There is a report that 5000 foreign criminals are operating in Bangladesh, committing dangerous crimes to destablise our economy as well as the law and order situation. It is strange how such foreign citizens could get entry into Bangladesh. Surely there must be untraceable dens within the country. A vested quarter may facilitate their entry into Bangladesh in lieu of political gain. Those who are in charge of defending our border may be assisting them, probably for monetary gain. Those foreign criminals entered Bangladesh with their expertise in such criminal activities which are not known to our citizens. It should not be taken lightly as there may be a nexus of criminals and vested quarters of foreign countries to slow down the rapid economic development of Bangladesh. The people of the country, and the world as well, have witnessed that how the cyber criminals stole $81 from Bangladesh Bank. There are newspaper reports that cyber criminals of Pakistan and North Korea are still very active to attack the financial and banking system of Bangladesh to steal money. The problem here is: the digitization in Bangladesh has been progressing very fast, but the security system to protect the digital system is weak. There is a lack of expertise in the field of digitization as Bangladesh’s journey towards digitization has begun only ten years back.
There are incidents of theft of money from ATM booths and foreign criminals have been arrested in connection to these cases. These criminals are hiring flats in the residential areas and conducting criminal activities from there with help of local cohorts. Even the local criminal gangs allow them to operate and help them in all possible ways. Unfortunately some foreign nationals who represent their countries have been killed by the criminals, thus giving a bad name to our country.
There are allegations that some foreign nationals help the criminals to commit crimes to disturb Bangladesh politically and economically so that Bangladesh cannot become the country with the fastest growing economy as predicted by the global economic survey. Pakistan is an example of carrying out such kind of activities that have been creating problems for Bangladesh. There are also allegations of providing shelter to the criminals in the embassies in many countries by Pakistan in order to commit criminal activities from hide-outs to disturb progress. Several gangs led by foreigners have been detected. It is high time that the government should detain them and punish them as per the law of the land and send them back to their countries.
A section of these people are involved in illegal acts like drugs and smuggling. Their ultimate target is to destroy Bangladesh’s economy. The foreign criminals are also involved in laundering money from Bangladesh. If one criminal sends 100 dollar a month, then 5000 criminals would be able to send 5 lakhs from the country and that will cause tremendous damage to the economy. We also came to know from media reports that billions of dollars have been siphoned through hundi from the country during the past few years. Both foreign nationals and local citizens are involved in these activities.
Several lakh foreign nationals are working in different sectors including garments and leather manufacturing, Information Technology and NGOs in Bangladesh. The employers’ are paying them in foreign currency. So, a huge amount of foreign currency is going out of the country through legal channels as well. A great damage is being done to Bangladesh. This should not be allowed to continue for an indefinite period of time. The government should put emphasis on creating expertise and skilled human resources in the country to replace the foreign nationals working in different sectors.
We have seen how 1.1 million Rohingyas entered into Bangladesh placing a huge burden on the economy of the country. The country’s rapidly growing economy is being affected due to their stay in the country for such a long time. The Rohingyas are not only damaging our economy but also they are also a threat to our security. A section of the Rohingyas has been involved in criminal activities including drug smuggling and terrorism. Several have also already been arrested in connection with criminal activities. The government is sincerely trying and negotiating with the Myanmar government and holding dialogue with different countries of the world to resolve the Rohingya issue. The Myanmar government has signed an agreement with Bangladesh to take them back to their country. But till today there is no sign of taking back of Rohingyas by the Myanmar.
We are really in apprehension of India’s move to implement NRC and push lakhs of Muslims back to Bangladesh from Assam. As per religion, the government has identified a large number of Bangla speaking people as non-citizen although their families are living in Assam since British period. If the ruling BJP government push the Bangla speaking Muslim families to Bangladesh it would create chaos and destabilize the current situation in Bangladesh.
We have a border of 4200 km with India and there is cross-border terrorism. The problems with our close neighbor are understandable and could be resolved through bilateral discussion. But crimes like cyber crimes, stealing money from ATM booths by tempering cards committed by foreign criminals are certainly alarming for Bangladesh as we are not yet equipped with the expertise to deal with such issues. The presence of a huge foreign population is also a problem for Bangladesh as Bangladesh cannot afford the burden of their presence.
Trade, bilateral relations and mutual understanding between the respective countries are reasonable and rational and the act of crimes of foreign criminals affecting both the countries could be settled amicably. Since Bangladesh is a densely populated country it could not afford the burden of millions of foreign nationals in the country.
The need of the hour is Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). It’s true that Bangladesh will have to accept foreign expertise in the interest of investment and achieving self-sufficiency. So foreigners have to be accommodated. Since the country emerged as an independent state the experts in China, Japan and India have been helping to develop our economy. Almost all the economies of the globe have been established through mutual cooperation. No country can survive alone. The trade tussles between USA and China is truly unfortunate.
It is the responsibility of every citizen and countries of the globe to maintain mutual cooperation and understanding to make the world livable. Arms race and conflict are not the solution to our problems.
Bangladesh wants to live in peace with the rest of the globe. Friendship towards all and malice towards none is the core principle of its foreign policy. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina stands for world peace. She gathers vast experience in foreign policy and knows how to deal with other countries of the globe. She wants to pursue the policy of peaceful cooperation with all countries and resolve crises through bilateral discussion. The same policy is still in operation. Responding to Prime Minister’s call for global peace, all countries should come forward to create a better world for living.
Dr SA Malek is the former political adviser to the Prime Minister and Member of Parliament, general secretary of Bangabandhu Parishad and columnist