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Interim U.S. Envoy to India Inherits Challenges

September 27, 2011 Leave a comment

WSJ
2011 July 01
The U.S. has appointed Peter Burleigh as Chargé d’Affaires of its mission in India on an interim basis.
Mr. Burleigh, who held the same post from April to July 2009, will serve until the White House nominates a permanent ambassador. He steps in at a time when the U.S. is trying to manage an increasingly complex relationship with India. Despite growing commercial and security ties, there have been some tense dealings between the countries on issues ranging from regulation of foreign companies to intelligence cooperation. The U.S. has been frustrated that India hasn’t moved to liberalize its markets more quickly and was particularly disappointed that the nuclear energy pact between the countries didn’t lead to any major nuclear technology deals for U.S. firms.
In 33 years of foreign service, Mr. Burleigh held a variety of positions, including a stint as Ambassador for the U.S. to the United Nations in the late 1990s, a time when the U.N. security council was considering conflicts in Iraq, Kosovo, and East Timor. Prior to that post, he was U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and the Republic of Maldives from 1995 to 1997. He has also held several senior jobs within the State Department over the years.
A California native, Mr. Burleigh has a wealth of South Asia experience dating back to his youth. He served in the Peace Corp in Nepal from 1963-65, doing community development work, and later had a Fulbright scholarship in Nepal.

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Nepal wants Bangladesh envoy recalled

September 1, 2011 Leave a comment

bdnews24.com
2011 Jul 18
No, it’s not yet official that Nepal wants Bangladeshi ambassador in Kathmandu recalled for his “gross departure from diplomatic norms and inefficient handling of diplomatic affairs”.
In an ‘unofficial’ communication, the Nepalese foreign ministry has requested the recall of Neem Chandra Bhowmik. But the government back home remains unsure about initiating an action against the man.
Apart from ‘seriously affecting’ the bilateral relationship between the countries, Bhowmik is also tarnishing the image of Bangladesh in Kathmandu for several reasons, including women-related scandals, according to a report of the foreign ministry obtained by bdnews24.com.
Interference in Nepal’s internal politics and anomalies in issuing visa to Nepalese students for studying in Bangladesh are also among the irregularities and corruption detected by Dhaka following allegations against him.
Bhowmik, a teacher of the Department of Applied Physics, Electronics and Communication Engineering of Dhaka University (DU), who was appointed Bangladesh ambassador to Nepal in 2009, however, refutes the allegation as ‘a conspiracy against him’.
GENERAL JACOB ISSUE
The political cost of Bhowmik’s misdemeanour, gross violation of diplomatic norms, practices, nuances and disgraceful acts is that it projects a poor image of Bangladesh in Nepal, the report says.
“He escorted former Indian army official General Jacob to a few meetings in Katmandu in his car carrying Indian flag,” it reads.
At the Mujibnagar Dibash programme at hotel Yak & Yeti on Mar 17, 2010, the ambassador asked Nepalese army band to play national anthems of Bangladesh, Nepal and India, the report says.
MANISHA KOIRALA AFFAIR
Without any announcement, the report says, Bhowmik went to the house of film actress Monisha Koirala as she inaugurated a painting exhibition of five Bangladeshi artists in Nepal.
“He also waited outside the gate of Monisha’s house, but none opened the gate despite his [Bhoumik’s] frantic efforts for about half an hour,” it adds.
“There are confirmed reports that since his joining the mission in late 2009, Bhowmik had approached and disturbed Mrs Apoorva Srivastava, counsellor and spokesperson of Indian embassy in Kathmandu.”
Allegations are also there that he approached a few Nepalese girls and ladies, who had participated in some events of the mission.
“These cases demonstrate appalling lack of integrity and self-respect,” says the report, adding, “It is also reported that unknown local women often turn up at the mission premises to meet the ambassador and spend considerable time.”
Nasreen Jahan Lipi, former first secretary in the Bangladesh mission in Kathmandu, met foreign minister Dipu Moni in Dhaka on Dec 24 last year and informed her about the incidents involving Bhoumik and four Bangladeshi girls in mid-December last year.
“She is a live witness/evidence of all the above that have taken place in Kathmandu and the mission,” the foreign ministry report reads.
INTERFERENCE IN NEPAL POLITICS
In a number of public forums and in private meetings, the Bangladesh ambassador has openly castigated Nepali Maoists and even advised people about what was required to be done vis-à-vis the extreme leftists.
In a “gross departure” from diplomatic norms, Bhowmik has been found “interfering in Nepal’s internal politics”, says the report.
LACK OF MANNERS
Bhoumik’s credibility in the Nepalese foreign ministry has dropped drastically as he seriously lacks diplomatic etiquettes and has very often “grossly departed from regular protocol”, it mentions.
During official calls with Nepali ministers, he does not bother taking non-diplomatic staff with him.
“Even the Nepalese foreign secretary has made an informal request to our foreign secretary to replace him with a career diplomat in Kathmandu,” the report reads.
The report also says that Bhowmik mostly remains isolated from the diplomatic community in Nepal.
SCHOLARSHIP SCANDAL
It has been alleged in the report that Bhowmik took bribe from a number of Nepalese students, who had been selected for scholarships announced by the Bangladesh government in 2009 and 2010.
“Scholarship-related requests from Nepalese VIPs, that include even a formal one from the Nepalese foreign ministry, were disregarded.”
An allegation that Bhowmik ‘traded’ six government scholarships, each for $35,000-$40,000, through some local educational consultancies close to the Bangladesh mission also finds a mention in the report.
“This has been in disregard to the original purpose of the scholarships and caused damage to the image of Bangladesh in Nepal,” the report says.
ROLE OF THE MINISTRY
When contacted, foreign minister Dipu Moni said, “Some charges were levelled against him and we are investigating it…we will act according to the report.”
Asked about the actions the ministry is going to take against Bhowmik, foreign secretary Mohammed Mijarul Quayes said, “You will know about our action at the right time.”

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