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Hussain Imam
31 January, 2010, Dhaka

When BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia criticises Sheikh Hasina or her government on any matter, (or vice versa), it can be in most cases assumed that the latter must have done something good. The more severe the criticism, the higher is the chance of such assumption turning out to be true.

If we go by this theory, the way BNP chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia has reacted to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s recent visit to India is a clear indication that Sheikh Hasina’s trip has been a tremendous success.

Sheikh Hasina has during her visit signed three treaties, one memorandum of understanding (MoU), one protocol, and a joint communiqué. While the treaties related mostly to ensure security of the region through united action against terrorism, religious jingoism, political insurgency and women and drug trafficking, the other agreements including the joint declaration aimed at resolving all other bilateral and multi-lateral issues through mutual discussion based on good friendly relations between the two countries.

Sheikh Hasina thinks that her visit has been a complete success. She thinks that the visit has opened a new horizon of bilateral and regional cooperation between the two countries. Why should she not?

As reported by an Indian journalist, when Sheikh Hasina, during her summit meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, took out her list of demands, Manmohan Singh told her that she did not have to ask anything. Whatever was the need of Bangladesh, India would go to the furthest extent to meet those demands.

Begum Khaleda Zia

Regarding Tipaimukh Dam, the most sensitive issue for Bangladesh, Manmohan Singh has categorically told Hasina that India will not do anything that will harm Bangladesh. About sharing water of Teesta and other common rivers, both the countries have agreed to a ministerial level JRC meeting on urgent basis.

India is our big neighbour, bordering us on three sides — east, west and north. It is a vast country, seven times bigger than our country by population alone. It is the largest democracy and one of the fastest growing economies in the world, poised to be the third biggest economic superpower in a decade or so.

When the prime minister of such a country, and if the prime minister is Manmohan Singh, one of the finest men at the helm of affairs anywhere, gives such assurance, why should not Sheikh Hasina, as prime minister of Bangladesh, feel confident of her success in the mission?

Given the nature of the politics BNP has been pursuing ever since it came into existence, it is not surprising that the chairperson of the party will oppose every move Sheikh Hasina makes, and if it is anything related to India, she will use her anti-Indian trump card and go to any extent to spoil the broth.

Begum Zia has tried to do exactly that. She has, through a hurried press conference, termed the visit not only a total failure but also harmful to the nation. She has accused Sheikh Hasina of giving everything to India and getting nothing for Bangladesh in return. She did not stop there. She has, as she did when the AL government signed the historic peace treaty of Chittagong Hill Tracts in 1997, accused Sheikh Hasina of selling the country to India.

In 1997, it was up to Feni that Khaleda Zia accused Shekh Hasina of selling to India. This time it is the whole country. No wonder, Sheikh Hasina was quick enough to ask Begum Zia if she needed an Indian visa to visit her hometown in Feni.

Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India and the agreements or understandings arrived at during the visit have, as many a political analysts, academics and economists across the region agree, turned over a new leaf of relation between the two countries, and if the treaties and the agreements see the light of the day, both the countries, indeed the whole South Asian region will be immensely benefited. The whole region will usher in a new era of peace and prosperity. Why not wait and see?

Bangladesh has allowed India, along with Nepal and Bhutan, to facilitate transit of their cargo to their hinterlands through Chittagong, Mongla and Ashuganj port and, in return, Bangladesh will also be able to transit its cargo to and from Nepal and Bhutan using Indian territory. This will not only bolster economic activities of our ports and earn huge revenue but also help develop trade and business activities between the countries. This is a practice not uncommon elsewhere. Singapore and Rotterdam are glaring examples in front of us.

It is unfortunate that Begum Zia or for that matter her think tanks and advisers do not realise that their anti-Indian card has gone all blunt. The present generation is not prepared to buy it any longer. They want to go ahead with the others. They know very well that in the face of imminent threat of climate change and terrorist activities across the region there is no alternative to active cooperation and friendly relation among all the neighbouring countries of the region.

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Hussain Imam, a former merchant navy officer, is a regular contributor to The New Age, the Daily Star and Daily Sangbad.

এই নিবন্ধটি লেখক সংঘে প্রকাশিত হয়েছে।

মুহম্মদ তাওসিফ সালাম
২৩ জানুয়ারি, ২০১০

তিনি বোর্ডের সভাপতি। আমি জানিনা বিসিবি সংবিধানে পদবী অনুযায়ী ঊর্দ্ধতন-নিম্নস্তন অবস্থানের ক্রমটি কি রকম, শীঘ্রই জানতে হবে। কিন্ত আপাতদৃষ্টিতে তিনি বোর্ডের সভাপতি, দীর্ঘকাল যাবৎ তার পরিচয় তিনি একজন শীর্ষস্থানীয় ব্যাবসায়ী, বর্তমান সরকারী দলের একজন নেতা এবং হয়তোবা একজন দাতাও। বর্তমানে তার পরিচয়ে আরও মাত্রা যুক্ত হয়েছে – তিনি ক্ষমতাসীন দলের একজন প্রভাবশালী আইন প্রণেতা। অতএব বাইশ তেইশ বছর বয়সী বাংলাদেশ জাতীয় দলের ক্যাপ্টেন, সে যে-ই হোননা কেন, ক্ষমতা ও প্রতিপত্তির বিচারে অবশ্যই অনেক নীচের সারিতে অবস্থান করছেন।

লক্ষ্য করুন এখানে কোন নির্দিষ্ট রাজনৈতিক দলের নাম উল্লেখ করিনি। উল্লেখ করিনি কেননা উল্লিখিত রাজনৈতিক অবস্থানের ব্যাক্তিবর্গ দেশের উভয় বড় দলেই বিদ্যমান এবং তাদের দৃষ্টিভঙ্গির উল্লেখযোগ্য পার্থক্য এখনও কারও গোচর হয়নি। অতএব এই লেখাটি রাজনীতির সাথে সম্পৃক্ত কোন নিবন্ধ হিসেবে চিহ্নিত না হোক, সেটাই চাইছি।

বিসিবির সভাপতি এ.এইচ.এম মোস্তফা কামাল লোটাস সম্প্রতি জনসমক্ষে ন্যাশনাল টিমের বিরুদ্ধে যে উষ্মা প্রকাশ করেছেন, তা অবশ্যই পর্যালোচনার দাবিদার। তিনি কি বলেছেন সেটা ইতমধ্যেই সবার জেনে যাওয়ার কথা। তাও পুরো ঘটনাটা সংক্ষেপে নীচে একটা ছোট প্যারায় তুলে ধরা যাক।

