Foreigners think confidence to be built by government, not police04 August 2016 Editorial Desk
Foreigners want their protection to live in safety. There is no doubt police are trying their best to create a protection shield around Dhaka's diplomatic zone, but foreign envoys and foreigners working here are not quite sure of their safety as they cannot have confidence in government's ability to make countrywide situation safe.
They are failing to get back full confidence in police protection, because unless the government can prove competence in running the country peacefully; they fear police protection is no assurance of safety.
In fact they want to see greater leadership of the government and its ability to handle the situation. In this case the government appears not active at all to deal with the reasons for the crisis. The diplomats cannot accept that killing by police is the answer to the home-grown terrorism. They find government reliance on police methods as a weakness for the political leadership.
We don't know how the government is studying the impact of terrible police operations, but it is no doubt terrifying the nation and also the foreigners instead of adding to their confidence that the situation is under control. The apprehension the foreigners express is fear of more terrorist attacks on foreigners to come.
In our view the foreigners are not seen as enemies, but attacking foreigners is taken seriously by the government for greater impact when killing of others taking place everyday is not a matter of concern to the government.
Most foreign businessmen are afraid of taking business trip to Bangladesh. It also appears that aid workers and foreigners attached to big development projects remained concerned of their safety and stay at their work place outside the capital. Bullet-proof doors are used by foreigners in their offices and living apartments. Japan is reportedly providing bullet proof vest to its nationals in Dhaka. Foreigners feel insecure despite police presence in police check-posts.
Media reports say two diplomats of the German Embassy, now on summer vacation in Germany have informed the German Foreign Ministry that they don't want to return in murky security environment. Not only German officials, officials in other embassies in Dhaka fear many may quit their assignments in Bangladesh. The situation will get clear once the summer vacation is over.
They do not say that the government is not trying to give full protection to foreigners that include employing special forces to guard the diplomats and restricting access of common people to Dhaka's Gulshan and Baridhara diplomatic enclave. It has also increased the counter-insurgency capacity of the forces to deal with growing threat to state security. But they know safety has to be ensured by the government and not police.
Indeed, nothing the government has done helping the foreigners to overcome the panic of Gulshan attack in which 18 foreigners were killed in the capital. They have been also terribly shaken by militants attack in Shalokia and the preemptive police assault in Kalyanpur that killed nine suspected militants. The incident proved militants' capacity to organize in the city to hit at new targets.
So the safety issue continues to haunt foreigners like all others when people are looking for political leadership to stabilize the situation. Arbitrary arrest of hundreds of young ones and shooting them to kill increases fear in the minds of the foreigners. This is also not the way to discourage terrorism among our own young ones.
There is no denying of the fact that police cannot fill up the vacuum of political leadership. We are helpless because of void in political leadership and foreigners cannot discuss the political issues of the crisis.
What surprises us is also the bureaucratic hold on the government so strong that it cannot think of any political move for a political solution of terrorism crisis.
The responsible ones in the government have to accept that for police operations no competent political government is necessary.