News from Ahmed Faruque Hassan,Dhaka
Ahmed Faruque Hassan, a Bangladeshi Journalist, IOL Correspondent in Dhaka and he is working as a Deputy Editor of Ajker Kagoj, Daily Newspaper published from Dhaka,Bangladesh

Bangladesh Surprise Over Yashwant’s Comments

Ahmed Faruque Hassan,Dhaka

Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Morshed Khan today (Thursday) rejected as unfounded and malicious India’s latest allegation about presence of Al-Qaeda elements and ISI in Bangladesh. “ We can’t just wash away it… We’re committed to fighting against terrorism bilaterally, regionally and internationally,” Khan said in a rebuttal to the new complaints made by his Indian counterpart from the house of parliament.

“ Every time we investigated on the basis of Indian lists, we did not find anything,” he said, adding: “Whenever new elements come, we will investigate--it is a continuing process. As a friend India should keep us posted about presence of terrorists.”

He said the Bangladesh High Commissioner in New Delhi had been asked to find out the reasons for such allegations of India against Bangladesh.

Talking to reporters at his office, the FM, however, said New Delhi should inform Dhaka if there is any new element in its allegation as terrorists are enemies of both Bangladesh and India.

“ We can’t just wash away it… We’re committed to fighting against terrorism bilaterally, regionally and internationally,” Khan said in a rebuttal to the new complaints made by his Indian counterpart from the house of parliament. Over the years, the Foreign Minister noted, India has been coming up with same allegations that insurgents are working against India by using territories of Bangladesh, but nothing was found.

“ Every time we investigated on the basis of Indian lists, we did not find anything,” he said, adding: “Whenever new elements come, we will investigate--it is a continuing process. As a friend India should keep us posted about presence of terrorists.” Questioning the justification of the allegation of Indian insurgents crossing over to Bangladesh, the Foreign Minister said in last one year since April, some 117 innocent Bangladeshis had been killed by BSF but no insurgents shot.

“If the insurgents crossed over to Bangladesh, as being claimed by India, why BSF men could not shoot down a single insurgent?” he questioned. Expressing his dismay at India’s nonstop campaign over terrorists, ISI or Al-Qaeda against Bangladesh, Khan said it must be found out whether India resorted to this campaign for any domestic or international compulsions there particularly before the elections in Gujrat.

Terming India as a good neighbour of Bangladesh, the Foreign Minister said: “Being close-door neighbors, we may have some irritants or contentious issues, and those could be resolved through mutual understanding.” He hoped the problem with the undemarcated 6.5km border between Bangladesh and India would see a solution soon. In this inter-dependent world, he said, Bangladesh wants to move forward along with its neighbors.

Referring to the EU parliament resolution on Bangladesh and international media campaigns against the country, the Foreign Minister blamed opposition leader Sheikh Hasina for this smear campaign after the electoral defeat last year. “ She is campaigning against Bangladesh by staying in foreign soils; she went to Brussels and after three weeks, she came up with a resolution of EU parliament against Bangladesh,” Khan told the newsmen. Asked if international magazines, EU parliament or Indian parliament have been working at the dictate of Sheikh Hasina, he retorted: “These are hired people from media.” He would not elaborate. About Indian DPM LK Advani’s comments against Bangladesh, the Foreign Minister said Advani later clarified his remarks when he said that he just stated about the reports on Bangladesh.

Khan categorically said Bangladesh is not meant for terrorists---“we will hunt for the last terror on our land”.

He said some terrorists took shelter in India in the wake of joint operation against terrors. The government is collecting particulars of those terrors and will supply to India to bring them back to stand trial. “ Similarly, whenever any terrorist from India crossed over to Bangladesh, they were handed over to police,” Khan said.

Asked if the issues of gas export and granting transit to India are underlying factors behind the anti-Bangladesh campaign, the Foreign Minister said gas and transit would be considered provided it is mutually beneficial. “ Decision on gas will be taken after discussion in parliament upholding the interests of Bangladesh,” he told a questioner.

Asked for his comment on the concerns expressed by the Amnesty International on the arrest of British and Italian nationals, he said: “ We are also concerned that being a teacher and an architect why they went for making film.” Khan hoped that the matter would be cleared very soon on completion of investigation into their activities in Bangladesh. “ If they did not violate the law of the land, after investigation they will be released through usual process.” Earlier , the Bangladesh Foreign Secretary said this afternoon here today Thursday 28th Novemberthat the pattern of “unfortunate comments” hurled against Bangladesh by the Indian leaders certainly do not contribute to create a good environment between the two neighbors .“We express our serious disappointment and surprise” over Indian External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha’s statement in Indian Parliament on Wednesday, Shamser Mobin Chowdhury told reporters. Sinha alleged that elements of al-Qaeda have entered into Bangladesh and the Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka has become the nerve centre of ISI since Prime Minister Khaleda Zia took over power in October last year.

