The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Advani burst stuns Dhaka

Dhaka, Nov. 8: Bangladesh foreign secretary Shamser Mobin Chowdhury said today Bangladesh has never allowed any terrorist group to use its territory for campaign against India.

“The question of Bangladesh providing sanctuary to any terrorist group does not arise at all,” Chowdhury told reporters in response to deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani’s statement yesterday.

Advani had said al Qaida and ISI activities had increased in Bangladesh after Khaleda Zia’s government took over.

Chowdhury said the latest Indian allegation was part of a “conspiracy to tarnish Bangladesh’s image as a secular and peaceful nation”.

The foreign secretary’s reaction was mild in comparison to what a ministry spokesman said.

“Bangladesh never expected such comments and observation from such a top Indian leader as Mr Advani,” the spokesman, who cannot be identified under local briefing rules, said.

“What he (Advani) said is totally baseless, motivated and irresponsible.”

“We expect that in future he (Advani) will not make such comments about Bangladesh for the sake of friendship between the two countries.”

Dhaka has always rejected repeated allegations by Delhi that separatist groups in northeast India have been using its territory to train and carry out attacks in India.

However, at least once the allegation proved correct when Bangladesh arrested United Liberation Front of Asom leader Anup Chetia from a rented house in Dhaka in 1997.

Our Delhi bureau adds: Referring to Advani’s statement, home ministry officials acknowledge the possibility of Delhi taking a hard stand against Dhaka.

The officials said India is angry with Bangladesh’s lackadaisical response to its concerns and wants firm action against Northeast insurgents as well as al Qaida activists who are a potential threat to India.

Delhi’s worries have been conveyed to Dhaka time and again, but so far Bangladesh has shown no willingness to follow through with the promises made.

“India’s patience is running out, and Advani has clearly indicated our frustration,” an official said.

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