Streets likely to heat up as |
rival camps lock horns
Shahidul Islam Chowdhury and Moloy Saha
The opposing political camps, led by the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, seem set to take to the streets in a day or two to have their respective political objectives met, as the caretaker government is yet to come up with a clear position as regards the political combines’ conflicting stances on the Election Commission.
While the AL-led combine is planning to reinvigorate its movement for reconstitution of the EC, the BNP-led alliance has decided to take to the streets to mount pressure on the interim administration not to ‘bow to the unconstitutional demand’ of the rival camp.
The AL-led alliance, with a view to revitalising its agitation for the reorganisation of the election commission, has started putting in fresh efforts to broaden its political camp by incorporating some other political parties fighting for the removal of the chief election commissioner, MA Aziz, and three other commissioners.
The BNP-led alliance, on the other hand, is to launch a series of demonstrations, beginning from tomorrow (Sunday), and will continue agitations side by side with its rival political camp which has threatened resumption of its blockade programme on Monday, in case the caretaker government does take steps to remove the election commissioners.
‘We will intensify agitation, as the chief adviser is apparently reluctant to accept our demand for removal of the CEC and three election commissioners,’ the coordinator of the AL-led alliance and AL general secretary, Abdul Jalil, told New Age Friday. He, however, did not say whether they would change the form of the agitations.
The Workers Party president and a leader of the AL-led alliance, Rashed Khan Menon, however, told New Age that the political combine’s fresh programme could include laying siege to the Election Commission secretariat and the district Election Commission offices, sit-in in front of the residence of chief election commissioner, non-cooperation with the caretaker government, etc..
As regards broadening the alliance, Suranjit Sengupta of AL said, ‘We would forge a greater alliance with all the political parties demanding removal of MA Aziz and his colleagues on the commission.’
The political groups that the AL is planning to bring in its fold include the Jatiya Party factions led by HM Ershad and Anwar Hossain Monju, the Liberal Democratic Party led by AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury and Oli Ahmed, and the Jukta Front led by KSJL president, Abdul Kader Siddiki and ASM Abdur Rab, and the Bangladesh Tarikat Federation led by Nozibul Bosher Maizbhandari.
‘We have similarities with these parties, particularly in terms of the demand for recasting of the commission. So, why should not we try to convince them for consolidating our efforts to achieve the objective,’ a senior leader of the AL-led alliance told New Age Friday evening.
A group of key policymakers the AL-led alliance held a meeting Friday evening with the AL president, Sheikh Hasina to work out strategies for forgoing greater alliance and coordinating movements of other political parties.
Meanwhile, the BNP-led alliance will hold rallies at all metropolitan cities and district towns tomorrow (Sunday) to pressurise the caretaker government to pay little heed to the demands of the rival coalition and announce schedule of the January, 2007 parliamentary polls.
The four-party alliance would announce fresh agitations from the rally to be held at Muktangon in Dhaka on Sunday, BNP sources said.
‘The four-party alliance will continue to stage peaceful demonstrations until the caretaker government announce schedule of parliamentary polls,’ said the BNP general secretary, Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan.
Under these tense circumstances, a section of the advisers of the caretaker government hopes that the president and chief adviser, Iajuddin Ahmed, would reach a decision soon to resolve the political impasse.
‘We have made some suggestions to thrust aside ongoing political crisis and I think that the chief adviser would take a decision by Sunday,’ adviser Yasmin Murshed said Friday. ‘We have been working to overcome the crisis’.
European Parliament wants
decisive CG, EC recast
The European Parliament has urged Bangladesh’s caretaker administration to reconstitute the election commission to ensure that the commission delivers a credible election ‘in a truly neutral manner’.
‘The members of the European Parliament wish to see a strong and decisive caretaker government, but they also urge the president, Iajuddin Ahmed’s administration to reconstitute the election commission so as to ensure that the latter can perform, and is seen to perform, its work in a truly neutral manner,’ according to a parliament press release issued on Thursday.
The parliament adopted three human rights resolutions on the crisis in Ethiopia since the 2005 elections, the situation in Bangladesh ahead of the elections scheduled for January, 2007 and the deterioration in human rights in Iran over the past year.
As regards Bangladesh’s general elections, the parliament in a resolution adopted by 60 votes to 1 with 1 abstention, welcomed the caretaker administration and noted that many of the conditions for ensuring neutrality of the electoral preparations were yet to be met.
The resolution said the caretaker government and the election commission both had key roles to play.
The members of the parliament also deplored the recent violence in the country and condemned ‘the physical attacks on journalists, NGOs, trade unionists and others, and the violence related to the forthcoming general election and the transitional arrangements’.
The government should create a climate in which all members of the electorate will feel genuinely free to use their right to vote and should guarantee media balance during election campaigns, the release said.
The European Parliament called upon the authorities to ‘put an end to the climate of impunity and to bring to justice the perpetrators of violence and harassment directed towards journalists in Bangladesh’.
They also urged the election commission to improve the quality and accuracy of the voters’ roll in cooperation with domestic and international experts. The EU Commission believes as many as 13 million invalid names have been added to the updated voters’ roll.
The parliament also called upon all political parties to reach agreement on all controversial electoral issues to avoid political violence and instability and to develop political programmes which will improve the standard of the population’s living conditions.
‘The resolution reaffirms the European Parliament’s commitment to Bangladesh’s unique tradition of religious tolerance and secularism, as enshrined in the country’s longstanding cultural traditions and artistic heritage, and as endorsed in the European Parliament’s previous resolutions,’ said the press statement available on the parliament’s website.
The members welcomed the European Commission’s decision to send a short term election monitoring mission in Bangladesh.
‘The Commission is asked to monitor carefully the human rights situation, the political situation and press freedom in Bangladesh and draw up programmes, in the framework of EU-Bangladesh cooperation, to promote freedom of the press and freedom of speech,’ said the statement.
Bangladesh ‘medium’ risky
for business: Control Risk
Kazi Azizul Islam
Power struggle of two major political parties and emergence of Islamist militants have pushed Bangladesh into the list of ‘medium’ level risky countries in terms of political and security reasons for business, according to the global business risk consultant — Control Risk.
RiskMap 2007, the annual study of the London based organisation, released on November 9, found 98 countries in the category of medium and high political risks while 78 in the category of security risk. The organisation surveyed risks in 198 countries across the globe.