হোটেল সোনারগাঁওয়ে ন্যাশনাল টিমকে সংবর্ধনা দেয়ার জন্যে একটি অনুষ্ঠানের আয়োজন করা হয়েছিল। এই অনুষ্ঠানে উপস্থিত ছিলেন বিসিবি সভাপতি লোটাস কামাল। অনুষ্ঠানে বক্তব্য রাখতে গিয়ে কামাল প্লেয়ারদের সম্পর্কে বলেন- তারা দায়িত্মজ্ঞানহীন; তাদের প্রয়োজনীয় কমিটমেন্ট নেই; খেলার মাঝে জেতার ষোলআনা ইচ্ছা নেই; এক রানের জন্য লিড নিতে পারেনা; ড্রেসিং রুম থেকে তাদের উদ্দেশ্যে কোন কাজের মেসেজ যায় বলে মনে হয়না; কোন কমিউনিকেশান নাই। এসব কথা চলতে থাকা অবস্থাতেই হতভম্ব প্লেয়ার, প্রেস ও অন্যান্যরা একে অন্যের দিকে তাকাতে থাকেন। তারা হতভম্ব হতেই পারেন, কারন তারা তো জানতেন এখানে পুরষ্কার, সংবর্ধনা, ফটোসেশন ইত্যাদি সুন্দর সুন্দর জিনিষপত্রের সাথে থাকবে সুন্দর সুন্দর কথা। গোলাগুলির আশংকা তাদের দূরতম কল্পনাতেও ছিল না। প্রতিরক্ষামূলক ব্যাবস্থা নেই উপলব্ধি করে এক পর্যায়ে ন্যাশনাল টিম ক্যাপ্টেন সাকিব আল হাসান প্রতিআক্রমণকে শ্রেয়জ্ঞান করেন, মাইক্রোফোন হাতে বলেন, “আমাদের দায়িত্মবোধ নিয়ে যারা কথা বলেন, আশা করি কথা বলার সময় তারা নিজেদের দায়িত্মজ্ঞান বজায় রাখবেন”। এই মন্তব্য শোনার পর নাকি লোটাস কামালের চেহারা হয়েছিল দেখার মত। বক্তব্যদান শেষ হওয়ার পর সাকিবকে কেউ একজন ডেকে নিয়ে যায় লোটাস সাহেবের কাছে। সম্ভবত অলি গলিতে বড়ভাইরা যেমন ‘চিপা’-এ নিয়ে যায় অনেকটা সেরকম ঘটনা। চিপা অবশ্য কারওরই দৃষ্টির অগোচর ছিলনা, সেখানে সাকিবকে দেখা গিয়েছে নত মস্তকে লোটাস কামালের দাপটাদাপটির সামনে দাঁড়িয়ে থাকতে। সাকিব সেখানে লোটাস কামালের কাছে দুই হাত জোড় করেছেন, ক্ষমাই চেয়েছেন হয়তো। সেই ফটো আবার দৈনিক কালের কন্ঠ পত্রিকায় ছাপাও হয়েছে। তেলেসমাতি আর কাকে বলে!

লোটাস কামাল অবশ্য কিছু ব্যাখ্যাও দিয়েছেন। তিনি বলেছেন তিনি একজন প্রফেশনাল। তিনি চাইবেন পারফর্ম্যান্স। তার দাবি থাকবে জয় এবং তার কাছে প্লেয়ারদের কমিটমেন্টও হতে হবে জয়। ম্যাচ শেষে সেটা জয় না হয়ে যদি জয়ের কাছাকাছিও হয়, সেটা তিনি বিবেচনা করে দেখবেন। কিন্তু প্লেয়াররা খেলার আগে জেতার কথা না বলে বলবে ভালো খেলার জন্য খেলব, ওটি হবে না।

লোটাস কামালকে বাংলাদেশের আপামর ক্রিকেটপ্রেমী ও একনিষ্ঠ দর্শকদের একজন ধরে নিলে তার ক্ষোভের বিষয়বস্তু উপলব্ধি করা সহজ। তার তুলে ধরা বেশিরভাগ পয়েন্টকেই ক্রিকেটের সমঝদার ও না-সমঝদার, সবাই সমর্থন করবেন।

কিন্তু কয়েকটা ব্যাপার মেলানো যাচ্ছেনা। যেমন লোটাস কামালের স্থান-কাল-পাত্র জ্ঞান। তিনি বলেছেন তিনি প্রফেশনাল। সম্ভবত বোঝাতে চেয়েছেন যে তিনি একজন নেতা যিনি প্রতিষ্ঠানের অর্গানগুলোর কাছ থেকে সর্বোচ্চ পারফর্ম্যান্স আশা করবেন, এবং সেটা সম্ভব করার জন্য নরম-গরম কোন পন্থা অবলম্বন করতেই দ্বিধাবোধ করবেন না।

কথা হচ্ছে, একজন প্রফেশনাল কি কখনও বিশ্ববাসীকে জানিয়ে সমস্ত মিডিয়াকে সামনে রেখে তার অধীনস্তদের গুষ্টি উদ্ধার করবেন? এরকম নজির কি আছে কোথাও? একজন প্রফেশনাল যিনি প্রতিষ্ঠানের শীর্ষে অবস্থান করেন তাকে অবশ্যই তার সাবঅর্ডিনেটদের প্রতি অম্ল ও মধুর দুই আচরণই করতে হবে, নেতৃত্বরক্ষা ও দক্ষতা বাড়ানো, উভয় উদ্দেশ্যেই। কিন্তু তিনি কি সেই প্রতিষ্ঠান আয়োজিত কোন সংবাদ সম্মেলনে কোনদিন তার কর্মীদের এক হাত নিবেন? এতে তার কর্মীদের মনোবল কোথায় যাবে? নেতা হিসেবে এ ধরণের পেটপাতলা লোক কি কখনও নিজেকে প্রফেশনাল দাবি করতে পারে?

একজন ফ্যান হিসেবে বাংলাদেশ ক্রিকেট টিমের প্রতি লোটাস কামালের সমর্থন নিয়ে কোন সন্দেহ নেই, এবং টিম জিততে না পারায় তিনি হতাশ। তো এ ধরণের সমর্থক তো দেশে আরো ১৬ কোটি আছেন। জিততে না পারলে তারাও হতাশ হন। অনেকে প্লেয়ারদের গ্যালারি থেকে দুয়ো দেন, কেউ কেউ মারতেও ধরেছিলেন। তো এদের সাথে আর বিসিবি প্রেসিডেন্ট লোটাস কামালের তফাত কি রইল? তিনি একজন ক্ষমতাবান এমপি, যার বিরুদ্ধে অবস্থান নিলে খোদ আওয়ামী লীগের অনেক নেতাকেই নাকানি চোবানি খেতে হতে পারে। এই অহংকারই কি লোটাস কামালের বোধবুদ্ধিকে হজম করে নিয়েছে? সাকিবকে দুটো কথা শোনালে কেউ কিছু বলার নেই, বরং প্রতিবাদ করলে সাকিবকেই হার মেনে ক্ষমা চেতে হবে, এটা জেনেই কি তিনি বিষ উগরে দিলেন?

মনে পড়ে, বর্তমান সরকার ক্ষমতায় আসার পর তাদের একজন বিশিষ্ট নেতা জয়নাল হাজারী জামিনে মুক্ত হওয়ার পর জানিয়েছিলেন বাকি জীবন ক্রিকেট নিয়ে থাকতে চান, প্রধানমন্ত্রী ও তার প্রিয় সভানেত্রীর কাছে আবেদন করবেন বিসিবির দায়িত্মটা তার হাতে দেওয়ার জন্যে। তখন আমরা বলেছিলাম, বাহ্! এবার তো আমাদের ব্যাটসম্যানরা আউট হলে আর ড্রেসিং রুমে যাবে না, মাঠ থেকে সোজা আত্মগোপনে যাবেন। প্রাণের ভয় কার নেই? বিশেষ করে টিপু সুলতানকেই বা কে চেনে না। তো সেটা ছিল জয়নাল হাজারীর ক্ষেত্রে প্রযোজ্য।

লোটাস কামালকে যখন বিসিবির প্রেসিডেন্ট বানানো হল, তখন সত্যিই ভেবেছিলাম যে অন্তত এই অ্যাপয়েন্টমেন্টটা অ্যাটর্নি জেনারেল বা ঢাকা বিশ্ববিদ্যালয়ের উপাচার্যের মত হয়নি। লোটাস কামাল, আরেফীন সিদ্দিকী বা মাহবুবে আলম এনারা সবাইই রাজনৈতিক লোক ও নিয়োগও পেয়েছেন একান্ত রাজনৈতিক বিবেচনায়, কিন্তু লোটাস কামালের বিসিবির প্রেসিডেন্ট হওয়াতে তেমন নিরাশ হইনি। তাকে একজন সফল ব্যাবসায়ি ও দক্ষ ব্যাবস্থাপনার লোক বলেই জানি। কিন্তু তিনি সম্প্রতি আমাদের নতুন করে ভাবতে বসিয়ে দিলেন।

