Who Rules Bangladesh?

The engineering of the master plan of Sheikh Hasina’s authoritarianism is no doubt the work of RAW, because it is only under her that India can manipulate the situation to its favour and utterly reduce Bangladesh to a vassal state.

By Sabria Chowdhury Balland | April 2023

On the surface, Bangladesh appears to be a small South Asian economic powerhouse. Bangladeshi women are at the core of its economic growth in the garments industry, it has averted the traps of religious fundamentalism and stands as a secular, developing nation. Its trade and diplomatic relations with the international community are tension- free and the development of the nation seems to know no bounds.

That is the fairy tale version of the story of Bangladesh seen through the lens of Western or Indian propaganda. The real answer to the question of who controls the fate of Bangladesh and its 172 million people, according to the United Nations data, is more complex.

After its creation as an independent state in 1971, and after a series of successive changes of governments and a military dictatorship, Bangladesh has, since 2009, been under the continuous rule of Sheikh Hasina and her Awami League party. Hasina’s allegiance to India is no secret and it is widely known that her ascension to power in 2009, 2014 and 2018 were due to the machinations of India’s Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), the foreign intelligence agency and the United States.

A great deal of India’s “influences” (for the lack of a better word) on Bangladesh, and its grossly disproportionate trade imbalance with India is due to the policies of the United States in the South Asian region.

The shift in the U.S.’s position on Bangladesh

For decades, due the successive wars in the Middle East, the U.S. entrusted the Asia Pacific region to India, thinking erroneously that it could function successfully as a compelling counterbalance to China’s ever-growing influence in the region.

This entire strategy of the United States changed after the election of Joe Biden as the U.S. President, shifting with regards to the Asia Pacific in general and to Bangladesh in particular.
Ever since 2021, the United States State Department has been stating candidly that the U.S. no longer views Bangladesh through the lens of India and a phenomenal shift has been occurring. It is without a doubt the first time that so much of the focus of the U.S. has been on Bangladesh.

There are 3 principal reasons for this:

1. The Biden administration has realized that it cannot depend on India to be the counterbalance to China as was believed by previous administrations. The Biden team believes, that if the U.S. is to be able to “contain China,” it needs to depend on itself rather than to appoint makeshift counterbalances.

2. India’s clear stance to not vote to sanction Russia in the United Nations after the Ukraine crisis began sent distinct signals to the U.S. that India was not the undeniable ally that it was thought to be.

3. President Biden, right after taking office, declared that his administration would prioritize democracy, good governance, human rights, and anti-corruption. That may seem like an ambitious task but as far as Bangladesh is concerned, the categories could not be more fitting.

Under the Sheikh Hasina regime, Bangladesh has undergone successive rigged elections, the complete dissipation of opposition parties (with members and supporters of the opposition imprisoned, disappeared and or killed) and the people of the country have faced atrocious human rights violations.

The engineering of the master plan of Sheikh Hasina’s authoritarianism is no doubt the work of RAW, because it is only under her that India can manipulate the situation to its favour and utterly reduce Bangladesh, a sovereign nation, to a vassal state. Only Sheikh Hasina would allow this.

If the United States, along with its human rights and democracy agenda and its countering China stance also considers the imminent dangers of India’s nefarious “Akhand Bharat” scheme (in which Bangladesh, along with other neighbouring countries are to be grouped as one nation, i.e. India), then the U.S. is doing an excellent thing.

Who is in charge?

The answer to this is not just a double-edged sword. It is a multi-faceted one.

On superficial levels, it would seem that Sheikh Hasina, being an authoritarian with no regard for the laws of international human rights, freedom of speech or freedom of the press, rules Bangladesh with the help of her party, the politicized military, law enforcement and judiciary with an iron hand.

Read More