Political risk means that businesses were likely to face disruptions and hostilities while security risk indicates reasonable possibility of security problems affecting companies.
‘Elections in January 2007 and subsequent coalition-building would intensify the power struggle between the ruling Bangladesh National Party (BNP) and the Awami League (AL) in the first half of the year,’ predicted the study. ‘The contest will stall progress in addressing economic, infrastructural and security problems and trigger protest campaigns and violence.’
The study forecasted that the polls are likely to be closely fought, ‘with the BNP the marginally stronger party’. However, the report cautions that the ‘losing party would likely challenge the result and boycott parliament, undermining the legislature’.
Besides, ‘an AL victory would be unlikely to prompt a major change in business policies, but individual contracts may be revised,’ it predicted.
‘Law and order will continue to deteriorate in the absence of adequate police reform,’ the report said.
The Islamist extremist Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB), Jamaat-ul-Mujaheedin Bangladesh (JMB) and Harkat-ul-Jehad-al-Islami (HuJI) are likely to slowly recover from the loss of their ideological and operational leaders and resume their anti-government campaign,’ apprehended Control Risk.
Political marginalisation of Islamic parties in the aftermath of the elections could encourage this trend because extremists may feel that their political channels of influence are being blocked, the organisation analysed. ‘However, extremist groups will focus on government targets and their activities will pose only limited direct threats to foreign companies and personnel.’
Control Risk pointed out that instability in the Chittagong Hill Tracts, piracy at the Chittagong port channels are considerable threats to businesses.
India and Bhutan were ranked as ‘low risk’ in both categories, Sri Lanka as medium risk, Nepal was high regarding political risk and medium in security, Pakistan medium in political and high in security, Myanmar medium in political, low in security while Maldives was ranked medium in political risk and low in security risk.
Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan Cuba and Zimbabwe were among the high risk countries.
Biman’s call for strategic
The Biman Bangladesh Airlines’ global search for a strategic partner to bail it out its heavy cash crunch appears to have little or no prospects as only one little-known airline has expressed interest in the partnership.
The loss-making national flag carrier is now considering shelving the move because of the frustrating response to its call for strategic partnership, Biman sources said.
They said only an obscure Australian airline responded to the Biman’s invitation in August for expression of interest from airlines interested to strike a strategic partnership with it that could turn the ailing airlines profitable by injecting fresh funds as well as increasing its operational efficiency.
Biman had undertaken a similar initiative in 1998 during the Awami League government and appointed Citigroup of the United States as consultant to the venture.
That move failed too and cost Biman $1.6 million in consultancy fees.
Biman officials said the airlines’ huge liabilities and an ever-increasing annual loss were the major reasons for such a frustrating and poor response to its search for a strategic partner.
Biman incurred a loss to the tune of Tk 1,000 crore in fiscal year 2005-06, the biggest since its inception in 1972.
The Biman authorities cited rising fuel cost, high maintenance expenditures for its ageing planes, pilferage, and flight operations on some non-profitable routes as the major causes for the sustained losses.
The state-owned airlines also owes around Tk 1,200 crore to the Bangladesh Petroleum Corporation in fuel bills.
Meanwhile, in a move to cut its loss by half, Biman suspended its flights to New York, Paris, Frankfurt, Yangon, and Narita and the domestic flights to Barisal and Syedpur. It also has initiated a crackdown on corruption and sent four of its directors and some general managers on forced retirement in the past one month for their alleged involvement in graft and
failure to run the organisation efficiently.
After receiving a cold response to its call for strategic partnership, Biman now pins its hopes on getting financial assistance from the World Bank, which earlier showed interest to provide technical and financial assistance to bale Biman out of its huge liquidity crisis.
The bank has already carried out some preliminary work in this regard and will submit an aid proposal soon to the government.
‘We are hopeful to get some fund from the World Bank to give Biman a new lease of life,’ said MA Momen, Biman’s managing director, last week.
Though the number of Biman’s passengers has grown by around 12 per cent over the last few years, particularly on the Middle East routes, it failed to take advantage of the rise due to its lack of aircraft, improper route planning, and pervasive corruption, according to sources.
Biman’s fleet now composes of 13 planes — five age-old DC-10s, four Airbus-310s and four Fokker-28s. It operates flights to 21 international and six domestic destinations.
Arms, explosives smuggled
in: Intel reports
Abul Kalam Azad
Huge quantities of firearms and explosives are being smuggled in by land and water ahead of the parliamentary elections, the police and an intelligence agency reveal in two separate reports.
The reports, submitted in October, express the fear that the contending political parties might be gathering the firearms and explosives to build up their muscle to be used in the polls slated for mid January.
The arms and explosives are being brought in from the neighbouring India and Myanmar along with other smuggled items through the bordering districts of Chuadanga, Satkhira, Kushtia, Cox’s Bazar, Sunamganj, Bandarban, Mymensingh, Netrokona, and Rangamati. Besides, sea routes are also being used for the smuggling, the reports add.
According to the reports, the importers under fake names are bringing the deadly weapons hidden in consignments of various legitimate goods.
On arrival in the country, various syndicates are spreading the arms and explosives across the country, while many of these lethal weapons are ending up in the hands of criminals and underground political operatives.
Satkhira district alone has some 228-kilometre border with India, 59km of which is land, 89km is river and the rest is in Sundarban. ‘Rampant smuggling is on through the border of this district due to lack of border patrol, often deliberately in exchange of bribe received from the smugglers,’ says the national security intelligence report, adding pistols and revolvers figure prominently among the smuggled firearms.
In Chuadanga district, the arms and explosives are being smuggled in hidden inside sacks of smuggled sugar and salt and cartons of fruits from India. These are then loaded on Darsana-bound goods trains at Munsipur, Kutubpur, Notunpara, Gayespur, and Medenipur.
According to the reports, Indian-made pipe guns, shutter guns, Poyur brand pistols and explosives like chocolate bombs are entering Bangladesh through the porous border of Kushtia district. However, the smuggling abated to some extent following stepped up drives by the Bangladesh Rifles, the report adds.
On the other hand, despite strict vigilance by Bangladesh Rifles, smuggling of arms and explosives could not be stopped across the border of Sunamganj district with India.
Chased by the Indian border guards, Indian terrorists and separatists sometimes also intrude into Bangladesh carrying firearms with them. They force Bangladeshis to give them shelter and when they return to India, in many cases, they leave behind their weapons. Two AK-47 assault rifles, 36,500 bullets with 81 magazines, 20 grenades and 350 mortars have been recovered from Haluaghat of Mymensingh on June 29 that are believed to be abandoned by such India insurgents, the report says.
