Former Bangladesh PM faces further legal challenge

Bangladesh opposition leader Khaleda Zia speaks during a press conference in Dhaka. (File Photo: AFP)
Updated 14 March 2018
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Former Bangladesh PM faces further legal challenge

DHAKA: The Supreme Court (SC) of Bangladesh has stayed the bail order for the release of Bangladesh Nationalist Party Chairperson Khaleda Zia till Sunday.
On Monday, Zia was granted four months’ interim bail from the High Court in connection with her alleged association with a graft case, but on Wednesday, after the hearing of another two petitions filed by the c, the SC stopped Zia’s release on bail.
Three-time prime minister Zia was sent to jail on Feb. 8, after the lower court convicted her for five years in connection with her alleged attachment to the mishandling of the Zia Orphanage Trust fund.
The same court has sentenced her elder son Tarique Rahman, who is the acting chairman of the BNP, and four others, to 10-year imprisonment for their involvement in misappropriate use of the orphanage fund.
The ACC filed the graft case against Zia in July 2008.
“Her immediate release has become uncertain,” said Sanaullah Mia, the legal affairs secretary of the BNP and one of the panel lawyers for Zia. However, Mia said that “the four grounds which the High Court considered to grant her an interim bail of four months still exist there. And we believe that the SC will uphold the High Court’s decision.”
Senior leaders of the BNP have expressed their frustration over the delaying of the party chairperson’s release from jail.
Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury, a senior member of the BNP, said that the government was deceiving people and did not want the general election, scheduled for the end of 2018, to happen. “People are doubtful whether they (the ruling party) want to hold the elections or not. That is why they are creating an environment which is totally unfriendly for the election,” Chowdhury said.
Political analyst Professor Mahbub Ullah sees no alternative but the holding of a free and fair general election. “If an inclusive, fair, free and credible election is not ensured, Bangladesh will fall into a serious political crisis.”
Mahbub Ullah, a teacher at Dhaka University, said that although there is a serious gap between the two sides (ruling party and BNP), both of them have faith in the need for elections.
“Awami League (ruling party) has to ensure a participatory election, they cannot take the risk of a manipulated election, and the BNP for its politics’ sake has to go for election. If these two compulsions create a meeting point, then there will be a good election.”


China: Plots to disrupt ties with Pakistan will fail

Updated 41 min 3 sec ago
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China: Plots to disrupt ties with Pakistan will fail

  • China has pledged $57 billion to build power stations, major highways, new railways and high capacity ports along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor
  • China welcomes the good start made in its “all-weather” partnership with Pakistan following the election of the new government under Prime Minister Imran Khan

BEIJING: Any plots to sow discord in China’s ties with Pakistan will not prevail, the Chinese government’s top diplomat said on Tuesday, as Beijing fends off criticism of its economic projects in Pakistan and a clampdown in China’s western Xinjiang region.
China has pledged $57 billion to build power stations, major highways, new railways and high capacity ports along the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a key part of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road plan to further tie China to Eurasia.
The sustainability of Chinese projects has come under fresh scrutiny in recent months, as US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in July warned that any potential International Monetary Fund bailout for Pakistan’s troubled economy should not be used to pay off Chinese lenders. Both Beijing and Islamabad say the loans are sustainable.
China welcomes the good start made in its “all-weather” partnership with Pakistan following the election of the new government under Prime Minister Imran Khan, State Councillor Wang Yi told Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York.
But “any conspiracies attempting to incite disharmony or interfere in China-Pakistan relations will not prevail,” Wang added, without elaborating, according to a statement released by China’s foreign ministry on Wednesday.
China and Pakistan should continue to make “all-out” efforts to promote the economic corridor, expand trade and reduce poverty to bring more benefits to the ordinary people of Pakistan, Wang said.
The relationship between China and Pakistan will not change, regardless of circumstantial changes, Qureshi told Wang, according to China’s statement.
The corridor is “extremely important” to Pakistan and has brought “deep impact” for jobs, development and livelihood, and Islamabad will take effective measures to ensure the security of the entire route, he added.
Beijing has faced growing international criticism from rights groups, some western nations and United Nations human rights experts over its sweeping security crackdown in the far western region of Xinjiang, which borders Pakistan.
Islamabad, like most governments of majority Muslim countries, has so far remained silent on the issue, but a group of Pakistani businessmen whose Chinese wives and children have been trapped in Xinjiang are lobbying the new government to help pressure Beijing into allowing their release.
Beijing says it faces a serious threat from extremist militants and separatists in Xinjiang and has rejected accusations of mistreatment.