ঘটনা অতিবাহিত হতে হতেই সাকিব সমর্থন পেয়েছেন বাংলাদেশের প্রায় সব ক্রিকেটারের পক্ষ থেকেই। এককালের ক্যাপ্টেনগণ যেমন নাইমুর রহমান দূর্জয়, খালেদ মাসুদ পাইলট এবং আমিনুল ইসলাম বুলবুল, এনারা সবাই বোর্ড সভাপতির আচরণকে ঔদ্ধত্য হিসেবে দেখছেন। সভাপতিও যে সমর্থন পাননি তাই বা বলি কি করে। দেশের স্বঘোষিত সর্বাধিক প্রচারিত দৈনিক যারা এই সভাপতির নিয়োগে উদ্বেল হয়ে উঠেছিল, তারা মোটামুটি চেপেই গিয়েছে এই পুরো ঘটনাটা।

তবে এটা ঠিক যে তাৎক্ষণাৎ প্রতিক্রিয়া দেখানোতে সাকিব আল হাসানেরও কিছুটা ছেলেমানুষি প্রকাশ পেল। লোটাস কামাল বিসিবির প্রেসিডেন্ট, আওয়ামী লীগের ক্ষমতাধর এমপি ও আবাহনী ক্রিকেটের শীর্ষস্থানীয় কর্মকর্তা বলে বলছি না। সাকিব আল হাসান জাতীয় দলের ক্যাপ্টেন। এ ধরণের তাৎক্ষণাৎ প্রতিক্রিয়া দেখানো তার শোভা পায় না নিশ্চয়ই। এ কথা সত্য যে ক্যাপ্টেন হিসেবে তিনি বোর্ডের কাছ থেকে আরও সমর্থন আশা করেন, অন্তত পক্ষে লোটাস কালামের এই লোকসমক্ষে রূঢ় আচরণ আশা করেন না। কিন্তু খেলোয়াড় হিসেবে এসকল পরিস্থিতিতে নিঃশব্দে সামলে ওঠার গুণটা তার থাকা জরুরী। বোঝা গেল এখনও সেই গুণ পরিপক্ক ভাবে রপ্ত হয়নি। তাড়াতাড়ি রপ্ত হওয়া প্রয়োজন। আর লোটাস কামাল সাহেব, বেশ পরিণত বয়স্ক মানুষ, তাকে আর কি শেখার জন্য বলব, শুধু বলা যেতে পারে, স্থান-কাল-পাত্র জ্ঞানটা আরেকটু ঝালিয়ে নিলে সবারই মঙ্গল।

তবে সবশেষে এটা না বলে উপায় নেই, লোটাস কামালের মত মানসিকতার দিক থেকে পিছিয়ে থাকা কর্মকর্তাদের অভিভাবক হিসেবে পেয়ে আমাদের প্লেয়াররা এগিয়ে থেকেও সামগ্রিক ভাবে হয়তোবা পিছিয়েই থাকবেন। এদের কাছ থেকে প্লেয়াররা যখন স্বান্ত্বনা চান তখন পাবেন ধিক্কার, আর যখন সমর্থন চান তখন পাবেন আক্রমন। আর এক সময় যখন এই প্লেয়াররা সব কাটিয়ে উঠে সাফল্য পাবেন, তখন এই কর্মকর্তারাই লজ্জা বিসর্জন দিয়ে সাফল্যের ক্রেডিট তুলে নিবেন নিজের কাঁধে। এনারা কর্মকর্তা হিসেবে নন, বরং গ্যালারিতে বসে হৈচৈ করবার যোগ্য। অতএব এনাদের গ্যালারিতে পাঠিয়ে দেয়া হোক। এনারা বরং হসপিট্যালিটি বক্সে বসে সপরিবারে খেলা দেখুন আর বুঝে না বুঝে যা খুশি মন্তব্য করুন, যেগুলো কেউ শুনবে না। বোর্ড বরং ছেড়ে দেওয়া হোক তাদের হাতে যারা প্লেয়ারদের সাথে ব্যাক্তিগত আলোচনাকে গুরুত্ব দিয়ে আপত্তির কথা তখন জানাবেন, অন্তত সংবাদ সম্মেলনে উচ্ছৃংখলতার জন্ম দিবেননা, প্লেয়ারদের স্পিরিটের বারোটা বাজাবেননা।

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মুহম্মদ তাওসিফ সালাম একজন বাংলাদেশী ব্লগার।

Moinuddin Naser
14 January, 2010, New York

India has become desperate to capture the Bangladesh’s telecommunication system and to build up a fibre optic network by using the Cox’s Bazar submarine cable to connect India’s seven sisters in the Northeast India. In this connection the Indian Telecom companies Bharti Airtel and Reliance Communications have already submitted a joint proposal to Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC). Thaindia news, a web based news media reported about the development centring the Bangladesh’s communication system.

Bangladesh’s defence network

Experts opined that if India has to depend on Bangladesh regarding maintaining communication with its north eastern provinces, why it had turned down the proposal of sub-regional cooperation as was mooted by the Awami League government in the year 1996. Experts now opine that if it happens so, India will be able to control Bangladesh’s communication system, including the defence network fully. Even the military establishments of Bangladesh will be nothing but an extension of the Indian eastern command.

Apart from the proposal of fibre optic network, Bharti Airtel is about to complete a deal to buy 70 per cent share of Bangladesh’s Warid Telecom for a reported $900 million from Abu Dhabi Group. While Bharti and Reliance are rivals to each other in the Indian domestic market they have joined hands while bidding for fibre optics network in Bangladesh.

Before getting Transit – Corridor through Bangladesh for easier communication with the isolated North-Eastern Provinces (Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Monipur, Mizoram, Arunachal and Nagaland), India wants to build up the fibre-optic network, by using the existing submarine lending cable of Bangladesh, the backbone of the Bangladesh’s international communication. The cable again is frequently disrupted, sometimes due to theft of cable and sometime for technical reasons. However Bharti and Reliance have offered Bangladesh access to the alternative submarine cable in exchange of the permission to build up fibre optic network.

The seven north eastern states now get telecom services through VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) at a high price.

Cox’s Bazar: Disruption likely

A BTRC official confirmed the report and said that as per the proposal Bangladesh could use the companies’ undersea cable network as an alternative to lone submarine cable SEA-ME-WE-4. The existing optical fibre line connects Dhaka to the south-eastern Cox’s Bazar’s submarine cable landing station. It serves as the backbone of international communication, while satellite services act as backup with limited bandwidth.

Experts opined that if India is allowed to build up fibre optic network in Bangladesh that will surely disrupt the Bangladesh’s communication with outside world. It is not feasible before launching its own satellite by Bangladesh.

Meanwhile Bangladesh plans to join 50 other countries, including South Asian neighbours India and Pakistan, to ramp up its communications network by launching a satellite.

The cost of the programme will be between $150 million and $200 million according to Post and Telecommunications Minister Raziuddin Ahmed Raju. Bangladesh has started talking to different countries including the US, Japan and China, to help launch own satellite by Bangladesh.

Reuters’ report

Bharti Airtel has almost finalized a deal with the Abu Dhabi group to buy 70m percent of Bangladesh’s Warid Telecom. The total deal will cost $900 million while the initial investment will be $300 million. Reuters reported from India that Bharti declined to make any comment, but its share has gone up by 2.8 per cent while Abu Dhabi Group Chief Commercial Officer Ali Tahir said that they expect to seal the deal by mid-January 2010. But he did not disclose the sale price.

