Dhaka, Sep 18 (UNB) - Jatiya Party Chairman HM Ershad on Tuesday claimed that if the upcoming general election is held in a free and fair manner then his party will come to the power after winning it.
Inaugurating a workshop at Expo Zone of International Convention City Bashundhara, the former president asked his party men to get united and form separate committees centring the voting stations to prevent any vote rigging attempts and irregularities.
He said that if his party had not ruled the country in the past, it would have been remained in the darkness, according to a press release.
“We made advancements, never did looting or embezzlements. In our time in power the incidents of killings, disappearances and terrorism never took place; we don’t have blood stain in our hands, so people of the country love us and want us back in power”, he said.
“After gaining power, BNP cancelled 5,088 cases on political consideration while Awami League also cancelled 6,000 cases but the cases filed against me were still running. Because everyone fears Jatiya Party, as the party has its strong existence among the countrymen”, Ershad said.
JP chairman’s advisor of information and technology, Shafiulla Al Munir, JP co-chairman GM Quader, secretary general ABM Ruhul Amin Hawladar, presidium member and state minister for Local Government, Rural Development and Co-operatives (LGRD), Mashiur Rahaman Ranga, joint general secretary of ruling Awami League Jahangir Kabir Nanak were also present there among others.
Dhaka, Sept 18 (UNB) - Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday said she looks forward to continued support from India for the development of Bangladesh.
"I look forward to continued support from the government of India in our development pursuit. I’m quite sure we’ll get such many happy events in the days ahead for the welfare of our people," she said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi were jointly inaugurating the construction of 130-km Bangladesh-India Friendship Pipeline between Siliguri in West Bengal and Parbatipur in Dinajpur.
They opened the work on the oil pipeline through videoconferencing.
Sheikh Hasina attended the videoconference from her official residence Ganobhaban while Narendra Modi from his office in New Delhi.
The two leaders also inaugurated the construction of the third and fourth dual gauge rail lines of Dhaka-Tongi and Tongi-Joydevpur sections of Bangladesh Railway.
Hasina said the economic development is the biggest challenge for South Asian countries. "The prospects for economic development will substantially be enhanced through undertaking bilateral projects like this," she said.
She mentioned that the bilateral cooperation between Bangladesh and India has reached a new height over the past few years.
"We’re working and will work collectively for the development and prosperity for the people of both countries in the new areas, including energy, power, road and rail communications," she said.
The Prime Minister said the people of Bangladesh and India have always been good neighbours.
She recalled the cooperation of the government of India and its people during the War of Liberation in 1971, led by Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Referring to her inauguration together with Modi of the supply of 500MW electricity and two railway projects on September 10 and today’s joint projects, the Prime Minister said, "This intermittent contact between us, I believe, will further cement the ties of cooperation between Bangladesh and India."
Hasina mentioned that an excellent environment of bilateral cooperation prevails between the two neighbouring countries since she assumed office in 2009.
"The mutual cooperation between the two countries enhanced many folds in the fields of security, power and energy, trade, communication, infrastructure development, environment, renewable energy, education, culture, people-to-people contact and health during the last nine and a half years," she said.
Hasina said the train communication in the south-western region through Padma Bridge and in the northern region through Bangabandhu Jamuna Bridge, and on Chattogram-Sylhet routes from Dhaka will be easier and faster once the work on the 3rd and 4th Dual Gauge Line on Dhaka-Tongi section and Double Line on Dhaka-Joydevpur section is completed.
She also mentioned that a total of 96 kms of dual-gauge tracks along with other necessary infrastructures will be constructed under the project that stretches from Kamalapur to Joydevpur railway station.
About the pipeline, the Prime Minister said the 130-km India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline from Shiliguri to Parbatipur in Bangladesh is a new milestone in the history of cooperation between the two countries.
"This will be the first such pipeline through which refined diesel will be supplied to Parbatipur depot from Numaligarh of Assam in India," she said.
