Anti-terror force will turn Bangladesh into Gaza: Opposition

February 12th, 2009 - 12:19 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Feb 12 (IANS) “Any bilateral mechanism” with India in the name of South Asian regional anti-terror task force could turn Bangladesh into “Gaza”, the country’s main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)has warned.
It could give rise to “complications and possibilities of armed activities of other countries spilling over to Bangladesh”, BNP secretary general Khandaker Delwar Hossain said Wednesday.

He was commenting on discussions Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had Monday with visiting Indian Minister for External Affairs Pranab Mukherjee.

Initiative for a regional task force for South Asia has been a major foreign policy plank of the Hasina government that took office last month. It had soundly defeated the BNP that is led by her rival and two-term former prime minister Khaleda Zia.

As part of a blitzkrieg against the proposal before Hasina discussed it with Mukherjee, the BNP told the media that other nations, particularly Pakistan, were not enthusiastic about it.

“We firmly believe that our people, conventional laws, law enforcing agencies and the armed forces are capable enough to keep the country free from militancy and strife. Signing any deal with other countries outside international conventions to contain militancy is unnecessary and could prove suicidal,” Hossain was quoted as saying in New Age newspaper Thursday.

Hossain said it is a logical apprehension by some political scientists and economists, whom he did not name, that Bangladesh might be turned into “Gaza” due to the proposed task force, The Daily Star said Thursday.

A perception in the international community has been that under the BNP-led rule during 2001-06, religious extremism and terrorism grew in Bangladesh.

Seeking to clear this perception and linking it to the anti-terror task force proposal, Hossain said: “Militants here were identified, arrested and executed after trial during the rule of the BNP-led alliance.

“During the period 724 militants were arrested and 54 of them were executed and as a result militancy almost stopped in the country. Bangladesh did not need any foreign assistance to gain this success,” he said.

“The eagerness of the (present) government to seek foreign assistance to curb militancy proves that they have no confidence in the ability of our law-enforcers and the armed forces,” Hossain said.

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