Khaleda disowns US newspaper article
BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia has denied sending any write-up to US newspaper The Washington Times seeking withdrawal of trade preferences for Bangladesh five months into publication of the item.
The January 30 byline write-up, which came out in the opinion section of the daily, drew huge attention of people from different walks of life.
"Failing to retain GSP (generalised system of preferences) facilities, the government is spreading propaganda to create confusion," Khaleda said in the parliament Saturday afternoon.
The much-talked-about article titled 'ZIA: The thankless role in saving democracy in Bangladesh' had 'Begum Khaleda Zia' in the byline and "Begum Khaleda Zia is former prime minister of Bangladesh and current leader of the opposition" at the bottom.
"They (US authorities) also must explain to Ms. Hasina that general preferences for trade will be withdrawn if those who support workers’ rights and have political views opposed to those of the prime minister are not now allowed to express their beliefs," the write-up reads.
"The Western powers should consider targeted travel and other sanctions against those in the regime who undermine democracy, freedom of speech and human rights. They should say and do these things publicly, for all our citizens to see and hear. This is how the United States can ensure that its mission to democratize the world continues," it added.
Following the controversy over this and blame on Khaleda by government officials after Thursday's GSP withdrawal by the US, the Leader of the Opposition in the parliament came up with an explanation in the parliament Saturday.
"Some people are referring to a write-up published in my name. I haven't sent any such write-up to the newspaper," she insisted.
As Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina raised a copy of the write-up this time, Khaleda said: "This is not my letter."
Taking part in the budget discussion, Khaleda said, “It’s out of question -- I did not send any write-up to that newspaper seeking suspension of the GSP facilities for Bangladesh. I am not the author of that article and I have the proof in this regard.”
The opposition leader said she would show the proof in due time in favour of her claim.
“It was the Aminul murder and the Rana Plaza collapse that brought the GSP suspension. I would like to urge the government not to shift its failures onto others. Stop such propaganda at this critical stage,” Khaleda said during her marathon speech.
In reply, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in parliament posed a question if it was not her write-up, then who had written it?
Showing a copy of the article, Hasina said it was the BNP chairperson who wrote the article for The Washington Times appealing the US administration to cancel GSP facilities for Bangladesh and now she is denying it.
“There was nothing more shameful and unfortunate for her who can write against her own country,” Hasina said amid continuous shouting by the opposition bench deputies.