Our Heros


When President Ziaur Rahman was killed, he was only 45. But within this short life span he contributed enormously to Bangladesh. His catalytic role in initiating the mass revolt among Bengali members of the armed-forces after the brutal military crackdown of 25th March 1971, and his contribution as a military leader of Bangladesh’s war of independence distinguishes him as one of our top national heroes. Zia’s post independence role in building modern Bangladesh brick-by-brick by revamping all sectors starting from mutiny-ridden ‘broken-chain-of-command’ military, to her global image, to initiation of open-market-economy, are enough to immortalize him.
Yet, Ziaur Rahman’s lasting legacy will be his contribution to give the people of Bangladesh an identity — ‘Bangladeshi’ — that is inclusive of all the races, ethnic groups and religions. This identity emanates from Zia’s political philosophy of Bangladeshi nationalism, which was embraced very enthusiastically by an overwhelming majority of Bangladeshis. The political philosophy of ‘Bangladeshi Nationalism’ was expressed as his forward looking, conciliatory, inclusive and tolerant modus-operandi of nation building.
In an orientation session for the newly-elected BNP members of the 2nd Parliament, Zia explained Bangladeshi nationalism the following way,

“Now the question is, what is nationalism? If we study history of the world, we will see rise of different sorts of nationalism at different times and places. In this regard, first comes ‘racial’ or ethnic identity based nationalism. Arab or German nationalisms are prime examples of this kind of nationalism. German nationalism is based on Arian race. Hitler might not have talked about German nationalism if after World War I; parts of Germany were not occupied and shared by states like Britain, France and Poland. This act prompted Hitler to promote race based German nationalism. And we all know of Arab nationalism. … The late president of Egypt, Mr. Jamal Abdul Nasser was able to give a significant shape to Arab nationalism. Arab nationalism still exists and stands tall proudly with all other races in the world.
Next comes language-based nationalism. The slogan of Bengali nationalism is built on this philosophy. And for this reason, Awami League still dreams of establishing Bengali nationalism.
And then Muslim League, IDL and the Jamaatis talk about religion based nationalism. At the beginning of this century, Jamal Uddin Afghani preached Pan Islamic nationalism; the spirit of religion-based nationalism originates from that pan-Islamism. To be frank, since inception of Pakistan, Bangladesh was exploited and ruled in the name of this religion-based nationalism. But the ‘politics of exploitation‘ in the name of Islamic Nationalism could not keep Pakistan intact. Independent-sovereign Bangladesh was born.
Politics can be based on regional identity also, thus creating a new regional nationalism. In this regard we can mention the name of EEC (European Economic Commission). EEC has her own parliament i.e. the European Parliament. Many EEC countries are not even connected via land, yet they were able to bring forth new spirit and new idea of cooperation among themselves. They are collectively trying to give themselves a distinct identity as Europeans. Broadly one can assume that they are moving towards a new nationalistic identity.
War can be the base of nationalism too. But that is not a ‘compulsory’ or essential pre-requisite of nationalism.
Bangladeshi nationalism is based on all of the above components of nationalism…. We have ethnic heritage, a rich language and religious tradition. We all live in a single important geographic location. We have the dream of building a new economic order. And the blood-drenched spirit of our war of independence motivates us all. Presence of so many nationalistic elements is unprecedented in one nation’s identity.
When people say that Bangladeshi nationalism is not embracing religion, they are wrong. Religious identity and fidelity to faith is a great and historic trait of Bangladeshi nation. It has been mentioned in the Holy Quran that ” La Iqra Fidweene“, ‘religion should not be forcefully imposed’. Hence Bangladeshi nationalism is neither religion based nor religion averse. This nationalism ensures each and everyone’s faith and religious rights. And Bangladeshi nationalism is also not a purely language based nationalism. …
The philosophy of Bangladeshi Nationalism has ‘absorption power‘ and ‘elbow room.” [Translated into English from original Bangla speech by the author.]

Zia responded to the call of Bangbandhu to take up arms and lead the fight for Bangalee nationalism. But in an independent Bangladesh, he understood the need for an inclusive nationalistic identity for people of erstwhile East Bengal / East Pakistan who are predominantly religious Muslims Bangalees but very tolerant and accommodating to the rights of non-Muslims and or non-Bangalee ethnic groups.

