Khaleda comes under fire at JS

BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia had committed sedition by urging the US to interfere in Bangladesh’s internal affairs through her Washington Times article, ruling alliance lawmakers said yesterday.

Participating in a freestyle discussion in parliament for more than two and a half hours, 20 ministers and MPs said the opposition leader’s article is part of BNP’s conspiracy to get the war crimes trial cancelled.

What Khaleda Zia did was “unconstitutional” and “seditious”, ruling Awami League leader Suranjit Sengupta said, referring to her piece, headlined, “ZIA: The thankless role in saving democracy in Bangladesh”.

“For this, she has to be charged with sedition. And for her stance against the country she has to stand in the dock.”

Finance Minister AMA Muhith said every word in the article is false and seditious. “I can’t imagine how she could write such an article.”

Khaleda Zia has no link to the country’s struggle for independence despite being the wife of a sector commander, he said.

Jute and Textile Minister Abdul Latif Siddiqui proposed for a motion condemning the opposition leader for her article.

Rashed Khan Menon, leader of AL ally Workers Party, said the article discloses the opposition’s conspiracy against Bangladesh as well as its position on the trial of war criminals.

Participating in the discussion, Foreign Minister Dipu Moni accused Khaleda of damaging the country’s diplomatic relations with the US. “She put the international relations at risk,” the minister said. “I am personally hurt and ashamed to see the article.”

She claimed the US-Bangladesh bilateral relations were better than anytime in the past.

The minister noted Khaleda Zia through her article had asked the US to withdraw GSP facility. “How could she want it? The country’s people will judge how she spoke against the country’s interests,” Dipu Moni said. “I am urging her to refrain from such heinous task.”

Mujibul Haq Chunnu, an MP of Jatiya Party, a component of AL-led ruling alliance, said the BNP had been making all out efforts to stop the trial of war criminals.

“When hundreds of army officials were hanged through farcical trial during the term of Zia regime, no question was raised about the standard. Now the BNP is questioning the standard of the war crimes trial.”

During the discussion, ministers and MPs blasted Khaleda Zia for her statement in the article that in the last five years Bangladesh had been rapidly moving away from being one of Asia’s most vibrant democracies toward a single family taking over the levers of power.

Lawmakers said the war crimes trial must be completed and nobody can stop it.

Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury said Khaleda Zia had made her sister, brother and son ministers and party leaders and now she was speaking against one-family rule. The minister also questioned Khaleda’s educational qualifications.

Calling for the US interference in Bangladesh’s internal affairs, Khaleda Zia has shown her political and intellectual bankruptcy, the veteran leader added.

AL MP Tofail Ahmed said, “I don’t want to say that she [Khaleda] committed seditious offence. I don’t want to say this because she is the leader of the opposition.”

Fazlul Karim Selim, who piloted the unscheduled discussion, said the opposition leader committed sedition by urging the US to interfere in Bangladesh’s internal matters. “I strongly condemn it. It is part of the conspiracy against Bangladesh.”

The lawmaker, too, slammed Khaleda over the “one-family rule” comment.

AL MP Fazilatunnesa Bappi said the BNP chief had taken all remunerations and allowances only joining eight of 339 sittings of parliament in the last four years.

Tarana Halim, another Awami League MP, demanded Khaleda offer apology to the people.

AL lawmaker Fazilatunnesa Indira said, “Khaleda Zia has gone mad seeing the trial of war criminals happening.” She also used some unparliamentary and indecent words to blast the opposition leader.

After Indira, Whip ASM Feroz took the floor and requested the deputy speaker who was presiding over the sitting to expunge the unparliamentary words used in the discussion.

Source: The Daily Star

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