“Certainly, this unfortunate statement runs counter to the spirit of good neighborly relations,” the Foreign Secretary said. “We are committed to maintaining normal and friendly relations with India and address bilateral and regional issues through diplomatic channels,” he added. He reaffirmed Dhaka’s position of not allowing any insurgency or terrorist activities against any country by using the soil of Bangladesh. Asked to comment on the Indian allegation that the Pakistan High Commission in Dhaka has become a hub of ISI, Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury said he is not aware of it and noted that the allegation of this nature needs to be backed up by credible evidence. To a question about Indian claim that it has got specific evidence of ISI and al-Qaeda in Bangladesh, he said if it is so India can share those evidences with the country concerned.

Asked if there is any need of involving a third independent party to verify the allegations of ISI and Al-Qaeda activities in Bangladesh, the Foreign Secretary said Bangladesh and India are sovereign nations maintaining relations for more than 30 years and capable of resolving their differences without any outside help. He, however, said it needs in-depth study and analyzing the factors — whether it is because of Indian domestic politics prior to election or seriousness of Indo-Pak relation that prompts harsh anti-Bangladesh campaign. Asked if gas or transit are the underlying factors that cause India coming up with such adverse remarks, Chowdhury said if there are differences on export of gas or transit, there are normal laid down ways to answer.

There are channels which remain open to discuss matters relating to trade or gas, he observed. About tension along the Indo-Bangladesh border, particularly at Koikhali point in Satkhira, he said he does not see any reason of concern. The prevailing disputes could be resolved at the BDR-BSF meetings, he added.

Asked about opposition leader Sheikh Hasina’s remarks of human rights violation and repression of minority in the country, he said “a measure of responsibility” is expected from political party leaders when they speak outside the country. AFP reports from New Delhi . India on Wednesday renewed charges that al- Qaeda extremists had taken shelter in Bangladesh but said the neighbouring country had agreed to act. "Some al-Qaeda elements have taken shelter in Bangladesh," Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha told parliament.

"Though foreign media has also reported several such instances, our own sources have also confirmed many of these reports," he said. The foreign minister charged that arch-rival Pakistan was active in Bangladesh and that the Pakistani High Commission in Dhaka had become a "nerve centre" for activities of Pakistan’s Inter- Services Intelligence agency. Sinha said a number of Islamic seminaries, or madrassas, had sprung up along the Bangladeshi border with India and that rebels fighting in the myriad insurgencies in India’s northeast had established training camps in Bangladesh. He said that after India expressed its "strong concern," Bangladesh gave assurance it would not allow its territory to be used for anti-Indian activities. "The Bangladesh Foreign Minister, Morshed Khan, intimated that instructions have been issued not to allow presence of Indian insurgents or their free movement across the border," Sinha said.

European Parliament : Who They Are

Ahmed Faruque Hassan,Dhaka

The Bangladesh government sharply reacted to the European Parliament resolution on Bangladesh, saying the resolution is one sided and does not reflect the realities on the ground. European Parliament in a resolution on Thursday, said that, "serious human rights violation" is going on in Bangladesh as a result of the "Operation Clean Heart" joint operation of the Army A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry said the government decision to involve the army in the joint operation to check the deteriorating law and order situation was taken on a strictly non-partisan basis and keeping the interest of the common citizens in mind. “ The decision has been welcomed in the society as a whole, because it has led to a sharp improvement in the law and order situation in the country, particularly during the holy month of Ramadan and the ensuing Eid-ul-Fitr,” he said. Even the Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament has supported the deployment of the Army in the joint drive.

Though ,detail of the resolution and discussion on it is not available here, but local news paper run news items . In the adopted resolution Members of European Parliament says “ Following the recent outbreaks of violence in Bangladesh, the attacks on the Hindu community and the resultant arbitrary arrests and torture under the military's "Operation Clean Heart" program, MEPs adopted a resolution expressing concern for growing "Islamic radicalization" in the country. Parliament recognizes the need to improve the state of law and order but at the same time wants the government to set up an independent body to carry out an inquiry into the recent killings. There is a further call on the government to release political prisoners and a recommendation that a Bangladesh National Human Right's Commission be set up” But the reality is-the law and order situation of the country was so much in a bad shape prior to the beginning of the operation that the people of the country became virtual hostage in the hands of the miscreants. Every day there were hijacks, robberies, looting and murders. The police force alone with its limited manpower and logistics was not at all able to tackle the situation. European diplomats, donor agencies and others concerned started realizing the situation. They, very rightly, started observing that poor law and order situation has damaged the image of the country. Development endeavors were being thwarted by aggravated law and order situation and foreign donors and investors have been discouraged to finance its development programs and invest in the country. The imminent and number one task, they suggested, was to improve the law and order situation.

