The New British High Commissioner & Mistimed Perception of Hiranmay Karlekar
Posted by xanthis on April 1, 2008
Being an expert on a country, where there is no sort of relation for more than 22 years, the career is too drowsy. Now, the 9/11 attack and Twin Towers’ getting collapsed couldn’t promulgate him a lot though, the declaration of George W. Bush that the architect of 9/11 is Osama Bin Laden & Osama is in Afghanistan, this finally worked. Now that drowsy career shook itself up & showed up with demand. We are talking about the person who first thought of reopening the British Embassy at Kabul in 2001 which was shut off in 1979 and later shattered by a mob in 1995.
Afghanistan expert and head of the South East Asia Department of United Kingdom’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office, Mr. Stephen Evans has been chosen as the next British High Commissioner to Bangladesh. Replacing Anwar Chowdhury, Evans will be in the office in this June. Hiranmay Karlekar, the guy who lives on bashing Bangladesh abusively, once wrote a book called “Bangladesh – The Next Afghanistan?”. I don’t know, may be there has been a mistimed perception from Karlekar’s side, or may be there has been United Kingdom’s late realization of the greatness of the author Hiranmay Karlekar. Ultimately they have decided to send somebody who however has been one of the roles of the drama that Karlekar once talked of and agonizingly is being played in Bangladesh in present.
Let’s take a short look at Stephen Evans.
Stephen Evans, a 58 years old diplomat has formerly served in the Tank Regiment of British Army from 1971 to 1974 as an officer. Mr. Evans is the Foreign Office specialist on Afghanistan, normally a diplomatic backwater ignored by the high flyers. The September 11 attacks changed that and Mr Evans has been much in demand. It was from him that ministers, diplomatic colleagues and journalists heard for the first time about the Loya Jirga, the historic Afghan decision-making forum, and the other complexities of Afghan politics. His briefings were delivered in the manner of an academic in love with his subject, desperate to inform, rather than a diplomat cautiously calculating the impact of each word, desperate to avoid controversy. A Foreign Office colleague spoke yesterday about Mr Evans’s enthusiasm for the region: “He has taken on the job with relish.” The colleague added that part of the attraction for Mr Evans was the challenge that a post-Taliban Afghanistan presented: “He knows how many different ways it could go.” He is married with three children.
Now, a third-world country expert and an expert of a country like Afghanistan, have some characteristic differences between them. The properness of power in a country can strictly regulate behaviors of diplomats. Political anarchies are not really the main issue in this particular case. Many developed and well democratized states see political instabilities. After the Iraq war got started, all of the nations who took part have experienced large scale demonstrations against the government. They often have been organized by particular political oppositions of the party in power. Political unrests may come to the streets but not in every case key diplomats lose their passion & the sense of official rights. In those countries, diplomats need to remember the Vienna Convention. Now, Afghanistan is one of the nations of the world, where diplomats enjoy the full freedom to say anything they want about anything. The situation was different from late 70’s to the 2001 US Invasion, but the situation after the US Invasion, diplomats never need to practice what bull shit (in their sense) is written in Vienna Convention or whatever.
Our new (to be) High Commissioner from United Kingdom, Mr. Stephen Evans have been through an atmosphere of complete freedom of speeches that means a compulsive meddling tendency due to the improperness of power in Afghanistan. Rather, he is an expert of that country who was sent their before a week passed after the fall of Kabul from Taleban; an expert of providing unlawful instructions on how inner matters of the host nation should go. Anwar Chowdhury who got the recognition of ‘Lord Clive’ due to his uncontrolled & unauthorized interferences to extreme internal matters of Bangladesh, has been decided to be replaced by such a person, who is by name some sort of ‘meddler’. Anwar Chowdhury at least had no such career backgrounds though he has been one, but this time the British government has decided to get in to the matter quite well exposed by sending somebody officially heeded as not been through the proper practices of a diplomat. He has been an expert of a genre of an nation, which is not used to have elections or any sort of practices of democracy. So I don’t think the appointment of Stephen Evans will be able to add up some optimization for us to get out of the present instable state of Bangladesh.
Hiranmay Karlekar’s “Bangladesh – The Next Afghanistan?” was published in January 2006 from Delhi. But, it was 2 years later, United Kingdom came to think Karlekar is correct or they themselves have realized Bangladesh is now at an optimistic stage to way being Afghanistan. They have sent an Afghanistan Expert to deal with foreign relations between Bangladesh & them. Now we should hail, “Ekhoni Shomoy!” (This is The Time!), eh?
(I am expecting some report to come published in Prothom Alo or Daily Star recognizing Stephen Evans as one of greatest diplomats Bangladesh could ever have.)