Even today, over 30 years after his death, changes in Bangladesh constitutional framework initiated by Zia has been the basis of governance in Bangladesh. Zia re-introduced multi party democracy and press freedom back to Bangladesh. Thanks to some activist judges and an overwhelming parliamentary majority of currently ruling Awami League, a big push is being made to remove Ziaur Rahman initiated changes in the constitution of Bangladesh. Despite all the vicious attacks on late President Ziaur Rahman from the highest levels of the government, Zia introduced constitutional changes enjoy enormous public support and it is very likely that practically most of his changes will remain in the constitution. This is the ultimate success of Ziaur Rahman’s political philosophy, Bangladeshi nationalism.

I never saw real Azam Khan in action. I listened to his songs hundreds to thousands of times, but never live in his trademark style performance. It was mid 80s when I started hitting concert venues in Dhaka and Chittagong and began following Bangla pop scene. Although his songs were the most demanded songs in all concerts, Azam Khan the person was a matter of past by that time.

Until Azam Khan was rediscovered by our content thirsty media and icon thirsty merchants a few years ago, he was a man in oblivion — lost from the music scenario. We all know of his performances in early 70s, but no one really tell us when and how Azam Khan went AWOL from Dhaka rock scene.

Thanks to corporate TV, the Azam Khan we saw was the skeleton of the Azam we knew of. This Azam Khan no longer could sing. His bohemian image with long beard and hair smoking hasish was not there anymore.

This Azam Khan was a middle aged man struggling to make ends meet in a low middle class neighborhood in Kamalapur area of Dhaka. It was a broken health lungi clad man going to local kacha bazaar with a gunny sack. It was the home his father built, single story. There was never any good furniture at home to give TV interview or pose for photojournalists . Every time any TV crew, photo journalist would go to see him, he would take them to his roof top.

Azam Khan was very unprepared to deal with sudden media attention on him. He did not have prepared fake answers to fake questions of journalists.

Journalist: ” How did you find the inspiration to compose the legendary song ” Ore Saleka Ore maleka? ”

Azam Khan: “পাড়ার বন্ধু রা ছাদের মধ্যে বইসা ফাইজলামি করতাছিলাম — এমনে এমনেই গানটা চইলা আইল আর কি…”

Journalist: ” How do you feel when people call you Guru”.

Azam Khan: “মেজাজ খারাপ হইত. এই গুরু গুরু এইটা আবার কি. আরে আজাম ভাই ক. এখন গা সইয়া গ্যাছে”

When he tried to answer the way journalists wanted, it was very clear he was out of words, he was very uncomfortable.

Journalist: “You fought our war of liberation. Now again you are also fighting another war. What and how is your new war?”

Azam Khan: ” হ যুদ্ধ — আমার এইটা হইতাছে নুতন একটা যুদ্ধ , এই যুদ্ধ টা হইতাছে গিয়ে আমার নুতন যুদ্ধ. হ এইটা আমার … এই যে বুজছেন না… এইটা আমার .. হইতাছে নুতন যুদ্ধ. এই যে সব কিছু … এইটাই নুতন যুদ্ধ”

His stage performances in recent years were more painful to watch. He lost his voice long ago. Corporate TV would make fun of him by forcing him to do dance moves those would at best be caricature of his old self of 70s. He unsuccessfully would try to go back to 1972 again. But that was never to happen.

To sell their products, big corporations needed Azam Khan craze that runs from generation to generation. They made the best merchant like use of Azam Khan’s ever green songs, ever green ever living popularity.

Our corporate culture could have support him financially. They did not have to abuse him for their commercials.

And why I blame the corporates. What the state did to him? While all the sycophants bite each other to grab swadhinota podok, Ekushey Podok, Bangla Academy podok— Azam Khan gets no national recognition in his lifetime.

Azam Khan’s songs will outlive all of our generations and next hundreds of generations to come. The legends of Azam Khan the father of Bangladesh rock scene will never die. The singer Azam Khan died many years ago, some times in late 70s. The man who was very uncomfortable carrying the body so long just gave away.

I am not too sad at the departure of the legend. I am sad at his sufferings of last decades. And I am happy that the new generations, even a 12 year old kid embraced Azam Khan song exactly the way his/ her dad- grand dad did.

Long Live Azam Khan.

