WikiLeaks: India worried over Hasina, Zia

Monday, December 20, 2010

DHAKA - India was concerned over the jailing of Bangladesh leaders Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia by a caretaker government that ruled during 2007-08, reveals a US cable put out by WikiLeaks.

A meeting held in New Delhi between an official in India foreign ministry official and British and American diplomats expressed reservations about the development.

The caretaker government of Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed had imprisoned the two and reportedly pressured Zia to be exiled to Saudi Arabia with her family in a deal from which Zia backed out.

Around the same time, Hasina was allowed parole to go abroad for medical treatment. An attempt to prevent her from returning home failed as she organised vocal protests in Britain.

At the April 27, 2007 meeting in Delhi, Indian official Mohan Kumar said Bangladesh had reached “a crossroad by allowing Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia to return, stating such a move weakens the government.

Kumar was meeting US embassy official Ted Osius and British political counsellor Alex Hall, The Daily Star reported.

The cable asserts the role that can be played by the US, Britain and India into cajoling the caretaker government into holding credible elections while insisting that the army needs to remain out of politics.

An October-November 2008 dossier of the US embassy in Dhaka said: “Most of the people in Bangladesh are in favour of Awami League leader Sheikh Hasina and BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party) leader Khaleda Zia taking part in the upcoming general elections.”

The cable said most Bangladeshis were in favour of immediate polls and any attempt to foil it would not go down well with the people.

A Hasina-led alliance now rules Bangladesh.

Filed under: Diplomacy

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