Vijaya Laxmi Tripura
Newly appointed foreign minister of Bangladesh, AK Abdul Momen [younger brother of former finance minister AMA Muhit] in an exclusive interview to BDNews24 has dismissed the West questioning general elections, human rights record and militant activities in Bangladesh as nothing more than a ploy to get favors. A first-time MP and a first-time minister, Momen joined his host, bdnews24 Editor-in-Chief Khalidi, after attending the first cabinet meeting of the new government.
United States, Britain, Germany and other western countries have been expressing concern over Bangladesh’s human rights situation and freedom of speech. They have questioned the fairness of the December 30 parliamentary elections as well. Western media has been extremely vocal stating the election was ‘heavily rigged’.
The foreign minister also denied the existence of religious extremism and jihadist forces in Bangladesh stating, “The countries that want to keep you under pressure use different such tools. These include human rights, terrorism and democracy.”
Momen, who had been in the US for a long time as Bangladesh’s permanent representative to the UN and known for his extreme cordiality with the Palestinians, thinks the Westerners’ words get “undeserved” priority in Bangladesh’s media.
“It greatly saddens me when a woman in the West and her assistant, who run an entire office, say that the killing of a barber here is related to terrorism, and our media runs it with great importance without investigating the claim,” Momen said, referring to Rita Katz.
Katz is a terrorism analyst and the co-founder of the Search International Terrorist Entities (SITE) Intelligence Group, a private intelligence firm based in Washington, DC.
Speaking about the question marks over the elections, the foreign minister remarked “model elections” are held nowhere in the world, “not even the US and the largest democracy in the world – India”.
“The elections in our country were transparent, participated by 39 parties and people with all sorts of views. I saw their (BNP’s) polling agents at all the polling stations I had visited. They bagged around 100,000 votes,” he said, brushing aside the opposition alliance’s allegation of rigging and intimidation.
The first-ever interview of the newly appointed Bangladeshi foreign minister clearly indicates the new foreign policy of the country where Western nations will be greatly ignored while there will be extended denial of existence of radical Islamic militancy forces in the country. Meaning, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina will onward have no scope of telling the world about her government’s ongoing offensives on militancy.
Commenting on the remarks of the newly appointed foreign minister, internationally acclaimed multi-award winning anti-militancy journalist and editor of Blitz, Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury said, “In my personal opinion, this is a very disappointing approach of the foreign minister. He clearly is hinting of ignoring the Western nations by labeling them as “facilities” monger and blaming counterterrorism experts for exposing involvements of radical Islamic militancy groups behind terrorist activities in the country. If the minister is factually correct, then why and how the government in the past has arrested, charged and even prosecuted members of various jihadist groups for the terrorist attacks?
“In today’s world, no prospering nation can afford to confront with the Western nations by following the path of Iranian mullahs or those notorious fascists in the world. We should not forget, Western nations are major buyers of our goods. India does not buy much from us – nor even China. Instead, India and China are largest exporters of their goods to Bangladesh. This very interview of the foreign minister will welcome unnecessary confrontation with the Western nations, which may even ultimately result in any catastrophic consequence to Bangladesh’s economy. I am personally disgusted at this approach.”