The foreign office spokesperson said there was global recognition that a serious law and order situation was prevailing in the country, which the present government had inherited from the past and that needed to be addressed in all earnest. He clarified that “the military operations are being carried out under the directive of a constitutional and democratically elected government without any partisan approach whatsoever. The arrested include members from the ruling party also.” The spokesman further added that the ordinary citizens today feel far more safe and secured in the light of the joint drive. About the allegations of death in custody, he said, the Army has set up necessary investigation committees under the directives of the Prime Minister to look into these allegations and take action accordingly. In a report by government news agency BSS said that the joint operation "clean heart" against terrorism, widely appreciated at home, came under the criticism abroad and target of baseless propaganda by international lobbying organization with the active support from a mainstream opposition party. Awami Foundation Bangladesh has circulated a resolution in the media here taken by European Parliament which is an independent body not having any connection with the decision making process of the European Union.

One western diplomat in Dhaka said European Parliament is like a ‘bibek’ (character playing conscience in a Bengali drama), working as a sort of global conscience and sometimes functioning purely for lobbyist like a lobbying firm, who can convince it with their cause. The European parliament did not have any linkage with the decision making process of European Union which in fact works according to the European Council constituted by 15 European ministers of European Union member states. In the past it has been observed that European Parliament took resolution on some controversial issues. It took resolutions three times for complete withdrawal of Bangalees from Chittagong Hill Tracts areas. It was never supported by the European union.. In fact, European Parliament is an independent body formed by 15 percent casting votes of the member states of EU. It actually works as global conscience, but used as a lobbying platform. Interestingly while the propagation is continuing against the successful drive against terrorism, Indian newspapers are dishing out some absurd stories relating to the terrorists who are being arrested in Indian Territory. The journalists who are writing the stories seems to have less knowledge about the terrorists who have taken shelter in India and trying to brand them as ISI agents with malafide intention. The Indian newspapers are trying to find out string of ISI with the branded terrorists who left Bangladesh and staying in India to escape the on going joint drive against terrorism.

The European Parliaments resolution on "serious human rights violation" in Bangladesh was raised jointly by the human rights rapporteur of the parliament, Johan Van Hecke (elected from Belgium, and parliament member Van Den Bos (elected from Netherlands), both from the liberal faction of the parliament. Finally, the resolution was supported by all the groups of the parliament and passed in the parliament unanimously. The parliament strongly criticized the "Operation Clean Heart" by the armed forces of Bangladesh. It has expressed its serious concern on the 25 deaths during first 25 days of the said operation. It is said in the resolution that the army has arrested without any judicial mandate, arrested the members of the Bangladesh parliament, opposition political leaders and followers, even they have occupied the opposition Awami League's research center CRI (Center for Research and Information). The Parliament has expressed its serious concern at the "arbitrary arrests, detention, torture, killings and deteriorating human rights situation in Bangladesh" following the military's "Operation Clean Heart" and fears that the crackdown on crime is also being "used for politically partisan purposes." The parliament also expressed concern at what it said the growing Islamic radicalization in the country since the BNP-Jamaat led four-party alliance has come to power.

It has reminded that the EU-Bangladesh cooperation agreement is "based on respect for human rights and democratic principles, and that violation of Article 1 is breach that can lead to suspension of the Agreement." The European Parliament has called the Bangladesh government to "immediately institute an independent body to conduct a prompt and fair investigation into the killings and acts of torture and to ensure that its findings are made public and those responsible for deaths and ill treatment are made accountable before courts of law." The European Parliament also strongly urged that a Bangladesh National Human Rights Commission be established without further delay, endowed with adequate powers and sufficient staff to perform effectively and properly, and that the military should not be kept out of the Commission's purview. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bangladesh is likely to host triangular cricket series

Ahmed Faruque Hassan,Dhaka

Bangladesh is likely to host a triangular cricket series next year involving South Africa, India and Bangladesh.

“We are hopeful to host an ODI series after the World Cup-2003 in South Africa,” Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Ali Asghar Lobi told reporters today.

“We are also trying to host the next Asia Cup scheduled to be held in Lahore,” said Lobi, also the president of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC).

“It will be good for us if we succeed to bring India and Pakistan together in the cricket field arranging the Asia Cup,”

BCB president Ali Asghar Lobi told the newsman that, West Indies cricket team, led by wicket keeper Ridley Jacobs, will arrive Dhaka on Tuesday (November 26) morning to play two-match Test and three-match one-day Coca-Cola series against hosts Bangladesh.

The Caribbean team will come from India where they are currently playing. After a brief stopover at the Zia International Airport, they will fly to port city Chittagong to play the first one-day match on Nov. 29. Only two players — Daren Ganga and Daren Powell — will arrive in the capital on Monday straight from West Indies. Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) today arranged a briefing at a city hotel to apprise the press about their preparation for the series.

