Stability at risk without political inclusion: US    

The US continues to press for greater political inclusion in Bangladesh without which the Asian country’s stability will be at risk, a top Obama Administration official has said.

“In Bangladesh, we continue to press for greater political inclusion, without which, a more stable and prosperous future is put at risk,” Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, Nisha Desai Biswal, said in her address at the prestigious Harvard University.

nisha biswalAt the same time, she praised Bangladesh for its achievement in the socio economic sector. Bangladesh is the only country where the US is implementing all three of President (Barack) Obama’s development initiatives ? on health, food security and climate change.

“With US assistance, Bangladesh is one of the few countries on track to achieve its Millennium Development Goals related to child and maternal mortality,” she said.

Biswal said one must acknowledge the important gains that Bangladesh has made in improving the health, food security and economic opportunity for its citizens.

“While the Rana Plaza and Tazreen factory fires focused world attention on the inadequate labor conditions, we have engaged, along with European partners, in an intense effort with labor, industry, civil society and government to have great improvements in the garment sector in Bangladesh,” she said, commenting on Bangladesh’s industrial disasters.

Our security cooperation with Bangladesh has grown over the years, not only on the international peacekeeping front but also on border security, counter terrorism and HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response).

“In Bangladesh, we are helping prepare for cyclones and have built over 500 cyclone shelters since 2001. We recently transferred a US Coast Guard cutter to the Bangladeshi Navy which has already played a disaster response role,” she said.

She hinted at establishing military ties with Sri Lanka after President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government makes progress on reconciliation efforts as desired by the world community.

“We look forward to a resumption of a more comprehensive military relationship once the government of Sri Lanka has made better progress toward reconciliation and accountability,” she said.

“Following the March UN Human Rights Council resolution in Sri Lanka, we continue to call for credible efforts to ensure accountability and justice,” Biswal said.

Biswal said the US is working closely with Maldives to protect its waters and cooperate on counter-terrorism.

On Nepal, she said the tiny nation has made huge strides in building democratic institutions after years of political conflict and civil war like conditions.

“With USAID’s assistance, Nepal has cut its infant, under-5 and maternal mortality rates roughly in half since 1996,” Biswal said.

America’s security cooperation with Nepal, she said, has grown over the years, not only on the international peacekeeping front, but also on border security, counter terrorism and HADR.