“The greater number is generally composed of men of sluggish tempers, slow to act . . .  they are unwilling to take early and vigorous measures for their defense, and they are almost always caught unprepared. . . .A smaller number, more expedite, awakened, active, vigorous and courageous, make amends for what they want in weight by their superabundance of velocity.’” — Edmund Burke

May 30 will be the 30th anniversary of the death of Ziaur Rahman. In March 1971, he had been one of the many junior Bengali officers in the Pakistani Army, junior to individuals like Brigadier Majumdar and Lt. Col. M. R. Chowdhury. Four years later, in November 1975, he was the Deputy Chief of Staff of the Bangladeshi Army, held in house-arrest as jets flew over Bangabhaban and Khaled Musharraf and Abu Taher played out their deadly game of thrones. In six more years, on the eve of his death, he was the President of Bangladesh.

In contrast to the lilliputs in uniform who followed him and aspired to be him, Zia never tried to overthrow a civilian government. The political party he founded, BNP, is alive and well, itself a minor miracle. Three times, BNP has formed a government by election; three times, it has had to face a coup by some parts of the military and civilian bureaucracy aimed at ejecting it from power. It is again winning elections, even after being subjected to the most intense program of repression that we have seen in post-1990 Bangladesh.

There is no need to rush and set down Zia’s legacy in stone; generations of future Bangladeshis (Zia’s term) will get to do so themselves. Suffice to say that history is unlikely to be unkind to him. Did he leave Bangladesh a more democratic state than he found it? Did he leave Bangladesh’s economy in better shape than he found it? Did he leave Bangladesh’s military force more organized and less rebellious than he found it? If the answers to these questions are yes, then his place is already assured.

Two hundred and twenty-four years before Zia’s death, the 50,000-strong army of the Nawab of Begal was defeated by 750 soldiers of the East India Company, and the world’s richest province disappeared into a morass of darkness. In March 1971, 100,000 Pakistanis tried to repeat history. That the Pakistanis failed, and Bangladesh emerged, was due to men and women like Ziaur Rahman, who acted in those fateful hours, as he lived his life, with a superabundance of velocity.

When the lionization of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman is the first priority of this government, one would expect that the stock of Kader Siddiqui, one of the few men who took up arms after the 1975 massacre, would be very high. Unfortunately, Siddiqui broke with Sheikh Hasins during the last Awami Lwague government. On 1 March, 2011, our Anti-Corruption Commission filed a case against him for amassing illegal wealth. About three weeks afterwards, Kader Siddiqui responded by saying that Ziaur Rahman was indeed the person who declared Bangladesh’s independence, while Sheikh Majib was the Father of the Nation and the indisputed leader of the Liberation War. As expected, this caused a lot of consternation in pro-government circles. On the eve of our Independence Day, he responded to his critics. Some excerpts are given below; the full article is here.

