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Navy participates in int’l fleet review in Bangladesh

The FOC-in-C also interacted with the Chiefs of Army & Air Staff as well as the DG Coast Guard of Bangladesh prior to commencement of the review…reports Asian Lite News

An Indian Navy delegation along with frontline warships INS Kochi, INS Kavaratti, and INS Sumedha participated in the International Fleet Review hosted by the Bangladesh Navy at Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh on Wednesday (December 7).

Taking to Twitter, the Official Spokesperson of the Indian Navy wrote, “#IndianNavy delegation led by VAdm Biswajit Dasgupta, #FOCinC @IN_HQENC along with 3 Indian Naval warships #INSKochi, #INSKavaratti & #INSSumedha participated in the maiden #InternationalFleetReview (IFR) hosted by the #BangladeshNavy on 07 Dec 22. India-Bangladesh???? @ihcdhaka @bdhc_delhi”

The Indian delegation was led by Vice Admiral Biswajit Dasgupta, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (FOC-in-C) of the Eastern Naval Command, which oversaw operations during the Liberation War.

The FOC-in-C also interacted with the Chiefs of Army & Air Staff as well as the DG Coast Guard of Bangladesh prior to commencement of the review.

The frontline warships of the Indian Navy arrived at Cox’s Bazar on December 6 to ensure large participation in the exercise.

Bangladesh is organizing a four-day International Fleet Review (IFR) for the first time. It commenced on Tuesday near the border area of Cox’s Bazar on the southern Bay of Bengal.

The event began with the inauguration by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. It included a beach procession, a fleet review, and insights into the activity of the special forces at sea.

International food festivals and cultural activities with participation from foreigners will also be organized to showcase Bangladesh and the participating nations’ diverse cultures and rich traditions.

The IFR has participation from a number of countries, including the USA, UK, Germany, Italy, Saudi Arabia, India, China, Korea, Indonesia, Turkey, and the Netherlands, in addition to the host country, Bangladesh.

Navy’s 1st Anti-Submarine Warfare Shallow Water Craft to be launched

The Indian Navy’s first Anti-Submarine Warfare Shallow Water Craft (ASWSWC) will be launched on December 16, adding yet another feather in the cap of Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) Ltd.

Though only 77.6 meters long and 10.5 meters wide, this vessel will pack a punch and be capable of hunting down and neutralising the enemy submarines lurking close to India’s coast.

After her launch, the ship will get outfitted with deck equipment, sensors and weapons systems before being delivered to the Navy.

The Navy has ordered 16 such vessels. While eight are being built by GRSE, the remaining are under construction at the Cochin Shipyard Ltd.

In the past, GRSE has built and delivered four Anti-Submarine Warfare Corvettes to the Navy under Project-28. These Kamorta Class of ships were the first ASW Corvettes to join the Indian Navy. With a length of 109 meters, they are much larger than the ASWSWCs being built now.

“We have been operating ASW ships for the last several years (the INS Kamorta joined the Navy in 2014). However, the ASWSWC will have a specific purpose to patrol the country’s vast coastline in search of sub-surface threats. The first ship will be launched on December 16 at Kattupalli, Tamil Nadu. Apart from sensors and weapons systems to tackle underwater threats, these ships will have deck guns for their own protection,” Commodore Indrajeet Dasgupta, Warship Production Supervisor (WPS) for the Indian Navy at GRSE said.

According to another senior naval official, these ships will play a very important role, given the movement of Chinese submarines close to Indian waters. While submarines operating further out at sea can be detected and tackled by ASW Corvettes and long-range surveillance aircraft, midget submarines can get very close to the coast and cause severe damage to harbour entry points and anchored warships. Submarines can also lay mines at harbour mouths. It was reported earlier this year that China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has developed and inducted midget submarines that can sneak through defences.

“The ASWSWCs will be very capable of tackling such threats. They can operate on their own or in conjunction with aircraft. These ships will also be able to detect mines and take necessary measures,” the official added.

