Tuesday, September 27, 2011

U.S. seeks Bangladesh help to secure Afghanistan

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns 
SALEEM SAMAD

In a very rare gesture, United States on Monday sought Bangladesh assistance to secure and help in rebuilding civil strife riddled Afghanistan.

The U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns urged that relationship with Bangladesh is one of the highest priorities for the United States as it is closely working with Bangladesh in the areas of counter-terrorism, energy, food security, climate change adaptation.

Bangladesh senior officials at the meeting with U.S. government officials during a bilateral meeting with Bangladesh foreign minister Dipu Moni in New York in the sidelines of United Nations 66th General Assembly on Monday said the national sentiments is against sending troops to Afghanistan, according to sources.

In October 2010, Bangladesh unofficially declined Richard Holbrooke, U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan an extra-ordinary request last September to deploy large contingent of military troops to help secure Afghanistan against Taliban advances.

Quickly the dreaded Taliban fighters responded and threatened Bangladesh. The Taliban in a statement said that Bangladesh leaders having enough Islamic knowledge and political wit and believes that it will not commit a historic mistake to fight against Islam and against the Afghan people by sending soldiers to Afghanistan.

Scared by the militant’s threat, Bangladesh has made it clear it will not send its troops to Afghanistan while refuting reports that the US had requested the country to contribute soldiers to the war-torn nation.

Earlier, Bangladesh prime minister Shiekh Hasina said Bangladeshis has reservation regarding the U.S. and British led military intervention in Afghanistan.

Recently Bangladesh and United States relation deteriorated after Washington’s request for a respectable exit of micro-finance guru Professor Muhammad Yunus, from the position of Managing Director of Grameen Bank, he founded. His poverty reduction strategy is presently replicated in United States and equally a popular development initiative in most developing countries for empowerment of women.

Bangladesh overwhelming majority is Sunni Muslims and Talibans stated that the religious Muslim people of Bangladesh will not allow to assist the eternal enemy of Islam (meaning United States) against an Islamic neighboring country.

Afghanistan has been integrated into South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in 2007 and the region has strong ties with war-torn nation fighting the Islamic militants.

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes in Jihad, forced migration, good governance and elective democracy. He has recently returned from exile after living in Canada for six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com