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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2862

Regional Task Force to fight terrorism in South Asia says Sheikh Hasina

Our Diplomatic Correspondent from Dhaka

Dhaka, 31 December 2008 ( : Awami League President and leader of the Grand Alliance Sheikh Hasina said Wednesday her government would work toward forming a regional task force to fight terrorism in South Asia.

"We will initiate the move to form a South Asian task force to ensure peace combating terrorism," She emphasized.

Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and other nations should jointly work to face the challenges posed by terrorists whether regional and domestic, said the 61-year-old leader who herself was targeted many times by terrorists during her political career which began in 1981.

Emphasizing a strong role from India and Pakistan, the two nuclear-armed regional powers, Hasina said terrorism is a big problem in the region and all the countries should work together to root out the problem to ensure peace and security of their people.

Rejecting allegations of sheltering Indian insurgents on Bangladesh soil, Hasina said her party never allows acts of violence and terrorism.

"In future as well we will never allow anyone to use Bangladesh land for insurgency against anyone."

"Progress is impossible without ensuring peace," Hasina said.

Bangladesh leader Sheikh Hasina ,who is expected to become Bangladesh prime minister in a week since her Awami League and its allies won 262 out of 299 parliamentary seats, told a crowded press conference in Dhaka, the first since her Awami League-led alliance won a landslide victory in Monday's elections,

Sheikh Hasina Wazed called upon all political parties to join hands in her fight against poverty, which she called the highest priority for the impoverished South Asian nation. "Poverty is the number one enemy of the country. We need a united effort to fight the enemy," said the 61-year old leader said in her first press conference since winning a landslide in Monday's polls.

Hasina, offered the post of deputy speaker in parliament and chairmanship of parliamentary committees proportionately to the opposition lawmakers, to work together for the betterment of Bangladesh, a country of 150 million people, almost half of whom are still living below the poverty line.

Asked whether she would choose ministers from among opposition MPs, she replied that her previous cabinet between 1996-2001 included two opposition members.

The Awami League's election manifesto endorsed a common anti-terrorism strategy for the region which is frequently battered by attacks.

"Of course, I don't have a problem with that," she said adding that her government's goal was to improve the standard of living.

Her main rival, former prime minister Khaleda Zia, earlier on Tuesday rejected the polls results as fraudulent. "The Election Commission only announced a staged result set earlier," said Zia, who heads an alliance led by her Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). The BNP won only 29 out of 299 seats.

The polls were hailed by both local and international observers as credible, mostly peaceful and fair. Monday's polls were monitored by more than 250,000 election observers from Bangladesh and abroad. Voter turnout was above 80 per cent amid tight security.

The election had been originally scheduled for January 2007, but was postponed following the declaration of a state of emergency in the wake of political violence. The country has been under a military-backed caretaker government since.

Chinese media Analysis : Why Awami League wins landslide victory in Bangladesh Parliamentary elections says : “ Bangladesh's biggest English newspaper The Daily Star reported on Tuesday the shocking results clearly indicate that the voters, especially the new voters, were hungry for change that the BNP government was simply incapable of delivering.

According to Election Commission statistics, 31 percent of over81 million registered voters are fresh voters. It was widely speculated Awami League won landslide victory due to the fresh voters' support.

Except the new voters, many senior Bangladeshis are also desiring for a change. They think the change will not only bring them hope, but also the development for the country.

Imam Uz Zaman, former chairman of Bangladesh Chemical Industries Corporation (BCIC), told Xinhua before the elections the corruption was rampant when BNP was in power.

"Bangladesh had no evident economic development, the people's living standard also had no clear improvement in BNP time," he said.

Zaman thought the country needed a change, it was good for the people.

One Bangladeshi former ambassador who declined to give his name told Xinhua the people are tired of BNP rule, they want another party to rule the country.

"BNP and Awami League are the two biggest parties in Bangladesh, so if the people don't support BNP, they will support Awami League," he said.

Shamsul Alam, a retired Bangladeshi army officer, said BNP had made no achievement during their rule from 2001 to 2006 and what the people remember BNP is their corruption.

Bangladesh was named the most corrupt country for five consecutive years by Transparency International. Out of the five years, four years were in BNP time.

Since 1991, BNP and Awami League ruled Bangladesh alternatively. Khaleda Zia was prime minister from 1991-1996 and from 2001-2006, Sheikh Hasina was prime minister from 1996 to 2001.

The Daily Star Tuesday said in a commentary BNP's devastating defeat is Awami League's most severe warning.

If the ruling party fails to keep their promises to the people and live up to the latter's expectation, they will face the verdict by the people in the next election, the commentary said.

The 9th Parliamentary elections organized by currency caretaker government was held with the highest voters' turnout and ended peacefully. Two hundred ninety-nine seats out of the 300 seats in Parliament were contested by 1555 candidates from 39 parties and independents. The election for the other seat was delayed to be held on Jan. 12 next year due to the death of one candidate.

- Asian Tribune -

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