ALSO READ-Navy SEALs join Indian Navy MARCOS for exercise in Goa

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Misleading campaign to oust Hasina

In a recent interview, British lawyer Toby Cadman admitted that he was working to get sanctions imposed against RAB from UK, a report by Sumi Khan

The blatant advocacy for imposition of fresh sanctions on Bangladesh’s elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) by British lawyer Toby Cadman, who was the legal advisor to radical outfit Jamaat-e-Islami, a key partner of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), has exposed the heavy investment the opposition alliance made for western nations to create a rift with Bangladesh and oust the Sheik Hasina-led government.

In a recent interview to Al Jazeera, Cadman admitted that he was working to get sanctions imposed against RAB from UK, let alone expressing satisfaction at the recently imposed sanctions by the US on five officials of the law enforcing agency.

“I filed the request for sanctions and while I am not in a position to discuss the substance, I can confirm that I discussed the request with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office [FCDO],” Cadman said, referring to the UK foreign office.

The latest statement by Cadman is another pointer to a chilling plot to mislead the world on Bangladesh, as the opposition combine of BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami has long been investing millions of dollars in hiring lobbies to launch sting operations against the government.

In light of the recent sanctions impose by the US over rights issues, and Cadman taking the same line, raises questions over the underlying arm-twisting under the facade of upholding democratic values.

BNP leaders recently announced a deadline — December 10 — to oust the Hasina-led government following which the country would be run on the directives of fugitive convict Tarique Rahman and Khaleda Zia.

Misleading campaign by UK lawyer to oust Hasina-led B’desh govt

A series of misleading campaigns, sponsored by the opposition combine, on the global stage has already been exposed ever since the war crimes trial began in 2009, and the employment of Cadman and his associates by the Jamaat-e-Islam.

Right after the outright rejection by the public in the 2008 elections, the BNP-Jamaat combine opted to spend staggering amounts, particularly in the US, the UK and the European Union, to spread targeted disinformation campaign against the Hasina-led government. Before the last Parliamentary polls, Khaleda Zia even wrote a column in a western paper advocating for cancellation of GSP facilities.

Following its blunder to boycott the elections in 2014, the BNP-Jamaat alliance launched a spate of street terrors countrywide — setting fire on vehicles, attacking law enforcers and minorities in tandem. It later appointed top lobbying firms in the US and the UK, a clear sign of putting all its might behind foreign governments to level allegations of lack of democracy in Bangladesh.

The report in AL Jazera also quoted Mohammad Ashrafuzzaman, a liaison officer at the Asian Human Rights Commission, who provided evidence of human rights abuses by the RAB, attached to the sanctions requests to the US and the UK.

“The expectation was that the UK and the US, being strong allies, would be collaborating with each other by announcing back-to-back sanctions. The US did that, but the UK didn’t,” Ashrafuzzaman said.

The claim of Ashrafuzzaman also raised questions over the substance behind such justification of rights issues, as AHRC already drew widespread condemnation for being a ‘highly-biased body’ that disregards views of the country’s eminent rights activists and vouches for defending a controversial NGO called ODHIKAR, which earned notoriety for faking cases to sell rights issues.

In the wake of the revelation of the inclusion of two Indian insurgents in a list provided by the UN to Bangladesh on enforced disappearance, the organisation stood up in defence of the error-ridden list accusing Bangladesh of launching a ‘hate campaign’.

AHRC in its vague statement alleged that the media in Bangladesh, which it referred to as “pro-government”, and allies of the government are engaging in a campaign to tarnish the UN working group’s reputation and to question its sincerity on a grave issue like enforced disappearance.

What the Commission has, however, failed to consider is that it was not an attempt to vilify any human rights body, rather the intention was to simply pinpoint the inconsistency and inaccuracy of the data coming from an institution like the UN, which has always been at the forefront of defending human rights across the globe, said noted Bangladeshi professor Mizanur Rahman Khan.