Bharti targeted this small deal with Abu Dhabi Group to buy Bangladesh’s share when the company failed to materialise its $24 billion merger with South Africa’s MTN. South Africa showed its reluctance to allow a flagship corporate to lose its national character.

Warid is the Bangladesh’s fourth-biggest telecom company. As per the contemplated deal, Abu Dhabi Group will retain 30 per cent share, said the report quoting the source of the selling firm. The sale proceed is likely to help Dubai, which has been crunched recently.

Reuters report said: UAE-based Abu Dhabi Group, a consortium of investors that includes members of the royal family of Abu Dhabi, sought approval from Bangladesh’s telecoms regulator for the sale on December 13, according to the regulator’s chairman, Zia Ahmed.

The deal is set against a backdrop of this week’s announcement that oil-rich Abu Dhabi will provide $10 billion to Dubai in order to help its neighbour meet its debt obligations.

Bharti’s expansion would give the Indian phone leader access to Bangladesh’s rapidly growing mobile sector at a time when it is locked in an intense price war in India with rivals Reliance Communications. For the Abu Dhabi Group, the deal will enable it to focus on other telecoms markets where it can have a bigger market share, Tahir said.

No comment from Bharti

Bharti said on Wednesday it was evaluating international opportunities, but declined to comment on plans to buy Warid. Bharti initially plans an investment of $300 million. He said a written proposal by Abu Dhabi Group did not pin a full value on the deal. A section of newspapers in Bangladesh had reported the final deal could be worth $900 million, citing Warid officials.

“The dynamics of the Bangladesh market are similar to those in India, where Bharti has proven itself,” said Phani Sekhar, fund manager at Angel Broking, which holds Bharti shares, in Mumbai Stock market.

Warid Telecom also operates in Pakistan, Uganda and the Congo. Singapore Telecommunications bought a 30 percent stake in Warid’s Pakistan business for $758 million in 2007 from the Abu Dhabi Group. Warid’s operations in Pakistan, India’s neighbour and political rival, are not part of the Bharti deal. At the end of October, Warid had 2.79 million subscribers – far fewer than Grameenphone whose majority share is owned by Norway’s Telenor.

Bharti, which has more than 100 million subscribers in India, is looking to replicate its staggering growth at home in other emerging markets, where scale is vital, many customers are poor and rural, and penetration rates are low but rising fast. Indian mobile operators are locked in an intense tariff war that has raised concerns about profitability. The price war is aimed at grabbing new users as new firms enter the market.

Bangladesh’s mobile sector has grown rapidly, with subscriber numbers reaching more than 51 million at the end of October from 200,000 in 2001, helped by low penetration levels, competitive tariffs and steady economic growth. Analysts predict the number of subscribers could top 70 million by 2011, nearly half the country’s population of 150 million.

The news came two-and-a-half months after talks between Bharti and MTN Group to create the world’s third-largest mobile operator collapsed for the second time in just over a year on South Africa’s reluctance to allow a flagship corporate to lose its national character.

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Moinuddin Naser is a Bangladeshi writer, contributes in the Weekly Holiday from New York.

Rumi Ahmed
20 November, 2009, USA

Take from the altar of the ancients, not the ashes, but the fire.

– Gustav Mahler

The verdict of the Appellate Division regarding the murder of President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and members of his family is an important milestone in our political and judicial history. The men accused of the murder went through our entire judicial system, from the District Court to the Appellate Division. Some of the individuals initially accused were acquitted. Those who were convicted had the chance to present all suitable defences, and were accorded all the rights which our state gives defendants in criminal prosecutions.

For all those individuals who were affected by the gruesome murders, one hopes that this comes as some salve to the personal wound that will undoubtedly haunt them the rest of their lives. The psychological trauma that comes from the assassination of loved ones, and the dislocation that comes from seeing our elders and guardians lying bloodied and lifeless, is unparalleled. We hope the pain that they carry around every day is a little lighter today.

As a result of the verdict today, at least five individuals will soon die. I hope their families will make peace with that, and be able to continue with normal and productive lives.

However, where justice ends, reflection begins.

Let’s think of sets, and Venn diagrams.

Think about the set of people who had responsibility for the 15th August massacre. Narrow that set to all individuals alive today. Are there only twelve people in that set?

Let’s narrow it still further. Let’s think about all the people against whom there exists tangible evidence regarding dereliction of duty or involvement in conspiracy. Are there only twelve people in that set?

Let’s narrow the set still further. Only include the people who were at Dhanmondi Road 32 that fateful night and morning, with weapons in their hand and murder in their heart. Have we gotten all of them?

Here’s the funny thing, just as there were people there that night and early morning who were not supposed to be there, there are a lot of people that morning who should have been there, but were not.

One think about police guards and the army units guarding the President. But where was the Rakkhi Bahini, the President’s hand-created paramilitary unit? Where were the leaders of Awami League? At least some of them had fought in the war four years past, they could have potentially held off the attackers until help arrived.

“Shafiullah, your units are attacking me.”

“Sir, I am seeing what to do. Can you leave your residence?”

A response worthy of all the commanders of the Army of Bengal who stood idle at Plassey.

“Tofael, send the Rakkhi Bahini.”

“We are under attack by Army tanks, sir.”

Only, it later turned out, the tank was disarmed, it did not have any shells in it.

In a sense, it is of lesser importance to pinpoint those who pumped all those bullets in Sheilh Mujib, Begum Mujib, and their family members. Army units started surrounding their home and taking positions to shell Dhanmondi from the evening of 14th August, at least twelve hours before the massacre. How could the entire machinery of the state remain inert for twelve hours? Consultation and conspiracy regarding this started at least months ago. Apparently Indian intelligence warned Sheikh Mujib of the attack. So did at least one civilian intelligence agency. Then Deputy Army Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman visited the President and warned him regarding grumblings of unrest in the Army.

Who then, were the individuals who negated all these warnings? The individuals who said, “Mujib Bhai, nothing will happen?”

Of course, whom would President Sheikh Mujib trust, a superseded officer such as Ziaur Rahman, who was never a part of the AL inner circle? Or Khandkar Mushtaque Ahmed, the “Ukil baba” in the marriages of both Sheikh Jamal and Sheikh Kamal?

Zia? Or Dalim, a close personal friend of the Sheikh family who could take personal grievances directly to the President?

Bangladesh started rejecting the perpetrators of the massacre soon after, as evidenced by the flight of the guilty to various countries within two months of the massacre. Make no mistake about it, history would have been different today if they had all stayed in Bangladesh. It is no accident that the most prominent of those convicted to death is Lt. Col. Syed Faruq Rehman, a former Presidential candidate in 1988 and former chief of Freedom Party. It is not a coincidence that he never fled Bangladesh, but instead chose to stay and attempt to shape Bangladesh’s political climate in his favor.

Part of the reason Sheikh Shaheb never paid heed to any warnings about uprising because he blinded himself to the most egregious fault in our collective nature. We love to over-exult when the times are good. However, when the chips are down, and it is time for action: we are hesitant, doubtful, and faltering. Today, Dhaka is full of people claiming that they have borne a burden in their heart for 34 years. In addition to being a grievous insult to those who have actually borne a burden for 34 years, it is also a lie. It is easy for people to stand in Bangladesh in 2009, with a ten-month AL government with a nine-tenth majority in the Parliament and Sheikh Mujib’s daughter as Prime Minister and his close associate as President, and claim that this is the single greatest moment in their lives. It was, likewise, extremely easy to tell the President of Bangladesh, and the dictator of our state (not in the sense we understand it, but in the actual sense of the word), that there was no way that a couple of army punks would dare to against Sheikh Mujib. And boy, if they did, they would soon see “koto dhane koto chaal.”

