Defying international system, universal culture
Notwithstanding wars, conflicts, dissensions, discords, rabid nationalisms, and all kinds of divergence, humankind could over the last twentieth century and the on going twenty first one develop certain universally upheld code of conduct in relations between themselves. Thus, we have today an internationally adhered to system or the uniform global culture. Thus, even amid intense differences in perceptions and actual hostile postures, state actors can and actually do meet in warm spirit of friendliness to further mutual interests.
Last year, we witnessed former President Donald Trump of USA visiting North Korea and embracing its supreme leader when USA and North Korea remained practically in a belligerent or hostile state of relations. Many other examples of receiving of heads of government in foreign countries can be cited when both guest and host countries otherwise remained in potentially warlike conditions. For example, the famous visit of a former US President Nixon to Beijing in 1969. Writing about all of these events that helped shape the international system over the last two centuries are not possible within the limits of this column.
Only what we wish to emphasize here is that we have today an international system in place when unlike the days of Timurlane or Genghis Khan the order of one man isnot considered sufficient to behead millions of innocent but physically conquered humans. Humankind moved on towards justice, humanity and civilized impulses. Today, even prisoners of war enjoy mutually respected rights to life and repatriation . Today, we have a globally recognized and more importantly upheld ‘civilized’ world order based on rights and responsibilities of the state as well as non state actors.
Therefore, under today’s international system and dominant international culture, it matters not if a leader of a certain country is not welcome to small and inconsequential groups in another state. Such groups cannot arrogate to themselves any right to physically thwart the visit of that foreign leader just because they wish for such an outcome.
The government and the majority approving people of that country have every right to welcome him and hold discussions with him and any physical challenge thrown towards such an outcome would be construed as criminal activities under domestic law and a flagrant violation of currently and supremely upheld values of the international system and culture.
From declaring their opposition to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Bangladesh to what lawless activities they have been engaging in the last couple of days, the Hefajat-e-Islam party today is a glaring example of the type of utterly uncivilized and outdated forces that remain still in the body politic of Bangladesh. Needless to say, they are but a tiny part of the total population of our country. They are not representative of Bangladesh in any way. But they have destructive potential and our government must appreciate this fact before more harms are done.
Not only they have issued a threat to the international system and culture, they are now actively trying to fan the flames of hatred and bigotry. In their mindless rampage of violence, they are attacking state properties (for example setting fire to buildings and destroying railway’s signaling systems, etc.). Indeed, hard boiled observers of the Bangladesh situation are portending that centering on PM Modi’s visit, the Hefajat and its veiled bed followers are gradually seeking to start a destabilization process in the country which they perceive could start an widespread agitation for the toppling of the present government.
We, in Bangladesh, have been celebrating the half a century of development and progress of our country in all respects. It is too bad that a few among us remain uncivilized and in the middle ages in terms of their thought processes. Why should their abnormality lead to the unfortunate creation of a notion internationally that such obscurantist forces are gaining ascendancy in Bangladesh. Ironically, any easy going attitude of our government could help in the formation of such a notion. Foreign investors may shy away from Bangladesh on sensing that the uncivilized and intolerant ones are creeping back to acceptance. Even our great friend and benefactor from the time of independence, India, may misunderstand us from any wrong perception that their Prime Minister may not be welcome in Bangladesh.
It is high time, therefore, to put a hard brake on such most undesirable developments. The Hefajat members and its allies must immediately be subjected to the due processes of the laws. Specially the violence mongers of the last few days need to be identified andpicked up with no loss of time. Government should send clear signals of its coming hardline to the Hefajat and its cloaked supporters.