While diplomats are vocal over complaints field by the opposition parties on rights issues, the cries of hundreds of families who were tortured and attacked by BNP’s arson operations did not even trigger any protest.

After Jamaat-e-Islami’s appeal to overturn Mir Quasem Ali’s death penalty for heinous crimes against humanity during the liberation war of 1971 was turned down, the freedom fighters said, “This is our achievement. The judgment on Mir Quasem proves how money can’t save one’s neck, that the rule of law and the court’s verdict are more important.”

It was widely alleged by the victims of war crimes of 1971 that Mir Quasem, a top finance collector of Jamaat, had poured in funds for campaigns aimed at smearing the trials of war criminals when they began in 2010.

In 2013, former law minister Barrister Shafique Ahmed had told this reporter that Mir Quasem had paid a lobbyist firm $25 million to bring the war crimes tribunal judging top Jamaat leaders into question.

The government, he said, had a copy of the contract and receipt for the payment he made.

The International Crimes Tribunal (ICT) sentenced Mir Quasem to death on November 2, 2014 for abduction, torture and murder of innocent Bengali people.

Based in Chittagong, Mir Quasem is notorious as the third man in the vigilante militia Al-Badr command structure during the 1971 liberation war. Quasem, the founder-president of the Jamaat’s student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir after its rechristening from the earlier Islami Chhatra Shangha in 1985, has been an executive member of the party.

The Jamaat-hired Cadman organised a media conference in London two days before the conviction of Mir Quasem by the ICT of Bangladesh.

The state submitted a receipt to the Supreme Court to prove that Mir Quasem had appointed lobbyists to foil the war crimes trials.

ALSO READ: Awami League will save B’desh from BNP-Jamat’s militancy: Hasina

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Bangladesh fears spurt in violence ahead of polls

Hasina has been under the spotlight apparently for being authoritarian especially after the last two general elections in 2013 and 2018 proved to be controversial…writes Mahua Venkatesh

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has a tall task ahead as the countrys primary opposition party Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) gears up to launch a massive rally in Dhaka on Saturday despite the Dhaka Metropolitan Polices (DMP) refusal to give a go-ahead. Several members and supporters of the BNP have started to congregate at the party headquarters in the capital.

Last month, Japanese Ambassador to Bangladesh Ito Naoki was summoned by the South Asian nation’s foreign ministry after he said free and fair elections are critical.

Hasina has been under the spotlight apparently for being authoritarian especially after the last two general elections in 2013 and 2018 proved to be controversial and touted as “seriously lopsided.”

“We expect the next election will be a better one. Free and fair elections need to be done here. That’s my strong hope,” he said at an event.

Elections in Jan 2024, vote for AL to save B’desh from BNP-Jamat’s militancy: Hasina



However, Japan is not the only country to have underlined the need to have fair elections. As many as 15 countries’ foreign missions in Bangladesh have come forth in charting a joint statement urging the authorities to ensure “free, fair, inclusive and peaceful electoral processes.”

The missions of the US, UK, European Union, Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland besides Japan are signatories of the joint statement.

“We, as friends and partners of Bangladesh, are eager to further support its success, reaffirm the importance of free, fair, inclusive, and peaceful electoral processes in the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” the statement read.

They highlighted the fundamental role democracy plays in protecting human rights and promoting development in Bangladesh and the importance of free expression, peaceful assembly and elections, among others outlined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

Meanwhile, what is interesting is that many in the BNP is also keen to reach out to India, “There are many moderate members within the BNP and they realise the new contours of politics. They are keen to strike a balance with India, known to have close relations with Hasina and Awami League,” an analyst told India Narrative.

Several of them reached out to India even in the last elections of 2018 in Bangladesh.

“This is their chance to bounce back and the BNP is coming out very strongly against the Awami League government,” the analyst said, adding that there is rising fear over violence breaking out in the run up to the general elections.

The UK has already issued a travel advisory to its citizens as the political rallies are expected to put life out of gear.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi described Bangladesh as a joho jatri or a co-passenger in India’s economic and social journey.