The Prime Minister mentioned that Bangladesh will initially receive 2.5 lakh tonnes of diesel per annum and it will gradually be increased to 4 lakh tonnes.
She also said the first consignment of diesel from India reached Bangladesh in March 2016 through rail wagons.
Hasina expressed her gratitude to her Indian counterpart for his active role in implementing these projects.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the two countries implemented a number of projects within a short time which are the symbols of good relations between the two countries.
"We’re not only neighbours, we’re also a family. We always extend our hands in our happiness and sorrow. We’ve proved that we could solve problems if we wish,” he said.
Modi said these projects have initiated a new chapter in the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and India. "It’ll play a significant role in Bangladesh's development as fuel oil could be supplied to the northern region at a low cost," he said.
About the railway projects, he said the schemes will not only help carry passengers, but also transport goods.
Highly appreciating Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's leadership, the Indian PM said these projects could not be implemented without her dynamic leadership.
"These projects are very important for people-to-people contact between the two countries. I hope such cooperation between Bangladesh and India will continue," he said.
During their speeches, the two Prime Ministers greeted each other on the occasion of their birthdays.
The birthday of Modi was celebrated on September 17 while that of Sheikh Hasina will be celebrated on September 28.
Currently, imported oil is stored in Chattogram depot after unloading it from the ship at Chattogram Port. Later, the oil is brought to Khulna Doulatpur depot through coastal tanks and carried to Parbatipur again through rail wagons.
This requires additional time and money as well as transport. The pipeline will solve these problems.
Through the cross-border pipeline, India will supply fuel oil from its Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL), located at Golaghat in the northeastern state of Assam, while Bangladesh will receive the oil at Parbatipur depot of Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation (BPC) in Dinajpur. India will supply 2.5 lakh tonnes of diesel in the first three years.
The import of fuel through the pipeline will be raised further as per the requirements of Bangladesh. The NRL will distribute diesel for 15 years through the pipeline and the time could be expanded following the consent of both sides.
To implement the construction work on the two rail projects, over Tk 1,106 crore under Indian Line of Credit (LoC) would be spent.
Under the two projects, 48.80 kms of two new dual gauge rail lines would be constructed on Dhaka-Tongi route, while a 12.28-km new dual gauge railway double line on Tongi-Joydevpur route, in parallel with the existing rail tracks.
On completion of the schemes, rail communication of Gazipur, Tangail, Narsingdi, Brahmanbaria, Cumilla, Mymensingh and Jamalpur with Dhaka will improve.
As a result, the travel time will be reduced on these routes, while trains can run maintaining schedule set by the railway authorities.
Bangladesh's Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushama Swaraj and Indian Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Prodhan also spoke on the occasion.
Dhaka, Sept 18 (UNB) – BNP senior leader Moudud Ahmed on Tuesday said the recommendation for abolishing the quota system for Grade-I and Grade-II jobs in civil service is a ‘deception’ by the government.
Speaking at a discussion, he also feared that the country will witness many changes in the next one month ahead of the national election.
“Those who waged a movement sought reform in all government jobs. They didn’t seek such reform what the government committee recommended. It’s a deception,” the BNP leader said.
Moudud also accused the government of betraying the quota-reform demonstrators with the recommendation. “It (recommendation) needs to be reconsidered. We’ve sympathy for the demonstrators. I believe their movement won’t go in vain.”
Bangladesh Jatiya Manabadhikar Parishad arranged the programme at the Jatiya Press Club.
A government committee has recently recommended scrapping the quota system for class-I and class-II jobs in government jobs.
Moudud, a BNP standing committee member, said the students demanded for the reform in quota for ensuring proper evaluation of merit at all stages of the government jobs. “But the recommendation is given for removing quota system for Class I and Class II jobs.”
He said the country’s young generation did not have any idea about the nature of Awami League and its traits. “They’ve realised it through the government’s attitude towards the students during the movements for safe roads and quota reform. The government deceived the demonstrators.”
The BNP leader said the new generation will not vote for Awami League in the next election as the government deceived them.
