Bangladesh opposition leader Zia returns to jail

Bangladesh’s main opposition leader and Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia, center, looks on as she is escorted back to prison from a hospital visit on Thursday, November 8. (AFP)
Updated 08 November 2018
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Bangladesh opposition leader Zia returns to jail

  • Hospital director Brig. Gen. Abdullah Al-Harun said Khaleda Zia had been cleared to go back to Dhaka Central Jail
  • Her doctors say Zia cannot use her left hand because of severe arthritis
DHAKA: Bangladesh authorities on Thursday sent opposition leader Khaleda Zia back to jail after a month of treatment in hospital, an official said.
The move came just ahead of the official announcement of the date of a general election which the 73-year-old Zia will almost certainly be excluded from because of the prison terms she is serving.
Hospital director Brig. Gen. Abdullah al Harun told reporters Zia had been cleared to go back to Dhaka Central Jail. “Her health has been in adequately stable condition.”
One of her aides, Zahid Hossain, alleged however that Zia’s doctors had not approved her return to jail.
Zia’s lawyers have previously accused the government of putting the health of the two-time former prime minister at risk by refusing her specialized care in prison.
Zia was jailed for five years in February for corruption and has since been held at the British colonial-era prison which was abandoned in 2016 but brought back into service to keep her.
She was taken to hospital last month when her condition deteriorated.
Her doctors say Zia cannot use her left hand because of severe arthritis. She is diabetic and also has problems with her neck and shoulder.
During her time in hospital, Zia was sentenced to seven years in jail in a new graft case while an appeal court doubled the term from the original case to 10 years.
Zia is now running out of time to make an appeal that could clear her to run in the election expected at the end of December.
Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party has condemned the cases as politically motivated to keep her out of an election showdown with current prime minister and arch-rival Sheikh Hasina.
BNP officials held talks with Hasina on their election demands which included releasing the party leader. Hasina rejected the demand.
The BNP boycotted the 2014 vote in which Hasina returned to power but is expected to contest the election this year.


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.