(The content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

ALSO READ: Hasina: Bangladesh’s reserves rise to $48 billion

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Awami League will save B’desh from BNP-Jamat’s militancy: Hasina


The Prime Minister also expressed her gratitude to the people of Bangladesh, saying that she is committed to work for her motherland as people have elected her and her party for the last three terms…writes Sumi Khan

The next general elections will be held in Bangladesh in the first week of January 2024, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina declared at a public rally in Cox’s Bazar on Wednesday.

Addressing the public meeting organised by the district chapter of Awami League (AL) at Sheikh Kamal International Stadium in Cox’s Bazar, Hasina said that BNP-Jamaat is the promoter of militancy who indulged in arms trade, grenade attacks, and arson during their regime.

Earlier, the meeting started with recitation from Quran, Gita, Tripitaka and Bible.

Hasina said, “Grenades that are used in battlefields were thrown at an Awami league rally in 2004. Many people, including the wife of former President Zillur Rahman, along with 26 innocent party workers and leaders were killed in the grenade attack on that fateful day on 24. By the grace of Allah, I survived that day.”

She added, “BNP-Jamaat can give nothing to this country except destruction. After killing the father of the nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and other members of my family on August 15, 1975, the killers grabbed power and remained at the helm for 21 years.”

“What did they give to Bangladesh? Nothing but murder, money laundering, arms trade, grenade attacks, and militancy. Khaleda Zia grabbed orphan’s money and was sentenced to jail. Tariq Rahman was also sentenced to jail. The people of the country do not expect anything from them,” Hasina said.

The Prime Minister also expressed her gratitude to the people of Bangladesh, saying that she is committed to work for her motherland as people have elected her and her party for the last three terms.

Addressing the local people, the Prime Minister said, “People of Cox’s Bazar, my heartfelt gratitude to all of you for voting for our candidates in 2008, 2014 and 2018. Your voted did not go waste.”

At the beginning of the rally, the Prime Minister inaugurated 29 development projects and laid the foundation stones for four schemes worth Tk 1,963.86 crore.

ALSO READ: Hasina calls for befitting reply to BNP-Jamaat propaganda

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Explosives recovered from Bangladesh Nationalist Party office

Three persons, including BNP senior joint secretary Rizvi Ahmed, were arrested from the party office….reports Sumi Khan

A huge number of bombs and firearms have been recovered from the Opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)’s central office at Naya Paltan area in the capital Dhaka, and three persons, including BNP senior joint secretary Rizvi Ahmed, were arrested from the party office.

Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Joint Commissioner Biplab Kumar Sarkar gave this information while talking to reporters in Naya Paltan on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, DMP Commissioner Khandkar Golam Farooq on Wednesday said that the police conducted a raid at the BNP’s Naya Paltan central office getting secret information that BNP has stored a huge number of firearms and cocktails there for sabotage. They were gathering in front of the party office without prior permission.

He added this while addressing an emergency press conference on the security of the BNP’s upcoming Dhaka Divisional grand rally at the DMP Media Centre in Dhaka.

The DMP Commissioner said, “We are hearing that there have been many cocktail explosions from the BNP office. I have also heard that firearms, cocktails, and sticks have been stored there. We have increased the number of the police force there for the sake of security.”

It is not desirable to block the road on such a day and disrupt traffic, he added.

“As far as I know, their rally is on December 10. Today was an official day. On this day, they were occupying Naya Paltan road and holding an illegal rally. It is not legal to gather on the road.”

Bangladesh’s anti-crime elite force Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) stand guard with guns on the road in Dhaka, Bangladesh. (Str/Xinhua/IANS)

When asked about police harassment, the Commissioner said, “There was no such information. There are regular checkposts. The reason is that we are conducting a special operation from December 1 ahead of upcoming big events like the ‘Victory Day’. We have set up checkposts as part of the security measures to prevent any kind of untoward incident and avert sabotage. We have not detained or stopped any passenger on their way to Dhaka.”