Except, when it really matters, action trumps words. And there was only one side in 15th August 1975 that took action. Something our current Prime Minister, and all future prime ministers, would do well to remember and internalize.

It is our nation’s sincerest hope that such a circumstance as 15th August 1975 never occurs again. That force never substitutes political discourse again. Let us go forward to better times.

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Rumi Ahmed is a Bangladeshi blogger from United States.

The recent attack on the young ruling party lawmaker Fazle Noor Taposh MP was not the first among deadly forays over politicians of Bangladesh. A common phrase in our country goes like, “where the murderers of Bangabandhu & Ziaur Rahman are never held, there will be no surprise if other high profile murders are let getaway.” Even after the unparallel massacre inside Bangladesh Riffles HQ at Pilkhana, Dhaka, many told that “the murderers here too will getaway and we won’t mind because we’ve seen trials on murders of Sheikh Mujib and Ziaur Rahman unsolved and it doesn’t matter whether we do mind or else”.

2009-10-21-23-08-25-Tapas-inside
Confusions are being created that why the ministers are extensively making statements to relate the carnage with Bangabandhu assassination trial.

Nobody has anything to deny the fact that most of the legal fights for assassinations or attempts on high profile statesperson have not been properly conclusive just because the government at office has tried to politically utilize the issues, has ignored unhealthy diversion of investigation for sake of discomforting domestic political rivals. This is a tragic fact that’s applicable for almost all trials of the kind.

General population often gets annoyed at the common obsession that our politicians have of debating past sour issues. Here some sentences about past have been written just to amplify the fact that, may be a powerful bomb flew toward a member of the house all of a sudden shook the nation, but it won’t be a surprise if his legal fight too is found to have the same fate of being on pursuit of a zero.

Fazle Noor Taposh MP, although a very young lawmaker and is in quite an early stage of his expectedly brighter political future, has been put on the top of the current political focus by the attempt and it has rang to the minds of us that indeed Fazle Noor Taposh is stringed fervently to various high profile political concerns. He is,

  • a notable panel lawyer in the trial on Bangabandhu’s assassination,
  • a figure related to the controversy of government’s unpopular dialogue attempt with BDR mutineers at the late night of 25 February, 2009,
  • an anticipated select by Sheikh Hasina to fight the upcoming mayoral elections in Dhaka for Awami League,
  • and again a very close aide to Sheikh Hasina, almost the most trusted one having a political future brighter than almost anyone of his stage.

These are few positions we consider when we think about how Fazle Noor Taposh MP has been politically being since his appearance to acclaim.

Now let also have a serial of what the senior figures in the ruling party or the government have been saying over the matter.

Sahara Khatun Advocate Sahara Khatun, the Minister of Interior who already has seen the wrath of few AL leaders for possible security negligence, told Taposh attack is ‘linked’ to Mujib killer .


SYED-ASHRAFSyed Ashraful Islam, General Secretary of Awami League and Minister of LGRD & Cooperatives, told “the nation believes the killers of Bangabandhu, the extreme communal and anti-liberation forces were involved with the attack .


Mahbubey AlamBarrister Mahbubey Alam, the Attorney General and leader of a pro-AL lawyers’ group, told The attack on Taposh proves that those who do not want the trial of the murder of Bangabandhu are trying to become active.


Shafique AhmedBarrister Shafique Ahmed, the Minister of Law, told Taposh attack aimed to save Mujib’s killers


Dipu MoniDr. Dipu Moni, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, told The attack was made by those who don’t want progress in trial of Bangabandhu’s murder”.

I don’t understand that why these senior AL leaders and others are pushing the matter to be a concern of Bangabandhu assassination trial. I mean it can be a fact that those who don’t want the trial being conclusive orchestrated the attack. But this is just a possibility, a speculation; so are the others that attack on Taposh could be a knock-off attempt by his domestic political rivals.

Shwapon
One of several arrested people is Karmul Haque Shwapon, brother of Maj. Dalim, also a 5-years long neighbor of Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh MP. We expect the arrest to be a part of true investigation, not by a provocation of some minister’s supra-enthusiasm to relate the case with Bangabandhu’s trial. (Photo: BDNews24)

There has been a complaint made to police and they will investigate it, they will have to do it to dig for the truth. At this stage of investigation where nobody knows more than it was a bomb, the series of statements from AL leaders is just looking like a planned media manipulation where the immense influences are being made to manipulate public opinions. Questions may arise that how the ministers and the Attorney General are so confident that the attackers are linked to Bangabandhu’s assassins. Did the attackers tell them before bombing? Or did Bangabandhu’s assassins confirm that the new generation carnage will take place on Taposh?

This is highly concerning that why respective AL leaders and also the party’s Central Working Committee in absence of Sheikh Hasina is pressurizing the people to believe the attack having a link to Bangabandhu’s trial. What’s their source of confidence, what’s their source of information and finally what’s the motive of such premature statements? There are other grounds those have to be considered, why we have not heard a single person anywhere to talk about that?

Bangladeshi people have already learnt that they have a legal system that is not blind. This system can smell one’s political identity, can see the height of one’s political influence and finally can realize one’s power. The system drives itself in accordance with those feelings that a legal system is immensely malicious to have. Forgoing the attackers of a Member of Parliament won’t be a surprise because murderers of the Presidents and Prime Ministers in this country are let getaway.Facebook users click here.

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M. Tawsif Salam
23 August, 2009. Dhaka.

Majority of the Bangladeshi cricket fans no matter in times of disappointment or pleasure, rarely have denied the fact that the national team contains skilled players required for a pleasant end of a game. It can be that people around have been disappointed immensely for a batsman’s getting out in almost the same way he gets out in most of the occasions; or the one which happens to be more usual for Bangladesh throughout the time that is sudden collapse of the batting order. But rarely has it been told that they couldn’t do because they weren’t meant to do.

However while talking about what they still need and is quite difficult to have, is the consistency of their better performances. In other sense and though it’s a fact that not necessarily a winning game is always the one with good cricket, we can interpret that one of the things the tigers were still looking for has been the consistency of winning. Bangladesh’s consecutive outfighting of Zimbabwe and West Indies can be taken to set up as what we repeatedly call Bangladesh team to have required for years.

Beside good cricket from both the sides a better contribution from the neutral part of the game also seems as a mandatory, which Shane Warne has recently appeared to be concerned about. Recently he was found to lambaste the present day umpiring stating, “The standard of umpiring is as low as I’ve known it in 20 years.” Well, let not just take few disputable decisions to specify a general deterioration. Especially in case of relating the matter with time, it has to be accepted that the advanced use of an advanced technology have made some stuffs quite outcast and mistakes at the grounds are now exposed in a better way. But what really makes us take seriously that are consecutively disputed decisions from certain umpires have very scant record of accountabilities or dramatic improvement.

Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe 3rd ODI 236`
Celebration

It really hurts to accommodate any criticism about the ultimate decider of the game in a post-game talk. But talks really do favor in such situations where it sometimes turns to be unbearable and an explication comes up as precedence.

For example we must not mind if Asoka De Silva’s umpiring is brought to attention to at least some extent. Bangladesh team already has received unexpected damages by what appeared to have been disputable decisions of the Sri Lankan umpire. Bangladesh’s tours to Pakistan in 2003 and to West Indies this year are the noted ones.

Asoka as a cricketer has however been impressive in his test debut where he bowled stood nearly as a solid obstacle on ways of the Indian scorers in Colombo back in 1985. As an umpire, well his decisions gave births to few notable flaps. Considering the fact that technology nowadays does even a cruder exposure of man’s mistakes at instance and instead of just regretting a sum of ‘regrettable’ decisions at the international level, there can be suggested a tradeoff between technological aspects and their acceptable contributions to evade any contentiousness among the people around.

Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe 3rd ODI 206
The post-game at Sher-e-Bangla Stadium, Mirpur, Dhaka.

Sunil Gavaskar once has regretted a fact which also we often do; that as the time has advanced it has took away what once was innocence in cricket they had back in their times. Gavaskar told Ayaz Memon on 10 July this year, “There was an innocence about the game when I was kid, which is perhaps not quite there now. I think I would prefer the innocence of the game that was there when I was a teenager.” Things take place which make us think in the same way too. Like, there was some sort of celebration among the fielders in the ground after an opponent batsman made a half-century. It ain’t like such things have disappeared nowadays, but the players are aware that the TV cameras are on them, according to Gavaskar.

After the 4th ODI of Bangladesh-Zimbabwe series in Bulawayo this year, Tamim Iqbal did set something easing Sunil Gavaskar and ourselves too. Charles Coventry’s spectacular 194 not-out ultimately came at nothing for Zimbabwe as Iqbal’s decisive 154 did it sealing the match for Bangladesh. It was the ‘Man of the Match’ trophy that Iqbal was co-chosen for with Coventry and it’s where our point lies. Tamim Iqbal, who’s steady and epic 154 won the match for Bangladesh, stated “I congratulated him (Coventry) and told him that he could keep the trophy. He deserved it… You don’t make world records every day. It was a truly magnificent innings.” That was a good one to ease us as well as Sunil Gavaskar; really a winning habit and else.

This has also been published in the 23 August, 2009 issue of Weekly Economic Times.

M. Tawsif Salam
19 July, 2009, Dhaka

Banner Texture 3

Group of responsible personalities including government people and the Indian diplomat, have been showing unpalatable stubbornness over the Tipaimukh Dam issue.

Dr. Dipu Moni’s remark about Indian High Commissioner Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty that he breached a diplomat’s code of conduct was not her first remark to be considered as a flap. She received spectacular criticisms after forgoing an Indian journalist who marked Bangladesh as a ‘buffer state’ in a press conference presided by her. People from the top brass of present Awami League government power structure have set some more examples of being kind to forgo a couple of must-protest commentaries of people associated with India. The most recent one was Dipu Moni’s presence in a seminar where Indian High Commissioner added the adjective ‘so-called’ while naming Bangladeshi experts, especially those who are critical to India’s unpopular Tipaimukh dam. After the Chakravarty’s flawless conduct, BNP’s lawmaker Adv. Mahbubuddin Khokon, who is also BNP’s sole representative to the parliamentary body for foreign affairs, demanded immediate expulsion of the rowdy diplomat.

Following Khokon’s demand, Dr. Dipu Moni’s popular remark about Chakravarty’s breaching the code of conduct was almost covering up the controversy that she caused by her silence against humiliation of Bangladesh. Now, it’s to be noted that Dr. Dipu Moni became a part of several events where she received criticisms by either her humiliating silence, or her apparent incompetence to put thrashing replies against what it’s been insulting remark against Bangladesh; and throughout all these Awami League’s attention to her activities never became public. But at a certain point Awami League top brass became really tensed about her statements and took no time to differ what she told about the rowdy diplomat. After no time from Dr. Dipu Moni became coldly vocal about Chakravarty’s rowdiness, Awami League’s spokesperson and the Minister of Local Government and Cooperatives Syed Ashraful Islam said that he at no point thinks that Chakravarty has breached a diplomat’s code of conduct.

minister

Ramesh Sen, the Minister of Water Resources, has done most of the contributions to the series of erratic speeches over Tipaimukh Dam issue. The recent of his performances has been utterly denying that Begum Khaleda Zia has ever sent a letter to the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Khaleda Zia’s letter to the Prime Minister over her concerns about Tipaimukh has been covered by entire of the media, which our minister Ramesh Sen has confidently denied to have ever taken place.

The Tipaimukh Dam issue has seen more passes than sometimes satirically presented Dutch ‘total football’ could ever have produced or suggested. We don’t know who were midfielders, attackers or defenders, but the passes have been subsequently carried out by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Water Resources, and Environment & Forest, without much of the senses of their particular roles. Whenever the responsible individuals received stern quizzes about the issue, they either kept passing it to other offices, or made remarks those are solely enough to humiliate the sovereignty of a nation.

The Minister of Commerce Col. Faruk Khan, who in accordance with his official functions wasn’t supposed to be concerned with the issue, claimed all of a sudden that the Bangladeshi experts who are being critical to Tipaimukh issue don’t know anything. Following his statement, Chakravarty made two subsequent comments; one is that the protest against Tipaimukh issue was politically ill-motivated, and the other is no laws on earth could bar India from building Tipaimukh dam. Quoting Chakravarty, Minister of Communication Abul Hossain also told the protest against Tipaimukh dam is insubstantial. Minister of Water Resources Ramesh Sen, who did something more serious than a quotation, told that if there is any negative impact of Tipaimukh dam, Bangladesh should concede the damages at least for sake of the alliance with her greater neighbor.

As it has been told earlier, this series of comments is solely enough to humiliate the sovereignty of a nation. The present government as well as the ruling party, and most importantly Syed Ashraful Islam who was in a hurry to reestablish the submissiveness of his government to the Indian authority by differing Dr. Dipu Moni’s cold protest within hours, should get the note that friendship cannot be imposed. You just cannot pick up a group of people and ask them to recite “Bangladesh and India are friends”, who already are holding newspapers with headlines of Bangladeshi frontier population body-counts to the BSF bullets. Or, you cannot just ask people to accept long-lasting damages just for sake of alliance with a nation which appoints ‘so-called’ diplomats to meddle in our internal politics and humiliate our sovereignty.

People won’t accept speeches from a minister like Ramesh Sen hints to sacrifice Bangladeshi resources for sake of India’s friendship, or of lawmakers like Abdur Razzaq states Bangladesh can make up her desertification by importing Tipaimukh produced power; hence Bangladesh can accept both her desertification and Indian bills just to have power produced in Tipaimukh. These comments hint their loyalties being to something else than the sovereignty of Bangladesh.

This post has also been published at Weekly Economic Times, 26 July, 2009 issue.

Rumi Ahmed
USA

I hear… of your recent saying that both the Army and the Government needed a Dictator. Only those generals who gain success can set up military dictatorships. What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship.”

– Abraham Lincoln, message to General Joseph Hooker, Army of the Potomac

May 30 is the 28th anniversary of President Ziaur Rahman’s death. It came approximately 10 years and 2 months after he gave a radio announcement, from Chittagong, declaring the Independence of Bangladesh on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, then in the custody of the Pakistani Army.

During our Independence War, he was Sector Commander over much of today’s Chittagong Division, and commander of Bangladesh Army’s ‘Z” brigade. At the end of the war, with Pakistani forces crumbling before the assault of joint Indo-Bangladeshi forces and surrendering on 16 December 1971, he was awarded the Bir Uttom.

At the onset of independence, Zia became one of the senior-most officers of the Bangladesh Army. His performance during the nine-month war and his radio announcement at the onset of the war marked him as different from his fellow officers. He was made Brigade Commander of Comilla, close to where his force had done most of the fighting during the war.

The Government brought him to Dhaka in June 1972 and made him Deputy Chief of Staff, under Major General Shafiullah, who commanded the “S” Brigade during the Independence War. It is as Deputy CoS that he moved into the 6 Shahid Moinul Road residence, where he would live the rest of his life. It is from this post that he observed the imposition of one-party dictatorship in Bangladesh when Sheikh Mujib, by a constitutional amendment, made Bangladesh a one-party state, banned all other political parties, all but four newspapers, and named himself President.

