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Zia Govt fails to formulate defence policy: MPs' panel

The task has now been left to the next government that would take office after the parliamentary polls due in January, the panel noted.

india Updated: Oct 17, 2006 11:05 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

A parliamentary panel in Bangladesh has criticised the government of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia for failing to formulate a defence policy and one on demarcating the maritime boundary with neighbours India and Myanmar.

The task has now been left to the next government that would take office after the parliamentary poll due in January, it has noted.

On having a defence policy for the country, the draft committee headed by the Commandant of the National Defence College, Major General Zahirul Alam, reviewed the country's constitution, foreign policy, economic policy, threats to national security, existing structure and power of the armed forces, population and the defence policy of the neighbouring countries "but finally failed to submit the draft before the committee".

Demarcating the maritime boundary has been pending since Bangladesh's emergence as a nation in 1971.

The pace has been slow, despite numerous meetings with neighbouring countries since 1974.

The issue gains importance in the light of Bangladesh's quest for oil and gas in the Bay of Bengal.

A number of blocks sold by Bangladesh to foreign explorers on the sea overlap those sold by India.

Chaired by Mahbubur Rahman, a former army chief and opposition lawmaker, the standing committee of parliament on defence expressed disappointment that the government failed to complete demarcation of the sea boundaries under the United Nations Convention of Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The Daily Star newspaper quoted unnamed committee sources as saying that the implementation of the UNCLOS had been facing various difficulties including lack of modern equipment and proper coordination among the government organisations.

Sources said the committee had emphasised maximum maritime territory and suggested that the government appeal for extending the time to complete the process if necessary.

Bangladesh signed the UN convention in 1982 along with other countries considering the huge prospect of exploring the natural resources like oil and gas from the sea.

Although preparatory activities have been completed, the authorities have failed to submit the guideline for a national defence policy before the committee despite setting the deadline several times, the sources observed.

First Published: Oct 17, 2006 11:05 IST