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Does corruption taint MOFA Secretary?

Shahidul Haque accused of taking bribes for transfers, postings and appointments

Nadeem Qadir:

If the top bureaucrat of a country’s foreign ministry gets immersed in corruption that country fails to promote its image on global platforms. The Asian Age has received blazing complaints of bribery and corruption from reliable sources of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) about Foreign Secretary Md. Shahidul Haque.

According to them, Haque has accumulated crores of taka during his six years’ unprecedented term as Foreign Secretary by taking mammoth amounts of bribes from the officials of MOFA for their transfers, postings and appointments.

A broad magnitude of dissatisfaction and anger has been prevailing in MOFA over the vices of Shahidul Haque, relevant sources have informed. Allegedly Shahidul Haque’s wife Sonia Sultana (TIN-710460539539, Circle -166, Zone -08) has also made large illegal earnings by taking advantage of her husband’s top post in MOFA.

She has great influence on her husband and has made money from MOFA officials for their postings in foreign countries, sources close to the Foreign Ministry told The Asian Age.

Bank accounts of Shahidul Haque and his family in AB Bank transactions show enormous amounts of money which have generated vivid suspicion.

An official statement on Shahidul Haque obtained by the Asian Age shows fixed deposit receipts (FDRs/TDRs) worth 114,00,000 (one crore fourteen lakh taka) in various banks, including his account number 4019-266951-441, AB Bank, Gulshan Branch. He has amassed US$ 63,000 (sixty three thousand US dollars) in his dollar account number 4019-266951-040.

Papers show that in fiscal 2012-2013, Shahidul transferred 65 lakh taka to his wife and in fiscal 2016-2017, 28 lakh taka as loan to unknown recipients without mentioning his taxpayer identification number (TIN), which is a gross violation of the regulations of National Board of Revenue (NBR).

His TIN number is 656389332781, Circle – 85, Zone -4). All his major monetary transactions are highly doubtful as these do not show recipient’s identity, banking sources said.

The sources said what was interesting that all the accounts were being maintained with AB Bank, which was headed by his elder brother Wahidul Haque, who is out on bail on a money laundering case lodged by the Anti-Corruption Commission and for suspicious transactions to Bangabandhu’s killer Shariful Haque Dalim and BNP chief Begum Khaleda Zia’s son Tarique Rahman.

Shahidul has expensive properties in the capital’s Baridhara and Purbachal areas, while his wife Sonia Sultana owns assets amounting worth several crores taka, concerned sources alleged. Questions have also been raised on how he can have plots in both Baridhara, Bashundhara,  Purbachol and several others in different locations.

Several MOFA officers recently sent a classified letter anonymously to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina seeking immediate action against Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque for his alleged corruption and misdeeds.

These officers have added that their life is in danger and they would identify themselves at an appropriate time. He has even resorted to unduly punishing officers he does not like in recent days.

According to the letter, Shahidul Haque has all along pampered and promoted MOFA officials who are ideologically obedient to Jamaat and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

The letter further states that Shahidul Haque’s father AFM Obaidul Haque was a sepoy in the Pakistan Army who stayed in Pakistan during the Liberation War of 1971.

AFM Obaidul Haque played a key role to free the then Army Chief Ziaur Rahman from house arrest during 4-7 November 1975 and quickly became a confidant of Ziaur Rahman, getting the reward of being promoted to Habilder Major.

Shahidul Haque was born in Quetta, Pakistan, in 1959. He completed his primary education in Pakistan. He joined the Foreign Service in 1986 but he faced temporary suspension for torturing and illegally divorcing his wife Rahin Khaled.

Shahidul Haque put on a pro-Awami League mask when the current ruling party came to power in 2009 and managed to become Foreign Secretary in 2013, according to MOFA sources.


MOFA officers have complained that Shahidul Haque has set up an evil syndicate in the Foreign Ministry and has cornered the pro-liberation officials.

Allegedly he posted officials backed by Jamaat and BNP to key places like Switzerland, Germany, UK, China, Sri Lanka and Malaysia, whereas the officials who uphold the spirit of 1971 were humiliated, harassed and unceremoniously thrown out.

Cases are planned and a nexus implements them at any cost, including the use of media through certain reporters known for their extraordinary closeness to the foreign secretary.

Shahidul Haque reportedly provided a great deal of confidential information related to national interest to the leaders of BNP, Jamaat and Islami Chhatra Shibir. Mentionable are former foreign minister M. Morshed Khan and former foreign secretary Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury.

Foreign Ministry sources said Shahidul divided the MOFA officials into two groups-one group who were loyal to late Foreign Secretary Mijarul Quayes and another group who are submissive to him (Shahidul Haque).

He allegedly harassed and deprived talented officials who were not in his group. Complaints from MOFA officials show that he awarded less qualified people with postings to the United States, Americas and Europe, while those who are his rivals were sent to Africa.

Shahidul Haque has appointed well-known Jamaat leader Abdul Motaleb Sarker to Lebanon and protected him despite numerous allegations of graft against him.

Allegedly Shahidul also appoints people to lucrative posts in exchange of cash and gifts, the sources alleged. Two widely known BNP loyalists, Riaz Hamidullah, Bangladesh’s High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, and Director of Foreign Secretary’s office Iqbal Ahmed are Shahidul Haque’s closest associates, MOFA officers have said.

MOFA officers have said that Shahidul is a highly vindictive man and has harassed and persecuted a number of officials only because of their not accepting his political ideology or his illegal ways of operation.

Allegedly many of the officers, who uphold the spirit of 1971, are either pushed aside as officers on special duty (OSD) or deprived of promotions.  The ministry has a total of at least 65 departmental cases most of which arose after Shahidul took over, based on his personal likes and dislikes, reliable sources from MOFA have informed.

The letter from the MOFA officers to the Prime Minister states that Shahidul Haque is indirectly connected with the transfer of 165  crore taka to acting BNP chairman Tarique Rahman through AB Bank’s ex chairman and his brother Wahidul Haque.

MOFA officers in their letter to the Prime Minister appealed for taking stern actions against Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque and to remove him from this post with immediate effect, keeping in view the upcoming election.  The syndicate he heads has to be broken also.

One of his syndicate close confidants is Khandaker M. Talha, the ex-deputy high commissioner in London, who was withdrawn recently for negligence when BNP men attacked the high commission in London and dishonoured Bangabandhu’s picture.

The prime minister blasted the high commission officials over such an ugly incident.The probe report on the attack has not yet been made public and which official or officials have been punished is not yet known.