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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2399

Analysis of Khaleda Zia’s Kuwait tour

Dhaka, 15 May, ( has lifted their 3-year-old restriction from recruiting Bangladeshi workers as well agreed to supply oil on ‘deferred payment’ at ‘favorable prices’ to cushion the country’s fuel budget against crunch in the wake of price spirals on the international market. The assurance came from the Kuwaiti Prime Minister, Sheikh Nasser Al-Mohammed Al-Ahmed Al-Sabah, during official talks with the Prime Minister, Khaleda Zia, in Kuwait. With the withdrawal of the embargo from recruiting, not only workers but also semi-skilled and highly skilled professionals like doctors, nurses and engineers could get jobs in that country. At present some 250,000 Bangladeshis are working in Kuwait.

Bangladesh annually imports 1.8 Million tons of refined oil from Kuwait out of total import of 38 lakh tones. Kuwait is the major source of petroleum fuel for Bangladesh. In recent years, Bangladesh’s fuel consumption has increased by roughly 20 per cent.

‘We will not let you down in your difficult situation…We will always stand behind Bangladesh at all time,’ the prime minister of the oil-rich Gulf State was quoted as having told Khaleda during the wide-ranging talks between the two sides.

The Kuwaiti government also agreed to provide $51 million for construction of the third Karnaphuli Bridge and a new power plant in Chittagong in Bangladesh. The director general of the Kuwait Fund would come to Dhaka next week to sign the contract for the project.

According to Kuwaiti and Bangladeshi officials, the Kuwaiti government and the people consider Bangladeshi people as their real brothers and friends as Bangladesh sent troops to reconstruct the war-ravaged Kuwait in 1991, after the end of invasion by Iraq.

Commenting on the outcome of Khaleda Zia’s just concluded Kuwait tour, a former diplomat in Dhaka said, most of the Arab countries hold extremely positive attitude towards Bangladesh, especially to the leadership of Mrs. Zia. Bangladesh PM’s Kuwait tour should be taken as the most effective and very fruitful as the country achieved a number of important favors from the government of Kuwait. Especially, two of the mentions worthy achievements are withdrawal of ban from recruiting Bangladeshi workers and Kuwait’s agreement to provide petroleum to Bangladesh on deferred payment.

Bangladesh lost millions of dollars just because of the ban. Onwards, if BNP government is re-elected in the general election in 2007, more than one million workers and skilled professionals might find job in various projects in Kuwait.

He said, BNP led coalition is making tireless efforts in addressing a number of important issues in the country. Because of Dhaka’s significant role in OIC, member countries of the forum hold a very positive attitude towards economic progress of Bangladesh. Moreover, Khaleda Zia is considered as the most committed leader in South Asia, who worked efficiently in transforming country’s overall image to an emerging tiger, which she got in a devastating state, when she assumed office in 1991 and again in 2001.

Before 1991 Ershad’s autocratic regime, which ruled the country for nine years, and left country’s economy in an alarming level when he was forced to leave power. In 1996, once again, Bangladesh Awami League came in power with Sheikh Hasina as the Prime Minister. Hasina and her party palls screwed up Bangladesh’s economy through limitless corruption and abuse of power.

Questioned diplomacy of her government led Bangladesh to the state where it had no friends abroad.

This was not an easy task for Mrs. Zia to resolve the acute crisis. But, she did. In fact, during her term of 2001-2006, BNP government was extremely successful in combating terrorism and crime. They are still continuing their battle against Islamist militancy. Possibly now the biggest challenge, which remains in front of Khaleda’s government, is corruption. In a number of public meetings, the Bangladesh PM repeatedly said, her next mission, if re-elected, will be to combat corruption.

As to fixing foreign policy, Zia is again very successful in reinstating great relations with the foreign countries. And, the outcome of Kuwait trip is just an evidence of her success.

- INS+Asian Tribune -

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