Country Assessment of Bangladesh - Paper Example

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Boston College
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Research paper
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After India got independence, a state comprising of East and West Pakistani emerged. East Pakistan became independent, and Sheikh Mujib became the first prime minister; East Pakistan is the modern day Bangladesh. The founding father of Bangladesh was Sheikh Mujib also he was the leader of Awami League. This paper seeks to asses Bangladesh focusing on key events that occurred in the past three years, the effects of those events, threats to Bangladesh, the importance of Bangladesh to the region and how the Country is significant to the United States of America.

For one to understand the events in the past three years, it is essential to review the political history of Bangladesh. In 2014 the country's leading opposition party, Bangladesh National Party (BNP), sat out the parliamentary election. The side claimed that the government had failed to put in place a caretaker government as the country had been doing since 1996. The ruling party in 1996 was BNP when Awami League, then the opposition, demanded that they step aside and hand power over to a caretaker government that would ensure impartiality in the polls to be held (David, 2011). The elections held in the country presided by a caretaker government were regarded as free and fair where Shiekh Hasinas grand coalition won with an overwhelming majority of more than two-thirds( Rahman, 2014). From this basis the BNP found grounds to boycott the election, but the AL proceeded with elections with the polls which their candidate won. As a result, violent protests erupted. The government pushing forward with vote regardless of the boycott led to the eruption of violent protests from the opposition supporters. The violence has caused loss of life and has only further hardened the stance of the government and opposition. Rather than talk, for instance, the government resorted to persecuting leaders in the opposition camp.

In 2015 the tension intensified after the government started persecuting political leaders from Bangladeshs war for independence for war crimes. The regime sentenced to death many leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami which was the countrys largest Islamic political party. The government had earlier associated attacks in the country with violent factions of the opposition (Daily Mail, 2017) but the claim was challenged when the attacks started targeting Shia Muslims and Christians. The attacks sent the country deeper into political tension because people believed the process of persecution was flawed (Daily mail,2017). The party protested the death of their general secretary Muamma Mujihad and the Bangladesh Nationalist party leader Salahuddin Quader Chowdhury. The courts found the former guilty on accounts if genocide, conspiracy in killing intellectuals, abduction, and torture during the war in 1971 while the latter was found guilty of rape, torture, and genocide ("Bangladesh on high alert after two opposition leaders executed," 2017). Although the party did not have a big following compared to other major parties, many took to the streets when they were called upon to strike. The opposition saw the executions as politically motivated although Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina denied the claims. She stated that she was under pressure from the international community for trying opposition leaders, but affirmed that she would continue the trials to "to ensure justice for the families of the slain people" from the 1971 war (France 24, 2017).

The decline in internal security has subsequently led to the deterioration of the country's external security. The country has come under several terror attacks. For instance, in July 2016, the Islamic State group was responsible for an assault on a cafe in Dhaka's diplomatic quarter where they killed twenty hostages. The tally included eighteen foreigners, but the government refuted the statement, claiming instead that the militant group Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen was responsible (BBC, 2017). Nine Italians and a US subject were among the 20 individuals hacked to death when Islamic state burst into an eatery prevalent with non-natives in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka. A gathering of seven assailants outfitted with edges, firearms and bombs additionally killed seven Japanese, two Bangladeshis, and one Indian native before armed force commandos raged the Holey Artisan Bakery and conveyed a conclusion to the butcher. The two incidences are just two of numerous other terror attacks in the country that resulted from the conflict. The group Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami famously known as HUJI is said to have been founded in Bangladesh. It is directly associated with Osama Bin Laden and is considered by observers as a significant external threat to Bangladesh.

Security threats in Bangladesh are either internal or external. However finding solutions for internal threats should be a priority; having internal threats makes the external threats more serious (Khan, 1996). To manage Bangladesh's security steps should be taken to neutralize the interior threats (Hossai, 1991). Like many Asian countries, Bangladesh suffers many internal threats to their livelihood in the, cultural, and religious sphere. A majority of Bangladeshi citizens are poor and cannot afford essential amenities such as food. Very high prices and food shortages have caused political unrest in Bangladesh because in such a situation only the rich can afford the basic needs. According to the Human Rights Report(2017), girls are forced into early marriages or just forced to marry. People with special needs were discriminated for example children with such need were hardly ever admitted into public schools. The report also mentioned the issue of gender-based violence, especially towards women and children. The predominant form of violence in Bangladesh was acid attacks where victims were said to, afterward, have a hard time achieving their physical and emotional normalcy (Chowdhury, 2011).The authorities infringed on the people's privacy and gagged the press and online speech. Such oppression leaves the people or a section of them unsatisfied and many times results into strikes and riots.

