AL does not appoint a lobbyist but works with a PR firm, he says

Shahriar Alam. File photo/AFP

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Shahriar Alam. File photo/AFP

The government has decided to investigate the source of the BNP’s lobbying funds — at least $3.75 million — which they have spent in recent years campaigning against Bangladesh, the minister said today of State for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam.

He also said that the Awami League government had not appointed any lobbyists in the United States, but a public relations firm to promote Bangladesh’s positive image and fight against negative publicity against the country.

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“Over the past few years, the BNP has signed three agreements with US-based lobbying firms. Our calculations revealed that the BNP spent at least $3.75 million,” he told reporters. journalists from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

In addition, Jamaat-e-Islami has also signed agreements with some US lobbying firms, including the New York-based Peace and Justice Organization, to campaign against Bangladesh, including to prevent the International Criminal Court to try war criminals in 2013-14, he said.

He said Jamaat-e-Islami’s address is not used but the party could use other organizations to achieve its goals.

He presented a number of documents which show BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir wrote to the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State Programs , foreign operations and related programs in 2019.

The BNP has pressured the US to end foreign aid to Bangladesh and increase US government pressure on Bangladesh for human rights reasons, Shahriar Alam said.

Some BNP-Jamaat agreements with US companies also talk about advancing economic development through free market economy and human values ​​by preaching Islam, he said.

“We believe that under a disguise the BNP-Jamaat worked on other issues against Bangladesh,” Shahriar Alam said.

“We decided today to send the documents to Bangladesh Bank to find out if the money spent by the BNP for lobbying is legal and declared to the electoral commission,” he said.

Accordingly, the central bank and the EC will take action, he said.

He said that according to US law, the appointment of a lobbyist is acceptable, but they also have a role to ensure that the money spent is clean, as this money can also come illegally.

“Those who believe in democracy and conscience should also see if the source of the money spent by these political parties is clean,” he said.

Asked about the Awami League nomination lobbyist in the United States, Shahriar Alam said that the government had signed a contract with a BGR PR to combat the negative campaign against Bangladesh, especially that which began during the trial for war crimes in 2013-14. The contract is valid until March this year.

He said that Bangladesh also needs to show the world its achievements in terms of SDGs, women empowerment, climate change and poverty reduction. “In no way is this for lobbying, but for the promotion of Bangladesh.”

When asked if the government had decided to appoint a lobbying firm, especially after the US sanctions against Rab, he replied in the negative.

“We don’t believe in pursuing a political agenda using this route where the money is involved…we will engage directly with the United States and we can deliver the outcome, we hope,” he said. declared.