Vijaya Laxmi Tripura
Although Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)’s chief Khaleda Zia and her aides have been telling the people of Bangladesh that the “uncompromising leader” Khaleda Zia never had negotiated with the post 1/11 “illegal” government and did not negotiate with them pertaining her release and release of her son Tarique Rahman, a secret cable from the United States embassy in Bangladesh has opened the pandora box exposing the fact about Khaleda Zia’s desperate persuasion in getting released on bail and sending her controversial son Tarique Rahman to the United Kingdom under the pretense of treatment.
In the secret cable dated August 21, 2008, the US ambassador James F. Moriarty in Dhaka wrote: “Bangladesh’s political debate currently centers around the status of negotiations to release former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and her son Tarique Rahman from prison. Both Zia loyalists and senior CTG officials tell us that a deal is close, but that lack of trust between the two sides is standing in the way of concluding negotiations. Zia’s release is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for her party to reunify and prepare to participate in elections. All agree that Tarique Rahman will go into exile for the immediate future, but there remain serious concerns in many quarters regarding his longer-term plans. We have clearly indicated that the USG can not forget, or ignore, Tarique’s well-deserved reputation for corruption and brutality. The BNP must be convinced that it would benefit from participating in the process, and at the same time, Khaleda Zia must be made to realize that she does not hold a veto over Bangladesh’s political future”.
Detailing the negotiations, ambassador Moriarty further said, “Bangladeshi political observers are fixated on the status of negotiations to release former Bangladesh Nationalist Party Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia and her notorious son Tarique Rahman from prison. A tentative deal that would have released Zia immediately (and her son within weeks) fell apart the weekend of August 15 -16, according to Zia’s attorneys. This prompted widespread speculation that Chief of Army Staff General Moeen Uddin Ahmed vetoed the agreement after he returned from a visit to China August 14. In recent days, we have spoken with Advisers Ghulam Quader and Hossain Zillur Rahman, the principal Caretaker Government negotiators, who have assured us that the deal is still on the table. In a meeting with Staffdel Yeo, General Moeen said nothing to indicate that Zia and her son would remain in prison indefinitely”.
About Tarique Rahman, the US ambassador said, “Releasing Tarique Rahman, who has become the poster child for all that was wrong with Bangladeshi politics and governance prior to January 11, 2007, would be a bitter pill for the CTG and its supporters to swallow. At a minimum, they will likely insist that Tarique agree to accept being “exiled” for several years as a condition for being released from prison. At present, it is most likely that Tarique will decide to travel to the UK or Germany to seek medical treatment and establish a residence. In meetings with CTG Advisers, as well as informal confidantes of the Chief Adviser, the Ambassador has emphasized the USG’s desire to see Tarique held accountable for his past actions. The Ambassador has also emphasized that Tarique could be subject to visa restrictions contained in our anti-kleptocracy policy, should he seek to travel to the United States”.