Palestinian envoy in Dhaka, Yousef SY Ramadan in a statement to Dhaka Tribune said, he is going to ask for “clarification” from Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal and ambassador-at-large in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the reason of Bangladesh’s omission of the words “except Israel” from its passport. Ramadan told the press conference, the mission of words “except Israel” from Bangladeshi passport “is unacceptable”, and he even went further by saying he has requested meeting with Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan and Ambassador-at-Large Mohammad Ziauddin for a “clarification on the issue”.
The Palestinian envoy has also challenged Bangladesh government’s statement saying the changes were made in order to maintain international standard. He told reporters, “Are you saying that Bangladeshi passport did not maintain the international standard in last 50 years? Are the countries like Indonesia and Malaysia which still keeps the provision on their passports not meeting the global standard?”
Although, according to statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh and the Home Ministry, the changes in the passport were made six months ago, the Palestinian envoy wrongly said, “The decision of the government of Bangladesh has come days after the latest Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians and I don’t think it is in line with the principles Bangladesh pursues when it comes to the Palestinians”.
Commenting on Palestinian envoy Ramadan’s statement about asking for “clarification” from Bangladesh, diplomatic experts in Dhaka said, “This is clearly violation of diplomatic norms. How this man is demanding clarification from a sovereign country on its own decisions? It sounds like he is trying to dictate Bangladesh. Such attitude is unacceptable and a clear violation of diplomatic norms”.
It may be mentioned here that, Palestinian opposed Bangladesh’s war of independence and it even did not recognize Bangladesh until 1973 – two years after Bangladesh had won victory against Pakistani occupation forces.
Five years after the tragic assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, military dictator Ziaur Rahman’s government released a postal stamp in 1980 depicting a “Palestinian freedom fighter” and the Al Aqsa mosque. The design resembled Iranian propaganda against Israel.
At the invitation of military dictators Ziaur Rahman and Hussain Muhammed Ershad, PLO leader Yasser Arafat visited Bangladesh twice – first in 1981 and then in 1987 and was accorded warm welcome. According to a September 1988 US Library of Congress report, the Bangladeshi government reported in 1987 that 8,000 Bangladeshi youths had volunteered to fight for the PLO following this visit. Since the 1980s, under International Military Education and Training (IMET), there has been development of military ties between the PLO and Bangladesh, with PLO soldiers attending one-year courses at the Bangladesh Military Academy in Chittagong.
It may be mentioned here that, General Ziaur Rahman and General Hussain Muhammed Ershad made frantic bids in transforming Bangabandhu’s secular Bangladesh into Islamist nation. Zia and Ershad had extreme intimacy with Pakistan.