Will US do unto Sri Lanka what it did to Bangladesh?

Last week, the US State Department announced that it would restrict visas for any Bangladeshi citizen who was “believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in that country,” as part of the department policy of “Visa Policy to Promote Democratic Elections in Bangladesh”.

The matter came up in an informal meeting when a group of young politicians with high hopes for office met for dinner in Colombo. Most of them began their political career by signing nomination papers recently for the next local government elections which have been postponed indefinitely.

The discussion centred on whether the US would follow similar steps in the event Sri Lanka’s elections — be it national or local council — are further delayed. One of the participants reminded his colleagues that his party was among the political parties that extended unstinted support to postpone elections during the Yahapalana government of yesteryear.

What the ambitious young politicos were not aware of is how international politics works. US congressional leaders on Friday invited Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to address a joint meeting of the House of Representatives and Senate on June 22 — one of the highest honours Washington accords to foreign dignitaries.

During the George W Bush Administration, Mr. Modi, who was then Chief Minister of Gujarat, was denied a visa in 2005 for failure to prevent riots in the state on the basis of barring individuals who are accused of “severe violations of religious freedom”.

There’s nothing permanent in international, or even local politics after all.

The Sunday Times.


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