The DMP Commissioner said, “BNP cannot be allowed to hold a public meeting in front of its Naya Paltan party office in view of public safety and public suffering. If the law is violated, legal action will be taken against BNP.”

Khandkar Ghulam Farooq added, “There will be no space for 10 lakh people in front of the BNP office. A maximum of one lakh people can stand there. The remaining 9 lakh people will spread in different streets of Dhaka city. BNP will have no control over that. So, they will not be allowed to assemble at Naya Paltan to cause public suffering.”

“We have come to know through the intelligence agencies and the media that BNP can create an unstable situation in Dhaka city by gathering 10 lakh people in front of its Naya Paltan central office. So, they cannot be allowed there to create public suffering and deteriorate law and order in Dhaka. BNP can go to any open field or seek any other place. They were requested to choose Ijtema ground, where they can gather 10 lakh people. There is International Trade Fair ground in Purbachal, they can go there,” he said.

The DMP boss added, “This decision was taken for two reasons. The first reason is that there will be no room to accommodate so many people in Naya Paltan. If they still gather there, the remaining 9 lakh people will be scattered in different places in the city over whom BNP and police will have no control. At the same time, if these 10 lakh people occupy all the roads of Dhaka, it will be a matter of extreme suffering for the people of Dhaka.”

“BNP was allowed to hold a rally at Suhrawardy Udyan. Later, I came to know through the media that they were not interested in holding a rally at Suhrawardy Udyan. They are interested to hold rallies on any road in or around Naya Paltan. In this context, the clear statement of DMP is that the rally should be held in Suhrawardy Udyan or any similar open ground. We have taken this decision to prioritise public welfare and ensure public safety,” he said.

Meanwhile, DMP Commissioner said that BNP should hold a rally at Suhrawardy Udyan or any open place in Dhaka city. He reiterated the venue for the BNP rally while briefing journalists on Wednesday evening.

“If BNP tries to hold a rally elsewhere without permission, the police will take maximum action as per the law,” the DMP Commissioner warned.

While talking to BNP leaders, he said that party men will choose Naya Paltan if the problem at December 10 rally is not resolved and the leaders of the party have started preparation taking the situation into account. The decision-making leaders, however, are adopting a medium stance and seeking a peaceful conclusion to their programme.

ALSO READ: Hasina calls for befitting reply to BNP-Jamaat propaganda

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Hasina calls for befitting reply to BNP-Jamaat propaganda

Sheikh Hasina also reiterated her call to the country not to pay heed to rumours that banks do not have funds money…writes Sumi Khan

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked leaders and activists of the Bangladesh Chhatra League (BCL), the student wing of the ruling Awami League, to give a befitting reply to propaganda against the ruling party on social media.

“I ask BCL leaders and activists to give appropriate reply to propaganda against us on social media using the advantage of digital Bangladesh,” she said while addressing the 30th national council of the BCL at the historic Suhrawardy Udyan in Dhaka.

The premier suggested that “providing information online regarding their (BNP-Jamaat alliance) misdeeds such as arson, terrorism, killing of innocent people, corruption, and vote rigging during their tenure as a reply to the propaganda”.

“It will be enough to stop their propaganda against us and the BCL will be able to do it,” she opined.

Sheikh Hasina also reiterated her call to the country not to pay heed to rumours that banks do not have funds money.

“We have no problem… Each of the banks have money. So, I request all not to pay heed to any rumour.”

The Prime Minister reminded the BCL leaders and workers about the student wing’s contribution to the progressive movements of Bangladesh, saying that the “history of the Chhatra League is the history of Bangladesh”.

She said the BCL played a significant role in each progressive movement such as the language movement in 1952; the six-point demand in 1966; the mass upsurge in 1969; and the Liberation War to dislodge Ershad and Khaleda Zia’s government.

Hasina also said the BCL is at the top of the list of martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the noble cause of saving the country.

“So, I hope the Chhatra League will contribute immensely to the development of the country,” she added.

