Hasina said US made all-out efforts but failed to thwart Bangladesh election

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday said the US had made all-out efforts but failed to thwart the January 5 parliamentary election in Bangladesh.

She also alleged that the World Bank cancelled its loan for the Padma Bridge project on Washington's instructions.

"America made all kinds of efforts so that the January 5 election does not take place. But it failed," she told a press conference at the Gono Bhaban.

"It is not that everyone in the US government is of the same opinion. There are people of different views too. Bangladesh certainly has friends in there. We have always had their support -- in the times of our Liberation War and in other times."

On the WB cancelling its $1.2 billion loan, she said the Bank president stopped the funding without any approval. "We heard that it was done at the directives of the then US Secretary of the State [Hillary Clinton]."

Advertisement Hasina, also president of the ruling Awami League, was replying to a question about a recent media report on possible "cold relations" between Dhaka and Washington following AL General Secretary Syed Ashraful Islam's critical remarks about a US diplomat.

"A problem may arise between two countries but I don't think that the diplomatic relations will come to an end or get worsen. Diplomatic relations will be maintained diplomatically. If any problem arises, that will be accordingly dealt with.

"…Many say that Bangladesh will be finished if America did not stand beside us. But this is not a fact. During our Liberation War, the US government did not give us any support," the PM said.

Referring to her government's foreign policy, Hasina said she did not believe in any East-West policy. "For the economic development of the country, we will deepen our relations with whoever we need and as much as we need. I think about improving the lives of the people first. This I consider my diplomatic success."

She also stressed the need for maintaining friendly relations with all nations.

The PM called the press conference to brief the media about the outcomes of her recent Malaysia visit and the Saarc Summit in Nepal.

Asked about the various problems between Bangladesh and Pakistan, the premier said the government would resolve the issues through dialogues. It is not wise to break diplomatic relations with any country.

Touching on her visit to Malaysia, she said around 12,000 workers would go to the country under an agreement between the two governments.

Hasina said due to the failure of the 2001-2007 BNP-Jamaat government, about 2.7 lakh workers had become illegal in Malaysia. As a result, the Malaysian government had stopped hiring people from Bangladesh.

After the AL-led government came to power in 2009, it started to work on the matter. So far, the AL government has been able to send 7,000 workers to that country, the PM said.

She called on the people not to enter Malaysia illegally through sea.

Replying to a query on the latest TIB report that said corruption was increasing in Bangladesh, Hasina said her government would verify the report.

However, she added the source of income of those who speak about corruption and how they spend the money would also be investigated. "Accountability is applicable to all."

This year, Bangladesh ranked the 14th most corrupt country, according to the TIB report. Last year, Bangladesh's position was 16th on the graft index.

The PM said military dictators, including late president Ziaur Rahman, brought about corruption in the country.

She also advised that the TIB disclose the names of the sector where corruption was taking place.

Mentioning that "petty corruptions" are commonplace everywhere in the world, Hasina called on the TIB: "We are in the government. If we have indulged in any corruption, tell us."


Hasina defended Biman Chairman Air Marshal (retd) Jamal Uddin Ahmed, who recently came under fire following the arrests of five people, including three top Biman officials and his alleged godson, in a gold smuggling case.

The premier said the media ran fabricated reports about the Biman boss.

Referring to news reports about Mahbubur Rahman Palash, the alleged godson of Jamal Uddin, she said, "Those reports were rubbish. Where is the truth of the allegations? No truth was found."

Biman insiders recently alleged that Palash, despite holding no post in Biman, used to identify himself as the godson of Jamal Uddin. Also, using the Biman chairman's influence he used to play roles in leasing of Biman and transfer and posting of officials and staff of the national carrier.

But the Biman chairman told The Daily Star that he knew Palash as he was from his home district Comilla, and visited him several times for jobs.

The PM added, "Often, the print media report in such a way that those who are not actually responsible seem guilty."

Those who had link with gold smuggling have been arrested. "Neither the Biman chairman nor anybody else from Biman went to have them released. They have been arrested and all necessary steps are being taken against them - then why such reports?" she said.