Some of the busiest smuggling routes are in the Chittagong Hill Tracks and Cox’s Bazar district. The report says, as the 480km border of Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachhari districts lie virtually unguarded, the local indigenous people often cross the border without the knowledge of the BDR. This border in all probability is used for bulk smuggling of arms and explosives.
Due to the easy communications between Bandarban and Myanmar, the intelligence report says, Myanmar separatists also intrude into Bangladesh to hide their arms here, which they use as well as sell to Bangladeshis.
Illegal arms also enter the country from Myanmar through various remotes routes in Cox’s Bazar. The Rohingyas also intrude into Bangladesh and sell arms to locals that eventually spread across the country, an investigation report of the Cox’s Bazar police discloses.
It says the arms belonging to members of the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation of Myanmar who stay in hiding in the deep jungles of Teknaf, Ukhia and Naikhangchhari are also sold to local arms dealers.
‘These arms first go to different upazilas of Cox’s Bazar and Chittagong and then to criminals in other parts of the country,’ the report says, adding that the arms are assembled locally in the deep forest of Ramu, Ukhia, Moheskhali, and Naikhangchhari of Bandarban.
It also says smuggled arms are also being used to guard the shrimp enclosures and salt cultivation plots as well as to grab land and property.
Huge amounts of sophisticated weapons like M-16, AK-47, mortar launchers, anti-tank mines, rocket launchers, and grenades have been brought into the country through the porous borders of the CHT and Cox’s Bazar.
The reports emphasise strict vigilance and increased patrol by the law enforcement agencies concerned including the BDR, Bangladesh Coast Guards, and Bangladesh Navy to check the inflow of the weapons. Otherwise, the reports fear, these arms and explosives would be used to deteriorate the country’s law and order ahead of the elections.
AL, allies warn against move
to announce polls schedule
The Awami League-led alliance has denounced the move to announce election schedule by the election commission and said it would not accept any such action under the present chief election commissioner, Justice MA Aziz.
The alliance leaders made their position clear at a rally organised in the city on Friday to mourn labour leader Waziullah, who was killed by a police truck during the blockade programme on November 13.
When the AL-led alliance is waging a movement for reconstitution of the election commission, the president and chief of the caretaker government, Iajuddin Ahmed, is discussing election schedule with MA Aziz and his deputies who have been rejected by the people, they told the rally at Nabisco crossing in Tejgaon.
The coordinator of the alliance and AL general secretary, Abdul Jalil, said the CEC, MA Aziz must quit first as it would be impossible to hold a free and fair election under him.
The AL presidium member, Tofail Ahmed, said the president, Iajuddin Ahmed, had failed to prove his neutrality as the chief of the caretaker administration in the past two weeks.
He called upon the president to give up partisan attitude, or ‘we will be compelled to demand your resignation’.
The move to announce election schedule under the present election commission was part of a conspiracy involving the president, Iajuddin Ahmed, the Workers Party president, Rashed Khan Menon said.
The caretaker government chief was trying to implement the blueprint of Hawa Bhaban, he alleged.
Chaired by former lawmaker, HMB Iqbal, the meeting organised by the city unit of the alliance, was addressed by AL presidium members, Suranjit Sengupta Sajeda Chowdhury and Abdur Razzak, the Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal president, Hasanul Haq Inu, the AL leaders, Sheikh Fazlul Karim Selim and Matia Chowdhury, the Gano Forum leader, Pankaj Bhattachariya and the Samyabadi Dal general secretary, Dilip Barua.
The widow and two sons of Waziullah were present on the podium. The Workers Party city secretary, Quamrul Ahsan conducted the meeting.
Cops yet to arrest driver who
killed of Waziullah
The police on Friday were yet to arrest the driver of the lorry that crushed to death Awami League activist Waziullah Sarder in front of the SAARC Fountain in the city even after four days of the incident on Monday.
The Dhaka Metropolitan Police did form a three-member committee headed by the DMP deputy commissioner of transport, Faruk Ahmed, to probe the killing and the team have completed its primary investigations, including tracing the driver and helper of the lorry, checking the fitness of the vehicle etc.
‘We have confirmed that Siddiqur Rahman, constable number 8187, accompanied by his helper constable Nurul Haque was driving the truck of Mirpur Police Line that used to carry meals for police on duty. Its registration number is Police-2 and engine no is 867131,’ a member of the probe committee told New Age. ‘We have closed both of the constables and interrogated them extensively to find out how and why the accident happened. We are still quizzing them,’ the member added.
Sub-inspector Masum Billah of Ramna police station filed a road accident case with the police station and sub-inspector Nurul Amin has been assigned as the investigation officer of the case.
Wajiullah, 40, son of Abdul Matin and a transport worker, was killed when a speeding police lorry knocked him
down on the second day of the countrywide blockade enforced by the Awami League-led alliance.
31 Beirut-bound women Milton Friedmandetained at ZIA
The immigration police at the Zia International Airport on Friday prevented a group of 31 women from leaving for Beirut with fake job documents.
The women, suspected to be cheated by unscrupulous recruiting agents, were scheduled for flying by a Gulf Air flight at 7:45am.
The police claimed that they had foiled an attempt of women trafficking.
On receipt of information, the immigration police detained the women and found their work permits fake although their passports and visas were genuine, the official sources said.
The immigration officials suspect that a section of recruiting agencies in connivance with the unscrupulous officials of the Bangladesh Overseas Employment and Services Limited has been engaged in trafficking women with fake documents.
The officials grilled four employees of the government company — Mosharraf Hossain, Mohammad Shahjalal, Hasan Zahirul and Hafizur Rahman — posted at the Expatriates’ Welfare Desk at the ZIA, for interrogation. The government company employees reportedly told the immigration officials that they had endorsed the work permits of the women due to ‘computer fault’.
The women could only say that each of them had paid Tk 50,000 to the broker of a recruiting agency and some of them kept a portion of the amount unpaid saying that they would pay it after getting the salaries. They could name the broker as Firoz, but did not tell his address or name the recruiting agency, the sources said.
‘The broker asked us to go to the airport after giving the passport to us and said that their agents would lead us to destinations in Lebanon,’ one of the victims. The woman burst into tears thinking about their future and refund of the money.
