By Nadeem Qadir:
Almost after four decades, I was confronted with a shameful question by a friend from another country. His questions raised the issues like whether Bangaldeshis were ungrateful and unpatriotic.
The other question he asked me if Bangladeshis knew what they really want.
In 1984, I was told by a veteran American journalist at the UN Headquarters in New York that Bangladeshis are ungrateful when he learned about my nationality.
I was shocked as to what crime the Bangladeshis have committed to be labelled as an “ungrateful nation.”
He explained “Bangladeshis should be ashamed for killing their founding father (Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman) who was an incomparable revolutionary leader of the world.”
The journalist, Mr. David Horowitz, passed away a few years back and followed Bangladesh keenly because of Bangabandhu and a secular Muslim-majority country. He was a Jew and we became very good friends.
Not only I learned a lot about journalism, but also why the Middle East will never find peace due to the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem — a city holy for Muslims, Christians and Jews.
When I told him why not the three faiths were given equal rights to practice their religion in Jerusalem, David replied if the world was so kind then Bangabandhu would not have been killed.
Coming back to my friend, an Indian businessman, he labelled us a an “ungrateful nation” for almost the same reason and this time it was Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangabandhu’s worthy daughter.
Discussing about the rapid infrastructural of the country and the strong economy despite the more than year long pandemic under Sheikh Hasina, my friend, Rajesh, said “she has done so much for you all, yet I find many complaining about her leadership. I am amazed. I am not sure which other leader could do what she has done for her people.”
I agreed that most people were ignorant about national development and the benefits they are or will be getting. These people are either anti-Indian and pro-Pakistani or pro-China and thus they will never learn to appreciate what is good, leave aside Sheikh Hasina.
Rajesh laughingly retorted “My friend do you people know what you want in terms of leadership or what should Bangladesh be. They just comment or bad-mouth others for no reason and appears to be a destructive but popular pass-time.” He added that some of my fellow journalists he came across over snacks that he treated even bad-mouthed me. These dear colleagues lacked facts about the incidents which even Rajesh knew. They could not tarnish my image, but it cost the image of Bangladesh. It spoke of extreme low mentality because despite knowing I am his friend, these dear colleagues bad-mouthed me. I gained. You lost. Thank you.
Our conclusion over a cup of raw tea at open-air restaurant was that lack of patriotism, Bangabandhu’s shameless brutal killing, a nation which is never happy with the leadership of the time or any other unique trait of this South Asian country are linked to the turncoats who always enjoy the perks or cream of the time. Corruption is another major factor linked to the turncoats because they are busy making money and stashing them abroad by stealing peoples money.
The main opposition party BNP lacks leadership and does not know what it wants until what fugitive from law Tarique Rahman wants and lacks the minimum political graciousness of appreciating the good of the government.
All it does is making statements criticising everything the government does by keeping one eye shut. Have they uttered one good word about the Padma Bridge, our national pride. Maybe they can’t as their chief Khaleda Zia had warned the people not use it when completed as it will be made with bamboos and collapse any time!
The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) must teach the new generation the art of positive politics and not only try to go to power riding on the back of fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami or the Hefazat, a group claiming to be apolitical but destroying state property to go to power.
The parliamentary opposition Jatiya Party has failed to take BNP’s place because of internal squabbling, strong leadership and happy to have a place as people’s representative. But very importantly a member of parliament must work for national unity, positive and patriotic politics and force the government to deal with issues that are overlooked or sidetracked.
Thus the other conclusion which I have is that we have non-committal politicians who are just happy with the perks they are enjoying.
Poor people! Poor Bangladesh!
When will we be able to wipe out such negative images is a million dollar question which, possibly, God will not be able to answer. But let us at least take the first step — recognising the achievements of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who has done wonders for the people of (ungrateful!) Bangladeshis.
Nadeem Qadir is Editor-in-Charge, the Asian Age, and a Dag Hammarskjold Fellow