Explain ISI funding, Hasina tells Khaleda

PRIME Minister Sheikh Hasina asked her arch rival Khaleda Zia to clarify the allegation that Pakistan‘s intelligence agency ISI gave her 50 million rupees to help her in the 1991 parliamentary polls.

Referring to a report on Dubai-based newspaper Khaleej Times which carried the allegation, Hasina alleged Khaleda “sold country’s interest to Pakistan” by taking money from the ISI (Inter Services Intelligence).

“People want to know why she took ISI money. She must answer it,” said Hasina, also president of ruling Awami League, said while addressing a large rally near Suhrawardy Udyan marking the historic March 7.

She alleged that the opposition leader is trying to “make Pakistan happy” by taking position in favour of the war criminals who collaborated with the then Pakistani occupation forces and killed 3 million freedom loving people.

“I want to say firmly that the trial of war criminals will be held on this soil, Inshallah and she [Khaleda] won’t be able to foil it,” said the premier.

Addressing the same programme, AL General Secretary and LGRD and Cooperatives Minister Syed Ashraful Islam branded Khaldea Zia as a “paid agent” of ISI.

“It has been revealed that she took 50 million rupee during the 1991 election. It will be come to light someday how much money she took during the 1996, 2001 and 2008 elections,” he said.

The Khaleej Times report published on Saturday under the headline “Asghar Khan’s petition finally comes up for hearing” mainly deals with a petition filed by Pakistan’s former Air Force commander-in-chief Air Marshal Asghar Khan against 140 million Pakistani rupees doled out by the establishment through the ISI to a select group of anti-Benazir Bhutto politicians in 1990.

The report adds: “Another Rs 50 million was allegedly paid to Bangladesh’s Khalida (Khaleda) Zia to help her in polls against Hasina Wajid’s (Wajed’s) Awami League generally perceived by Pakistan’s security establishment as pro-India”.

Addressing Wednesday’s rally, AL leader Mahbubul Alam Hanif alleged Khaleda designed the March 12 programme as a means to save the war crimes suspects.

“Khaleda Zia organised the March 12 programme in a bid to save the war criminals. But the war criminals will be tried at any cost,” said Hanif.

On the day back in 1971, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in a powerful speech at Dhaka’s Race Course Maidan (now Suhrawardy Udyan) declared the battle against the then repressive Pakistani forces.

Commuters have been hit with huge traffic tailbacks on Dhaka streets as hundreds of party leaders and activists from different parts of the city started to throng Suhrawardy Udyan since Wednesday noon.

Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the rally at Shikha Chirantan there.

Following the rally, the party brought out a procession is scheduled to end near Bangabandhu Memorial Museum in Dhanmondi.


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