“We have estimated Tk 17.5 million as total budget for the series,” BCB president told. He said they are hopeful of earning enough money from the series to meet the budget. On a query, BCB advisor and chairman of the cricket committee Mahbub Anam first declined to disclose the amount they have received from title sponsor Coca-Cola, but later said, “it’s an internal agreement and I can only inform you that the amount is more than Tk 5 million.”

State-run Bangladesh Television (BTV) will telecast all the matches live while Bangladesh Betar will give live commentary. Besides, ESPN/STAR Sports will also telecast the matches worldwide. “BTV didn’t give any money directly to the BCB, but there is an agreement on sharing the revenue from BTV package programme,” said the BCB cricket committee chairman.

BCB president Ali Asghar Lobi informed that former captain and currently West Indies chief selector Viv Richards and former Bangladesh coach Gordon Greenidge have agreed to cover the series as TV commentators. The BCB also invited West Indies cricket board chairman Wesley Hall to visit the country during the Bangladesh-West Indies series, he said.

When his attention was drawn about the players’ contract, BCB president said they have already finalized the matter. “We will meet with the players tomorrow (Saturday) or the day after to make an agreement with them.” Lobi said they have a plan to release a white paper later this year covering the activities of the board. Bangladesh is likely to host a triangular cricket series next year involving South Africa, India and Bangladesh.

“We are hopeful to host an ODI series after the World Cup-2003 in South Africa,” Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) president Ali Asghar Lobi also told reporters.

“We are also trying to host the next Asia Cup scheduled to be held in Lahore,” said Lobi, also the president of the Asian Cricket Council (ACC).

“It will be good for us if we succeed to bring India and Pakistan together in the cricket field arranging the Asia Cup,” he added.

Announcing a 14-member Bangladesh squad for three ODIs against West Indies, the three-member new selection committee of Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) has emphasised the importance of the team's batting performance. "Batting has been our main concern because of our recent poor show. So ways to score runs were in our minds when we formed the team," chief selector Aliul Islam told reporters at a press briefing here.

The 14-member Bangladesh national cricket team was announced to play the three one-day matches with the visiting West Indies team with wicket Keeper Khaled Masud Pilot retaining his captaincy.

The three-member new selection committee, headed by Aliul Islam, made the announcement at Banganandhu National Stadium.

Former national skipper Naimur Rahman Durjoy has been included in the side after a long gap while Mohammed Ashraful and Ehsanul Haq Seezan are the other two new members. The remaining members of the team include the previous squad that recently toured South Africa. All-rounder Khaled Mahmud Sujon, Rafiqul Islam Khan, pacer Anwarul Hossain Monir and opener Javed Omar Belim Gullua have been dropped from the 14-member squad, but the last two players have been included as standbys.

The selectors faced a volley of questions from the reporters about the exclusion of all-rounder Khaled Mahmud Sujon who had a good record in the South Africa tour compared to his teammates scoring 49 in the last match. The selectors could not give any clear picture when asked about their criteria to choose the players as they sometimes said that they were looking to the future and sometimes said they wanted results at the moment.

"We didn't want to change the set that's why we were cautious in bringing massive changes in the squad. We have made a few changes keeping the recent performance in mind," said Omar Khaled Rumi, one of the selectors. "We have to prefer the players who have potentials to serve for a long time for the country," explained chief selector Aliul Islam.

In the face of huge criticism, all-rounder Khaled Mahmud Sujon was included leter in the stand-by list of the Bangladesh national team for playing against the touring West Indies. But the chief selector, Aliul Islam, told local news agency today that he still thinks that Mahmud is not necessary for the series beginning November 29. “He is not an unimportant player but we ignored him thinking our home condition,” he added.

“Now we called him as question has been arisen from media about his exclusion and we don’t want to demoralize him. That’s why we called him for practice,” Aliul said. Aliul also informed that they would call young left-arm spinner Enamul Haque, who had played for BCB Development squad in the Challenge trophy, and few other players in the stand-by list.

Bangladesh wants quick deportation of arrested terrors

Ahmed Faruque Hassan,Dhaka

Though still in the dark about the arrested top terrors as Indian authorities held back from officially informing Bangladesh about the arrest in Kolkata ,the government wants their quick deportation to stand trial at home.

"Till this morning, we were not officially informed of the arrested terrors; we have asked our missions in Calcutta and New Delhi to verify the Indian media reports about the arrest of Bangladeshi criminals," Foreign Secretary Shamser Mobin Chowdhury said Thursday at a press briefing.

At the weekly press briefing at the Foreign Ministry, he said a note had been given to the Indian High Commission in Dhaka seeking cooperation and verification of the reports of the arrests.

" We're still strictly working on media reports. Although Calcutta Special Branch chief Soumen Mitra has spoken to newsmen in Calcutta, our mission has not yet been informed nor given any consular access to the arrested people," Chowdhury told newsmen.