A one-minute silence was observed for late BCL leaders.

Hasina further said that Bangladesh has been recognised as a developing country since the Awami League government came to power in 2009.

She said the Awami League is the only party in Bangladesh’s history that handed over power peacefully upon completion of its five-year tenure in 2001.

“Awami League had handed over power peacefully (in 2001) as it believes in democracy and the power of the people,” she said.

The last BCL council was held in May 2018.

ALSO READ: Hasina: Bangladesh’s reserves rise to $48 billion

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Earthquake of magnitude 5.2 strikes Dhaka

The meteorologist said the epicentre was 520 km away from Agargaon Seismic Centre in Dhaka…reports Asian Lite News

A 5.2-magnitude earthquake jolted Dhaka on Monday, according to athe Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD).

Kazi Zebunnesa, a meteorologist from BMD, told Xinhua news agency that the epicentre of the earthquake was at a depth of 10 km in the Bay of Bengal.

The meteorologist said the epicentre was 520 km away from Agargaon Seismic Centre in Dhaka.

The earthquake occurred at 9.02 a.m.

Fire service officers said they had not received any report of damage or casualty yet.

Bangladesh, which sits in a seismic zone, is prone to tremors.

Arunchal Pradesh

An earthquake of magnitude 3.3 struck 92km SW of Changlang, Arunachal Pradesh on Monday, according to the National Centre for Seismology (NCS).

The earthquake struck at 07:04 AM. As per the NCS, the depth of the earthquake was 10 Km.

The latitude was found to be 27.17 and the longitude was 95.96. No casualties have been reported so far.

Solomon Islands

An earthquake of magnitude 5.7 was felt in the Solomon Islands on Monday.

The earthquake’s epicentre was 80 kms southeast of Lata, an island in the Solomon Islands, according to the United States Geological Survey (USGS). As per the USGS, the earthquake epicentre was located at 11.327° South latitude and 166.204°East longitude with a depth of 93 kms.

The timing of the earthquake in Lata was 11:05:08 (UTC+05:30). No casualties have been reported so far.

Sri Lanka

An earthquake of magnitude 4.2 struck 412 kms ENE of Colombo, Sri Lanka on Sunday, according to the National Centre for Seismology (NCS).

As per the NCS, the depth of the earthquake was 10 km below the ground. It occurred at around 18:38:39 IST. The latitude was found to be at 8.28 and longitude at 83.35. No casualties have been reported so far. (ANI)

ALSO READ: Hasina: Bangladesh’s reserves rise to $48 billion

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5 members of new militant outfit nabbed in Dhaka

The officials said that after the group was formed in 2017, the members began training in the Chittagong Hill Tracts….reports Sumi Khan

Five members of the new militant outfit in Bangladesh, Jamatul Ansar Fil Hindal Sharqiya, were arrested by the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime Unit (CTTC) of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP).

The arrests took place on November 30 from Dhaka’s Demra area, CTTC officials said.

The officials said that after the group was formed in 2017, the members began training in the Chittagong Hill Tracts.

CTTC chief Md. Asaduzzaman said the group’s head Shamin Mahfuz has been arrested and they were likely planning an act of sabotage inside the country.

“We will be able to know whether they have any plan centering the upcoming elections after arresting their leader,” he said.

Asaduzzaman also said that the youths had left home for pilgrimage but joined the militant outfit instaed.

The arrested militants were identified s Md Abdullah (22), Md Tajul Islam (33), Md Ziauddin (37), Md Habibullah (19), and Md Mahamudul Hasan (18), the CTTC chief told IANS on Monday.

Police seized three mobile phones and 12 pages of militancy-related fatwa documents from their possession.

ALSO READ: Bangladesh records highest monthly exports in November

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Growth of B’desh-EU apparel shipments surpass that to China

Over the past 45 years, Bangladesh has become the second-largest exporter of apparel in the world, due to the EU….reports Asian Lite News

The rise of apparel shipments from Bangladesh to the European Union (EU) has not only surpassed that of China but also all other significant suppliers across the globe, Dailystar reported referring to data from Eurostat.

