Diplomacy is a political process and all country uses it to protect and expand its economic, strategic and other interests. It is also an indivisible and concerted action to achieve the goals. It is not at all helpful for protecting the national interest if it becomes divisible. It is not desirable to carry on sectoral diplomacy like economic diplomacy, environment diplomacy or development diplomacy without any coordination.
As a matter of fact, comprehensive and indivisible diplomacy is needed to have sustainable cooperation and better relationship with other countries. It will also enhance strategic importance of a country in the international arena.
But in the case of Bangladesh, coordination and coherence in implementing foreign policy is weak. Now it is very common, different ministries bypassing foreign ministry communicate with different missions or meet foreign diplomats or officials in absence of MOFA officials. Even writing a simple letter to any diplomat requires specialized knowledge about diplomatic norms and practices. There are instances of serious confusion when relevant ministries failed to pursue the broader national interest and long-term gain. Due to their limited knowledge about the entire gamut of relationship, they often opt for short-term and sectoral gain.
The function of the foreign ministry is not subject or sector specific rather its scope is wide from bilateral to multilateral and cross cutting in nature. There needs to be multi-dimensional coordination with one or more ministries to achieve the national interest. Theforeign ministry, through its function, evaluates the importance of different matters and sets priorities and tries to protect national interest by using one matter as leverage for others. But in many cases, the relevant ministries fail to set priorities resulted in crisis.
The foreign ministry has identified lack of coordination and coherence among ministries is the main obstacle to have effective diplomacy. The issue was even discussed when the prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, visited the foreign ministry last week. The diplomats sought her help in full implementation of Rules of Business and Allocation of Business. The government functionaries must understand the importance of diplomacy and let the diplomats do their functions properly. The sooner they recognise diplomacy is a specialized function, the better it is for the country.