He said if the arrested persons were proven to be Bangladeshi nationals, they should be handed over to Bangladesh authorities to put them to trial.

The Foreign Secretary could not say precisely why the Indian authorities keep the Bangladesh missions in India at bay by not giving any official information or consular access, which also happened when one Bangladeshi named Ataur Rahman was recently arrested at Delhi airport for carrying fake travel documents.

Quoting Indian newspaper reports, the Foreign Secretary said Liaquat and Arman were arrested with illegal firearms on November 18 in the West Bengal capital. They are likely to be produced in a Calcutta court. Another person named Syed Hossain was arrested in Calcutta Wednesday.

Asked about the mechanism for deporting the criminals in absence of the extradition treaty, the Foreign Secretary said deportation is possible on the basis of goodwill and understanding.

To a question he said striking an extradition treaty is a time-consuming legal matter involving opinions of the two sides. "Without extradition treaty, criminals could be deported given the understanding and cooperation."

The Foreign Secretary, however, could not say if deportation of criminals had taken place in the past between the neighbours.

He was asked how the Bangladesh government could be hopeful about the deportation of Liaquat and Arman when ULFA leader Anup Chetia was not handed over to India.

Chowdhury said Anup Chetia was prosecuted in specific cases and jailed. The case of Chetia can not be linked with the Liaquat-Arman case.

In reply to a query about branding Liaquat and Arman as Al-Qaeda or ISI men, he said the Indian media took an angle and this allegation is unacceptable before verification.

" This (campaign) by Indian media is motivated and unfounded. We expect responsibility from them; they should refrain from such unfounded stories," Chowdhury said about the media hype over there on the arrests.

Asked if the Indian leadership is also following the Indian media cue in dishing out ISI- Al-Qaeda hoax regarding Bangladesh, he said: "There is definitely a pattern of likeliness between the government source and media, which we find very disturbing."

Sources close to Bangladesh foreign ministry said The Bangladesh mission in Kolkata, in a letter, has requested the West Bengal government to hand over the two top criminals arrested in Kolkata last Saturday.

Meanwhile, a top official of the foreign ministry expressed the government's frustration at the release of seven other criminals after their arrest by the Kolkata police.

"As per diplomatic norms, the West Bengal government should have informed Bangladesh about these arrests," he said expressing his disappointment over the handling of the issue by the Kolkata police and the West Bengal government.

On Saturday night, the Kolkata police arrested Liaquat, Arman, Kala Jahangir, Pichchi Hannan, Killer Abbas and four others from the city's New Market area. However, they later released all excepting Liaquat and Arman. The West Bengal government or the Kolkata police did not convey the message to the office of deputy high commissioner till Tuesday. However, Bangladesh was officially informed yesterday. Meanwhile, the deputy high commissioner requested the West Bengal government to hand over the most wanted criminals to Bangladesh so that they could be tried under our laws.

Citizen’s committee opposing the idea of gas export from Bangladesh

Ahmed Faruque Hassan,Dhaka

Dhaka Nov 18 : Unless the country supplies the IOCs a part of its own share from the discovered gas, the much-talked-about pipeline export is not possible, they said, adding that current agreements with IOCs are not binding on Bangladesh for doing so.

A galaxy of economic and geological experts today Monday said even after new discoveries the international oil companies would not have sufficient gas of their own for pipeline export A citizens committee comprising experts from various concerned arenas drafted the report sponsored by Bangladesh Geological Society (BGS) and Bangladesh Economic Association (BEA).

The two associations initiated the move last July when two national committees formed by the government were in final stages of preparing their reports--one on reserves and another on utilization.

State Minister for Energy AKM Mosharraf Hossain welcomed the report of a citizen's committee that opposed the limited gas export option, but he said the committee otherwise supported the idea. "The national committee suggested export from new discoveries while the citizen's committee said that for the limited export the IOCs should initially discover 4-5 TCF gas," the minister told newsman.

As the citizen's committee said that in 10 years time at the latest the gas reserve after the cost-recovery stage should be 12 TCF, Mosharraf said it is possible because by that time the IOCs share would stand at 500 mmcf a day.

"So, I don't see any difference between the national committee's suggestion for limited export from new discoveries and the observations of the citizen's committee," he said.

The BGS and BEA had a fear that the national committees would not reflect a realistic scenario, and in their report published at a press conference here today they contradicted mainly one thing.

“Limited export option is one area of the report of national committee on gas utilization which we are not agreed on,” said economist MM Akash, a member of the citizens committee of the BGS-BEA combine.

The BGS-BEA committee in its report on gas utilization said technically the limited export from IOCs’ share is not an option at all unless a very high amount of abundant recoverable reserve is discovered.