After the brutal assassination of Sheikh Mujib and most of the members of his family by a group of army officers, Zia was elevated to Chief of Staff but placed under Major General Khalilur Rahman, who was made Chief of Defense Staff. The regime, after killing Mujib’s four most-trusted political lieutenants, heroes in their own right, planned to send Zia abroad, as it sent Shafiullah. However, before that could transpire, the murderers were toppled by a counter-coup led by Brig. Khaled Musharraf, Chief of General Staff, one the most valiant leaders in our Independence War. Zia was placed under house-arrest. He was then freed by a counter-counter-coup by Col. (rt) Abu Taher, fellow Sector Commander, and leader of the banned Jatiyo Samajtrantik Dal (National Socialist Party). The counter-coup also tragically resulted in Brig. Mosharraf’s death.

Shafiullah, Zia, Mosharraf, and Taher were all awarded the Bir Uttom, the highest gallantry decoration awarded to living participants. Under normal circumstances, they should, by all right, have been able to look forward to long careers in our defense forces, promotions to command rank, and eventual retirement with the whole-hearted blessings of a grateful nation. Instead, Shafiullah was abroad, Mosharraf was dead, and Taher advoced a left-leaning revolutionary state. With the adoption of one-party statehood by the Parliament, the Awami League, until then Bangladesh’s pre-eminent political party, had also been disbanded. Zia found himself with no credible political establishment to hand over power to, a faction-ridden armed forces that was more dangerous to Bangladeshis than to foreign enemies, and an economy on the brink of collapse.

His subsequent actions, becoming Chief Martial Law Administrator, founding BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party), introducing multi-party democracy, allowing the publication of newspapers, holding parliamentary elections (in which Awami League became the largest opposition party in parliament), trying to revitalize the country’s industrial sector, and adopting a muscular foreign policy, were the attempts of an imperfect man to try and make the best of an imperfect situation. He survived eighteen coup attempts, before being killed by the nineteenth one, in his beloved Chittagong, the scene of his life’s greatest hour, where he had come to resolve inter-party factions in his young BNP. Bangladehis from all walks of life poured into his funeral prayer service, making it the single largest such gathering in Bangladesh’s history.

I cannot know, but I imagine he must have been a little tired by the end of his life. If the last thought that flashed through his mind was his young widow and the two little boys he left behind; maybe, after death, he found the peace he had been denied in life. The generation which should have together led Bangladesh, together turn old and hale and watched their children grow up in a free country as free men and women, and in the twilight of their lives accepted our accolades as Bangladesh’s greatest generation, had together torn each other apart. His would be the last life to be lost in that decade-long bloodbath, but by the sacrifice of his own life, he would bring the killing to an end; all subsequent transfers of power in our country would be bloodless, if not voluntary.

Testimony is paid to Zia, throughout the year, by Awami League leaders who slander and villify him every chance they get. They try to tear down the man who allowed them to re-form, and graciously accepted their leader’s return from exile in India. His statues are broken down, and bridges leading to his memorial in Dhaka, beside the National Parliament, are mysteriously removed under the cover of night. All debates about the fate of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, his great predecessor, inevitably contain someone viciously belittling him.

Yet, the idea of Zia remains. Our only head of state to have actively fought the Pakistanis in a field of battle, today he sleeps the well-deserved sleep of those who have fought the good fight. It remains to us to do our best in the imperfect world he left for us.

*****

Rumi Ahmed is a blogger from United States.

Originally Published on: Onnesha.TK

Ti[aimukh Dam

Tipaimukh Dam. It is clear that it will put it's adverse effect on Surma and Kushiara as well as other rivers of Bangladesh too.

The Indians are going ahead with the construction of the massive Tipaimukh barrage-this events collectively impinge on us in more than one ways but the one which directly affects our very ability to survive is the issue of water-sharing of some 53 common rivers between India and Bangladesh. By constructing Tipaimukh and other barrages, India is depriving us of life-giving waters, drastically reducing our ability to survive and therefore this is the issue needing immediate and continued public attention and the subject of this commentary. India has resumed construction of the Tipaimukh barrage on the Barack river just a kilometer north of Jakiganj in Sylhet; the construction work was stalled in March 2007 in the face of protests within and outside India. The barrage when completed in 2012 is supposed to provide 1500 megawatts of hydel power to the Indian state of Assam but in return its going to bring about a major disaster for Bangladesh, practically contributing to drying up of 350 km long Surma and 110 km long Kushiara rivers which water most of the north-eastern regions of Bangladesh. The Tipaimukh barrage is going to seriously affect not only agriculture in large portions of Bangladesh, particularly in winter, but is also going to bring about negative ecological, climatic and environmental changes of vast areas in both Bangladesh and India.

Indian government is constructing the dam without consultation with Bangladesh government, which is violation of International River Law. Three crores people of the northern and eastern parts of the country would be vulnerable seriously when the construction of the dam would be completed by 2012.

It’s not just this one Indian barrage that is a source of considerable concern and trepidation in Bangladesh; in 1976 India put into operation the Farraka Barrage which more or less destroyed the Ganges-Brahamaputra Basin, most of which lies in the deltaic plains of Bangladesh and in 1990 India also constructed a barrage along the Teesta river thereby virtually making ineffective much of the Teesta barrage project constructed down-stream in Bangladesh to support irrigation and agriculture in the north-west region of the country. What is even more worrying is that India has evolved plans to divert waters, from the north of the country to its drought-prone southern and eastern states, of some 53 river which flow from India to Bangladesh.

Bangladesh shares a common border with India in the west, north and east and with Myanmar in the southeast. These borders cut across 57 rivers which discharge through Bangladesh into the Bay of Bengal in the south. The upstream courses of these rivers traverse India, China, Nepal and Bhutan. Trans-boundary flows, which enter Bangladesh from remote catchments extending short distance to thousands of kilometers upstream, are the important source of water resources.

Bangladesh gets 7 to 8 percent of its total water from the Barak in India’s northeastern states. Millions of people are dependent on hundreds of water bodies, fed by the Barak, in the Sylhet region for fishing and agricultural activities.

Environmentalists in Bangladesh have held many talks on the adverse impact of the proposed dam. They say the dam would dry up the river and the water bodies in the downstream, leaving millions jobless and upsetting the ecological balance.

Among the trans-boundary rivers, the ones most affected by Indian barrages and their related systems of canals, reservoirs and irrigation schemes are Ganges, Brahmaputra, Meghna and Teesta. Although the Indian and Bangladeshi governments have a water sharing agreement for the Ganges, there are none for the other 53 rivers that cross the border. With the Tipaimukh barrage now underway, India seems to be going ahead with its mega-project of diverting river waters from its north to its south and east, thereby putting Bangladesh’s very survival at stake.India is taking unilateral decisions about matters which affect Bangladesh’s core interests and if these cannot be resolved bilaterally, Bangladesh must look at options of going to multilateral forums such as the UN to get its right not only recognized but also implemented. International laws dealing with water-sharing of common rivers and sources are ambiguous, unclear and contentious and so, Bangladesh ought to vigorously pursue these matters, perhaps even garner international support for a change in those laws dealing with water-sharing – this international dimension is a crucial factor affecting the management of the trans-boundary river systems. There is thus, no scope for Bangladesh to be deflected from this core issue of water-sharing notwithstanding Indian deceitful and diversionary insistence and propaganda on “terrorists and transit”.

The Indian high commissioner has admitted that a dam will be built on the proposed Tipaimukh hydropower project over the cross-boundary river Barak but said it will not harm Bangladesh. (But I don’t know how? You will put a barrage in the river and it will not affect the nature???)

