Thursday, January 12, 2006

US rejects extra-constitutional means to govern Bangladesh

Dhaka January 10, 2006 12:35:14 AM IST

The US administration disapproved of any military intervention in Bangladesh as a ''horrible idea'' despite debilitating political disputes on election issues, but urged both the ruling BNP and opposition Awami League to act responsibly, putting the interest of the nation on top.

''Military intervention would be a horrible idea, and I believe your military knows that,'' Office of Bangladesh and Pakistan Affairs Director Stephen Engelken said during an internet chat with some Bangladesh journalists.

''Democracy takes constant effort by all, if it is to be maintained. We call on both major parties to act responsibly nd put the interests of the nation ahead of everything,'' he said, adding ''Bangladesh's international friends, including the United States, support broad participation in the next general election which should be free and fair.'' He observed that the people of Bangladesh struggled hard for democracy and made such sacrifices for it that few Americans can today imagine. However, democracies require constant effort by the people if they are to be maintained.

''Bangladesh's international friends, including the United States, support your efforts to maintain democratic governance. It is, therefore, extremely important that the next elections enjoy broad participation and be free and fair,'' Mr Engelken said.

On the question of formal cooperation between the US and Bangladesh in dealing with rising militancy and terrorism like that of India and Pakistan, he said the Bush administration would consider it seriously if the Bangladesh government so wanted.

''We maintain a regular dialogue with the Bangladesh on terrorism issues. If the Bangladeshi government wanted to make these discussions more formal, we would consider that request seriously,'' he said.

About the government’s anti-JMB operation, the US State Department official said, ''Many known terrorist leaders still remain at large. We would hope the government will not rest until it has pursued all leads in this investigation and has arrested the ringleaders behind the recent bombings.'' However, he noted, Bangladeshi government has made significant progress in its investigation of the recent terrorist attacks. It is notable that some weeks have passed since the last bombing. It is too early, however, to say that Bangladesh has turned the corner.

Engelken praised Bangladesh for the economic progress in the country but expressed concerns about recent bombing incidents. He said Bangladesh made many sacrifices for democracy and should try to preserve democratic institutions and hold a free and fair election. Engelken said that Bangladesh is a friend of the US and expects excellent future relations with that nation as long as the government of Bangladesh can deal with the threats and problem of bomb attacks and the people maintain their loyalty and support for democracy.#
source: United News of India (UNI) & VOA

For interview of Stephen Engelken, Director, Office of Pakistani and Bangladeshi Affairs at the State Department in Voice of America, click the link: