US may lift Rab sanctions if given ‘accurate info’
The government hopes the US will lift sanctions on Rab if it is provided with accurate information, Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen told parliament yesterday.
He came up with the remarks while delivering a statement in parliament under Section 300 of the parliamentary rules of procedures.
Momen informed the House that BNP and Jamaat had appointed eight lobbyist firms to ensure that the USA stops providing aid and development assistance to Bangladesh.
He also said the government has proof that the BNP, through appointing lobbyists, was linked to the slapping of the sanctions on Rab. He alleged the party also appealed to the United Nations Department of Peace Operations to ban the law enforcement agency from UN deployment.
Momen said the lobbyists have given statements that would offend the people of the country.
"BNP has told them [the US] that its security will be hindered due to Bangladesh. How can they write this? Shame on them [BNP]," the minister said amid thumping of desks by the treasury bench MPs.
He questioned how the BNP paid the lobbyists and demanded an investigation in this regard.
He said there might be differences of opinion between the government and the BNP, but the country cannot be harmed by that.
Momen said hiring lobbyists in the United States is a legal process under the US law. India, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and other countries and organisations around the world appoint lobbyists to improve political and economic relations.
"But here the main issue is the purpose of hiring lobbyist [by BNP]," he said.
He said that in 2014, Jamaat hired a firm to stop the trial of war criminals, for which they paid one and a half lakh dollars. They hired another lobbyist firm to stop the trial process.
He said BNP had spent $1.20 lakh each month as retainer fee and $27 lakh each year from February 2015 to April 2017. The BNP had hired four lobbyist firms till 2017 and then one in 2019. And to prevent the trial of war criminals, Jamaat-BNP appointed three lobbyist firms.
The minister said some BNP members had written to the UN secretary general to declare Bangladesh's parliament illegal.
SANCTION ON RAB
Saying that the government is working on the US sanctions against the Rab, Momen said the work on partnership dialogue with the United States will start next month. There will be a security dialogue in April. The process of holding multiple meetings with the US is ongoing.
Indicating that it would take some time for the embargo to be lifted, the foreign minister said, "We have held several meetings with USA. InshaAllah, whenever we will be able to provide the information to them properly, I believe the sanctions will be withdrawn from a very good organisation like RAB."
He said the ban was imposed without any prior discussion and was prompted through propaganda from various lobbyist firms.
Not only have they given false information to the US government, but they have also been giving negative feedback on Rab to the different human rights organisations.
Momen said Rab has gained the acceptance of the people by reducing the country's terrorism, drugs, human trafficking by and large.
The minister said Rab had not done anything for it to be considered a terrorist organisation.
In his statement, he said the government has hired PR firms instead of lobbyists to stop the spread of false information on Bangladesh, adding that an organisation called BGR was appointed in 2014-15 to stop the anti-Bangladesh campaign.