Moudud alleged that the government is talking about formation of an election-time government though there is no such provision in the Constitution. “It’s an imaginary proposal.”
He, however, said an election-time neutral government can be constituted going beyond the Constitution through discussions with political parties.
“The time is running out fast. There’s a big challenge for us to restore people’s voting rights. Only one month is left, and there’ll be many changes in the country during this period,” the BNP leader observed.
He urged BNP leaders and activists to take adequate preparations to force the government to take steps for arranging a neutral election.
Moudud said the country’s people, except those are with the 14-party alliance, are now united with a demand for a credible and impartial election.
About their Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s illness, he said the formation of a medical board for her treatment is also a deception by the government as the broad members are ‘active Awami Leaguers’.
“Begum Zia is very sick. It’s tough to hold back tears hearing the statements of those who met her about her condition. We met the Home Minister for ensuring her treatment. He assured us of taking steps, but didn’t work accordingly,” the BNP leader said.
He warned that those who are resorting to tricks over Khaleda’s treatment will have to be accountable to someday.
Moudud demanded the government form a new medical board, including Khaleda’s personal physicians, to ensure her proper treatment.
Moscow, Sep 18 (AP/UNB) — The leaders of Russia and Turkey agreed Monday to establish a demilitarized zone in Syria's Idlib region, the last major stronghold of anti-government rebels where fears had been running high of a devastating offensive by government forces.
The zone will be established by Oct. 15 and be 15-20 kilometers (9-12 miles) deep, with troops from Russia and NATO-member Turkey conducting coordinated patrols, President Vladimir Putin said at the end of a more than three-hour meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Sochi.
The deal marked a significant agreement between the two leaders and effectively delays an offensive by Syria and its Russian and Iranian allies, one that Turkey fears would create a humanitarian crisis near its border.
Putin said "radical militants" would have to withdraw from the zone. Among them would be those from the al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham — Arabic for Levant Liberation Committee. The group denies it is linked to al-Qaida.
It was not immediately clear exactly how the deal would be implemented in the province, which is home to more than 3 million Syrians and an estimated 60,000 rebel fighters from various groups.
"I believe that with this agreement we prevented a great humanitarian crisis in Idlib," Erdogan said at a joint briefing with Putin.
Turkey has been eager to prevent an assault by Syrian government troops in the province.
Putin said he believed the agreement on Idlib could hasten final resolution of Syria's long and devastating civil war.
"We agreed that practical implementation of the steps we plan will give a fresh impetus to the process of political settlement of the Syrian conflict and will make it possible to invigorate efforts in the Geneva format and will help restore peace in Syria," he said.
Asked whether Syrian President Bashar Assad's government agreed with the Putin-Erdogan plan, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told reporters in Sochi that "in the coming hours, we will agree with them on all the positions put forth in this document."
Ahmed Ramadan, a spokesman for the Syrian political opposition in exile, said the agreement offered Russia a chance to walk back its threat against Idlib and represented a success for diplomatic pressure from Turkey and the United States, which was also against an offensive.
Ramadan also said the deal offers the Syrian government and Russia one of their main demands, which is securing the highway that passes through Idlib and links northern Syria with other cities. That was one of the government's strategic aims in an offensive in Idlib.
"Turkey offered Putin a ladder with which to climb down from the tree, threatening a military offensive in Idlib that had little chance for success," Ramadan said in a series of text messages with The Associated Press. "The Turkish and U.S. serious pressures were the reason behind Russia abstaining from the offensive and offering an air cover which means Iran alone won't be able to carry out the offensive with the overstretched forces of the Assad regime."
He said Russia has also refrained from its accusations that the rebels are all terrorists. "Russia swallowed all its accusations," he said. "Turkey is in a strong position."
He said the zone would be enforced by Turkish patrols on the opposition side and Russian patrols on the government side.
Ramadan added that the opposition was now stronger than when it was after losses in Daraa and Ghouta.
He said the Russians reached the agreement without negotiating it first with the Syrian government, pointing to Shoigu's comments that Moscow will discuss the deal with the Syrian government later.