‘I’ve paid the money to the broker for a better life and better earnings, but I have lost everything now,’ another victim told the newsmen at the airport, wailing. The women would be handed over to the Airport police and a case be filed regarding the incident, the immigration police said at 8:00pm.
As many as 418 archaeological monuments and sites are almost unprotected across the country due to insufficiency of manpower. A strong and well connected syndicate is stealing and smuggling out the national heritage pieces and archaeological artefacts.
The Department of Archaeology has only 300 staffers to protect and preserve the sites including 14 museums located on important sites.
The recent recovery of antique artefacts, which apart from part of the national heritage are of great historical importance, from Badda and Uttara by the Rapid Action Battalion has revealed the vulnerability of our historical and archaeological sites.
Officials in the Department of Archaeology told New Age on Thursday that the syndicate is very strong because it has powerful political connections, and that is why its members remain untouched by law-enforcing agencies. The syndicate has also developed its own system to replicate the artefacts, said officials.
The officials warned the government that if it does not take necessary steps to tackle the robbers, the country will soon lose the glory of its archaeological sites. They have become especially concerned after the recovery of such a large number of antique artefacts and are planning to write to the Ministry of Culture to take necessary steps to strengthen the archaeology department.
Sources said that the department has only 425 posts, of which more than 100 are vacant, to protect, preserve and excavate the archaeological sites. It has also been running with only an acting director since one and a half year, and has not been enabled to recruit new and much-needed personnel in the past two years.
The poor vigilance by the sites’ caretakers can hardly check the continuous stealing of our heritage as the thieves are influential.
An official of the department said sites like Kantanagar in Dinajpur are large but unprotected; only 2 persons are engaged to protect 14 monuments in the area, resulting in frequent loss of terracotta figures of the attractive monuments.
Dr Shafiqul Alam, acting director of the department, said at night there is no one to guard the sites, including the world heritages like Paharpur, Bagherhat’s Shatgambuz Mosque and Mahastangarh.
On primary investigation the department has found that the recovered artefacts were mostly stolen from archaeological sites in North Bengal, especially from Paharpur and Mahastangarh. Some of them were also replicas.
ASP Siraj Amin of RAB-3, who led the recovery operation, said they had recovered some foreign books and materials on how to replicate ancient artefacts.
‘The department never allows anyone to create replicas of any moveable monuments or archaeological artefacts. There are chances of cheating the buyers, and also encourages stealing original artefacts,’ said Shafiqul Alam.
Due to lack of funds the archaeological authorities cannot even conduct research, excavate the sites or make them attractive to tourists.
Sources said that Mahasthangar, the ruins of one of the most ancient cities of the world which is as old as 5,000 years, is being maintained and guarded by 23 staffers only. Paharpur, the biggest Buddhist monastery of the Pala dynasty in Bangladesh, is being guarded by only 20 staffers.
The archaeology department is urging the ministry to help it to protect 20 more archaeological sites such as some zamindars’ palaces and to bring other monuments and old buildings under the department’s authority.
On 9 November the RAB arrested three members of a gang who smuggle out precious statues, and also recovered two statues of black stone, 30 statues of brass, 20 statues of wood and 90 other statues and many ancient archaeological artefacts after a raiding a house at Uttara.
The elite force also recovered 646 small stone and metallic sculptures, 500 ancient silver coins and other archaeological artefacts on November 15. They arrested syndicate members Mohammad Jalil, Sarwar Molla, Soleman Molla, Gopal Chandra Biswas, Newton Sarkar, Mohammad Jinnat and Mohammad Mamun in this connection.
BNP tried to force me to return,
says Barrister Zia
The Liberal Democratic Party leader, Barrister Ziaur Rahman Khan, on Friday alleged that the BNP had tried to force him to return to the party.
‘The Hawa Bhaban men brought hundreds of my followers from my constituency, Dhamrai, on Thursday misinforming them that I would return to the BNP,’ Barrister Zia said at a press briefing at the LDP’s Baridhara office on Friday.
‘Milon [former state minister for education Ehsanul Haque] came to my house and tried to take me to Hawa Bhaban,’ he said.
Zia, a BNP deserter, denounced a private television channel, which ran news on Thursday evening that he had gone to Hawa Bhaban with a decision to return to the party. ‘The news was totally false. I visited my physician that evening,’ he said.
The LDP president, AQM Badruddoza Chowdhury, executive president, Oli Ahmed, secretary general Abdul Mannan, and leaders Shekh Razzak Ali, Alamgir Kabir, Moni Swapan Dewan and Mahi B Chowdhury were present at the briefing.
Badruddoza Chowdhury, also a former president, said it was politically unacceptable, ethically immoral. ‘An attempt to kidnap someone is a punishable offence and the caretaker government should take note of it,’ he said.
Oli Ahmed, a former BNP policymaker, said it was the second defeat of the BNP. ‘They suffered the first defeat when we formed the LDP on October 26 last.’
‘Don’t try to kidnap us…we will never join corrupt persons as it is totally impossible for a patriot and honest person to stay in the BNP,’ he said.
Bush draws Vietnam lesson for Iraq
Agence France-Presse . Hanoi
The US president, George W Bush, making his first visit to Vietnam, said Friday that one lesson of the bloody US military defeat here a generation ago was that the United States must be patient in Iraq.
‘We’ll succeed unless we quit,’ promised Bush, the second US president to visit post-war Vietnam, after talks with close ally the Australian prime minister, John Howard, on the sidelines of an Asia Pacific summit in Hanoi.
Bush’s brief state visit here, 10 days after US voter anger over Iraq swept the opposition Democrats to control of the US Congress, has inevitably raised comparisons between the Vietnam War and the ongoing conflict in Iraq. Asked whether the US defeat in Vietnam offered lessons, the US president replied: ‘We tend to want there to be instant success in the world, and the task in Iraq is going to take a while.’
Democrats have rallied behind calls for a phased redeployment out of Iraq, but the White House has rejected setting any firm timetable for bringing home the roughly 150,000 US troops there.
But Bush also hinted at the results of several efforts under way to revamp US strategy in Iraq, vowing to consult Howard on ‘any repositioning of troops, if that’s what we choose to do’.
‘We’ve got a lot of people looking at different tactical adjustments. Once I make up my mind what those will be, I’ll share it with him (Howard) right off the bat.’
