Bangladesh would not send troops to Afghanistan: PM

Bangladesh has made it clear that it will not send its troops to Afghanistan.

Last Updated: Oct 03, 2010, 14:50 PM IST

Dhaka: Bangladesh has made it clear that
it will not send its troops to Afghanistan while refuting
reports that the US had requested the country to contribute
soldiers to the war-torn nation.

"Bangladesh will not send soldiers to Afghanistan,"
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina told a meeting of ruling Awami
League`s advisory council late yesterday, according to the
Samakal newspaper.

Quoting meeting insiders, the newspaper said, Hasina
conveyed her government`s "precise stand" on sending soldiers
to Afghanistan as several members of the council, comprising
senior party leaders, opposed the idea of sending combat
forces to the war ravaged nation citing "public sentiments".

Prime Minister`s press secretary Abul Kalam Azad could
not immediately confirm the premier`s comments but the Prothom
Alo newspaper supplemented the Samakal report, saying Hasina
agreed with the advisory as they said Bangladeshis had a
reservation regarding the US military intervention in
Afghanistan.

Several newspapers earlier reported that US Special
Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke last week
requested Bangladesh to send combat troops to Afghanistan at a
meeting with foreign minister Dipu Moni on the sidelines of
the 65th UN General Assembly, also attended by Hasina.

A foreign office statement published today, however,
said that the US envoy had asked for Bangladesh`s cooperation
in Afghanistan`s rebuilding "but there was no discussion about
sending troops to Afghanistan".

"We said Bangladesh can contribute to the national
development of Afghanistan through providing training to
officials in administration, police, education and some other
sectors," the statement quoted Moni as telling Holbrooke.

According to the statement the foreign minister also
said Bangladesh sent troops to different United Nations blue
helmet missions "as peacekeepers" under the UN supervision and
it will think over the issue if the UN took any such projects
in Afghanistan.

Several foreign policy experts in the country have
also expressed reservations against sending combat forces to
Afghanistan.

Former foreign secretary Faruque Chowdhury said: "it
would be contrary to Bangladesh`s foreign policy while both
the countries, moreover, were members of the South Asian
regional grouping of SAARC and had an historic link since the
medieval age".

"It will be a suicidal decision... the Afghan issue
was made a military issue in someone`s interest and Bangladesh
does not have any reason to be party to it," Chowdhury said.

PTI