Monday, August 15, 2011

Economist Owe An Apology To Bangladesh

The honesty and integrity of the British media has come under serious scrutiny in the recent past. Australian Media Tycoon Rupert Murdoch has been compelled to close down his “News of the World” when charged for its unholy methods of tarnishing the image of leading personalities and smear nations. Rupert Murdoch had to appear before a parliamentary probe committee and regret for the scam. Almost at the same time Another British media “The Economist” has published has carried a highly controversial report questioning India- Bangladesh relation, the emergence of Bangladesh, the genocide by Pakistan occupation army in 1971and the trial process of the identified War Criminals of 1971.

The report without any credible evidence has brought out an allegation that Indian Government sponsored the Awami League with money and advice to win the 2008 elections. Congress is in Indian state power, and there is a historic link between the Congrees and Awami League based on good wish or even blessings as both champion democracy. But how can a leading international media mention that Indian Government provided monetary support to Awami League? Do they have any credible evidence? Neutral observers and world media unanimously acclaimed the free, fair and transparent election of 2008 . Even no major objection was raised by any of the opponents. But how after two and half years later “The Ecomonist” could bring up such a serious allegation? This report has definitely undermined and in fact embarrassed both India and Bangladesh. The countries have every right to question validity and authenticity of the report. This is more pertinent at this moment since two friendly SAARC neighbors after years of mistrust and disbelief have started positive actions to resolved several outstanding issues – water sharing , enclave exchange, joint actions against terrorists, boundary disputes resolution, regional connectivity , trade rationalization . Some issues were fundamentally agreed during Bangladesh PMs Visit to India and most of the others are at advanced stage for meeting of minds of the highest level at the upcoming summit of two PMs in Dhaka in September 2011.

 The report also questioned the crackdown of militant groups and terrorists by Bangladesh Government. The section of the report may be quoted here:

Ever since 2008, when the Awami League, helped by bags of Indian cash and advice, triumphed in general elections in Bangladesh, relations with India have blossomed. To Indian delight, Bangladesh has cracked down on extremists with ties to Pakistan or India’s home-grown terrorist group, the Indian Mujahideen, as well as on vociferous Islamist (and anti-Indian) politicians in the country. India feels that bit safer.
We will be extremely pleased if Economist can provide the credible evidence of the bag of cash that it is alleging to have been provided by Indian Government . If not Economist owe an apology to both India and Bangladesh.

From 2002 – 2006 Bangladesh became safe haven of terrorists. Finance Minister SAMS Kibria, popular MP Ahsanullah Master was killed by grenade attacks. Attacks were carried out against British High Commissioner in Bangladesh, Mayor of Sylhet, and MP Suranjit Sen Gupta. Finally terrorist under state sponsorship killed several Awami Leaguers including wife of Bangladesh President in a carnage and mayhem in front of Awami League Central office at the heart of the capital city. The terrorists became so organized that they could carry out simultaneous grenade explosion in 64 places of the country at the same time. People were killed at court buildings, cinema hall. It was alleged that some country’s intelligence agency unfriendly to both Bangladeshi progressive force and India setting up safe training shelter within Bangladesh trained terrorists and provided deadly weapons to carry out subversive activities within Bangladesh and India. A huge arm haul was confiscated at CUFL Jetty of Chittagong which was allegedly transited through Bangladesh for a separatist group of India. Present government very courageously took appropriate actions against the group. Government has also initiated actions to authentically probe all acts of terrorism of the past. Instead of admiring governments efforts Economist report has unfortunately criticized the admirable Bangladesh action.

The saddest part of the report is that it questioned the Bangladeshi initiative of conducting trials of identified war criminals. There can be any or many difference of opinion about the process of conducting the trials. But it is a long term legitimate demand of the Bangladeshis to try and punish the collaborators of Pakistan Army in carrying out genocide, rape, looting and arsening in 1971. Economist has unfortunately advocated for the alleged criminals under custody. The intent and purpose of the report is well understood.

The report also questioned about various outstanding bilateral issues resolution process. It has questioned regional connectivity. We cannot deny our geographical reality. We are surrounded by India from 2.75 sides. Any regional connectivity will benefit all nations. If India can connect its major regions with neglected Nagaland, Mizoram and Tripura through it how it harms Bangladesh? Why we are apprehensive that India will transport Army or Military gazettes through the corridor? This connectivity is for trade and commerce only. However, we are not fully aware about the details of the regional connectivity. It will not be wise to talk about it at this stage.

In conclusion we like to request the editor of “The Economist “ to clarify the issues raised in the report and address the Bangladesh response .If such kind of reports are regulary published who knows some day it may have to embrace the same fate as Rupert Murdoch’s “ The News of the World”.

By:  Kh.A.Saleque.