Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen today said that the BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami had appointed eight lobbyist firms so that the US stops providing aid and development assistance to Bangladesh.
While delivering his statement in the parliament, Momen said that the government has also proof that BNP, through appointing lobbyists, was involved in imposing US sanctions on Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) and appealed to the United Nations Department of Peace Operations to ban the force from UN deployment.
The foreign minister came up with the statement following Jatiya Party and BNP lawmaker’s Sunday’s demand in parliament on the much-talked issue of appointing lobbyists by the BNP and the government.In his statement, Momen today said, BNP-appointed lobbyists have provided such statements against Bangladesh that would offend the people of the country.
“BNP has told them (the US) that the security of the USA will be hindered due to Bangladesh. How can they write this? Shame on them (BNP),” the minister said amid the thumping of desks by the treasury bench MPs.
The minister raised questions about the source of huge money that BNP had spent to pay those lobbyist firms, and demanded an investigation into how that money was sent abroad.
There might be differences of opinion between the government and the BNP, but the country cannot be harmed like that, he added.
The foreign minister also said hiring lobbyists in the US is a legal process under the US law. India, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and other countries and organisations around the world appoint lobbyists to improve political and economic relations, he added.
Jamaat hired a firm to stop the trial of war criminals in 2014. For this they paid USD 1.50 lakh. They hired another lobbyist firm to stop the trial proceedings.
He said the BNP had spent 1.20 lakh dollar each month as retainer fee and 27 lakh dollar each year from February 2015 to April 2017.
Momen said the BNP had hired four lobbyist firms till 2017 and one in 2019, and to prevent the trial of war criminals, BNP-Jamaat appointed three lobbyist firms.
The foreign minister said that none of the BNP workers in the grassroots would want Bangladesh’s trade and commerce to shut. Some of their top-level leaders have done such things without informing them. Also, some BNP members had written to the UN secretary general to declare Bangladesh’s parliament illegal, he added.
LIFTING US SANCTIONS ON RAB WILL TAKE TIME
Stating that lifting of sanctions against the Rab will take time, Momen said that the United States would lift its sanctions on the Rab if accurate information is provided to them.
Commenting that the government is working on the US sanctions against the RAB, the foreign minister said that the work on partnership dialogue with the United States will start next month. “There will be a security dialogue in April.”
Indicating that it would take some time to lift the embargo, the foreign minister said, “We have held several meetings with the USA. Inshallah, whenever we will be able to provide the information to them properly, I believe the sanction will be withdrawn from a very good organisation like RAB.”
The minister added, “But the process will not start tomorrow (soon). It will take time. We have to be patient.”
GOVT HIRED PR FIRM, NOT LOBBYISTS
The minister in his statement said, the government had not hired lobbyists, rather it has hired a PR firm.
“The government didn’t hire any such body who engaged in lobbying the Senate and the State Department,” he said, adding, “What the government did was to stop the spreading of propaganda against the country, and to spread the real information to counter the false information.”
He said an organisation called BGR was appointed in 2014-15. The BGR was appointed to stop the anti-Bangladesh campaign.