Abu Omar, a spokesman for the Turkey-backed rebel group Faylaq al-Sham, thanked Erdogan for preventing an offensive and giving the rebels time to defend their rebellion and people. Millions "of civilians in Idlib are in peace," he tweeted.
He said he was confident that the deal "would not have been possible without the steadfastness of our people and fighters. Thank you, Erdogan."
Capt. Naji al-Mustafa, a spokesman for the Turkey-backed umbrella group of opposition fighters known as the National Front for Liberation, said diplomatic efforts have prevented a wide-offensive on Idlib but that his group still needs to learn the details of the deal.
He said the nature of the demilitarized zone and how it would be implemented are not yet clear.
"We need details," he said, adding that the Assad government has broken many agreements before, including the Russian-Turkey negotiated de-escalation zones.
"We will remain ready for fighting," he said.
Russia has called Idlib a hotbed of terrorism and had said the Syrian government has the right to retake control of it. In recent weeks, Russian officials repeatedly claimed rebels in Idlib were preparing a chemical weapons attack that could be blamed on the Syrian government and prompt a retaliatory strike by the West.
Turkey had appealed to Russia and Iran, its uneasy negotiating partners, for a diplomatic resolution. At the same time, it has sent reinforcements to its troops ringing Idlib, a move designed to ward off a ground assault, at least for now.
The International Rescue Committee, a New-York based humanitarian group, said the people of Idlib "will rest easier tonight knowing that they are less likely to face an impending assault."
However, Lorraine Bramwell, the group's Syria country director, cautioned that previous de-escalation deals didn't last long.
"In order to give people in Idlib peace of mind then, this agreement needs to be built upon by the global powers working together to find a lasting political solution that protects civilians," Bramwell said. "It is also essential that humanitarian organizations are allowed to reach those who will remain in need throughout Idlib, including in any 'demilitarized zone.'"
Idlib and surrounding areas were quiet Monday, a continuation of the calm that started less than a week ago amid Russia-Turkey talks.
Dhaka, Sept 17 (UNB) – BNP senior joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi on Monday alleged that the medical board’s report on its Chairperson Khaleda Zia’s health is ‘manufactured’ by the government.
“The statement of the medical board about our leader’s (Khaleda’s) illness is self-contradictory which reflected the government’s thoughts. The medical board gave a manufactured report as per the desire of the government to push Khaleda towards a serious health risk,” he said.
Speaking at press conference at the party’s Nayapaltan central office, the BNP leader further said, “We strongly condemn and protest the government’s such vindictive attitude.”
Earlier on Sunday, the five-member medical board, formed by the government for jailed BNP chief Khaleda, submitted its report suggesting admitting her to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (BSMMU), though they have found ‘no symptom of any serious disease’ in her.
The government on Thursday formed the medical board comprising five BSMMU expert physicians who examined Khaleda’s physical condition inside Old Dhaka Central Jail on Saturday afternoon.
Rizvi alleged that the medical team, which was formed with doctors loyal to the government, conducted a ‘so-called 20-minute health examination of the BNP chief, and recommended admitting her to the BSMMU.
He alleged that Khaleda Zia’s personal physicians were not kept in the medical board only to make such a recommendation.
Opposing the BNP chief’s treatment at the BSMMU, Rizvi said the hospital lacks modern and sophisticated equipment for conducting tests like MRI and CT Scans. “These machines are available in the specialised hospitals.”
He criticised the government for not paying heed to their party’s repeated demand for ensuring Khaleda’s treatment in a specialised hospital.
Rizvi urged the government to include their chairperson’s personal physicians in the medical board and take immediate steps for ensuring her proper treatment in United Hospital or any other specialised hospital.
Khaleda Zia has been in the erstwhile Dhaka Central Jail at Nazimuddin Road since she was sentenced to five years' imprisonment in Zia Orphanage Trust corruption case on February 8.
On April 7 last, Khaleda Zia underwent some medical tests at the BSMMU for her illness.