The meeting came as a heavyweight commission of US experts, led by former secretary of state James Baker, is expected to report next month with plans to revamp US strategy in Iraq.
Bush himself has removed the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, and ordered a comprehensive, government-wide strategy review White House aides say could be complete within 10 days.
‘The elections mean that the American people want to know whether or not we have a plan for success,’ said Bush. ‘We’re not leaving until this job is done, until Iraq can govern, sustain and defend itself.’
Bush’s predecessor Bill Clinton was in 2000 the first US president to visit Vietnam since searing images of US helicopters taking off from a Saigon rooftop went around the world in 1975.
In Vietnam, where the conflict is called the American War, the past is no longer an issue–the communist country is too busy steering a boom that has made it East Asia’s second-fastest growing economy after China.
Still, Hanoi strongly condemned the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, when a number of Vietnamese war veterans predicted a drawn-out conflict dominated by an interminable guerrilla campaign and heavy losses.
Three years on, US troops are still committed in Iraq as it slides toward civil war and where the US military death toll is heading towards the 2,900 mark. Bush himself admitted last month that the spike in unrest in Iraq could be likened to the 1968 Tet offensive, which helped crystallize US public opinion against the Vietnam War.
US officials have back-pedalled since then. ‘Historical parallels of that kind are, I think, not very helpful, and I don’t think they happen to be right,’ the US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, said.
US Senate passes Indian
Agence France-Presse . Washington
The US Senate passed a civilian nuclear deal with India Thursday, more than a year after it was proposed by leaders of the two countries as a strategic move to boost ties.
The bill on the US-India Civilian Nuclear Agreement was adopted 85-12 by the Senate after a day of intense debate, officials said.
Under the agreement, India, a non-signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, would be allowed access to long-denied civilian nuclear technology in return for placing its atomic reactors under global safeguards.
The US president, George W Bush, hailed the Senate passage of the deal, saying it would bring the Asian giant into the ‘non-proliferation mainstream.’
For its part, India cautiously welcomed the deal, saying it would await the final version of the US legislation before celebrating.
The Indian foreign minister, Pranab Mukherjee, in a statement, called for the final bill to adhere ‘as closely as possible’ to the pact signed by Bush and the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, ‘so that full civil nuclear cooperation between India and the US becomes a reality and contributes to India’s security.’
Bush and Singh agreed to the deal in July last year when Singh visited to Washington. They reaffirmed it during the US leader’s visit to New Delhi in March.
The agreement was seen as controversial because the US Congress had to create a rare exception for India from some of the requirements of the US Atomic Energy Act, which currently prohibits nuclear sales to non-NPT signatories.
In addition, US weapons experts warned that forging such an agreement with non-NPT member India would not only make it harder to enforce rules against nuclear renegades Iran and North Korea, but also set a dangerous precedent for other countries with nuclear ambitions.
‘This agreement is the most important strategic diplomatic initiative undertaken by the president, Bush,’ said Republican senator, Richard Lugar, co-author of the bill.
‘By concluding this pact and the far-reaching set of cooperative agreements that accompany it, the president has embraced a long-term outlook that seeks to enhance the core strength of our foreign policy in a way that will give us new diplomatic options and improve global stability,’ he said.
During the debate, some Senators tried to inject controversial amendments, including a mandatory commitment by New Delhi to stop making nuclear bomb materials and to sever military links with Iran, but they were rejected by vote.
‘Granting India a special exemption from international and US nuclear non-proliferation laws and guidelines sends the wrong signal at a time when the world is trying to prevent Iran from getting the bomb,’ Edward Markey, co-chair of the House of Representatives Taskforce on Non-proliferation, said in a statement.
The Bush administration has won a commitment from New Delhi to negotiate a so called Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty as a multilateral approach to reduce nuclear tensions and threats associated with an arms race in South Asia, US officials say.
The House of Representatives gave its thumbs-up to the nuclear deal in July, a year after Bush and Singh first agreed on it, but a Senate vote had been delayed due to legislative elections last week that resulted in Democratic control of both chambers in the new Congress from January.
The Senate approval Thursday, however, is not the final step in the process.
The Senate and the House are scheduled to meet in December to reconcile several amendments they had made and that needed to be approved again by the two chambers before Bush signs the final bill into law. In addition, Congress will have to consider a comprehensive US-India agreement incorporating all technical elements of the deal, including a set of international nuclear safeguards that India had to adhere to.
‘I am confident that we can now work closely with our colleagues in the House to get this important measure to the president as swiftly as possible,’ said Bill Frist, the Republican senate majority leader.
Benapole port back in business
Our Correspondent . Jessore
The customs authority of Benapole Customs earned Tk 15 crore as revenue Thursday, the first working day after the Awami League-led alliance put off the blockade Wednesday night.
The customs continued receiving consignments till 12 midnight from the early morning of Thursday, customs sources said.
Hossain Ahmad, joint commissioner of Benapole customs told journalists that they continued work till 12:00 midnight. Labours of the warehouse also continued loading and unloading till early hours of Friday.
Importers took delivery of goods from 730 trucks on Thursday while some 406 goods-laden trucks entered the port on the day.
The port activities remained open on Friday and customs earned Tk 3 crore and 92 thousand.
Goods from some 350 trucks against 52 consignments were delivered to importers on Friday, said the customs authority.
Plying of heavy vehicles
banned over Teesta Bridge
Our Correspondent . Lalmonirhat
Plying of heavy vehicles over the Teesta Railway-cum-Road Bridge has stopped from Friday dawn, as two of its guarders became too weak to bear heavy load.
The bridge may get damaged at any moment if heavy vehicles laden with more than five tonnes of cargo move over it.
To avoid any such damage, the authorities of Bangladesh Railway Lalmonirhat Division banned movement of any heavy vehicle carrying five tonnes of goods or more across the bridge at Friday dawn.
As a result, transportation of commodities between Lalmonirhat and Kurigram districts with five-tonne lorries have snapped, putting traders of construction materials like stones, iron rods and cement in a fix.
The bridge, however, is open to light vehicles like cars, buses, micro and mini buses etc.
The Lalmonirhat divisional railway engineer said the condition of the Teesta Bridge is really vulnerable. It may collapse at any moment, as its operational life has already expired. Besides, though the bridge was originally made only for train movement, at one point it was opened to vehicular traffic too, adding extra pressure on the age-old structure of the bridge.
