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     Volume 4 Issue 40 | April 1, 2005 |

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News Notes

Government Vehicles

The government has lost track of all the 26 thousand vehicles it procured in the last seven years for its 593 development projects. A recently published Prothom Alo report has blamed 41 ministries for lack of will to get the vehicles back from mainly government officials who are now misusing it.
When the newspaper published a report titled "Thousands of Vehicles Disappeared from Development Projects", then secretary of the prime minister's office issued a letter to all the ministries and department calling them to return the cars to the government's transport pool. An investigative committee was formed later on, which failed to come up with any conclusive report.
Though the renewal papers of the cars used in these development programmes are supposed to be sent to the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) in every three months, the relevant ministries have never followed the rules. The ECNEC, on its part, has never felt it necessary to track down the fate of these vehicles either.
On 16 March the Establishment Ministry sent a letter to the respective ministries asking them to inform the fate of the 26 thousand vehicles within three weeks. Now, only time can tell what answer the ministries come up with.

The Homebound
Fortune seekers

Yet another batch of fortune seekers find themselves back home with all their hopes shattered and dreams crushed. Never before have we seen such a spree of returnees from different countries as we are witnessing since about the last one and a half months ago. Going abroad for making fortune has been a dominant trend among the millions of unemployed and often many educated youths. Instead of trying to work out a moderate living in their own country, they are often bent on risking whatever little property or savings they have to make quick fortune by going abroad and earning in dollars or dinars. A section of manpower businessmen popularly known as adam beparies often take advantage of these fortune seekers robbing them off whatever they have. The recent incident of 11 persons dying out of starvation while crossing over the Mediterranean illustrates not only the desperation of the fortune seekers but also the insatiable hunger for money of a section of people in manpower business.
On March 26 a group of 12 young men came back home from Maldives and Mauritania. Those sent back from Mauritania were on route to Spain, the promised country, through Sahara, where the police finally caught them. The tragic incidents appear to have finally woken up the people and the government. Let's hope some effective measures to stop the influx of illegally sending people across the borders would follow soon.

Happy Birthday,

A function was organised last week to celebrate the elite crime-busting Rapid Action Battalion (RAB)'s first anniversary at the RAB Forces Headquarters at Kurmitola. Several ministers and lawmakers, top officials, attended this gala ceremony from the home ministry, armed forces and the police. State Minister for Home, Lutfozzaman Babar, spoke at the occasion and warned the elite crime busting (RAB) against harassment on innocent people. "If a RAB member fails to maintain discipline, the government will obviously be tough on him," he said.
Replying to one of the reporters inquiries about the so-called encounters, for which human-rights organisations criticised deaths of criminals in the 'crossfire', Babar said, "When criminals are being killed in encounters, human-rights organisations speak out. However, when policemen get killed by them (criminals), no one mentions anything at all."
It seems that the government claims a marked improvement in law and order since RAB came into action a year ago. But different human rights watchdogs, opposition political parties and professional bodies continue blasting the elite force for extra-judicial killings either in so-called 'crossfire' or in its custody. Involvement of RAB in robbery, extortion and bribery has also drawn scathing criticism from the public and the press.
Asked whether there were flaws in the recruitment of honest officials drawn from different forces for the anticrime force, Babar said, "such incidents of robbery or bribe-taking can take place at any level."
The government is planning to provide RAB with all the sophisticated firearms and equipment, as well as special vehicles and helicopters. Two official web sites had been launched by the state minister, at the function-- www.rabbd.com and www.rab.gov.bd.

US Sells F-16s
to Pakistan

The US government has decided to go ahead with its plan to sell 25 F-16 aircraft to Pakistan. The move irked India. "Existing military assistance will be supplemented by moving forward on the sale of F-16s to Pakistan and we are notifying that to Congress today," a US government official told reporters last week. The official, who wanted to remain anonymous, also said though the numbers involved had been relatively small there was "no set limit on what the United States was going to be willing to sell to Pakistan."
The relationship between two Cold-War allies turned unmistakably sour when Pakistan kept supporting the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan till the attack on the twin-towers in New York on September 11, 2001. The US, which was giving a cold shoulder to Pakistan, suddenly found its strategic interest back in Central Asia. Pakistan's support in Bush's so-called war on terror and the country's acceptance to let its land to be used in driving away remnants of Al-Qaeada have made President Musharraf a darling of the west. This also means that the Bush administration has accepted Pakistan as a nuclear power and sees it as a long-term strategic ally.

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