Special Feature

Strong response needed to safeguard BD’s future, its economic progress: US

21 Jul,2016


Special Report:

US Ambassador in Dhaka Marcia Bernicat on Wednesday said a strong response will clearly be necessary to safeguard Bangladesh’s future and its economic progress mentioning that the country is now part of an international crime scene.

“There needs to be a clear recognition that the security environment is changing and will require additional tools and measures to address it,” she said appreciating Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s unflagging commitment to fight terror.

The US Ambassador said Bangladesh also needs to conduct a rigorous, open and thorough investigation into all attacks that coordinates closely with the international partners.

“And there needs to be an openness to accept the findings of the investigations wherever – and to whomever – they lead. Only this level of commitment will counter the threat in Bangladesh -- and globally,” she said.

Bernicat was addressing the regular luncheon meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in Bangladesh (AmCham) at the Pan Pacific Sonargaon Hotel in the city.

The US diplomat said they are “deeply saddened, angry and frustrated” in the aftermath of the July 1 attack on Holey Artisan Bakery in Gulshan.

That attack, and the bombing at Sholakia which so closely followed the Holey attack, has only added to their pain, she added.

“This is not the Bangladesh I have come to know, and I know this is not the Bangladesh you have built, and yet we have seen approximately 70 such attacks since January 2015,” Bernicat said.

For many, the most recent attacks obliterated their sense of security and any expectation that this violence somehow could not touch them or change their lives.

“But we will not be afraid. The security environment is changing, and we all must act.  We must respond, and we can respond,” the US envoy said.

Mentioning that she has a sticker that she keeps by her schedule that says silence is consent, she said if they do not speak out, if they do not counter this, then they are silently consenting to what is going on.

“The Bangladesh and United States governments have been acting jointly to counter the threat, and I assure you that we are stepping up our efforts,” she added.

Bernicat thinks evidence found and evaluated here will help others find the perpetrators of attacks in their countries.

“No doubt the combined action of the Bangladeshi government and likeminded governments to protect the public safety will diminish the threat, but to win this struggle, we need the assistance of the business community, civil society, religious leaders, teachers and youth leaders.”

To that end, she said, the American Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) can play a vital role in engaging the Bangladesh government to restore confidence among foreign investors and the broader public.

Bernicat said the more organised and comprehensive Bangladesh’s efforts are to counter both terrorism and the rise of violent extremism, the less the environment here will be seen as permissive by those who seek to terrorize this country and destroy its way of life.

The US diplomat said   US investors and the broader international business community are gravely concerned about these attacks.

Immediate past President of AmCham Bangladesh Aftab ul Islam moderated a panel discussion after US Ambassador’s speech. Leaders of the AmCham Bangladesh were present at the luncheon meeting.

Bernicat said she is sad to see reports lately of some people who are saying that US offers to provide counter-terrorism assistance either as their effort to invade Bangladesh, or control Bangladesh in some way.

"We have no such desire to occupy this country in any way. I just want to assure you that the types of assistance we provide to you are those of a partner; those of a partner who unfortunately has been fighting terrorism for a long time. We think we have some techniques and some knowledge, some value," she said.

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