The Lalmonirhat divisional railway manager, DRM Solayman Chowdhury, said the Teesta Bridge came to its present rundown condition mainly because of plying of heavy vehicles, including ten-wheel container-carriers, sometimes loaded with 20 or even more tonnes of cargo. He held political pressure responsible for the situation.
18 Tamil Tigers killed in
fresh SL fighting
Agence France-Presse . Colombo
Sri Lankan troops killed at least 18 Tamil Tiger guerrillas in three separate confrontations in a restive eastern province, the defence ministry said Friday.
The clashes were in the district of Batticaloa on Thursday, the ministry said.
‘Due to the successful retaliation, troops confirmed that 18 Tigers were killed,’ the ministry statement said. ‘Troops were also able to recover a stock of arms, ammunition and war-like materials.’
It did not say if government troops suffered any casualties.
The latest clashes came as a British envoy left Sri Lanka after a three-day visit aimed at reviving the island’s stalled peace bid.
The two sides have been trading long-range fire in northern and eastern regions in recent weeks, further damaging a truce agreed to in February 2002. An upsurge in fighting in the past year in the island’s separatist conflict has claimed more than 3,300 lives.
Nepal Maoists to stay on US terror
list despite peace deal
Agence France-Presse . Kathmandu
Nepal’s Maoist rebels will remain on the United States’ list of foreign terrorist organisations until they give up their weapons, a visiting senior US diplomat said Thursday.
Richard Boucher, assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, said Washington was nevertheless backing a landmark peace deal struck last week between the Himalayan nation’s rebels and government. ‘We want to see the peace process work. We pledge our full support,’ Boucher told reporters.
‘We have certain laws about not supporting terrorist groups and until they (the rebels) are fully converted to a political party we are going to have to apply those laws,’ he added.
‘We will be fully prepared to deal with them as a political party when they start behaving like a political party. Political parties don’t run militia, political parties don’t walk around with guns,’ he told reporters.
Nepal’s government and rebels have struck a deal that will see the rebels enter government in return for placing their weapons and army under the monitoring of the United Nations.
The two sides had been slated to sign the formal peace accord Thursday, but it was delayed as the two sides completed last-minute negotiations.
At least 12,500 people have been killed in the decade-long Maoist ‘people’s war,’ and the current effort is the third time that the two sides have tried to hammer out a peace deal.
During his visit, Boucher met with the Nepalese prime minister, Girija Prasad Koirala, and leaders from the seven political parties in the interim government.
Prior to his arrival in Nepal, Boucher visited Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, and Bhutan.
When he leaves on Friday, the official will travel to New Delhi to lead the US delegation to the Regional Economic Cooperation Conference hosted by the Indian prime minister, Manmohan Singh, and the Afghanistan president, Hamid Karzai.
CNG crisis to drag on while gas
supply surplus expected
Although gas crisis is expected to ease by December with supply exceeding the demand, refuelling problems for vehicles run by compressed natural gas will remain because of lack of enough CNG stations.
The country’s gas production capacity, which stands at around 1,600 million cubic feet per day, will be around 1,800 mmcfd against a demand for 1650mmcfd in December after the US company Chevron starts production at Bibiyana gas field.
The crisis of CNG that has aggravated in recent times because of increase in conversion of gasoline-run vehicles into CNG-run ones, however, will continue, as the number of CNG refuelling stations will remain virtually the same.
The existing 125 CNG refuelling stations across the country are far from enough to cater for the needs of 84,000 vehicles and long queues are seen quite often in front of the stations creating traffic congestions, whereas around 50 government plots allotted for setting up CNG stations have remained unutilised for more than two years.
Only four plots have been used to set up CNG stations, out of 40 plots allotted by the Bangladesh Railway and 20 plots of the Roads and Highways, out of 24, have been used so far.
Sources in the communications ministry said influential political leaders and business people, who got the lease of these plots during the immediate past four-party government on political consideration, were trying to grab the lands without setting up CNG stations.
An official of the ministry, however, claimed that the leaseholders could not set up CNG stations because of legal disputes over the ownership of the lands.
Officials of the Rupantarita Prakritik Gas Company Limited said that on an average each station had to deal with about 600 vehicles a day and in the capital each station had to refuel some 700 vehicles a day.
The number of stations in the city, where CNG crisis is severe, is 82 against over 50,000 CNG-run vehicles.
Officials said that the
number of stations were also inadequate in Chittagong with 15 stations and Comilla with four stations.
They said that the conversion rate of gasoline-run vehicles into CNG-run ones was about 3,000 a month after the government had raised prices of gasoline–octane to Tk 58 per litre from Tk 45 and petrol to Tk 56 from Tk 42 in June.
As CNG is much cheaper than octane and petrol, many vehicle owners are converting their petrol-run vehicles into CNG-run vehicles. The price of each cubic metre of CNG is Tk 8.5.
Officials said that eight new CNG stations were likely to come into operation in the country soon, including four in Dhaka, by December, but the number would remain far from adequate as the number of CNG-run vehicles was expected to be around 90,000 by then.
Although gas supply situation is expected to improve by December when production would increase, there would still be long queues at CNG stations, especially in the city’s northern areas, because of inadequate number of stations, they said.
Although CNG stations consume a meagre 21mmcfd of gas at present, many stations in the city are facing shortage of gas, especially on Thursdays, as the gas pressure remains low in the main pipeline.
‘To overcome the crisis around 50 CNG stations should be set up immediately across the country, but there is little sign that more than ten CNG stations will be installed in the next few months,’ said an energy division official.
He said that the energy officials had held a meeting last week with the officials of the communications ministry to discuss about the issue, but little progress was made.
‘We discuss about the litigations over the plots allotted for CNG stations. There is little hope that many CNG stations would be set up soon as usually it takes time to settle legal disputes,’ he said.
The official said that the RPGCL had given licence to private entrepreneurs for setting up stations without any delay as per the government order.
‘But very few people want to use their prime-land, especially in the city, for setting up a CNG station; rather they go for a mega-shopping complex or other ventures,’ he said.
British universities given
advice to thwart Islamists
Agence France-Presse . London
Universities are to be given official guidelines on how to prevent Islamist radicals from recruiting students and preaching hatred on campus.
The guidelines from the higher education minister, Bill Rammell, will advise how staff should react if they suspect groups is circulating extremist literature to students or fear radical speakers are coming to campus.