Politically the country is divided into two camps: The Camp of Prime minister Sheikh Hazina and the other for former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia. The latter being the wife to the late president Zia and the former the daughter of the first Prime Minister: both assassinated while in office. Since as early as the 1990s, power has been alternating between the two leaders. Although Bangladesh is one of the unique countries where women have dominated politics, the atmosphere in the country has been no different from countries dominated by men. Their rivalry caused severe political competition that led to the breakdown of democracy (Derich & Thompson, 2013). Due to the political tension, Bangladesh has experienced violent politics which led to riots and the loss of lives. According to the Human Rights Reports of 2017, there were judicial killings, arbitrary or unlawful detentions and, forced disappearances by government security forces (Ravlich, 2017). When former secretary of state Hillary Clinton visited the Bangladesh in May 2012, she urged political and national unity. She was speaking at a time when Bangladesh had been paralyzed by weeks of strikes and protests, and at least five people had lost their lives while an opposition leader had also disappeared (Ravlich, 2017). It is essential that the country focuses or resolving these internal threats for them to deal with the external threat: Islamic extremists.

Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) is an international terrorist organization based in Bangladesh. Also known as Harakal ul Jihad al Islami or the Bangladeshi Taliban, it was designated as a global terror organization in February 2008 (Ortiz, 2010). According to Mannes (2004), Osama Bin Laden helped to set up the group in Bangladesh. The Saudi based charity el Haramain, which has very many offices in Bangladesh, is believed to fund the group. The funding has enabled the organization to organize attacks on the minority groups: Christians and Hindus. The group bombed a church in Banichar on the 3rd of June 2011. Their attacks were also targeted the then opposition whose offices in Narayangany were bombed in June 2001 killing 21 and injuring over 100 (Mannes, 2004). HUJI has remained the leading external threat to Bangladesh's security.

The large population of Bangladesh is made of moderate Muslims which means the relation of the country to the United States is good. The policy of the US towards Bangladesh emphasizes support for stability, democracy, development and human rights (Vaughn, 2010). The US gives substantial support to Bangladesh, but the support runs both ways. Bangladesh has offered military support to the US in peacekeeping missions in the area. American interest in the area is promoting development, countering terror groups in the region, helping trade and energy development and working together in peacekeeping missions. Trade, bilateral trade mainly, has grown from $1 billion in 1992 to $4 billion in 2009 (Vaughn, 2010) the US is the primary trade partner of Bangladesh. Being an impoverished country where more than half the population lives on less than $2 per day, the state department of the US views assistance as vital to strengthen the nation after the reinstating of democracy. The US security forces of Bangladesh.

Bangladesh is strategic to both South Asian-sub region and the larger geographical dynamics of Asia as a whole (Vaughn, 2010). During the Bengalis conflict with West Pakistan was at the time the center of the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war. Bangladesh seceding at the time weakened Pakistan. They enabled India to operate as a key factor not only in South Asia but the whole of Asia. In this way, Bangladesh played a significant role in shifting the regional balance of power between India and China. Bangladesh is a vital trading partner of India, and the trade is bilateral; Bangladesh-India bilateral trade essentially involves, at present, consumption of services (Srinivasan, 2002). As the third most populous Muslim country in the world, it is of great importance to India to be seen as being close with Bangladesh. The relationship boosts the view of the world to Indias foreign policy in respect to other Muslim countries (Malone, Raja & Raghavan, 2015). The resources of Bangladesh are not enough for her population and as such India has seen an influx of illegal migrants from Bangladesh to take the risk of crossing over to India in search of a better life (Bammi, 2010).

In conclusion, Bangladesh is a country of great potential and importance to the region. Its ties with the US make the nation crucial in fighting terrorism in the region. In regards to the country's political atmosphere, it is vital that the stalemate between the government and the opposition be resolved so that the state develops to its full potential.


Bammi, Y. M. (2010). India Bangladesh relations: The way ahead. New Delhi: VIJ Books

BBC News, (2017). Bangladesh profile. Retrieved from on 25 October 2017,

Chowdhury, E. H. (2011). Transnationalism reversed: Women organizing against gendered violence in Bangladesh. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Daily Mail, (2017). Bangladesh on high alert after 2 opposition leaders executed. Mail Online, retrieved from on 25 October 2017,

Derichs, C., & Thompson, M. R. (2013). Dynasties and female political leaders in Asia: Gender, power and pedigree. Berlin: LIT Verlag MunsterFrance 24, (2017). Bangladesh reporter shot at funeral of executed opposition leader. Retrieved from

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