The audacity of Mr Niazi
Professor Mamun Al Mahtab (Shwapnil)
In today’s innovation driven world, the old English saying, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’, would better be said as ‘necessity is the mother of innovation’. The poor crow had to invent simply to drink water to mitigate it’s thirst. Today’s innovations, on the other hand, are driven by varied and more complex necessities.
For instance the recent innovation to bring the Indo-Bangla trading back on track. Someone had correctly commented that, one is alone at the summit. At the base-camp there are many, but the summit accommodates only one. So obviously there will be many who will not appreciate to see someone at the summit simply because of the fact that they could never make it to the top.
Surface trading constitutes a large segment of the ongoing trade between Bangladesh and India. This was brought to a sudden halt by the rampage of the COVID-19 pandemic in the region, as elsewhere in the globe. However as Bangladesh and India are gradually unlocking, the focus is on restarting our economies and for Bangladesh and India alike, an important aspect of putting respective economies back to business involves getting boarder trading get going.
This initiative however suffered major setback when the government of a neighboring Indian state objected to it citing COVID-19. Although they have shown little success in tackling COVID-19 compared even to their minor neighbors, it suddenly so appeared that everything would reverse and the disobedient ‘COVID-19 curve’ flatten only if the boarder trading would cease between these two rising Asian economies. With this background came the latest innovation that not only solves the stalemate, but have actually reduced the hassle and significantly boosted trading capacity between the two countries.
A recent report in the Hindustan Times therefore duly highlighted the movement of electronically sealed railway containers between Bangladesh and India. This innovative move has greatly eased the movement of exports and imports between the two neighbors. Besides larger quantities can now be moved with much ease.
The same report also highlighted the trans-shipment of Indian commodities through Bangladesh. In another smart move recently, electronically sealed Indian containers from Kolkata Port were transported from Chittagong Port by land across the Akhaura-Agartala border to Tripura from West Bengal. Only the transfer time was curtailed from seven days to two days by such an innovative arrangement, let alone the other uncountable advantages it offers to us, which concerned officials of our two countries are still busy analysing.
The Hindustan Times report however carries significance beyond issues related to trade only. In the recent times there have been several reports in the regional media, some important and others unheard off, trying to portray the gloomy side of Indo-Bangla relationship. While some are publishing photo-shopped photos of Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina exchanging greetings with Pak PM Imran Khan Niazi., the champion was perhaps the Pak newspaper Dawn, that published a twisted report that Imran had the rare opportunity to raise the issue of Pakistan occupied Kashmir during his recent phone call to Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. This was not reflected in the statement by the Press Secretary to the Bangladesh Hon’ble Prime Minister to the local media following this tele-conversation. The Dawn actually went on to misquote an Indian and another Bangladesh newspaper that Bangladesh’s regional focus was tilting towards Pakistan, stating that the Indian envoy in Dhaka had failed to call on the Bangladesh Premier despite nearly four months of efforts. The report in Hindustan Times has also clarified this issue, quoting the Bangladeshi Hon’ble Foreign Minister that the outgoing Indian High Commissioner has recently requested a farewell call on Hon’ble Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and that the meeting will take place in due course.
Another weird issue raised by the Dawn trying to humiliate Indo-Bangla relationships is to point to the award of an airport development project in Bangladesh to a non-Indian construction firm. To me by raising such an issue, the Pak newspaper has actually brought forward the reality of Pakistan to the world. Stories of how successive Pakistani PMs have minted money through unfair means in a country still dominated by the men in uniform, where corruption is the rule of the game, is nothing new to the world. Therefore if a Pakistani newspaper puts in black and white that the government can award any project to any company it wishes defying the procurement guidelines, it immediately comes to our minds that it’s Pakistan that’s being referred to. I therefore do not object to their way of looking at things. It’s the mindset of the Pakistani newspaper and it’s journalists, having been born and brought up in as country where the military and not the populous is the source of all power and where corruption reigns, is what prompted them to make such a comment. However the issue was also well clarified by the Bangladesh Hon’ble Foreign Minister to the Hindustan Times.
The recent article in Hindustan Times is a water shedder to aspirations of many who started living in the fool’s paradise in the recent days having been inspired by these ‘yellowish articles’ published in the media in recent times. However they repeatedly forget that Mr. Imran Khan is so obedient to his country’s brutal stand in Bangladesh in 1971, that he has very carefully curtailed his sirname from ‘Imran Khan Niazi’ to ‘Imran Khan’ in an attempt to erase he family ties with his uncle Lieutenant General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, better referred to as the ‘butcher of Bengal’, who led the Pak atrocities in occupied Bangladesh during the nine months of 1971 and subsequently led the Pakistanis to the most humiliating event in their history when he signed the instrument of unconditional surrender in the broad daylight of December 16, 1971 to the Joint India-Bangladesh Command. The day Mr. Imran Khan’s uncle signed that surrender instrument, the relationship between India and Bangladesh was sealed of blood and fire - the blood of Bangladeshi’s shed by the Pakistanis and the fire lit by his predecessors in my land.
To me these newspaper reports are not at all bothering, not to mention that the rumors that roam across our boarders these days don’t surprise me a bit. To me what is most surprising is the audacity of the Pak Premier to call for strengthening the ‘so called brotherly relationship between Bangladesh and his failed state’, being the nephew of the top war criminal of 1971 Lieutenant General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi and not having ever submitted unconditional apologies to the people of Bangladesh for what his forefathers did to our forefathers in Bangladesh in the not too distant past.
Writer: Professor Dr. Mamun Al Mahtab (Shwapnil) is Chairman, Department of Hepatology Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University and Member Secretary, Samprity Bangladesh