Bangladesh denies asking India not to send Muslim migrants

Supporters and activists of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) take part in a sitting demonstration against India's new citizenship law, in Siliguri on December 28, 2019. (AFP)
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Updated 01 January 2020

Bangladesh denies asking India not to send Muslim migrants

  • There have been protests across India as well as killings and violence, mostly in areas controlled by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party such as northern Uttar Pradesh state
  • Diplomatic tensions between Bangladesh and India have increased since India’s parliament passed the CAA

DHAKA: Bangladesh Wednesday denied requesting any sort of written assurance from India that it will not send Muslim migrants across the border after the enactment of a controversial citizenship law.
The Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) fast-tracks citizenship for persecuted Hindus, Parsis, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains and Christians who arrived in India before the end of 2014 from Muslim-majority Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Critics say the law is discriminatory and goes against the secular spirit of India’s constitution.
On Monday Indian news outlet The Print cited unnamed Indian Foreign Ministry sources claiming that “Bangladesh wants ‘written’ assurance from India that it won’t send immigrants after CAA.”
But Farid Hossain, press minister at the Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi, told Arab News he had “no idea” about any such exchange.  
Mohammad Sarwar Mahmood, director general for South Asia at the Bangladeshi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the CAA was an “internal issue” of the Indian government.  
“I have no such information about seeking any written assurance from the Indian government. If there was any discussion regarding this at any government level, I should have been aware of it,” he told Arab News. “Bangladesh to date has not planned anything like this.”
Diplomatic tensions between Bangladesh and India have increased since India’s parliament passed the CAA on Dec. 9. 
Bangladeshi Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen said the CAA would weaken India’s position as a secular country, while Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal canceled his and Momen’s scheduled visit to New Delhi citing “internal affairs.”
Mohammad Touhid Hossain, a former foreign secretary of Bangladesh, said the CAA was now a “major irritant” in bilateral ties and that a “message” had been sent through the visit’s cancelation.  “It indicates that our government is unhappy with the situation,” he told Arab News.
There have been protests across India as well as killings and violence, mostly in areas controlled by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party such as northern Uttar Pradesh state.
Senior diplomat Mohammad Zamir said parties should exercise restraint as it remained unclear what was currently happening in India.  
“Today (Wednesday), Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to greet her in the new year and they talked for around 15 minutes,” he told Arab News. “We still don’t know the details of their discussion. So, we should wait before making any comment over the situation.”


Kabul begins freeing Taliban

Newly freed Taliban prisoners walk at Pul-e-Charkhi prison, in Kabul, Afghanistan August 13, 2020. Picture taken August 13, 2020. (REUTERS)
Updated 15 August 2020

Kabul begins freeing Taliban

  • Release of final 400 inmates was approved by traditional Afghan grand assembly

KABUL: After months of delay, Afghanistan’s government has started releasing the last 400 Taliban inmates in its custody, clearing the way for long-awaited peace talks, officials confirmed on Friday.

Eighty of the 400 were set free on Thursday and, according to the government, more will be freed in the coming days. The release was a condition to begin intra-Afghan negotiations to end 19 years of conflict in the war-torn country. The talks, already delayed twice, are expected to take place in Qatar once the release process is complete.
“The release was to speed up efforts for direct talks and a lasting, nationwide cease-fire,” the Afghan National Security Council said in a statement accompanied by video footage showing former Taliban inmates calling on insurgent leaders and the government to engage in peace talks.
The prisoner release follows an agreement signed by the US and the Taliban in Qatar in February that stipulated the exchange of prisoners between President Ashraf Ghani’s government and the militants, who have gained ground in recent years.
The process, involving 5,000 Taliban detainees held by Kabul and 1,000 security forces imprisoned by the militants, was slated to begin in early March and should have been followed by an intra-Afghan dialogue.
Ghani, initially resistant to the idea of freeing the Taliban inmates, began to release them under US pressure. Some 4,600 Taliban inmates were freed over the few past months, but Ghani refused to free the remaining 400, arguing they were behind major deadly attacks and that setting them free was outside his authority.
Faced by mounting pressure, after Eid Al-Adha holidays two weeks ago, the president vowed to summon a traditional grand assembly, the Loya Jirga, to help him decide if the remaining Taliban inmates should be freed or not.

FASTFACT

Footage showing men in uniforms mutilating the bodies of purported Taliban members went viral on social media this week, raising concerns that violence between security forces and the militants may impede the peace process despite the prisoner release.

Last week, the assembly approved the release, which is now underway and expected to be followed by the peace talks, in accordance with the US-Taliban deal.
The process, however, coincides with a spike in violence in the country and mutual accusations of an increase in assaults by the Taliban and Afghan government forces.
On Thursday, the Defense Ministry said it was probing a video circulating on social media showing men in army uniforms mutilating the bodies of purported Taliban fighters.
The UN requested that the incident be investigated. It remains unclear when and where it took place.
The Taliban, in a statement, said the bodies of their fighters were mutilated in the Arghandab district of the Zabul province.
Concerns are rising that similar acts of violence will further delay the peace process.
“Let us hope that this video does not become part of revenge-taking between the two sides and affect the process of peace. It is really unfortunate,” analyst Shafiq Haqpal told Arab News.
“As the violence continues, we see more brutal and shocking tactics from the sides and examples of revenge-taking, and that is very worrying and impacts any trust in a peace process,” Shaharzad Akbar, the chief of Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission, said in a Twitter post on Thursday.
“It is on the leadership of the two sides to have clear messages to their fighters to avoid war crimes and actions that further the instinct for revenge that will make the reconciliation that should come out of a peace process difficult,” she added.

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