It said for the limited export initially the IOCs should discover 4-5 TCF gas, but in 10 years time at the latest after the cost-recovery stage it should be 12 TCF to make pipeline project feasible. However, economist MM Akash, a member of the citizen's committee said the idea of "limited export from IOCs share" is the basic difference between their findings and of the national committee on gas utilization.

The state minister for energy said that if the citizen's committee wanted to meet him, they would be welcome. "I'll be happy to meet them and receive their report," he said. However, another report of the citizens committee on gas reserves and potential showed Bangladesh’s proven gas deposit at 6.2 TCF and possible at 5.8 TCF. The citizen's committee, formed under the auspices of Bangladesh Geological Society (BGS) and Bangladesh Economic Association (BEA), published its report opposing the idea of gas export.

A committee member, Dr Badrul Imam, termed undiscovered 32 TCF gas resources as hypothetical while Mosharraf Hossain said gas reserves increase after discovery from the hypothetical resources.

"Once our proven gas reserves was 8 TCF. Now it is 16 TCF. The doubling of reserves took place following discovery from hypothetically undiscovered resources," the State Minister said.

He said: "If we can make investment, more and more discoveries will take place. But the country is not able to make the investment and the IOCs want export option to go for further investment."

The citizen's committee, however, recommended making the investment from Petrobangla revenues and floating of shares and debentures for public subscription, including participation of the NRBs.

The government-formed national committee on utilization in its report published last August mentioned the reserves as 16.1 TCF while the reserve committee as 12 to 15.5 TCF.

The BGS-BEA committee report gave limited export option an emphatic “NO”, saying that the government can always refuse to renegotiate IOCs’ offer for pipeline export as there is no such option in the PSC deals.

As the IOCs are demanding gas export for generating requisite investment, the committee members said the government could go for alternative financing if they put it as a condition.

Their recommendations, in this regard, are for investment from Petrobangla’s revenues, floating shares and debentures for public subscription, including participation of the non-resident Bangladeshis.

Former Chairman of Petrobangla SKM Abdullah was convenor of the citizens committee. Dhaka University’s Geology Department Professor Dr M Hossain Mansur, also a former Chairman of Petrobangla, was member- secretary.

Its members were Dr Badrul Imam of Geology Department of DU, former PDB Chairman Nuruddin Mahmud Kamal, economists Dr Kazi Khaliquzzaman, Dr MM Akash and Dr Abul Barakat and Dr M Golam Mohiuddin of (Bangladesh University of Engeniaring and Technology)BUET.

They announced they, after some minor changes, would submit the report to the government for its consideration.

Operation Clean Heart claims 24 life in one month

Ahmed Faruque Hassan,Dhaka

Dhaka Nov 16 : The countrywide antiterrorism army operation that began on October 16 midnight steps into its second month today Saturday, earning praises and a little criticism too.

During the month-long stormy drive, code-named Operation Clean Heart, some 5,772 people were arrested and 858 firearms seized. Of the arrested people, 1466 are listed criminals, 4,112 non-listed offenders and 194 suspects.

The authorities could not say readily how many are legal of the 858 firearms. During the hunt a huge haul of 23,029 ammunition was recovered. About 24 people, mostly political activists belonging to BNP and Awami League, were reported to have died during or after military interrogation.

Three members of parliament were also held. They are former Health Minister and Awami Juba League Chairman Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim and Abdul Khaleq Talukdar of Awami League and independent MP Hemayetullah Auranga. Besides, Sheikh Hasina’s political secretary and former Deputy Minister Saber Hossain Chowdhury and ex-Swami League Whip Mostafa Rashidee Suja are among the arrested political leaders.

Home Minister Altaf Hossain Chowdhury told parliament Thursday that the army operation would continue as long as required.

Opposition parties, including Awami League and leftwing 11-party alliance, extended support to the mopping-up drive provided the army acts neutrally respecting the Constitution and human-rights norms. They were also critical of deaths in the “army custody”.

However, commoners and businesses were happy over the current joint operation as law and order marked improvement. But there is fear lurking in public mind of the aftermath when the troops are pulled out.

The authorities have decided to raise a special police corps specially for capital Dhaka named Rapid Action Task Force(RAT), initially with 144 personnel, equipped with modern training and sophisticated weapons to combat terrorists after the withdrawal of the army from the operation.

The government has plans to deploy such special police squads in all the 64 district headquarters to keep public order staving off acts of violence in phase.

Bangladesh would investigate India’s latest claim

Ahmed Faruque Hassan,Dhaka

Nov 14-Dhaka: Bangladesh would investigate India’s latest claim that some 99 training camps of Indian insurgents are operating from here against its Northeastern States, a government spokesman said here today thursday.

“ We’ll investigate into it and the findings would be communicated to the Indian government,” Foreign Secretary Shamser Mobin Chowdhury told newsman at weekly press briefing at the Foreign Ministry.