On Khandakar Delwar Hossain and the Change in Our Political Climate:
দুইদিন আগেও যারা তার কত নাহক সমালোচনা করেছেন, কত অপমান অপদস্ত করেছেন তারাই যখন তার মরদেহে ফুলমালা দিলেন, শতকণ্ঠে প্রশংসা করলেন, তখন আমার অন্তর আত্মা কেঁপে কেঁপে উঠছিল। ভাবছিলাম নেতৃবৃন্দের কোন কথা সত্য? ফুলমালা দেওয়ার পর শতমুখে প্রশংসা, না মৃত্যুর আগের দিনগুলোতে হাজার কণ্ঠে নিন্দা-অযৌক্তিক সমালোচনা? তবে আমার খুবই ভালো লেগেছে মরদেহের পাশে আওয়ামী লীগ সাধারণ সম্পাদক সৈয়দ আশরাফুল ইসলামের সভ্য ভাষণ। তার বাবা সৈয়দ নজরুল ইসলামের সঙ্গে খোন্দকার দেলোয়ার রাজনীতি করেছেন। তারপরও কেন যেন দুঃখ হয়, তার জীবিতকালে চিফ হুইপ থাকতে সংসদের টাকা নিয়ে বাড়িতে বাজার করেছেন, চিকিৎসার জন্য তহবিল তছরুপ করেছেন। এসব অভিযোগ না আনলে কি হতো না? কেন জানি না আমরা রাজনীতিবিদরাই রাজনীতিবিদদের প্রধান শত্রু। তাদের বড় বেশি অপমান-অপদস্ত করি। এক আমলা আরেক আমলাকে রক্ষা করতে কত চেষ্টাই না করে। কিন্তু এক রাজনীতিবিদ আরেক রাজনীতিবিদকে সব সময় খতম করতে চায়। অনেক মিথ্যা অভিযোগে বিরোধী রাজনীতিকদের জেলে পাঠিয়ে কি হেনস্থাই না করা হয়। অথচ স্বাধীনতার পর খান এ সবুর খান যখন বঙ্গবন্ধুকে চিঠি দিয়েছিলেন ‘ভাই মজিবর, তুমি দেশ স্বাধীন করেছ, আজ তুমি প্রধানমন্ত্রী। আমরা না হয় ভুলই করেছি। তাই বুড়ো বয়সে জেলে থাকবো?’ চিঠি পাওয়ার তিন-চার দিনের মধ্যে খান এ সবুর খানকে নিঃশর্ত মুক্তি দিয়েছিলেন। শাহ আজিজুর রহমান, তিনি যখন জেলে ওবায়দুর রহমান ও আমাকে দিয়ে শাহ আজিজের বাড়ির ভাড়া পাঠাতেন। সালাউদ্দিন কাদের চৌধুরীর বাবা ফজলুল কাদের চৌধুরী যখন জেলে ছিলেন তখন তার বাড়ি থেকে খাবার পাঠাতে কোনো দিন কোনো বাধা হয়নি। আলাউদ্দিন মতিন, হক-তোয়াহা সাহেবরা যখন পালিয়ে থাকতেন তাদেরও গোপনে টাকা পাঠাতেন। ধীরে ধীরে আজ কোথায় গেল সেসব রাজনৈতিক সহমর্মিতা। খোন্দকার দেলোয়ার হোসেনের মৃত্যুর পর এত প্রশংসা যারা করলেন, তারা তার জীবিতকালে অমন সীমাহীন জঘন্য সমালোচনা না করলেই কি পারতেন না? আজ যারা গলা ফাটিয়ে কথা বলেন তারা কিন্তু ওয়ান-ইলেভেনের জরুরি অবস্থার সময় ইঁদুরের গর্তে লুকিয়ে ছিলেন। সেদিন এই খোন্দকার দেলোয়ারই একজন নির্ভীক রাজনীতিবিদের মতো সিংহের তেজে মাঠে ময়দানে ছিলেন। তার নিজের দল বিএনপিতেও তিনি কম অপমানিত-লাঞ্ছিত হননি।

On Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Ziaur Rahman:
আমি মনে করি, বঙ্গবন্ধু শেখ মুজিব মানে বাংলাদেশ, বঙ্গবন্ধু শেখ মুজিব মানে স্বাধীনতা। তিনি স্বাধীনতার ঘোষক নন, স্বাধীনতার জনক। এখানে দোষের কি হলো? সেদিন বঙ্গবন্ধুর পক্ষে অনেকেই স্বাধীনতার ঘোষণা দিয়েছেন। জিয়াউর রহমানও দিয়েছেন। সামরিক ব্যক্তি ছিলেন বলে জিয়াউর রহমানের কণ্ঠে স্বাধীনতার আহ্বান মানুষকে অনেক বেশি উজ্জীবিত করেছে। এটাই সত্য। আমি তো জিয়াউর রহমানকে চিনতামও না, তার ঘোষণায় যুদ্ধেও যাইনি। অনেক আগে থেকেই যুদ্ধ প্রক্রিয়ায় জড়িত ছিলাম। কিন্তু সেদিন জিয়াউর রহমানের ঘোষণায় কমবেশি আমিও উজ্জীবিত হয়েছিলাম। শুধু আমি কেন, আমাদের অনেক বড় নেতাও সে সময় খুশি হয়েছিলেন। তানাহলে কলকাতার বালিগঞ্জের স্বাধীন বাংলা বেতার কেন্দ্র থেকে কেন জিয়াউর রহমানের ঘোষণা পুরো মুক্তিযুদ্ধের সময় নিয়মিতভাবে প্রচার করা হতো। এমআর আখতার মুকুলের কণ্ঠে চরমপত্রে কাদেরিয়া বাহিনীর গাবুর মাইর আর জিয়াউর রহমানের কণ্ঠে ‘I Major Zia do hear by declare independence of Bangladesh on behalf of our great national leader Bangobandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman প্রতিদিন কেন বাজানো হতো। জিয়াউর রহমানের সেই ঘোষণা ‘our great national leader’ না বলে শুধু বঙ্গবন্ধু শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান বা বঙ্গবন্ধু বললে কিংবা শেখ মুজিবুর রহমান বললে কোনো ক্ষতি হতো না। অশুদ্ধ হতো না। কিন্তু সেদিন বঙ্গবন্ধুর উচ্চতা কতখানি ছিল তার সেদিনের সেই হাইট বুঝা যায় জিয়াউর রহমানের কণ্ঠে Our great national leader বলায়। এখানে গ্রেট না বলে শুধু ন্যাশনাল বললে বাক্যের কোনো ক্ষতি হতো না। কিন্তু সত্যিকার অর্থে সে সময় বঙ্গবন্ধু যা ছিলেন জিয়াউর রহমান তাই বলেছেন। কোনো কমবেশি করেননি। করার উপায়ও ছিল না। যারা এখনো স্বাধীনতাকে স্বীকার করতে চান না তাদের কাউকেও যদি ওই সময় বেতার কেন্দ্রে নিয়ে যাওয়া হতো তাহলে তিনিও জিয়াউর রহমানের মতো একই কথা বলতেন। একসময় নবাব সিরাজ উদদৌলা তার ভাঁড় গোলাম হোসেনকে বলেছিলেন, ‘তুমি মনে করো নবাবের বান্দা যা বুঝে আমি নবাব হয়ে তাও বুঝি না? কিন্তু কি করবো গোলাম হোসেন? কোনো উপায় নেই, উপায় নেই গোলাম হোসেন।’ সত্যিকার অর্থে আজ যে যাই বলুক, ‘৭১-এ বঙ্গবন্ধুকে ছাড়া আমাদের কারোরই কিছু বলার বা করার উপায় ছিল না।জিয়াউর রহমানের ঘোষণা কেন স্বাধীন বাংলা বেতার কেন্দ্র থেকে মুক্তিযুদ্ধের সময় প্রচার করা হতো? জিয়াউর রহমানের তো স্বাধীন বাংলা বেতার কেন্দ্রের উপর কোনো প্রভাব বা নিয়ন্ত্রণ ছিল না। বেতার কেন্দ্রটি ছিল সরকারের নিয়ন্ত্রণে। আর সেটা পরিচালনা করতেন আমাদের টাঙ্গাইলের জননেতা আব্দুল মান্নান এমএনএ। স্বাধীনতার ঘোষক নিয়ে আমি তো এত মাতামাতির কোনো কারণ দেখি না। জিয়াউর রহমানের ঘোষণার রেকর্ড সবতো আর মুছে ফেলা যায়নি, এখনো তা রয়েছে। বাজিয়ে শুনুন না। তাতেই প্রমাণ হয়ে যাবে। আমি তাকে ঘোষক বললেই জিয়াউর রহমান ঘোষক হবেন, আমি না বললে হবেন না_ তা কি করে হয়? দেশের জনকের পক্ষে বা বঙ্গবন্ধুর পক্ষে জিয়াউর রহমানের কণ্ঠে একটা ঘোষণা যে উচ্চারিত হয়েছিল যা বারবার প্রচার হয়েছে তা কালের সাক্ষী হয়ে আমিও শুনেছি। সেটা চোখ কান বন্ধ করে অস্বীকার করি কি করে? আজ কোনো স্বার্থের কারণে অস্বীকার করলে পরম প্রভু দয়ালু আল্লাহ তো আমাকে ক্ষমা করবে না

On the current government:


