BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia on Saturday denied sending a write-up to any US newspaper or US authority seeking the cancellation or suspension of Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) trade privileges for Bangladesh.
“I never sent a letter to the US authorities or wrote anything to cut the GSP privilege. Rather, I requested that the stakeholders (US authorities) keep providing Bangladesh such facilities,” Khaleda Zia told parliament on Saturday, five months after a US-based newspaper ran an opinion piece with Khaleda Zia’s byline where she asked US authorities to be harsh in the case of GSP facilities.
The Washington Times ran the article on January 30 this year, which drew huge flak from different walks of life.
At the bottom of the article, titled “ZIA: The thankless role in saving democracy in Bangladesh,” it was mentioned that “Begum Khaleda Zia is a former prime minister of Bangladesh and current leader of the opposition.”
The article reads: “(The US authorities) also must explain to (Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina) that general preferences for trade will be withdrawn if those who support workers’ rights and have political views opposed to those of the prime minister are not now allowed to express their beliefs. The Western powers should consider targeted travel and other sanctions against those in the regime who undermine democracy, freedom of speech and human rights. They should say and do these things publicly, for all our citizens to see and hear. This is how the United States can ensure that its mission to democratize the world continues.”
“Failing to retain GSP facilities, the government is spreading propaganda to create confusion,” Khaleda told the parliament Saturday afternoon.
She also insisted not undermining the GSP suspension issue. “The issue needs to be dealt with and given the utmost priority."
“The facility was suspended due to unsuitable and unhygienic working environments in our industries. The killing of labour leader Aminul or the Rana Plaza collapse may have also led them to withdraw the privilege,” she added.
Alleging that the ruling party tried to label Bangladesh as a failed state when they were in the opposition party, Khaleda said: “The people of this country know who has done such suicidal activities in the past.”