal Abedin is a Bangladesh-origin American journalist & researcher

Ø May 27, 2021

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