The Tipaimukh hydropower project was not like the Farakka irrigation project. A little amount of water will be diverted to produce hydroelectricity and the water will be released soon, Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty said. (So he agreed that Farakka Barrage is a problem for Bangladesh. And saying that Tipaimukh will not be like that! But how Bangladesh would beleive it? India previously said many thing abouthis Farakka Barrage. But ultimately Bangladesh is suffering from it. So how will we beleive that you are talking truth? And one barrage must put it’s adverse effect on nature. And the position of the Barrage clearly indicates that Bangladesh will offcourse suffer with this project. It will be a destructive project for Bangladesh. We must protest it now!)

Bangladesh should not be wary of the project, he told.

He said bilateral discussions have long been on-going on the project. Indian government has invited Bangladesh to see the dam site and its design, Chakravarty said. A Bangladeshi organisation, International Farakka Committee, demanded suspension of ‘construction of Tipaimukh barrage’ and rightful share of the Indian river Ganges.

The organisation called upon the United Nations to form a regional river commission involving China, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

Government of Bangladesh and people of Bangladesh must be aware of this project from now and must have to protest. It will come as a destructive project for Bangladesh. bangladesh will become desert if the project is completed. India is using their power to complete this destructive project. They are trying to giving wrong ideas to Bangladesh as they given at the time of constructing Farakka Barrage. They are doing the same thing here. We all now that how Bangladesh is suffering because of this Farakka Project. How our Bangladesh is affected by the Farakka Barrage. We don’t want to see more destruction in bangladeshi economy and nature. We must protest. And it is the time. Bangladeshis must be aware of this from now and this is the only way to safe our beautiful country Bangladesh.

Dr. Chowdhury Sajjadul Karim
Dhaka

I was still a student of physics department of Dhaka University when I saw Dr. M.A. Wazed Miah, a lively young scientist at the Atomic Energy Centre, Dhaka. I was using the mainframe computer facility of the Centre, the only one in the then Pakistan. The place had already left its footprints firmly on many laboratories in many countries. The achievements were made possible by the dedication of the scientists of the centre. In those days these finest and highly trained gentlemen believed in sharing of knowledge and making output excel though group endeavors.

Dr. Wazed Miah was an important member of the select group. It appeared that he was possibly restless, looking for new opportunities for advancement of science and technology, to make science more meaningful to societal development. I remember having seen him for the last time as a senior colleague at Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission in February, 1999, the last day of his career with the organization. Even at that point of parting with his workplace of 36 years, not even an iota of his enthusiasm had withered. This is the finest example of dedication and unflinching commitment to a cause.

In a developing country science and scientists are considered by some as redundant and unreal in the context of development. He once told me, “In a developing country, where resources are scarce, it’s only science and technology that can help maximize the benefits to the nation”. All the prolific years of his life were dedicated to the task of glorifying science and the men behind it.

I had the opportunity to work closely with him for a number of years towards the end of his career at the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission. This engagement was related primarily to the introduction of nuclear power. He was persuasive. I remember him calling on International Atomic Energy Agency director general Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei in Vienna in 1998. He emphasized the country’s commitment to peaceful uses of atomic energy and urged the agency to send a high-level delegation to Bangladesh to help assess the needs for fast-track implementation of the project. His request was entertained and following deliberations in Dhaka a time-bound action plan was drawn up delineating the time lines for various activities to be undertaken by the two sides. A year on, a training course was financed by the agency, which was possibly the largest of its kind conducted in any of its member states. Without the persuasive request it would have taken years to arrange such an event. Such examples of his way of getting difficult tasks done efficiently and quickly galore.

Dr. Wazed Miah had the sharpest of minds. He could often recount exactly how he had written his comments on a matter even after many years. This is a glaring evidence of application, merit and sound logic that went behind his decisions. Many tend to forget even in a matter of days or months simply because a particular decision was made in the past without sound logic and analysis and commitment. These were alien to him. He dismissed anything done by a scientist unless it had impeccable and sound rationale. He believed firmly in this, and indeed it formed the basis of whatever he did in science.

He was a great believer in our combined capacity and potentials of the country. He had confidence in the role of science in development and in international collaboration in materializing that goal. But it is the responsibility of the scientists to choose appropriate programme that suit our needs. The cardinal objective should be found in a facilitating synergy between science and development, he once asserted. He found a lot of opportunities to tap nuclear science, be it in solving the problems of energy supply, or health care, or industries. Such perceptions made him look for new fronts and avenues. His vision was to have a future society based on scientific knowledge.

Dr. Wazed Miah wrote as many as seven text books, six of which have already been published. The seventh I hear was at the final stages of his editorial attention when he expired. I bear the testimony to the great efforts level that went into these tasks. The books were exhaustive to cater to the pedagogical needs of undergraduate or graduate students.

His logic was clear—the students in a developing country cannot afford to buy multiple text books for a subject. A student should buy the second text book only if he needs to learn beyond the curriculum. These text books were, therefore, written in such a way that they were more or less in-depth. I saw him editing one or two manuscripts. He read and reread each sentence, each paragraph, made editorial corrections, usually with pencil, eraser or even razor blades. The painstaking job went on and on until he was satisfied that the text was acceptable. His passion and patience for excellence were almost insatiable when it came to writing and editing. It is not that he had all the time in the world and easy tasks to do. Such problems were solved by putting in long hours day in and day out.

Dr Wazed Miah set different standards for his colleagues and knew exactly what could be expected of each of them. Any deviation, unless justifiable on solid grounds, would mean a glare or two and in most cases one such episode was enough. I once took longer than expected to do something, or perhaps the job was not to his liking, I don’t remember correctly. The famous glare he gave me was so scaring that I decided to be out of his sight for some days. I requested one of my very good friends to carry my files to him. The respite was brief, though, as I had to visit him in the hospital where he was receiving treatment for heart ailment. He waved other visitors out of his room, gave me a smile and said, “C.S. Karim (that’s how he used to address me), how long can you keep on running away? Take these files, I have signed them already.” He hardly took more than a day to sign anything that landed on his desk. And files and papers always came back with comments, usually making one to ponder, “How could I miss this, or make such a silly mistake?”

To Dr Wazed Miah, the man behind scientific pursuit was the most important pre-requisite to any success. He told me about the importance of understand the divergence of opinions of society about the scientists if we want to change the perception. Only then scientists will have better chance of finding their due places in the society. We should do our bit before expecting a reciprocal action. The research and development programmes have to be made responsive to national needs and priorities. “Reach out and find out where your effort levels are needed most,” he would say.

He headed professional associations and outlets where one of his main goals was to sensitize a wide spectrum of society to the need to understand the impact science and technology could have on the national life.

Probably he was not fully satisfied with what was possible to attain. The unfinished task has to be taken forward; the responsibility lies with today’s scientists.

I don’t know of any instance in Bangladesh where a scientist has been honoured, even in a small way. The exception to this is the naming of a road on Dr. Kudrat-e-Khuda. Can we, even for a change, make an exception? Can we do something that would not only pay tribute to this outstanding scientist, but also serve as an inspirational icon for the next generations of scientists.

On Saturday, the 9th May of 2009, came the final moments of the life of a visionary scientist—Dr. Wazed Miah., a scientist with outstanding qualities, dedication and versatility. We will mourn and brood, no doubt. At the same time it is time to take a vow to finish his dreams. The torch is passed on to the new generation of scientists to march ahead with the same dream, with a resolve to finish the task begun with great vigor and traversed only a part of the road that lies ahead.

* * * * *

Dr. Chowdhury Sajjadul Karim, popularly known as Dr. C.S. Karim, is a former Chairman of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission and was an advisor of the de facto 11 January, 2007 undemocratic government of Bangladesh.

Courtesy: BDNews24

The Writer’s Club in Bangla

দ্যা রাইটার্স ক্লাবের বাংলা ভার্সন লেখক সংঘ ব্লগ খোলা হয়েছে।

The Writer's Club is now available in Bangla.

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June 2017
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