Vol. 5 Num 1023 Wed. April 18, 2007  
Front Page

Khaleda's departure likely in few days

The military-backed caretaker government has initiated moves to complete the formalities necessary for sending former prime minister and BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia abroad.

"She [Khaleda] may leave the country at any time in the next few days...The authorities will not make any delay in sending the former prime minister along with her family members to Saudi Arabia," said a highly placed source.

The source on condition of anonymity told The Daily Star that there are a few necessary official formalities to complete as the implementation of the plan is linked to a foreign country.

"It may take five-six days to complete all the formalities with the Saudi government and other partners for making arrangements for the former prime minister's prolonged stay there," said the source.

Reliable sources said the government is trying to mobilise diplomatic as well as political support both at home and abroad so that no question arises in future about sending Khaleda abroad.

They said for Khaleda's prolonged stay, the two governments need to settle some issues and reach a concrete understanding to be followed by both Bangladesh and Saudi authorities.

They said although Khaleda agreed to leave the country under pressure following hectic negotiations, she wants a concrete settlement about the fate of her elder son Tarique Rahman who is now in jail on an extortion charge.

Influential sources within the government said Khaleda wants to leave the country taking Tarique with her or at least wants to see him at the jail.

But a high prison official told The Daily Star that they have not yet received any information that Khaleda will visit her son at the Dhaka Central Jail.

Reliable sources said although Khaleda agreed to leave the country with her younger son Arafat Rahman, wives of her two sons and their children, she is still negotiating to take Tarique with her.

In case Tarique cannot go with her due to legal procedures, Khaleda wants a specific time frame on when the government will release Tarique and send him to Saudi Arabia, sources said.

However, Communications Adviser Maj Gen (retd) MA Matin yesterday told reporters that Arafat was taken for interrogation on certain allegations and released after the quizzing. "For Arafat there is no bar to going abroad, but there is no scope for his elder brother Tarique to get freed as there is a case against him."

Speculations ran high after the High Court yesterday stayed for six months the proceedings of an extortion case against Tarique. Sources said Tarique's counsels will move soon for his bail.

Meanwhile, sources said Khaleda's elder sister Beauty and her husband, younger brother Maj (retd) Syeed Eskander and his wife met with her yesterday afternoon and discussed their well-being. A source said the family members were making initial preparations for their departure.

With conflicting reports and speculations shrouding the possible timing of Khaleda's departure for Saudi Arabia, inquisitive journalists from both print and electronic media kept a close watch on each Saudi-bound flight from Dhaka.

Related Story

All packed up, ready to fly anytime
BBNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and her family were almost done with their preparations for leaving the country, a member of the house staff said last night.