Asked if Advani’s remarks and a war of words between Dhaka and New Delhi made a dent into the bilateral relations, the Foreign Secretary said it is the desire and commitment on the part of Bangladesh to continue in its normal tone and pursue a good relation with India. He said differences between two close neighbors are nothing unusual. “We want to maintain relations and address all issues with an open and frank mind for the sake of good relations and interests of the two peoples,” he told a correspondent.

Chowdhury, however, said Bangladesh had categorically rejected Indian Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani’s remarks about the activities of so-called ISI of Pakistan and Al-Qaeda inside Bangladesh.

However, he noted that LK Advani changed his position on what he had said about ISI and Al-Qaeda matters.

On November 7 he said, “after the change of government in Bangladesh there has been an increase in activities of the Al-Qaeda and ISI there.” But on November 10, Advani said he had just stated that there were “reports” about growing activities of Al-Qaeda and ISI in Bangladesh after the change of government.

Commenting on the press release issued by the Indian High Commission after ML Tripathy was summoned on November 10, the Foreign Secretary wondered if he (High Commissioner) mixed up insurgents of Northeast Indian States with Al-Qaeda.

About the deportation of alleged criminals who crossed over to India in the wake of antiterrorism joint operation, Chowdhury said particulars of the criminals would be supplied to the Indian authorities for their action.

On the question of ULFA leader Anup Chetia and Sanjib Dev Burman of ATTF, both in jail here, the Foreign Secretary said the government would communicate the legal position and status of the two to the Indian government.

About any chance of postponement of SAARC summit, due for January in Pakistan, following difference of opinion between Islamabad and New Delhi, Chowdhury said he had no information that suggests any problem with the holding of the summit. He hoped that the summit would be held on schedule.

Bangladesh handed a rebuttal to Indian D P MrLK Advani's comments

Ahmed Faruque Hassan,Dhaka

The High Commissioner of India was summoned on Sunday (Nov10,2002) afternoon to the Foreign Ministry and handed a rebuttal to Indian Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani's comments about Pakistani military intelligence outfit ISI and Al-Queda networks in Bangladesh. Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh Shamser Mobin Chowdhury handed ML Tripathy an aide-memoire venting concern over such remarks.

The diplomatic note said Bangladesh never expected such aspersions made by a responsible leader of the Indian government. Bangladesh rejects such comment as "baseless and incorrect, if not motivated".

Last Thursday, LK Advani reportedly told PTI that "after the change of government in Bangladesh, there has been an increase in the activities of the Al-Qaeda and Inter-service Intelligence (ISI) there". Advani also said Dhaka is providing "cover" support and refuge to separatist rebel groups operating in the Northeastern States of India.

The Foreign Secretary categorically said Bangladesh does not allow its territory to be used for the purpose of support, shelter or training of insurgents against any of its neighbours, including India. He also noted that all allegations of insurgency, intelligence activities allegedly carried out against India from Bangladesh territory had been thoroughly investigated and found to be without any basis. promote mutually beneficial interactions in the region.

"Dhaka strongly He reaffirmed the commitment of Bangladesh to remain fruitfully engaged with India and other neighbours to condemns terrorism in all its forms and manifestations," says the aide-memoire. The Bangladesh authorities expressed the hope that due restraint would be exercised by all concerned so that the atmosphere of friendship between the two neighbours is not affected.

Indian High Commission officials told local journalist that Tripathy conveyed to the Foreign Secretary that he is not in a position to comment on remarks of Deputy Prime Minister Advani " who speaks with full sense of responsibility based on reliable information available to him". The envoy said Advani had only reiterated India's "serious concerns" which were earlier conveyed to Bangladesh government on different occasions.

The Indian High Commissioner also raised the issues of repatriation and whereabouts of Sanjit Deb Burman, member of the outlawed ATTF, repatriation of ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia, his associates Babul Sharma and LP Goswamy and the whereabouts of three self-confessed Naga militants arrested in December last year. Tripathy alleged Sanjit Deb Burman receives legal assistance while Anup Chetia and his associates are being given "first-class hospitality" in jail.

"Bangladesh rejects any accusation that Al-Queda elements are getting refuge in Bangladesh," Shmaser Mobin Chowdhury said, reiterating Bangladesh's position on terrorism.

During the meeting with the Foreign Secretary, the Indian envoy said inadequate actions to these cases sent "wrong signals" to the Indian insurgents that "Dhaka is supportive" of their anti-Indian agenda, which causes "serious misgivings in New Delhi". He said the Indian government expects that the Bangladesh government would treat this matter seriously and "initiate immediate action".

Bangladesh today urged India to arrest and deport the criminals who have crossed over to the neighboring country in the wake of joint operation against terrorists.

