BANGLADESH: Delay in CHT Development Work – International agencies blamed

Monday, March 5, 2012

Staff Correspondent

Many international agencies often complicate matters further trying to address the Chittagong Hill Tracts issues, Gowher Rizvi, international affairs adviser to the prime minister, said yesterday.

These complications delay development works in the hilly areas, he observed adding that the international organisations and those working on the CHT issues should focus more on how to implement the peace accord.

Gowher was speaking at a discussion titled “Implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord and the government’s election pledge: achievement and scope”. The programme was jointly organised by Kapeng Foundation and the Association of Land Reform and Development at Cirdap auditorium in the capital.

Gowher said the previous Awami League government in 1997 signed the peace accord, and after it left the office in 2001, no work was done to implement the accord, causing regression in the development works that the government had taken.

Moreover, new complications arose over the following six to seven years, he added. Now, the government is working to untangle the complicated issues of the CHT.

Both the signatories of the peace treaty– the government and Parbatya Chattagram Jana Sanghati Samity– have responsibilities to implement the accord.

“Blaming each other won’t work. We have to work together,” Gowher noted.

He said there should be no doubt over the government’s commitment to implementing the CHT peace treaty.

Though the process of implementing the treaty has so far been slow, “I’m really very optimistic,” he said. “You all have already shown much patience…. Have patience for some more time. We’ll implement it.”

Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal President Hasanul Haque Inu at the meeting said the indigenous people had been suffering from a sense of insecurity and a lack of trust. The government should regain their trust by ensuring their security through the implementation of the treaty, he added.

Inu recommended formulating an act to establish the rights of indigenous people and also a national indigenous commission to deal with their issues.

He demanded looking into how many Bangalee settlers had owned land in the hilly areas after signing of the accord and making that public.

Prof Abul Barkat, president of Bangladesh Economic Association, said that in addition to constitutional recognition, indigenous people should be given social protection.

He suggested forming a land reform commission to resolve land disputes in the CHT.

Former justice Ghulam Rabbani chaired the discussion.

Source: The Daily Star

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