Medal diplomacy and murder of Saudi Diplomat

By- Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury | Date- June 12, 2012

Everyone in the media as well as the members of the Civil Society is aware of the extreme talkativeness of Bangladeshi foreign minister Dr. Dipu Moni. Her character of being a chattering box got hugely dashed when she told media with much confidence that India would sign the Teesta Water Sharing Treaty during last year’s visit of the Indian Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Sigh. Her unique style of rotating lips in a very funny way was completely banged if not punched by her Indian love-lords, when they finally gave her government nothing though they managed to get almost everything both during Dr. Manmohan’s trip as well subsequent chronologies. This time again, Bangladeshi government must have been wrongly advised by the same Dipu Moni in conferring Friendship Medal to Saudi multi-billionaire Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal Al Saud during his few hour tour to Bangladesh. The founder and CEO of Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding Company received Bangladesh Friendship Medal in a brief ceremony from the Prime Minister at Sonargaon Hotel after reaching Dhaka. Following this colorless ceremony, the Saudi Prince had lunch with the Bangladeshi Prime Minister. Subsequently, The Saudi tycoon was given a Power Point presentation highlighting the investment scenario in Bangladesh, opportunities for investment in the Public Private Partnership projects, and tourism and power sector, climate change challenges after the meeting.

Following the medal conferring ceremony and foiled approach of drawing the attention of the Saudi Prince in getting investment in Bangladesh, Dipu Moni though categorically confessed to the media that Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal Al Saud did not express any interest in buying any hotel in Bangladesh, though he showed keen interest in buying Sonargaon Pan Pacific Hotel when he visited Bangladesh in 2005. But still Dr. Dipu Moni is unwilling in giving up her hope of getting investment from the multi-billionaire Prince. It was clear when she said, “Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal is famous around the world as a huge investor. We hope he will invest in Bangladesh,”

Bangladesh foreign minister rightly said that Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal is famous around the world as a huge investor. But what she missed here is, the Saudi government or any of the potential investors from that country would not express any interest in investing in Bangladesh at this time, when the ruling party and its entire machinery has completely failed in identifying the killers of Khalaf bin Mohammed Salem al-Ali (45), the Saudi diplomat in Bangladesh, who was gunned down by unidentified miscreants during late hours of March 5, 2012 in the capital city. This is the first time in the history of Bangladesh that a diplomat has been murdered in the capital city. Khalaf Al Ali was found dead following gun shoots in his chest in Dhaka’s upmarket diplomatic district of Gulshan. The murder took place at a time, when the Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia have had a strained relationship recently, though Saudi Arabia is a major donor in Bangladesh. At the same time, Saudi Arabia currently employs more than two million Bangladeshis in that country.

As the current government has evidently played dilly-dally in properly investigating the murder of Khalaf bin Mohammed Salem al-Ali, and it is a great shame on the government and especially the minister in charge of the home ministry that they all have either failed or are unwilling in identifying the killers of the Saudi diplomat. Khalaf Al Ali’s murder on the street took place weeks after the Bangladeshi Prime Minister told in a public meeting that her government cannot give security and protection to its citizen at their homes.

If Dr. Dipu Moni was really willing to get investment from Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal as well as continued cooperation from the Saudi government, she should have taken personal interest in pressing the Ministry of Home Affairs in investigating the murder mystery of Khalaf Ali. She possibly miscalculated the emotions of the Saudi government and the people, who are greatly shocked seeking their diplomat being killed in the capital city and the law enforcing agencies, are simply reluctant in properly investigating the case. Such ridiculed behavior of the Bangladesh side has already left extreme wrong signal with the Saudis and now Dr. Dipu Moni possibly made her last efforts in salvaging the ruling party from facing huge consequences from the Saudi authorities, who would now seriously react at the reluctance of Bangladesh government in investigating the murder mystery of their diplomat and may even go for extreme harsh actions like sending back all the two million Bangladeshi workers from that country. Moreover, ignorance in investigating the Khalaf Ali murder case will also annoy other Arab nations in the Middle East and the world, as they too are hugely shocked at the tragic murder of a fellow brother.

The government’s decision of conferring the Friendship Medal to Prince Al Waleed Bin Talal would have surely been appreciated by every quarter, if they would exhibit their sincerity in investigating the Khalaf Ali murder case and bringing the killers into justice. The ruling party in Bangladesh is strongly urged to immediately identify the killers of Khalaf bin Mohammed Salem al-Ali and at least now show their sincerity in doing so before things would be really too late and would even cause maximum loss to the country and the nation. By identifying the killers of Khalaf bin Mohammed Salem al-Ali, Bangladesh can surely prove its genuine friendship to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Otherwise, no such friendship medal or any medal diplomacy would at all work.

Al Waleed Bin Talal Al SaudBangladeshDhakaDipu MoniDr. Dipu MoniDr. Manmohan SighIndian Prime MinisterKhalaf bin Mohammed Salem-al AliManmohan SighPrince Al Waleed Bin Talal Al SaudSaudi ArabiaTeesta WaterTeesta Water Sharing