It is the inevitable benchmark for a successful global-standard diplomat that he/she can transform a confirmed “no” into a passionate “yes.” It may sound somewhat impractical and absurd, but once we take into cognizance all the related interests and issues a diplomat is supposed to deal with, we can finally realize how true that is.
Without any controversy, it is a universally established fact that, to convince a die-hard opponent is the most challenging task a diplomat happens to confront. Are we really producing diplomats in the vein of Thomas Jefferson or Winston Churchill?
The prevailing environment as well as the filtering process through which the Bangladeshi diplomats are produced is outmoded. Our diplomats are processed upon completing theoretical formalities of set exams, either written or oral, which are best-suited for doing immaculate desk work than to serve any practical purposes.
A favourable environment has to be fostered so that potentially resourceful diplomats are given the space they need in order to flourish.
Alongside a shift in attitude, the selection process needs to be revised and updated, accommodating the necessary reforms in light of changing global realities and requirements. For example, arrangements have to be incorporated into the screening process for assessing the stable command of the diplomats on all disciplines of knowledge.
In many of our bilateral dealings, we keenly feel the absence of integrated diplomatic endeavours on the part of our career diplomats. Of course, we have many commendable achievements on the global forums, but our limitations and short-comings outweigh any achievements.
Although we have made an epoch-making breakthrough in our bilateral ties with our greatest neighbour India by exchanging extremely dehumanized enclaves in 2015, our long-standing border disputes and river disputes still remain quite a formidable stumbling block in the way of smooth and mutually beneficial ties with India.
It is the toughest job to navigate an intricately complicated regional hurdle or to strike a deal of interest out of the slimmest chances. This is where a resourceful diplomat is required to display his or her charisma
The basic principle spelt out in our constitution regarding our foreign affairs dealings can be summarized as “friendship towards all and malice towards none.” From this statement, it is obvious that we put the utmost priority on supporting and promoting the cause of peace.
But it is the toughest job to navigate an intricately complicated regional hurdle, or to strike a deal of interest out of the slimmest of chances. This is where a resourceful diplomat is required to display his or her charisma. It’s unfortunate that our diplomats do not often appear to play their specified roles in the crucially critical occasions.
At the moment, the nation is deeply plunged into a most critical situation with the Rohingya crisis. Given our love for peace, we have given them shelter on our land. But it cannot be a long-term solution, as that will only strain us of our already limited national resources, especially in the particular region where they have been temporarily settled.
We must remember that politicians and the political leadership will not necessarily do the jobs of the diplomats. At the same time, we have to take into account that sitting for discussion is one thing, and successfully striking a deal is quite a different thing.
For instance, the UN went through innumerable sessions on the Palestine issue, and around 75 resolutions have been made from these sessions, but the plight of the Palestinian people has yet to see any sort of meaningful shift.
China and Russia, veto power-wielding members of the Security Council, back Myanmar strongly as the two countries have been long-time trade partners and stake-holders in multifarious interests. We need to change our diplomatic approach here to convince the two giants. Instead of pursuing a one-on-one approach in dealing with India and Myanmar, we have to opt for an indirect approach that mobilizes the allies of China and Russia to play an active role in persuading these countries.
And success depends largely on the personal charisma of our diplomats.
Sakib Hasan is Assistant Professor of English, Bogra Cantonment Public School and College.