Diplomat Discusses S. Asia
Bangladeshi Abul Ahsan Addresses International Upheavals
The Bangladeshi Ambassador to the United States yesterday discussed the impact of recent international upheavals for developing countries in South Asia.
Before an audience of about 45 people in Boylston Hall, Abul Ahsan said South Asian leaders are concerned about the effect of the consolidation of the European Community, the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the fall of communism in Eastern Europe.
"While the changes are beneficial in terms of their contribution to peace and disarmament...they have created a sense of concern in South Asia," he said.
Ahsan said the changes have reduced South Asia's ability to defend itself.
"Changes in the Soviet Union have directly affected the supply of arms [from Russia] to India and from the United States to Pakistan," he said.
The demise of the Soviet Union has indirectly weakened the voice of South Asian countries in the United Nations, he said.
The ambassador said South Asian countries in groups such as the Non-Aligned Movement and the Organization of Islamic States find it more difficult "to have their influence felt" because it is easier for members of the Security Council to push resolutions through.
Ahsan, who was the first secretary general of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, said the downfall of communist regimes in Eastern Europe has also hurt South Asian trade.
The region's economic relations with Eastern European governments have been damaged, he said.
Trade has also been hurt by the creation of economic blocs in North America and the European Community that exclude South Asia, according to Ahsan.
"This will affect the prospect of exports at a time when they are much needed," he said.
Ahsan said the changes in Eastern Europe have lessened South Asia's success at attracting aid and foreign investment.
"The prospect of direct investment from Europe, the United States and the Far East has become uncertain because of a shift away from the Third World," he said.
Since the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund expanded their membership to include the former communist regimes, the ability of these institutions to offer assistance to Third World countries has decreased, according to Ahsan.