কেন ক্ষমা চাইতে হবে? মুক্তিযুদ্ধ করে বড় বেশি অন্যায় করে ফেলেছি? স্বাধীনতার সঙ্গে সঙ্গে জনকের পায়ের কাছে সব অস্ত্র জমা দিয়ে ভুল করেছি? বঙ্গবন্ধুর লাশ যখন ধানমন্ডি ৩২-এর বাড়ির সিঁড়িতে পড়েছিল, তখন জীবন-যৌবন বিসর্জন দিয়ে মা-বাবা, ভাই-বোনের কথা চিন্তা না করে তাদের বন্দুকের নলের মুখে ফেলে সেই হত্যার প্রতিবাদ করে ১৬ বছর নির্বাসনে থেকে এখনো বেঁচে থেকে কি খুব অপরাধ করেছি? মাফ চাইতে বলছেন। আমার নামে অভিযোগটা কি? জাতির সামনে অভিযোগ আনেন। জাতি বিচার করুক তখন দেখা যাবে কাদের মাফ চাইতে হয়। বঙ্গবন্ধুর চামড়া দিয়ে যারা ডুগডুগি বাজাতে চেয়েছে, জুতা বানাতে চেয়েছে, বঙ্গবন্ধুকে যারা ফেরাউন বলেছে, যারা খুনি মোস্তাকের মুখ্য সচিব ছিল তাদের বগলতলে নিয়ে অত বড় বড় কথা শোভা পায় না। আমি অবশ্যই বলেছি বঙ্গবন্ধু কখনো স্বাধীনতার ঘোষক নন। তার স্বাধীনতা ঘোষণা দেওয়ার কোনো প্রয়োজনই ছিল না। তার অনেক ঘোষক ছিল। আমরা থাকতে তার কি দরকার ছিল? আজ রাষ্ট্রের কর্তৃত্ব কার দ্বারা নিয়ন্ত্রিত হয়? সরকার প্রধান মাননীয় প্রধানমন্ত্রীর কর্তৃত্ব ও নেতৃত্বে রাষ্ট্রপতির নামে পরিচালিত হয়। মাননীয় প্রধানমন্ত্রীর প্রায় সব কয়টি কেবিনেট মিটিংয়ের সিদ্ধান্ত ঘোষণা দেন তার বর্তমান প্রেস সেক্রেটারি আবুল কালাম আজাদ। এটাই নিয়ম, এটাই পদ্ধতি। সেদিনও এমন নিয়ম, পদ্ধতি ছিল।

Khandaker Delwar Hossain, Secretary General of BNP, former lawyer and lecturer of Economics, veteran of of the Language Movement, the 1969 uprising, and the War of Liberation, former Member of Parliament from Manikganj, former Chief Whip of the Bangladeshi Parliament, and the recipient of the Ekushey Padak, passed away yesterday. He will be missed.

Khandakar Delwar Hossain began his political life as a founding member and leader of Manikganj district brunch of National Awami Party when it was formed by Maolana Bhashani in 1957. Even before that, his career as a grassroots leader showed promise as the 7 time elected President of Manikgankj district Lawyers Association.

Most of Delwar’s political trajectory tracks those of many other Bangladeshi politicians. Like many other disgruntled members of our Left, he joined the newly-formed BNP at its formative period. Elected five times as a Member of Parliament, he was, during 1991-1996 and then 2001-2006, the Chief Whip of the Bangladeshi Parliament. Like many other career politicians, he was facing challenge in his area from a business magnet-turned-politician, namely Harunur Rashid Khan Munnu of Munnu Ceramics. Perhaps most damningly, he didn’t sugerc-coat his words when it was his turn to speak: not to Khaleda Zia, and not to Tareque Rahman.

When forming her government in 2001, Khaleda Zia had decided not give Delwar any position at all, while Munnu would be given a cabinet position. However, at the last minute, many of his colleagues interfered on his behalf, and he was again given the consolation post of Chief Whip, while Munnu was taken in the cabinet, thought without a portflio. Delwar mostly remained out of the limelight in 2001 – 2006.

Fast-forward to September 2, 2007. Khaleda Zia had just been arrested; BNP’s number-2 person – Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, had been co-opted by the “military-backed caretaker government.” Our present Prime Minister was already in prison, while her deputy, Abdul Jalil, had been broken under torture. Minus-two was this close to succedding.

But in an act of partial redemption, after making poorer and poorer choices regarding key personnel during her entire government, Khaleda Zia chose Khandaker Delwar Hossain as BNP’s new Secretary General. Before then, he had never held any cabinet positions, or indeed any senior leadership positions in his party. BNP was in ruins, most leaders were either in arrest, in hiding, or ready to side with General Moeen. The workers were resolute but scattered. The party of Ziaur Rahman was one good push from becoming history.

That push was attempted about a month later, in October. DGFI arranged a meeting of the turncoat BNP leaders in the residence of the frail ex-Finance Minister Saifur Rahman. The plan was to get a majority of the BNP Standing Committee members to show up at Saifur’s residence, and have Saifur, then in failing health, act as a figurehead, while Major Hafiz, and ultimately Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, consolidated the rest of the party around them.