‘The guidance provides a recognition–that I believe must be faced squarely–that violent extremism in the name of Islam is a real, credible and sustained threat to the UK,’ Rammell said Friday.
‘There is evidence of serious, but not widespread Islamist extremist activity in higher education institutions,’ he said.
Britain is battling to clamp down on Islamist extremists who authorities fear might be planning new attacks following the July 2005 suicide bombings in London which killed 56 including the four bombers.
The government has faced protests from some Muslim leaders for lack of sensitivity in its efforts, for example when it called on Muslim parents to denounce their own children if they fear they are being drawn into extremism.
The British minister said the new universities guidance was ‘not about targeting one particular community.
‘It is about promoting safety within higher education institutions– and about higher education providers taking their responsibilities for the safety and welfare of all their staff and students very seriously.’
The guidance will be sent to university vice-chancellors and college heads.
The department of education said the guidance, which is based on events that have occurred in the past, follows talks with lecturers, government experts, and the law enforcement agencies.
US soldier gets 90 years
for rape of Iraqi girl
Reuters . Kentucky
One of four US soldiers accused of raping a 14-year-old Iraqi girl before killing her and her family was conditionally sentenced on Thursday to up to 90 years in prison with the possibility of parole.
The sentence – which is subject to review by a higher military authority and could be reduced – was imposed on specialist James Barker after a two-day court-martial. He had pleaded guilty to rape and murder and agreed to testify against others charged in the case in exchange for escaping the death penalty.
The gang rape and slayings at Mahmudiya along with the killing of 24 people in Haditha and other US military incidents sparked outrage and calls by officials in Iraq for a review of foreign troops’ immunity from Iraqi prosecution.
Officials said after the court-martial that Barker’s sentence was subject to review by a ‘convening authority,’ a panel that includes the base commander and has the power to reduce the sentence but not make it harsher. The degree to which he cooperates in the prosecutions of the others charged in the case could affect the final sentence, they said.
It was not immediately clear how long he would have to serve before he could seek parole under Thursday’s sentence.
US House Democrats split
up leadership votes
Agence France-Presse . Washington
Fellow Democratic lawmakers elected Nancy Pelosi the first female speaker of the US House of Representatives on Thursday, but in an upset rejected her choice for the second-most powerful post in the lower chamber.
While Pelosi, 66, won unanimous backing to the post second in line to the presidency, her favoured candidate to be the House majority leader—Jack Murtha, an outspoken critic of the Iraq war—was beaten decisively by moderate Steny Hoyer on a 149-86 vote.
The vote has taken some of the early shine off the Democrats’ triumphant victory in legislative elections last week in which they reclaimed the House and the Senate.
Hoyer had been Pelosi’s deputy while she was the Democratic minority leader in the House since 2002 but the two have had tense relations and Pelosi had backed Murtha, 74, to be the House leader.
Hoyer, 67, is considered a moderate Democrat, while Murtha, a former US Marine officer, has demanded an immediate withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.
There were several stern faces among the lawmakers who came out of the leadership vote meeting.
Pelosi put a brave face on the defeat. ‘We have had our disagreements in that room, and now that is over,’ she said.
‘As I said to my colleagues, as we say in church, ‘let there be peace on Earth’ and let it begin with us. Let the healing begin.’
Hoyer also said he thought he could work with Pelosi when she takes over her new job in January.
‘Nancy Pelosi and I have worked together for four years, closely and unified, we have been a good team. A team that has been successful has been asked to continue to do that job,’ Hoyer said.
Pelosi still paid tribute to what she called ‘the magnificent contribution’ by Murtha to the debate over the Iraq war. The vote, however, could reflect lawmakers’ concern over accusations of ethical misconduct made against Murtha.
The campaign between Murtha and Hoyer reflects a wider battle between left-wing progressive Democrats and more conservative members of the party.
Hoyer, in an interview later Thursday on CNN television, insisted Democrats would bridge their differences to work for the country’s sake after winning control of Congress in the November 7 elections.
RAB recovers arms, arrests
two in Pabna
The Rapid Action Battalion on Thursday night arrested two persons, including a brother of Shimul Biwas, former chairman of the BIWTC, from Kuthipara area in Pabna on charge of gun-running.
The arrested persons were identified as Hamidur Islam Biwas alias Lithu Biwas, 30, younger brother of Shimul Biwas, ex-chairman of the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Corporation, and his accomplice, Mostafa Kamal alias Shiblu, 30.
Battalion sources said on a tip-off, a team of RAB-12 raided the hideout of the suspected gun-runners in Kuthipara area under sadar police station in the guise of arms dealers on Thursday night and captured both of them along with a loaded point 22-bore rifle.
Following their confessional statements, the team recovered a double-barrelled gun along with a cartridge and a country-made shutter gun and 945 rounds of point 22 bullets.
The RAB handed them over to sadar police station and a case was filed against them.
Abdullahel Baki, police super of Pabna, told New Age that RAB-12 had arrested the suspected arms smugglers along with arms and ammunition and handed them over to sadar police station.
Study loads put severe
strains on children
Hundreds of parents take their children to private coaching centres every year hoping that they will be well groomed for admission to reputed schools without realising that the exercise often proves counterproductive as it puts enormous psychological strains on many of the kids.
Paediatricians said they were receiving increasing number of child patients with symptoms caused by anxiety and pressure.
Child psychologists and paediatricians said that they found that at least five out of seven children coming in recent days were school admission seekers and suffering from tension of admission tests and unable to take the pressure of studies.
Tamima Tanjin, clinical psychologist of Dhaka Community Hospital said, ‘I have received a number of child patients in recent days who are suffering from fever, vomiting, headache, stomach ache and also psychological strains. Most of such cases are admission seekers of first grade.’
Such coaching centres have mushroomed across the city wooing children with a ‘guarantee’ that kids trained by them would do well in admission tests for 1st grade at renowned schools in Dhaka.
Some of the coaching centres are specially focused—admission tests in particular schools and have teachers of those schools in their staff. Udayan Coaching Centre and Suchona Coaching Centre coach children especially for Viqarunnisa Noon School, Siddiq Sir’s coaching centre for Government Laboratory High School, Dhanmondi Government Boy’s School and Harun Sir’s coaching centre for all government and primary schools.
The trend of running commercial coaching centres to beginner-level students is a recent phenomenon. Uddayan Coaching Centre authorities said they have been running the centre for the last five years and around 200 children take coaching from the centre for Viqarunnisa Noon School every year. Suchona Coaching Centre has been set up in this year and they have around 100 students.
