BNP trying to put foreign pressure on govt

Fakhrul-led team off to NY to meet UN chief

Mohammad Al Amin

13 September, 2018 12:00 AM printer

BNP is now trying to put foreign pressure on the Awami League-led government for release of party chairperson Khaleda Zia from jail and holding the upcoming 11th parliamentary election under a non-party, neutral polls-time administration.

Party insiders said that various teams and well wishers of the BNP are already working to convince foreign powers, including influential countries and international organisations like the United Nations (UN), Commonwealth and the European Union (EU), to put pressure on the government to settle the ‘vexing’ issues.

Meanwhile, a BNP delegation led by its secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir left Dhaka early Wednesday for the United States to meet the United Nations officials, including its secretary-general António Guterres at the New York headquarters, party sources said.

The team left Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport by a flight of Emirates Airlines around 1:30am. BNP central executive member Tabith Awal is accompanying him while another party leader Humayun Kabir is supposed to join the team in London, the sources added.

Party leaders said that Mirza Fakhrul had gone to New York at an UN invitation and he is scheduled to hold a meeting with the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs Miroslav Jenča at the UN head quarters at 10:00am local time on Thursday.

He is likely to brief him about overall situation prevailing in Bangladesh. He will discuss issues like upcoming national polls, Khaleda Zia’s imprisonment, cases filed against party leaders and activists, irregularities in recently-held polls to different city corporations, arrest of party men, and role of current Election Commission and administration, party sources said.

The BNP secretary general is also likely to meet the high officials of the US State Department before leaving for UK to meet the party’s acting chairman Tarique Rahman in London to discuss the latest political situation and party strategies, BNP insiders said.

Mirza Fakhrul at a meeting of BNP standing committee on Tuesday informed the party’s policymakers about the UN invitation that was sent to him on August 24 and his visit to the US.

When asked about the BNP secretary general’s visit to the UN, BNP standing committee member Nazrul Islam Khan admitted that he had gone to New York at the UN invitation.

“Being a political leader, he will talk to the UN officials about overall situation of the country,” he maintained.

Another standing committee member of the party, Mahbubur Rahman, told the daily sun that the UN has a responsibility and it can play a due role in ensuring peace and stability. “But I don’t know what they can do in this regard.”

He was replying to a query if BNP wants the United Nations to play a role in ensuring fair polls and release of Khaleda Zia.

Mahbubur Rahman said: “I think that Mirza Fakhrul will talk to the UN secretary general about the country’s latest situation, including violation of human rights. He will also urge him to ensure a free, fair and neutral election in the country as well as peace and stability here.”

On February 28, BNP sent letters to the UN, Commonwealth and the EU seeking support for a fair, neutral and inclusive election in Bangladesh. It also urged the global organisations to play their due role in resolving ongoing political crisis in the country, a BNP leader said.

It also urged the UN to put pressure on the government so that it sits in a constructive dialogue with major political parties in Bangladesh, including the BNP, to overcome ongoing political stalemate over next general election.

Earlier, the then UN assistant secretary general for political affairs Oscar Fernandez-Taranco visited Dhaka in December 6-11, 2013, for mediating between the Awami League and the BNP before the 10th parliamentary polls. Top leaders of the two major parties sat in his presence in a formal dialogue.

BNP insiders said the party expected that the influential countries and international organisations, including the UN, would come forward to put pressure on the government for holding a free, fair and inclusive election in the country.

Earlier, Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, another standing committee member of the party, told the daily sun that the United Nations can take an initiative for holding a free and fair poll in the country.

“We’ll cooperate with them. If the democratic world wants to bring back the healthy trend of democracy in Bangladesh then they can take an initiative in this regard,” he stated.

Meanwhile, BNP central leaders including, Tarique Rahman and some of his close aides, former diplomats and ex-bureaucrats, are working to convince different countries, including the US, the UK, China, Russia and India as well as international organisations such as the UN and the EU to put pressure on the government for holding a free and fair polls and release of party chief Khaleda Zia from jail, BNP insiders said. The party also appointed international lobbyists to attain its goals, they said.

However, a central leader of the party told the daily sun that BNP lacks enough organisational strength to compel the AL-led government to fulfill their demands. So, the party high command wants that foreign countries and global organisations put pressure on the government for fulfilling the demands.