Protect all citizens: Pranab to Dhaka

Moni slams Zia for calling off meeting with Pranab

Written by Swaraj Thapa | Dhaka | Published:March 6, 2013 1:08 am

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dipu Moni on Tuesday came down heavily on Opposition leader Khaleda Zia for cancelling her meeting with President Pranab Mukherjee here on Monday by describing it “very unfortunate” and “a departure from democratic norms and courtesies”. Moni’s criticism came on a day the BNP called a dawn-to-dusk strike protesting against the violence in the country over the past two days.

Addressing a press conference here,Moni said the BNP action showed they did not believe in democratic practices. “What it really shows is that not all parties are similarly democratic in their attitude and not all parties practice democratic norms” she said.

“As a Bengali nation we take pride in being hospitable and being gracious. And this is an obvious departure from that,” she said.

On Sunday,Indian Foreign Secretary Ranjan Mathai confirmed the meeting with Khaleda Zia had been cancelled with her representative sending an email citing the ongoing two-day Jamaat-e-Islami-sponsored hartal as the reason.

Replying to a question,Moni also hinted that a ban may be imposed on the Jamaat-e-Islami. “There has been a demand from the Projonmo Chattar that the Jamaat be banned. The government will definitely consider it. Election Commission will also have a role to play. The kind of violence that the Jamaat has indulged in,there is nothing political in it. They are purely acts of terrorism,” she said.

She compared the violence unleashed by the Jamaat,ever since its vice president Delawar Hossain Sayedee was sentenced to death by a war crimes tribunal last Thursday,to the genocide by Pakistani troops and Bangladeshi collaborators (Razakars) during the Liberation War in 1971. She said the current spate of violence carried was on the similar line. “On March 25,1971 the police were the first to be attacked. The method of killing them and the subsequent vandalising of the Shahid Minar and destroying of public property besides attack on places of worship on minorities is also being seen now,” she said.

On the issue of holding free and fair elections in Bangladesh,Moni said,“We are always prepared to discuss. However,people of Bangladesh have rejected the caretaker formula. In 2008 too,the BNP had rejected the caretaker formula. We should not be going backwards,we should be moving ahead” and added that her government firmly believed in holding free,fair and transparent elections.

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