Few years ago, when pro-Islamist Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its political ally Jamaat-e-Islami were in power, a bridge was named after terrorist group Hezbollah back in 2006. According to media reports, a bridge crossing the Batakhali river, 300 kilometers (180 miles) southeast of the capital Dhaka was named after Hezbollah terrorist group under the direct instruction of the top-leadership of BNP. But since 2009, things are changing to a positive direction in Bangladesh, while the government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been vigorously confronting religious extremism and militancy and upholding interfaith harmony and world peace.
Few days ago, Bangladesh government in its recently issued e-passports has removed the words “except Israel” thus making it eligible for travelling into any country in the world. Earlier, Bangladeshi passports had words stating it is valid for “All countries of the world, except Israel”. Now that has gone. Earlier, despite not having any diplomatic relations with Taiwan, Bangladesh had removed “except Taiwan” from the passport making it eligible for using to travel to Taiwan. Accordingly, Bangladesh’s economic interactions with Taiwan has significantly increased. According to bdnews24.com, with the newly issued passports, Bangladesh nationals may have no legal bar in vising Israel, which will open a new vista of cooperation between the two countries.
According to Bangla daily Notun Somoy report, newly issued e-passports, after Eid ul Fitr, no longer feature the sentence “THIS PASSPORT IS VALID FOR ALL COUNTRIES FOR THE WORLD EXCEPT ISRAEL”. Instead, the passports now state “THIS PASSPORT IS VALID FOR ALL COUNTRIES FOR THE WORLD”. Since Bangladesh’s independence in 1971, Bangladesh has not recognized Israel, despite Israel being one of the first few countries to recognize Bangladesh.Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan has told bdnews24.com that the passports will no longer feature any restrictions on travel to Israel, as per the international standard. However, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has said that although Bangladesh still does not recognize Israel, the passport-issuing authority is vested in the Ministry of Home Affairs, and whatever the passport states is entirely the jurisdiction of Home Ministry.
It may be mentioned here that, Israel has established relations with a number of Muslim nations in the Middle East, including the United Arab Emirates. Already economic and technological cooperation between has started between the two countries.
Bangladesh has maintained a foreign policy of ‘Friendship to all, malice to none’, which has now been reflected once again with the latest decision of removing any restriction for its citizens from traveling to any country of the world.