Bangladesh: Reactions on Manmohan Singh’s comments

PM Manmohan Singh`s comments on sections of Bangladeshi people being under the influence of ISI, have sparked negative reactions.

Dhaka: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh`s
comments on sections of Bangladeshi people being under the
influence of ISI, have sparked negative reactions here with a
former foreign minister terming them "frustrating" and Jamaat-
e-Islami contending that the remarks do not go with his

A senior leader of the ruling Awami League, however,
was more cautious in response and just called Singh`s remarks
"irrelevant" and "out of context".

Singh has sparked controversy by telling print editors
during an interaction that at least 25 per cent of
Bangladesh`s population was anti-India by their affiliation to
the Jamaat-e-Islami political party "and they were in the
clutches, many times, of the ISI", and that the political
landscape in Bangladesh can change at any time.

The Prime Minister`s Office, however, later withdrew
those remarks saying they were off the record.
Bangladesh Agriculture Minister Matia Chowdhury said,
"His comment seems to be out of context".

Chowdhury said the Indian Prime Minister`s Office and
foreign ministry could explain the whole thing better as the
Bangladesh government has no detail about the comment except
for the reports in the media.

Asked if Dhaka would seek an explanation about Singh`s
comment, she said "it is usual to ask for an explanation about
the statement of the Indian PM but the Bangladesh foreign
minister is not in the country right now".

Morshed Khan, Bangladesh`s former minister during
Khaleda Zia`s Bangladesh Nationalist Party-led government said
"such comments from a person like Manmohan Singh is
frustrating for Bangladesh".

"Jamaat could be happy with the comment that 25 per
cent Bangladeshis are their supporters but where the Indian
premier got the information and how he could know all the
Jamaat supporters have hatred for India?" Khan asked.

The former foreign minister called Singh "a
straightforward man" but opined that "he was misled by
(India`s) intelligence agencies about Bangladesh".
Jamaat-e-Islami, meanwhile, condemned Singh`s remarks
for linking it with Pakistan`s Inter-Services Intelligence
(ISI) agency.

"The comment of Indian premier that Bangladesh
Jamaat-e-Islami is anti-Indian, and acts in accordance with
advice of the ISI is false, baseless and it does not go with
the status of the premier," said the party`s Acting Secretary
General ATM Azharul Islam in a statement.

Islam said their party believed in the "principle of
having a good relationship with India maintaining Bangladesh`s
independence, sovereignty and interests".

"Indian intelligence agency confused Singh with
misinformation," the statement said, adding that Jamaat also
hoped that Singh would refrain from making wholesale remarks
on Bangladesh`s Jamaat-e-Islami party.

Singh`s comments have come at a time when his visit to
the country is one the cards.