No envoys in 12 countries

Diplomatic relations and efforts to safeguard interests of expatriate Bangladeshi workers are being hampered as Bangladesh has no ambassador in 12 countries, including Malaysia, Belgium and Switzerland.

Three ambassadors have already been called back while the posts of six others will fall vacant by this year, diplomatic sources said.

They said it might affect the interests of Bangladesh that has 47 missions abroad.

Bangladesh’s mission in Brussels remains without any ambassador since December 23 last year when the then ambassador, AHM Moniruzzaman, went on Leave Prior to Retirement (LPR) on December 31.

Bangladesh’s ambassador to Egypt Nasima Haider also went on LPR leaving the post vacant since January 12 this year.

Additional Foreign Secretary MAK Mahmud was appointed ambassador to Germany on June 29 but he is yet to take charge. The post became vacant on January 15 last year.

Dhaka got embarrassed over the matter as Berlin has already approved his appointment as the Bangladesh ambassador, they added.

Earlier on June 12, 2007, Mahmud was appointed ambassador to Bahrain, but he did not join there.

The post of ambassador to Indonesia fell vacant after the tenure of Salma Khan, appointed ambassador to the country on contract, expired on June 4 last year. The Bangladesh mission in Jakarta remains without any ambassador since then.

Bangladesh also has no top diplomat in Tehran since February 25 after the then ambassador to Iran Shamim Ahsan was transferred to Brunei.

The Bangladesh mission in Kuwait also remains without any ambassador since April 3 last year, while Rear Admiral M Rahman, appointed as the ambassador to Libya, is yet to join the post that fell vacant on March 23, 2007.

The post of high commissioner in Kuala Lumpur remains vacant since March 1 as the government called back Maj (retd) Khairuzzaman, an accused in the jail killing case. The High Court acquitted him on January 13.

The authorities also decided to reinstate Gen Abu Rushd Rokonuddoula, earlier appointed as the ambassador to Myanmar, to his post in the army.

Besides, Humayun Kabir, Bangladesh ambassador to the USA and Maruf Zaman, ambassador to Vietnam, have been called back to Dhaka on emergency basis in mid-February.

Bangladesh’s permanent representative in New York, Ismat Jahan, has also been called back and might be posted to Brussels, sources said.

The post of Bangladesh’s permanent representative and ambassador to the UN in Geneva will fall vacant on April 1 as Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, appointed to the post by the immediate-past caretaker government, resigned after Awami League government assumed power. His resignation letter has already been accepted.

The new Bangladesh mission in Athens is yet to get an ambassador.

High Commissioner in London Shafi U Ahmed went on LPR on November 4 last year, leaving the post vacant since then.

Meanwhile, the tenure of Bangladesh Ambassador to Bhutan AKM Atiqur Rahman will expire on July 15 while the post of Bangladesh high commissioner to India will fall vacant on May 14 as the present high commissioner Liakat Ali Chowdhury is scheduled to go on LPR on that day.

Md Saiful Amin Khan, the Bangladesh ambassador to Spain, will go on LPR on May 31 leaving the post vacant while the tenure of high commissioner to Pakistan, Yasmin Morshed, appointed on a two-year contract, ends on November 30.

The post of Bangladesh ambassador to Japan will also fall vacant in October.

When contacted, Foreign Secretary Touhid Hossain told The Daily Star that the posts fell vacant at the end of the tenure of the immediate-past caretaker government, which wanted the next political government to make the appointments.

“This is very usual. There is nothing to do research on it,” he said.

The process of filling the vacant posts has already started and it will be done as usual, Touhid said. “There is nothing to hurry,” he added.

Source: The Daily Star, 29 March 2009


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