It did not work. After a brutal visit by DGFI where he was physically threatened, Delwar refused to cooperate and instead went into hiding, and then chekced into BIRDEM to avoid arrest. DGFI failed to get a majority of the Standing Committee to show up, and the moment slipped away. At this crucial point, a half-century’s worth of experience, first commenced at the feet of Moulana Bhashani, proved its worth. BNP, and Sheikh Hasina, survived to fight another day. Delwar passed the test that his far more illustrious predecessors: K M Obaidur Rahman, and Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, did not.

To his credit, Delwar did not change his plain-spoken style even after Khaleda Zia emerged from prison, clashing with her and Tareque Rahman several times, most importantly about the future direction of the party and the fate of those who deserted BNP after 1/11. It may be something of a distant memory, but BNP was seen as an obsolete relic after Awami League had come back to power with a nine-tenth majority and Vision 2021 was in vogue. In this testing time, Delwar was a steady presence, and a voice of sobriety in inner-party deliberations. At a time when many were urging the BNP Chairperson to blindly oppose any move taken by the AL government, Delwar was particularly insistent that BNP could not, in principle, oppose a trial of the war criminals of 1971. There are instances when Delwar stormed out of party high commands meetings when he was having difficulty to convince the party chairperson/ other policy makers adopt his principled stand on many issues.

If the people of Bangladesh ever decide to forgive BNP for its many derelictions and mistakes and return the party to power, many individuals will again strut to the limelight of power and pretend that they are here by birthright. However, if not for this unassuming, non-telegenic politician, the political landscape of Bangladesh would be very different today. Khandaker Delwar Hossain fought the good fight, finished the race, and kept the faith. May his soul rest in peace.

Heavyset discussions regarding some documentary against Grameen Bank galore in our media and blog scene lately. National and international media, quoting a documentary, reported that Grameen founder prof Yunus embezzled a big sum o money from NORAD, a Norweigian development organization. Capturing that report, our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina developed a diarrhea of verbal abuses aimed at prof Yunus, even the org, NORAD, whose money has been reportedly embezzled, is saying that nothing wrong was done by Grameen.

So this blog cannot keep mum on this very important issue and taking cue from all high profile media and blogs, wants to present an in depth analysis old, over-used joke.

At the gate of the hell, one observer noticed that there is a hell guard at the hell holes for every nationals. There are few guards in the hole for American hellers, some guard for the hell of the British people, similarly a lot of guards for the hell of the Indian folks. But there was no guard near the hole for the Bangladeshis. When the hell’s guard in chief was asked about it, he told, ” we do not need to put a guard at the Bangladeshi hole. If one Bangladeshi tries to get out of the hell, the other Bangladeshis jointly pull her/ him down.”

I know you could not laugh at this old over-used joke. But that is all this blog has to say about the recent Grameen issue.

This blog was posted July 2007. Sheikh Hasina was just arrested by Gen Moeen and Masud government. The arrest was very humiliating. She was pushed, shoved, forced, dragged. Her glasses were falling off. No one spoke much against it. Media, intelelctuals kept quite. Except one person, her political rival Khaleda Zia. Let look back at the statement…

The Daily Star Reports,

Setting a rare example, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia yesterday demanded immediate release of her arch political rival Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina, and regretted failure of the administration to protect her [Hasina] dignity while being taken to court.

“I am deeply disheartened to see that being a former prime minister, chief of a political party, daughter of a national leader, an aged woman as well as a distinguished citizen of the country, she [Hasina] faced a disgraceful and indecent situation on the court premises,” Khaleda said in a statement, signed by Maruf Kamal Khan, deputy press secretary to the former prime minister.

BNP leaders however said they are not aware of any such statement.

“It [indecent situation] hurt all conscious people and destroyed the image of the government both at home and abroad,” Khaleda said. The situation could have been avoided if the government would have dealt with the matter carefully and consciously, she added.

The BNP chairperson said, “I think it would be better if her [AL chief] trial is held without arresting and sending her to jail or opposing her bail prayer.”

Calling for immediate release of Sheikh Hasina, Khaleda stressed conducting the case keeping her free. It would decrease the possibility of social and political instability and confusion.

(more…)

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