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Pernicious influences in Bangladesh

Published : Saturday, 16 October, 2021 at 12:00 AM  Count : 1188
Muhammad Tahseen

Muhammad Tahseen

Muhammad Tahseen

For everything there is a proverbial straw that breaks a camel's back. In a country of 160 million, is there no one that has the courage of conviction to call a spade a spade? It is a matter of history that Bangladesh is indebted for the assistance afforded by India during the independence struggle and we should maintain a warm and cordial relationship with our most significant neighbour.

It is also a matter of fact that a small proportion of the population is comprised of minority groups of Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and Tribal people who must be afforded EQUAL and PROPORTIONATE opportunities in the country. This cultural meld has been the architect of the numerous industrial and commercial world-beating achievements of Bengal which have spanned many centuries.

But, it is a fact that Bangladesh owes its existence as a Muslim-majority region of Imperial British India. Its principal identity is indelibly linked with the Muslim Umma of the world. If a Palestinian hurts under the harsh torture of the Israelis, Bangladesh hurts also. If there are those who deny this, they have no appreciation of the Muslim Umma. I am confident and certain of the fact that if Bangabandhu were alive, he would have reflected these very sentiments and encouraged my articulation of the reality.

But all friends of Bangladesh must know that there are bounds and redlines in all friendships which must not be crossed. Anyone crossing these red lines must give little importance to the friendship. The political and diplomatic alliances of Bangladesh are its own business and it must be well understood that there will be many close alliances with other OIC countries of the Umma. Any subversion of this is treasonous to Bangladesh.

My younger brother, the very valorous Naseem Mohsin, died in the War of Independence, killed by criminal and misguided members of the Pakistan Army but this does not mean that, after decades, we cannot forgive and reconcile given the extensive family, cultural and religious ties with Pakistan. Many people of both Bangladesh and Pakistan regret the pogrom and war, and it is a sad indictment that Sheikh Mujib could not achieve his goal to be the leader of Pakistan, despite his compromising statesmanlike stance. And Imran Khan, Pakistan's Prime Minister, was my contemporary fellow student in England and known for his cricketing skills, charity work and decency.

In 1997, while a Team Leader on a project in New Delhi as a World Bank (ADB) sponsored project, to render assistance to the Petroleum Sector, I saw a notional map on the walls of the Directorate General of Hydrocarbons, in New Delhi, showing a oil/gas pipeline and communication system from Myanmar to India through Bangladesh. I told the Director General that this would never happen because of security issues over transit over Bangladesh, which no self-respecting patriotic Bangladeshi would allow! How wrong I was, when, a few years later, I found out to my horror, that we have given transit rights over Bangladesh to India, cementing the ad hoc map of 1947 partition of British India with its narrow corridor with Nepal, cutting off Bengal's hinterland.

I have it on good authority and am sad to say that the High Commissioner of Pakistan in Bangladesh was unable to present his credentials to our PM for over a year! If true, whoever was instrumental in blocking this must be considered to be a danger to Bangladesh's interests. This overt ham-fisted blocking of even diplomatic pleasantries would imply that there are treasonous elements around, who must be rooted out and punished.

It turns out that there are 'surveillance agents' outside the Pakistan Embassy, monitoring and keeping tabs on the traffic to the Embassy. Are these people from our Intelligence Services or from foreign-affiliated services? We must find out and take action immediately and determine who is friend and who is foe.

It is the complaint from OIC countries that any joint cultural events etc in Dhaka have dampeners put on them and guests are urged to not attend. There should be an immediate investigation to find out the offending heads of services and take immediate action. It is also alleged that any MOU or cooperation pursued by our Muslim brother nations suddenly disappear and are seen no more. This clearly indicates subversion at the highest levels of the Home and Foreign Ministries and moles in the pay of external Masters.

Bangladesh must not permit infiltrations at this level of government from any nation. We have different convergent interests with different friends, but there are divergent interests also. Our security and interests must be preserved and any offending interest groups identified and rooted out post haste. And any security surveillance personnel must be clearly identified and subject to challenge necessitating a production of Warrant of Authority to do so from a named Bangladeshi Intelligence Officer who can be contacted for verification purposes.

Bangladesh being treated as a stooge client nation is an anathema to all independent minded citizens.

Dr Muhammad Tahseen is a CENTO scholar in METU, Turkey and graduated in 1973. He is a regular contributor for The Daily Observer and writes from London

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