By S. M. Hali
Awami League’s incompetence and petty politics have caused the current murky political scenario in Bangladesh. The League, which is infamous not only for its Indian leanings but also for blindly taking dictations from India, has failed to address the problems of the impoverished masses of Bangladesh. Awami League’s subservience to India is so dominant that the party leadership feels obliged to kowtow dutifully to the Indians even when the Hindu extremists in Indian government demand that Bangladesh foul mouth both Pakistan and its prime security agency, the ISI.
Indian interference in the foreign relations of Bangladesh and meddling in its internal affairs has resulted in political turmoil and sullied the social milieu that it is having far reaching effects. Myopic vision of the Awami League led government, corruption of the political cadre, inefficiency and self aggrandizement of the government has blind sighted its leadership to an extent that they have become oblivious to the real issues and problems of the Bangladeshi citizens. The negative aspect of this attitude of the Awami League, currently ruling Bangladesh is that its masses remain stuck in the morass of ineptitude of the leaders while the people have lost their trust over their rulers. As Bangladesh heads for fresh polls, it is quite predictable that owing to its poor performance, incompetence and selfish approach to governance, Awami League is likely to be routed and rejected by the voters.
Bangladeshi citizens, even if they lack in prosperity, they possess political maturity and have the acumen to see through the political manipulations of the Awami League. Recent events and polling pundits’ observations indicate that Bangladeshis have lost hope in Awami League bringing about any positive change in their poverty ridden socio-economic standing and status of deprivation. The political awareness of the fiercely independent and patriotic Bangladeshis has caused them to lose faith and respect for Awami League, which has made their country into an Indian protégé and a subservient collaborator of Hindu extremists.
On the other hand, Awami League’s rival party, Begum Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is likely to challenge the current incumbents in power Awami League in the forthcoming elections. Fearing the impending loss in the polls and feeling the pinch of the likelihood of losing to BNP, the Awami League has launched a venomous propaganda campaign to malign BNP. The Awami League is insinuating that BNP leadership has links with ISI. In this malicious campaign of mudslinging, Awami League is being guided by its Indian mentors. The aim of their nervous slander operation is Pakistan bashing and smearing ISI in the same style that RAW, BJP and extremist Hindus target and torment Pakistan. The election campaign of Awami League has little to show to its voters in terms of progress so perhaps at the bidding of its Indian tutors; it has adopted the negative route of inculcating hate and falsely tarnishing the image of its opponents: the BNP.
Even a cursory glance of the contents hpw of the propaganda campaign carried by Bangladeshi print media depicts slur and libellous allegations against Begum Khaleda Zia and her family members. One such story claims that Mr. Tarique Rehman son of the BNP Chairperson, Begum Khalida Zia to be linked with ISI and receiving financial support from the Pakistani security agency. The apparently malevolent slander is quoted to be sourced from Bangladeshi Intelligence agency. The strategy is double edged; firstly to instil doubts in the minds of Bangladeshi voters against BNP leadership especially since Mr. Tarique Rehman is likely to take over the leadership of BNP from his mother (Begum Khalida Zia) and is a strong contestant to win elections in Bangladesh and secondly to appease Awami League’s Indian masters, whose sworn aim is to bring Pakistan down by hook or by crook. In the bargain, the Awami League expects to win the elections despite its poor performance while in the seat of government.
From Pakistan’s point of view, internal affairs of Bangladesh are its own problem. Pakistan remains its well wisher but deplores the aspersions being cast on it and one of its prestigious organizations the ISI. Bangladeshi media including columnists and academia should maintain a balance in their writings when they criticize Pakistan for its alleged meddling in its electoral process.
The people of Bangladesh reign supreme in the final verdict as to who should rule them. It is neither for India nor Pakistan to play their favourites. It is true that Bangladesh liberated itself from Pakistan with the help of India and as such Awami League may be feeling obliged to listen to it. During the civil war that raged in 1971, madness gripped both sides i.e. the people of erstwhile East Pakistan and the Pakistan Army. Atrocities were committed by both protagonists and Bangladeshi politicians rake them up, whenever Awami League is in power. However, the people of Bangladesh and Pakistan enjoy a special camaraderie which cannot be breached through propaganda. It has been observed during Pakistan-India cricket matches played on Bangladeshi grounds that the entire stadium supports Pakistani players. The Indian team management and political leadership has complained to Bangladeshi authorities time and again but the love and respect for each other is so spontaneous that no amount of political intervention can change it.
Under these circumstances, the current wave of anti Pakistan propaganda by a desperate and beleaguered Awami League is not only in bad taste but is likely to backfire as majority of the Bangladeshis will see through the ploy and reject the League in the elections. If some gullible persons do swallow the bait, that would be unfortunate.
On Pakistan’s part, its Foreign Office should take cognizance of this naked aggression on the part of Awami League to besmirch the reputation of Pakistan. Simultaneously, Pakistani media must take up the cudgels for its country and ISI to protect its good name. Unfortunately, some members of Pakistani media are so dazzled by Indian propaganda that they are willing to swallow hook line and sinker any smear against Pakistan. They need to see the reality.