A teacher of a coaching centre admitted that children were facing enormous pressure of study as questions for admission tests were getting harder.
He said that seniors among the children somehow endure the pressure of study while younger students suffer a lot and sometimes even break down.
Dr Nowshadun Nabi, a specialist at Sishu Hospital, said he had warned parents of a school admission seeker who was suffering from strains that the study load could cause more problems to the child. He advised them not to put severe psychological pressure on the child.
Ismat Ara Shirin, mother of Naiel Mohammad, a six-year old first grade admission seeker, said that her son had been receiving special coaching at such a centre for the last one year and she hoped that her child would get a chance for admission to a renowned government school.
‘Recently my son suffered from a bout of fever with vomiting as the date of his admission test was approaching,’ said Shirin. She said that she knew about the consequences of the pressure on her child, but she had no other option as she wanted her son to get a chance in a good school.
Shaeena Sultana a teacher of a government college and mother of an admission seeker, said, ‘my daughter is also suffering from vomiting and other symptoms of tension and pressure for admission tests as she is studying hard at home and at a coaching centre for admission to Viqarunnisa Noon School.’
Razzaqul Haidar, a teacher of Government Laboratory High School of Comilla, said he was at Dhaka Laboratory High School and saw older children doing well in admission tests for first grade.
Producing birth certificates and reports of medical test at admission tests could be a possible solution to the problem of hiding age, Razzak said and suggested easier questions for admission tests.
‘Galloping Major’ no more
Reuters . Budapest
Hungarian soccer great Ferenc Puskas has died in hospital following a long illness, his biographer Gyorgy Szollosi told Reuters on Friday. He was 79.
‘Ferenc Puskas died at 7:00am this morning. The exact cause of death was cardiovascular and respiratory failure triggered by pneumonia,’ Szollosi said.
Puskas, dubbed ‘The Galloping Major’, was one of soccer’s all-time greats, winning league titles with Hungarian club Honved and with Spanish giants Real Madrid, with whom he also won three European Cups.
‘This is a real tragedy for Hungary and specifically for us, his friends. I am on the verge of tears... The biggest sportsman of the country is no longer,’ national news agency MTI quoted former international team mate Jeno Buzanszky as saying on Friday.
Puskas was the inspiration behind the ‘Magical Magyars’, the Hungarian national side that sensationally beat England 6-3 in 1953, the first foreign side to win at Wembley.
His international goal scoring record of 83 goals in 84 games for Hungary has been eclipsed recently, but remains among the most prolific in the world.
As the last millennium drew to a close, Puskas was voted the 20th century’s fourth best player by the International Federation for Football History and Statistics.
of death observed
United News of Bangladesh . Dhaka
The 30th anniversary of death of legendary political leader Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani was observed on Friday with due respect.
Bhashani, popularly known as Mazlum Jananeta (leader of toiling masses), struggled throughout his life against all sorts of repression and deprivation.
Different socio-political organisations arranged elaborate programmes across the country to mark the death anniversary of the great leader.
The day’s programme began with placing of wreaths and offering fateha at the mazar of Bhashani at Santosh under Tangail in the morning.
Hundreds of people from all walks of life assembled at the mazar premises to pay homage to the great leader and prayed for eternal peace of his departed soul.
As part of the programmes, central leaders of the Maulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani Parishad placed wreaths at the mazar at 10:00am.
On the occasion, the BNP and its front organisations held various programmes including placing of wreaths and offering fateha at Bhashani’s mazar, milad mahfil and a memorial meeting on the mazar premises.
BNP leaders Tariqul Islam, Shahjahan Siraj, Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, Abdus Salam Pintu and Barkat Ullah Bulu spoke at the meeting.
Besides, the BNP held a discussion at Maulana Bhashani Auditorium at Naya Paltan in the capital city in the afternoon. A photograph exhibition on the eventful life of Bhashani was held on the Central Shaheed Minar premises at 11:00am. A rally was also held at the same venue at 3:00pm.
Milton Friedman dies at 94
Reuters . San Francisco
Milton Friedman, one of the most influential economists of the past century and a champion of free markets, died on Thursday morning of heart failure at age 94, a family spokeswoman said.
The winner of the 1976 Nobel Prize for economics, Friedman preached free enterprise in the face of government regulation and advocated a monetary policy involving steady growth in money supply, ideas that played pivotal roles in the governing philosophies of former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher and former US president Ronald Reagan.
In 1976, Friedman’s years of teaching and nearly two dozen books were recognised with the Nobel Prize for economic science. Friedman, however, was not without controversy.
His work was not initially popular, emerging at a time when government spending and intervention were widely credited with helping end the worldwide depression of the 1930s.
His Nobel ceremony in Stockholm prompted a large turnout of demonstrators who criticised him for economic advice he provided the government of Augusto Pinochet, who led Chile’s 17-year dictatorship in which some 3,000 leftists were killed.
BCB’s Nimbus offer okayed
The executive committee of the Bangladesh Cricket Board on Friday in an emergency meeting okayed the $56.88 million marketing rights deal with Singapore-based Nimbus Communications Limited despite the threat of facing a legal battle.MAIN PAGE | TOP
Except for vice-president Gazi Golam Dastagir who believed the deal, if challenged, could open the door to legal wrangles, all the Board officials at the Dhaka Club on Friday night gave their approval.
ESPN-Star Sport, holder of the television rights for the last five years, demanded that the BCB should sign a deal with them according the previous contact if they can match the offer made by Nimbus. ‘We agree there is chance of legal battle but our lawyers have seen the details of the Nimbus offer and advised us to go ahead,’ said Aziz Al Kaiser, a vice president of the BCB.
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Bush draws Vietnam lesson for Iraq
US Senate passes Indian nuclear deal
Benapole port back in business
Plying of heavy vehicles banned over Teesta Bridge
18 Tamil Tigers killed in fresh SL fighting
Nepal Maoists to stay on US terror list despite peace deal
CNG crisis to drag on while gas supply surplus expected
British universities given advice to thwart Islamists
US soldier gets 90 years for rape of Iraqi girl
US House Democrats split up leadership votes
RAB recovers arms, arrests two in Pabna
Study loads put severe strains on children
‘Galloping Major’ no more
Bhashani’s anniversary of death observed
Milton Friedman dies at 94
BCB’s Nimbus offer okayed