During the period of January through August, Bangladesh’s exports of apparel to the EU increased by 45.26 per cent on a yearly basis to around USD 15.37 billion, while the trading bloc brought in USD 67.18 billion worth of clothing from all over the world. Bangladesh continues to be the EU’s second-largest source of garment imports, accounting for over 23 per cent of all imports, the data stated. Notably, China accounts for 28 per cent of the EU’s apparel imports, and sent USD 18.85 billion worth of clothing to the trading bloc over the same time period, representing a growth of 26.59 per cent compared to the previous year. Turkey, the third-largest destination in the EU for garment sourcing, had a growth of about 20 per cent from the same time last year. Similar to this, shipments from India increased year over year by 28.85 per cent to USD 3.56 billion, Dailystar reported.

Other sourcing nations with significant increases in clothing exports to the EU include Cambodia (42.21pc), Pakistan (31.34 pc), and Indonesia (35.41pc).

Over the past 45 years, Bangladesh has become the second-largest exporter of apparel in the world, due to the EU.

Bangladesh began benefiting from trade advantages under the EU’s Everything but Arms initiative shortly after obtaining independence in 1971, and this eventually helped the nation rise to its current position, according to Dailystar. (ANI)

ALSO READ: The men behind Bangladesh genocide

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The men behind Bangladesh genocide

In none of the Pakistanis who were involved in the dark history of 1971 was there any fear of God and morality as they went about committing genocide in occupied Bangladesh. They cheerfully killed Bengalis, raped women, burnt and pillaged, all in the name of God and the territorial integrity of Pakistan…writes SYED BADRUL AHSAN

I recall that on my very first visit to Pakistan in December 1995 (nearly twenty-five years after I had left it as a high school student in July 1971), as part of a group of journalists at a conference organized by the South Asian Media Association (SAMA), the general manager of the IFIC bank branch in Lahore acquainted us with how he had once rebuffed Rao Farman Ali.

Apparently, the man reviled for planning the killing of Bengali intellectuals had once come to the IFIC bank, ostensibly to open an account. The general manager, a proper Bengali and a freedom fighter to boot, made him sit down but did not shake hands with him. “I had no wish to touch his blood-stained hand,” he told us.

Farman Ali clearly did not relish the rebuff, much though he tried to be friendly with the general manager. He left, with a form for an account to be opened, promising to return. He never did. Rao Farman Ali, who was a prisoner of war in India after the 1971 war, was later to serve as a minister in General Ziaul Haq’s regime. He died in January 2004.

On a PIA flight from Karachi to Lahore years ago, I became acquainted with a retired Pakistani Brigadier named A.R. Siddiqi. He seemed to be a proper gentleman and explained to me that back in 1971 he had been in charge of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). Siddik Salik, he told me, was his subordinate in Dhaka. Brigadier Siddiqi told me of the shock he went through when the Pakistan army launched its genocide, for he had been in Dhaka when Operation Searchlight was launched.

“I am writing my account of the war,” Siddiqi told me. I asked him if he meant to reveal everything in his book. He promised he would. I am glad to report that when the book, ‘East Pakistan: The Endgame: An Onlooker’s Journal 1969-1971’, appeared some years later, Siddiqi kept his promise. His account of the crisis, especially of the early days of Operation Searchlight, was riveting. It is one of the few objective books to have come out of Pakistan from a Pakistani who was part of the military establishment in 1971.

I have not met Brigadier Siddiqi after that conversation on the Karachi-Lahore flight. But years earlier, I did have an opportunity to come across Brigadier Siddik Salik, the writer of the acclaimed book Witness to Surrender, when he accompanied General Ziaul Haq to the first SAARC summit in Dhaka in December 1985. He spoke fondly, as he said (though I detected a certain cynicism in him) of his time in Dhaka throughout the war.

