No strains on US-Bangla ties
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen yesterday ruled out any tension between Bangladesh and the US after Washington implemented its visa policy on people deemed "complicit in undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh".
"We have no tension with the US," he told reporters in Manhattan, noting that the US will not grant visas to those who will try to foil the upcoming election in Bangladesh, reports UNB.
Momen mentioned that US President Joe Biden wants to strengthen the existing friendly relations with Bangladesh in the next 50 years.
In an interview with Al Jazeera on Saturday, the foreign minister said his country was not "bothered" by the US visa curbs on unnamed Dhaka officials for undermining the election process as part of Washington's push for free and fair general elections slated to be held early next year.
"The US is a democracy, so are we," he said.
"As a global power, they, of course, can exercise power over others, but we are not bothered because we know how to hold an acceptable election," Momen said, echoing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's assertion that her government is capable of conducting free and fair elections.
He added that his party's rank and files are not worried about the visa sanctions as most of them want to stay in this "prospering country".
"Our voters are also not bothered because they probably are not thinking of going to the US at all."
The US State Department on Friday said it began applying the visa policy that was announced on May 24 this year. However, it said it would not share the names of individuals who faced visa restrictions under this policy, saying visa records, including individual visa denials, are confidential under the US law.
Meanwhile, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said he did not know anything about Bangladeshis facing US visa restrictions.
"They [US] declared a visa policy and we heard that. They did not inform us through any letter … We are yet to know about those who have been banned from entering the US [under the policy]," he said while replying to a reporter's query at the Secretariat about lists doing the rounds on social media.
In another development, Faruk Hossain, deputy commissioner (media) of Dhaka Metropolitan Police, said the visa policy will not affect Bangladesh Police.
"We don't know who they are. There are over two lakh police members. If the visa policy is implemented, a small fraction of the force may not be able to enter the country," he told journalists at his office yesterday, reports UNB.
Faruk said police have not yet received any list in this regard.
Asked about US concerns regarding the role of law enforcement agencies during the upcoming election, he said police will continue to work within the framework of law.
"The role of police during the upcoming election is to provide security at polling centres. We will carry out the responsibility that will be placed on us by the Election Commission."
"We don't think the US visa policy will pose any obstacle to our duties."
Talking about the US visa policy, Election Commissioner Brig Gen (retd) Ahsan Habib Khan said it is a matter of the government.
"The Election Commission will continue to do its constitutional duties and you will see if we are doing our job properly or not," he said while talking to reporters at his office yesterday.