Bangladesh troops to Afghanistan: should we feel flattered?
Beleaguered US envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Hollbrooke (of Kosovo fame) reportedly did request Bangladesh foreign minister for troops to Afghanistan.
Apart from its merit, the request reflects the desperate situation faced by the American led NATO occupation troops. Also perhaps a presumed vulnerability of Bangladesh to earn few brownie points from the US. But no need for a rocket scientist, even a junior student of diplomacy would know that powerful countries conduct foreign affairs and collect friends only in national interest and as long as needed. There is no such thing as fidelity. Forget the incestuous relationship enjoyed by Israel. That is an aberration of extreme rarity.
Coming back to Afghanistan where the mightiest power (military power that is) leads a 40-odd contributing countries to fight a few thousand Talibans where is the need for a few hundred Bangladesh troops? What role for them? Certainly not to escort school kids home!
So are they needed to put a ‚ÄúMuslim face‚ÄĚ on a ‚ÄúChristian‚ÄĚ campaign (Bush‚Äôs crusade) to civilise the ‚Äúuncivilised‚ÄĚ Afghans? Or does the US envoy assume that Bangladesh troops are available as mercenary troops on hire to the highest bidder? And at cheaper rate too!
Yes, Bangladesh is a major contributor of troops to the UN peace keeping missions. But where is the peace to keep in Afghanistan? The contrary fact is: Afghanistan is deeply troubled. Only the proverbial fools would rush in where angels fear to tread. The well meaning and altruistic ‚Äúangels‚ÄĚ of NATO went in, messed up and made things even worse; now they are calling for help from any unsuspecting source. Does Bangladesh has to be naive or vulnerable? None I believe.
What difference could a Bangladesh contingent make when the blueblood ‚Äúsuper troops‚ÄĚ from America, joined by Britain, Germany and Canada proved incompetent and utterly clueless? Now one by one allies are abandoning the ship. America feels abandoned and so is in search of new ‚Äúpartners‚ÄĚ even if from the ‚Äúthird world‚ÄĚ! The US president already announced plans to planning to start exiting by mid 2011. The cheerleader Bush is having the last laugh leaving incumbent Obama such a precarious choice to ‚Äúwin victory‚ÄĚ. But is there a simple choice? No. Afghanistan has been tribal territory and tribal retaliation can be unforgiven and unremitting as history proved time and again.
Richard Hollbrooke we know is no amateur diplomat. That is why I am curious, indeed very curious. Does he take poor puny Bangladesh for granted? And naive too? What made him judge that Bangladesh will jump on the US bandwagon of a losing if not lost war for a pat on its back or worse still for a few dollars more?
No way. A country that gave a sea of blood to win liberty could not go and fight to kill forces resisting foreign occupation. A military dictator had sent troops to the First Gulf War. A democratic government has better and wiser things to do. If necessary a look at Pakistan torn apart by sectarian violence and slaughter of civilians and militants alike should bring second thoughts. How strange that Pakistan‚Äôs military ruler had plunged into the American war on Afghanistan. Now the people of Pakistan are paying the price ‚ÄĒ a very stiff price indeed. For what? A few billion dollars worth military hardware to fight someone else‚Äôs war and slaughter thousands of troops as canon fodder? What a shame! What travesty of democracy!
Indeed Bangladesh has enough on its plate at home to counter militant extremism. Why should the country invite and import even more?