I asked him what difference he noticed between 1971 and 1985 in Bangladesh. His glib reply was: “People here are poorer than before.” In other words, Pakistan was good, Bangladesh was not. I decided I did not want to get into a quarrel with him and focused on General Ziaul Haq and Sahibzada Yaqub Khan, the two men sitting on my right.

Siddik Salik was taken prisoner on 16 December 1971 and spent nearly three years in a PoW camp in India before returning to Pakistan with his fellow prisoners. He perished in the air crash that killed General Ziaul Haq, a number of senior military officers and the American ambassador to Pakistan in August 1988.

Sahibzada Yaqub Khan, who had resigned in March 1971 rather than initiate a military operation against Bengalis, subsequently became ambassador to the United States and, under Ziaul Haq, served as Pakistan’s foreign minister. It was a position he retained in Benazir Bhutto’s first government. He died in January 2016.

Khadim Hussain Raja, the general who was told by Tikka Khan early on the morning of 25 March, “Khadim, it is tonight,” went into full-scale action against Bengalis as midnight drew near. Over the next couple of weeks, his soldiers fanned out all across Dhaka and then beyond it, shooting everyone they came across. Once the initial phase of the pogrom was done, Raja was transferred to West Pakistan, where he was given a fresh command.

Raja did not return to Dhaka and therefore was lucky enough to avoid becoming a PoW. After his retirement from the army, he jotted down his recollections of the war in Bangladesh, leaving his family with instructions that they should not be published in his lifetime. It was only after his death that his book, titled ‘A Stranger in My Own Country: East Pakistan 1969-1971’, hit the stands. He died in 1999.

General Tikka Khan, who in his career earned the dubious distinction of being known as the Butcher of Baluchistan and then as the Butcher of Bangladesh, remained unconcerned by any questions about his role in the killing of Bengalis. After serving as governor and martial law administrator (the latter position till April 1971) of East Pakistan, he left for West Pakistan in September 1971 to take over as a corps commander.

Under Z.A. Bhutto, Tikka Khan became Pakistan’s chief of army staff and on his retirement joined the Pakistan People’s Party. He served as secretary general of the party as well as governor of Punjab. He died of old age ailments in March 2002.

Lieutenant General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi took over as martial law administrator, East Pakistan, in April 1971 and continued in that position till he signed the document of the Pakistan army’s surrender to Indo-Bangladesh forces in December of the year. After spending three years as a prisoner of war in India, he returned home to a bad reception. He was stripped of his rank and excoriated for surrendering in Dhaka. He later went into politics by joining the Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Pakistan, but could not make much headway. He died in February 2004.

General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan, who as president of Pakistan and chief martial law administrator, ordered military operations against Bengalis in March 1971, presided over the break-up of the country nine months later. Compelled to hand over power to Pakistan People’s Party chairman Zulfikar Ali Bhutto on 20 December 1971, he spent the entire period of the Bhutto dispensation in house arrest. It was only when General Ziaul Haq overthrew Bhutto in July 1977 that Yahya Khan was freed from confinement. He died, in disgrace, in August 1980.

And then there is the fate of the conspiratorial and inordinately ambitious Bhutto himself. With East Pakistan turning into Bangladesh, Bhutto became President by default of what remained of Pakistan.

With the enactment of a new constitution for Pakistan in August 1973, he took over as Prime minister under a parliamentary form of government. Overthrown by the army after a long period of violence following rigged elections in March 1977, he was executed on conviction for murder in April 1979.

In none of the Pakistanis who were involved in the dark history of 1971 was there any fear of God and morality as they went about committing genocide in occupied Bangladesh. They cheerfully killed Bengalis, raped women, burnt and pillaged, all in the name of God and the territorial integrity of Pakistan.

All of them paid the price on a December afternoon when, in the ringing words of Indira Gandhi, Dhaka stood liberated as the free capital of a free country.

(The writer is a senior Bangladeshi journalist based in Dhaka and London; the content is being carried under an arrangement with indianarrative.com)

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