BNP asked the US delegation to implement visa restrictions

BNP, Bangladesh Nationalist Party, Al Qaeda, Awami League
Image: BNP Media Cell ‘X’ Handle

During their discussions with a US delegation, leaders from the Al Qaeda-connected ultra-Islamist Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) consistently emphasized concerns regarding visa policies. They specifically urged for the imposition of visa restrictions on senior figures within the ruling Awami League, as well as civil-military officials and judges. In response, the Americans urged BNP to adopt a more practical approach.

BNP representatives, including Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul, Standing Committee Member and head of the party’s International Affairs Committee Amir Khosru Mahmud Chowdhury, and member Shama Obaid, engaged in these discussions with Afreen Akhter, Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asia at the US Department of State. Also present were Elin Laubaker, Special Assistant to the US President and Senior Director of South Asia at the National Security Council (NSC), Michael Schiffer, Assistant Administrator of the Asian Affairs Bureau at USAID, and Peter Haas, the US Ambassador to Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, reports indicate that the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is seeking to leverage the influence and connections of Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus to sway key policymakers in the United States. Their aim is to escalate pressure on the Awami League government, urging for another election by year-end. As part of their ongoing anti-government campaign, BNP has instructed its paid propagandists, including David Bergman, to heighten anti-Awami League media attacks in international outlets such as Al Jazeera. It’s worth noting that Bergman is reportedly affiliated with Qatar.

BNP’s Participation in the “India Out” Campaign

During October 2019, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) organized a rally to denounce certain agreements formed during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India. This marked the party’s overt anti-India demonstration after a hiatus of approximately seven to eight years. Subsequently, there was a notable absence of comments from the BNP directed towards India.

Following a prolonged silence, BNP Senior Joint Secretary General Ruhul Kabir Rizvi resumed criticism against India on multiple occasions, notably on November 26, December 1, December 22, and December 24, preceding the 12th parliamentary polls.

In a virtual press conference held on December 26, Rizvi boldly asserted, “India is the facilitator of Bangladesh’s flawed election.” Additionally, Gayeshwar Chandra Roy, a member of the Standing Committee, echoed similar sentiments on multiple occasions. Notably, while some senior leaders remained silent on the matter, others actively engaged in anti-India discourse.

According to sources close to the BNP Standing Committee and the party chairperson’s office, the party has adopted two distinct stances regarding anti-India sentiments post-election: Firstly, to lend support to right-wing parties in their anti-India campaigns; and secondly, to refrain from announcing any formal programs or initiatives directly targeting India.

Upon analyzing the BNP’s verified Facebook page, it has come to light that the party consistently promotes the anti-India programs of various right-wing political entities. These include the Jatiya Ganotantrik Party, the 12-party alliance, Gono Odhikar Parishad, and the Labour Party, among others. This active promotion occurs on social media platforms.

When questioned about the rationale behind this strategic approach, several BNP leaders revealed that while they refrain from directly launching programs against India, they remain committed to appeasing anti-India sentiments and fostering alliances with right-wing political parties within the country. Thus, the party’s social media efforts serve as a conduit for promoting and supporting these causes indirectly.

Significantly, the anti-India campaign stands as a pivotal factor driving the formation of a coalition comprising numerous Islamic and pro-Islamic parties. Key leaders within these parties assert that India’s actions are disrupting relations with all neighboring states, prompting direct stances from countries like the Maldives. Additionally, there is a growing movement towards boycotting Indian products, with several fervent right-wing parties initiating diverse programs to elevate this into a prominent political issue.

While the BNP’s allied parties are actively opposing India, the senior leaders within the BNP are cautious about bringing this issue to the forefront. Despite voicing protests against border killings and criticizing the ruling Awami League government through various means, prominent BNP leaders have refrained from directly mentioning “India” in their statements.

BNP secretary general, Mirza Fakhrul, condemned the police’s obstruction of the 12-party alliance’s anti-India march on February 25. He characterized the prevention of the program in front of the National Press Club as undemocratic, a violation of the rule of law, and a stark illustration of the government’s stifling of dissent.

In this context, a prominent leader of the 12-party alliance remarked, “Given its status as a major political entity, the BNP refrains from directly addressing India. This inclination is understandable, considering their focus on power dynamics. Consequently, they opt not to openly adopt an anti-India stance.”


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