Dipanjan Roychoudhury: Speaking high about the tremendous progress Bangladesh has made under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in achieving development and reducing poverty, the UK has renewed its unflinching support to the country. This has come at a time when efforts are being made to destabilise the present Government and throw the country into the cauldron of an anarchy.
The commitment on the part of the UK is no euphemism as it often happens when it comes to diplomatic communications between two nations. Rather it is an intrinsic component of British foreign policy, as reflected in a Minister\'s reply to a debate in the House of Lords. The reply of Baroness Sayeeda Hussain Warsi, The Senior Minister of State, Depatment for Communities and Local Government &Foreign and Commonwealth Office in November last, made a near objective assessment of Bangladesh--its strength and weaknesses, potentials and challenges, performances and undoings.
Though much of the debate centred around the cases of alleged enforced disappearance and extra-judicial killings and the Minister shared the concerns, she made it amply clear that while the UK wanted Bangladesh to improve its human rights records, it would continue to support the country through development programmes. Baroness Warsi, also said she was \'encouraged\' by assurances from the Government of Bangladesh \'that they are committed to protecting human rights and follow a zero tolerance policy on extra-judicial killings.\'
What the Minister said reflected the UK\'s deep appreciation for the work being done in Bangladesh, the understanding of its huge potential and the bondage the island-country has with Bangladesh with about 500,000 Bengalis living in Great Britain. "This is a country with enormous development potential that is making incredible progress working towards achieving almost all the millennium development goals," the Minister said. "Our assistance is fully in line with UK values and our commitment to international human rights standards. We will continue to provide our support to Bangladesh through our development programmes and as a key international partner," she asserted.
Referring to the British-aided DfID programmes in Bangladesh, which some members of the House of Lords wanted to be linked to human rights records, Baroness Warsi clarified that UK\' aid programme was directed through non-Government organisations and the Government of Bangladesh does not receive any budgetary support from the UK.She pointed out that there were specific projects which DfID was engaged in that help to empower and build communities."Any reduction will be hardly felt by the people who need it most, including women whose empowerment is the key part of the DfID programme."
Commenting on Lord Avebury\'s reference to the attacks on the Buddhist community in Bangladesh which was sought to be made an indicator to \'human rights violation\' in the country, the Minister pointed out that \'these have, quite rightly, been condemned by the Government of Bangladesh.\'
Explaining why the UK would continue to support Bangladesh, what Baroness Warsi said was that both the countries enjoy a \'strong and long-standing relationship.\' "We were the first European nation to recognise Bangladesh and our two countries are united by ties of family, trade and education. There are nearly 500,000 people of Bangladesh heritage living in the United Kingdom."
"We are determined to to nurture our strong bilateral relation and support Bangladesh to secure the stable and prosperous future that its people deserve.This requires effective governance, increased transparency and tackling the issue of disappearances. As recently,...Foreign Minister (Bangladesh) Dipu Moni and I agreed that these things are best achieved by working together," she said.
“Supporting Bangladesh is in the interest of not only that country, but all those who care about Bangladesh,” Baroness Warsi told the House of Lords.