At the same time Foreign Secretary Shamser Mobin Chowdhury handed over a “note verbal” to Indian High Commissioner ML Tripathy when the diplomat was summoned to the Foreign Ministry Sunday afternoon. Chowdhury requested assistance of the Indian government for increased vigilance at the border against such trespass.

The High Commissioner assured the Foreign Secretary that India would fully cooperate with Bangladesh authorities in rounding up Bangladeshi “criminals so that they can be brought to justice”. Tripathy requested the names and particulars of the suspected offenders who have reportedly crossed over into India recently so that appropriate actions can be taken to apprehend and return them to Bangladesh.

Since Bangladesh army is already taking action against criminals, it should be instructed by the Bangladesh government to take steps so they cannot enter into India, he said. Tripathy also recalled that earlier a list of 14 such criminal elements had been received from the Foreign Ministry. But more details about them, including their photographs, were yet to be received from Dhaka, he said. ===============================================================

Professor Dr Mohammad Yunus has been appointed Ambassador for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS

Ahmed Faruque Hassan,IOL Correspondent,Dhaka

Professor Dr Mohammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank, has been appointed Ambassador for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) to help fight the AIDS epidemic, especially among the poor. As a champion of the fight against poverty, Professor Yunus will help bring the message of HIV/AIDS prevention and care to many of the world’s neediest people, said a UNAIDS press release received here from Geneva today.

“Through the Grameen Bank, Professor Yunus has helped lift people out of poverty and give them a chance to control their own lives, bringing self-sufficiency to millions of poor families,” said Dr Peter Piot, Executive Director of UNAIDS.

“Micro-credit focuses on women and the most disadvantaged, two groups that are also highly vulnerable when it comes to the spread and impact of AIDS,” he added.

As Ambassador Prof Mohammad Yunus’s work will also involve country visits to advocate for comprehensive and early intervention in HIV/AIDS programmes, the release said.

The advocacy will help UNAIDS document best practice in the region, encourage the private sector to invest in HIV prevention programmes, promote the involvement of civil society in the fight against AIDS, and represent UNAIDS at key national and international events.

In reaction Prof Yunus said, “The spread of HIV/AIDS erodes much of the hard-gained development of our people. The quest for development in South Asia and all developing countries will be more difficult if the current spread of AIDS is not halted. Families, especially the poor and women, will have to bear the burden.”

“The Grameen experience has without doubt proved that communities, when given the opportunity, can come up with unique and socially relevant solutions. Communities are central to HIV prevention and care, and communities can provide solutions for HIV prevention and care,” he said.


Although they made the most precious sacrifice

Ahmed Faruque Hassan,Dhaka

- They fought with the Pakistani army in the battlefields and picked up by the Pakistani hyenas and their local collaborators and endured indescribable torture for months. They are still alive although Pakistani army pierced their bodies with bayonets. Although their area commanders gave them certificates recognising their contributions, they never got assistance or honour from the government. - -

Although they made the most precious sacrifice for the country's independence, they have got nothing but negligence and disregard. Halima Perveen, Nazma Begum, Rokeya Khatun and Fatema Khatun are among 2 lakh heroic women who sacrificed their chastity in the hands of Pakistani occupation forces during the liberation war in 1971.

When they came back to their homes after the war, they did not get the treatment they used to receive before the war from their families and neighbours. Of the four women, Halima now works at Moheshpur Hospital under Jessore district as an 'aya', Nazma Begum lives at a slum in capital Dhaka, Rokeya Khatun and Fatema Khatun now work as maidservants. They are now passing their days in miseries for lack of assistance.

After 30 years of independence, the four women got some solace when Ekatturer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee (EGDNC) and Muktijuddhher Smriti Sangrakkhhan Kendra jointly organised a reception for them at city's Moni Singh-Farhad Smriti Trust Bhaban on 4th of this month. - -

At the function, Halima Parveen (Jessore) and Nazma Begum (Gopalganj) narrated their ordeals they endured during the war and the postwar hatred they received from the society. They broke down in tears at the function. Rokeya Khatun could not attend the reception due to sickness.

Chaired by poet Syed Shamsul Huq, the function was addressed, among others, by poet Shamsur Rahman, Maj Gen (retd) KM Shafiullah, Lt Col (retd) Abu Osman Chowdhury, sculptor Ferdousi Priyobhashini, Shyamoli Nasreen Chowdhury and Shariar Kabir.

Nirmul Committee awarded them with a letter of credence and Tk 20,000 each while Projonmo Ekattur, son of Col Abdul Qadir and Hasna Hena Qadir journalist Nadeem Qadir, Shaheed Jaya Salma Huq, daughter of martyred Dr Alim Chowdhury Dr Shampa, Dr Sonia Ameen, daughter of Begum Sufia Kamal Advocate Sultana Kamal and Artist Sayeeda Kamal also gave them sarees, shawls, cash and other gifts.