Taliban warn Bangladesh
The Taliban have warned Bangladesh against sending troops to Afghanistan.
The warning came after the US requested Dhaka to send combat forces to help the coalition forces in the war-ravaged country, reports AFP quoting the SITE intelligence group, a US monitoring service dedicated to gathering information on international terrorist groups.
The SITE website on Monday published a report headlined “Afghan Taliban reacts to US requesting troops from Bangladesh”.
Richard Holbrooke, US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, made the plea for troops at a meeting with Foreign Minister Dipu Moni in New York last week.
He said Bangladeshi troops could help ensure security and stability in the war-torn Afghanistan.
Moni assured the US envoy of further talks on the issue.
SITE said the Taliban have responded by posting messages in Arabic and Pashto on its website and Jihadi forums calling on Dhaka to spurn the US request, reports AFP.
"(We) believe that the leader of Bangladesh has enough Islamic knowledge and political wit not to involve his [Sic] people in the fight against Islam and against the Afghan people by sending a few hundred soldiers to Afghanistan," the message read.
"Assuming that the leader would commit such a historic mistake, the religious Muslim people of Bangladesh will not allow their leaders to assist the eternal enemy of Islam against an Islamic neighbouring country."
Despite several attempts yesterday, The Daily Star could not reach Dipu Moni in New York for comments.
In Dhaka, political leaders and eminent citizens said it does not matter if the Taliban warn or not, Bangladesh should not send troops to Afghanistan, as it is a sensitive issue involving the country's national interest.
Talking to The Daily Star yesterday, they said the government must consider the socio-political impact and reality before taking a decision on the matter.
Obaidul Quader, presidium member of the ruling Awami League, said since it is a policy issue, the government would decide on it after discussion in parliament.
"The US can make a request, but we have our own reality and limitations," he said.
Lt Gen (retd) Mahbubur Rahman, member of BNP standing committee, said it would not be wise to send troops to Afghanistan without the cover of a UN peacekeeping mission.
"Earlier, we did not send troops to Iraq despite a request from the US. We [Bangladesh] have to consider our reality and also sensitivity of the issue before taking a decision," he added.
Mujahidul Islam Selim, general secretary of Communist Party of Bangladesh, termed America's request for troops “audacious”.
“It is entirely their [US] strategic matter and so there's no question of sending our troops there,” he said.
“The US dares to make such request because of submissive policy taken by every government of our country,” he observed.
It was America that helped the Pakistan forces by sending troops during the Liberation War in 1971, he said. "Ours is a peace-loving country and we must be aware of American conspiracy."
The government has to tell the US clearly that Dhaka is not sending any troops, he added.
Hasanul Haque Inu, president of Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal, said he thinks there is no reason for Bangladesh to deploy troops in Afghanistan whether Taliban warns or not.
"We don't accept American interferences in different countries in the name of War on Terror," he said.
Noted writer-journalist Shahriar Kabir told The Daily Star, "I don't consider the Taliban threat important, but in principle I think we should not send troops to Afghanistan.”
The problems confronting Afghanistan should be solved by the democratic people of that country. Bangladesh should support the democratic and secular forces of that country. Sending troops and killing innocent people is not the solution, he noted.
The government should rather be sincere in efforts to hunt down the Taliban agents in the country, he said.
Bangladesh saw a rise of militancy with the emergence of Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) leader Siddiqul Islam alias Bangla Bhai in 2004.
It has so far banned four organisations for militant activities and an NGO for terror financing.
Though some militant outfits are still believed to be operative in the country, existence of Taliban has yet to be traced.
However, it was the Afghan war returnees who founded JMB and Harkatul Jihad al Islami (Huji). Among the local militant leaders, some had reportedly met Al-Qaeda boss Osama bin Laden and Taliban leader Mullah Omar several times.