During a recent visit to Bangladesh, U.S. Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns met with government officials, including Prime Minister Khaleda Zia. Mr. Burns said U.S.–Bangladesh relations are “very good, sound, and strong.” He expressed U.S. appreciation for Bangladesh’s participation in United Nations peacekeeping missions and its role in the war against terrorism.
In a meeting with foreign minister M. Morshed Khan, Mr. Burns discussed efforts by Bangladesh authorities to protect minorities, including Ahmadiyyas. Ahmadiyya homes and places of worship have been attacked in recent months by extremists.
Another important issue on Under Secretary of state Burns' agenda was good governance. All political parties have a responsibility to work to clean up corruption and end political violence. In August 2004, terrorists bombed a rally by the opposition Awami League, killing twenty-two people. A.M.S. Kibria, a senior Awami League leader, was killed along with four other people in a terrorist attack in January of this year. These crimes need to be investigated effectively.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca said, “Bangladesh’s widespread poverty, educational shortcomings, endemic corruption, porous borders, and lack of public faith in elected government risks increasing the attractiveness of radicalism.” Ms. Rocca said the Bangladesh government has acted against some extremist groups, “but more must be done.”
U.S. Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky says the best defense against extremism is a democratic political system:
“Free and fair elections; the enumeration of inalienable rights and the protection of minorities; a functioning legislative body, a capable civil service – all held to a high standard by disincentives for corruption.”
“These tenets of democracy,” said Ms. Dobriansky, “serve as the goalposts of what we are seeking to create, cultivate, or strengthen.”
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.