In the wake of sanctions imposed by the US government on several former and present officials of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), the Parliamentary Standing Committee on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has recommended appointing a lobbyist on behalf of Bangladesh.
The recommendation was made at a meeting of the Parliamentary Standing Committee held at Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban on Wednesday (January 5).
With Muhammad Faruk Khan MP in the chair, the meeting was attended by Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, State Minister Shahriar Alam, Nurul Islam Nahid, Golam Faruq Khondker Prince and Abdul Mazid Khan.
Following the meeting, Parliamentary Standing Committee chairman Faruk Khan said many individuals or firms lobby with the US Senators or Congressmen. There are lobbyists and PR firms to do such works in the US. Because of it, much negative information is often delivered to them. “We have to do work with this issue. The committee members opined that if a lobbyist is given appointment in the US on behalf of Bangladesh, we will be able to send accurate information to the US legislators.”
Faruk Khan said Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen would visit the US next February. “He will discuss about the US sanction at that time.”
The meeting sources said negative information about Bangladesh is being delivered to the US lawmakers. A single lobbyist group or PR firm has been doing this. Because of it, Bangladesh should appoint a lobbyist there to counter the negative propaganda. The Parliamentary Standing Committee also suggested the foreign ministry to take necessary steps in this regard.
On December 10 last, the US Treasury Department imposed sanctions on the elite paramilitary force, RAB, as well as seven of its current and former officers citing serious human rights violations in Bangladesh. The list of individuals includes current and former RAB chiefs, Chowdhury Abdullah Al-Mamun and Benazir Ahmed respectively, as well as four former Additional Director Generals of Operations, Khan Mohammad Azad, Tofayel Mustafa Sorwar, Mohammad Jahangir Alam, and Mohammad Anwar Latif Khan. Additionally, the State Department imposed sanctions on two individuals, Benazir Ahmed and Lt. Col. Miftah Uddin Ahmed, a former commanding officer of RAB Unit 7.
These actions came at the last day of the virtual Democracy Summit organized by the White House, to which Bangladesh was not invited. Both of these actions, and particularly the imposition of sanctions, have irked the government of Bangladesh. Dhaka summoned the US Ambassador to Bangladesh and expressed its discontent. Describing the allegations of human rights violations as “outlandish” and “regrettable,” the Bangladeshi government slammed the United States for leveling these allegations and imposing sanctions unilaterally. Thought Bangladesh has had a tumultuous history, a punitive measure against it of this scale is unprecedented.