Posted by Sazzad Khandakar
Source: Washington Times.
By Begum Khaleda Zia ( Former President of Bangladesh)
Will 2013 be a watershed in U.S.-Bangladeshi relations? My country of 150 million people, located between India and Myanmar, has been independent since 1971, when the United States was one of the first nations to recognize our right to self-determination. Yet in the past year, relations have been strained to the point where the United States may be accused of standing idle while democracy in Bangladesh is undermined and its economic allegiance shifts toward other growing world powers.
This is not to say that the U.S. government, Congress or agencies they help lead have done nothing. Six months ago, the World Bank withdrew nearly $2 billion in funding for a four-mile bridge project, the largest single infrastructure project in Bangladesh for 40 years, and demanded an inquiry into ministerial corruption and misappropriation of funds.
At the same time, members of the U.S. congressional caucus on Bangladesh condemned the government — in particular Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina — for removing Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus from his post as managing director of Grameen Bank, Bangladesh’s award-winning microfinance institution that has pulled millions out of poverty. The reason for his ouster? Attorney General Mahbubey Alam said the honor was presented to the wrong person: “If anybody in Bangladesh deserves the Nobel Peace Prize, it is Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.”