Reported on: May 06, 2012 00:50 AM
Reported in: National
Dhaka, May 5 (UNB) – BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia told visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday night that holding the next general election in a free, fair and credible manner is the key demand of the people of Bangladesh.
Khaleda expressed the view when Hillary wanted to know from the Opposition Leader about the present politics of Bangladesh and internal situation during her meeting with the BNP chairperson at her Gulshan residence.
After the meeting, BNP vice chairman Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury briefed reporters at Khaleda Zia’s Gulshan office.
He said the BNP chairperson told Hillary that the election would not be acceptable anywhere -- neither at home nor abroad -- if all (parties) cannot participate in it.
Responding to Khaleda, Hillary said the US government wants free, fair and acceptable polls in Bangladesh with the participation of all and the political parties should find out a solution through dialogue - either in or outside parliament.
She hoped that the political parties would be able to find out a solution through discussion without any interference.
Asked whether the filing of cases against BNP leaders, including its acting secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, came up at the meeting, Shamsher said the BNP chief apprised Hillary that her party’s acting secretary general was scheduled to be present at this meeting, but he could not and said even the BNP leaders did not get any remedy from the court.
Khaleda said BNP does not want to give any agitation programme but the government flied cases one after another against her party leaders and workers.
Responding to it, Hillary said it is very sad and hoped that this situation will change and all will remain in peace.
Referring to her meeting with the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister earlier in the day, Hillary told Khaleda that she discussed with them that Bangladesh’s people are now in fear and intimidation, and cited the incidents of ‘enforced disappearance’.
Hillary urged the government to take proper steps to find out missing BNP organising secretary M Ilias Ali so that he could return to his family members alive.
Shamsher said Hillary wanted to know from Khaleda Zia whether BNP has any suggestion to strengthen relations between Bangladesh and the USA in the future, the former Prime Minister said the US is a major trade partner of Bangladesh and hoped that Bangladeshi readymade garments will get duty-free access to the US market. She also hoped that US investment in Bangladesh would increase in the future.
She said if BNP comes to power it would give priority to infrastructure development, including gas and electricity supply.
Khaleda said she wants to maintain social and economic stability in the country through national unity.
Mentioning the US initiative on energy sector, the opposition leader apprised Hillary that they want to formulate a plan to meet the huge shortage of fuel with regional and international cooperation.
Hillary said the US recognised achievement in women education during Khaleda Zia’s regime.
Khaleda appreciated Hillary’s four years’ role as the US Secretary of State saying she will be happy as a woman if Hillary gets elected as the first woman US President in the future.
Hillary replied that nothing can be ruled out.
After the meeting, Saiara Nawal, daughter of missing BNP leader Ilias Ali, handed over a letter to Hillary Clinton urging her to raise the issue of her missing father to the Bangladesh government to find out him. Hillary told the kid that she has already urged the government to find out her father.
BNP leaders Dr Abdul Moyeen Khan, Reaz Rahman and Sabihuddin Ahmed, US Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Robert O Blake and US Ambassador in Dhaka Dan Mozena were present at the meeting that lasted for about an hour from 9:25 pm.