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.”


Pompeo pledges close cooperation with India but trade, defense issues unresolved

Updated 26 June 2019
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Pompeo pledges close cooperation with India but trade, defense issues unresolved

  • But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave few specifics of how they would overcome disputes on issues
  • The disputes have led to higher trade tariffs by the two countries and created unease over the depth of their security alliance

NEW DELHI: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to reduce heightened trade tension with India on Wednesday, promising a renewed focus on negotiating improved trade and investment ties between the two nations.
But Pompeo, on a visit to India, gave few specifics of how they would overcome disputes on issues ranging from access to Indian markets for leading American companies to New Delhi’s demands for foreign firms to store Indian data in the country, and exports of steel and aluminum to the United States.
The two nations are “friends who can help each other all around the world,” Pompeo told a joint news conference with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar after they met.
The current differences were expressed “in the spirit of friendship,” he added.
The disputes have led to higher trade tariffs by the two countries and created unease over the depth of their security alliance.
In particular, the sudden introduction of new e-commerce rules for foreign investors in February angered the Americans because it showed New Delhi was prepared to move the goalposts to hurt two of the largest US companies, discount retailer Walmart, and Amazon.com Inc.
Walmart last year invested $16 billion to buy control of Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart.
Just days before Pompeo’s visit, India slapped higher retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products following Washington’s withdrawal of key trade privileges for New Delhi.
Jaishankar, a former Indian ambassador to the United States, played down the spat on Wednesday.
“If you trade with someone and they are your biggest trading partner, it is impossible you don’t have trade issues,” he said.
India’s ties with Russia and Iran, both now subject to US sanctions, are also a sore point.
US pressure has led India to stop buying oil from Iran, a top energy supplier. The United States has also stepped up pressure on India not to proceed with its purchase of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia.
The missile deal and Iranian oil were both discussed during their meeting, Jaishankar and Pompeo said, but mentioned no resolution of either at the news conference.
Earlier, Pompeo met Prime Minister Narendra Modi for talks at his official residence in the capital, New Delhi, and they exchanged handshakes in images broadcast on television.
“The Prime Minister expressed his strong commitment to achieve the full potential of bilateral relations in trade and economy, energy, defense, counterterrorism and people-to-people contacts,” the foreign ministry said in a statement, without elaborating.
Pompeo is expected to round off the trip with a policy speech hosted by the US embassy, before departing on Thursday for a summit of leaders of the Group of 20 nations in Japan.