syed_badrul_ahsan
GROUND REALITIES

The Jamaat and the Pakistan army

CERTAIN Jamaat-e-Islami politicians have been speaking of history, in a rather intriguing way.  The Awami League, they have warned, will be judged in the dock of history someday. And why will that happen? Well, the government has sent in its

News Analysis
Pakistan on Mollah

Why is our foreign office silent?

Pakistan’s national assembly, through a reassertion of the myopia which has historically kept Pakistan captive to its prejudices and inhibitions, has passed a resolution condemning the execution of Abdul Quader Mollah, a notorious war criminal in occupied Bangladesh in 1971.

Minds without fear, heads held high
Victory Day Today

Minds without fear, heads held high

The year 2013 is not the year 1971. The middle-aged citizen of today is no more the youth of yesterday. The freedom we enjoy in these times is far removed from the tortuous struggle we waged for liberty in those

Reading, in this season of remembering
Review Article

Reading, in this season of remembering

In this season of victory, it is the intense moments of sadness, going back more than four decades, that come back to remind you of the enormity of commitment and involvement Bengalis went through in 1971.  Only a couple of

Little Lima's mother cries quietly at the National Institute of Traumatology and Orthopedic Rehabilitation. Earlier this month, the child lost all the fingers of her right hand and suffered injuries to her stomach and left hand when she picked up a bomb, taking it to be a ball. Photo: file/Focus Bangla

Where politics has gone fugitive . . .

Politics in Bangladesh received a massive jolt through the assassinations of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, and the four national leaders between August and November 1975. And then came a point when General Ziaur Rahman, as

Bodies scattered at the Rayerbazar killing field. The Pakistani army and its collaborators killed and dumped the bodies just days before their defeat on December 16, 1971.   Photo: File
Martyred Intellectuals Day

We will redeem the old promise

In the cold, sad winter of 1971, the collaborators of the Pakistan occupation army picked up and then picked off scores of our illustrious citizens in the naïve belief that the sorry end of these eminent men and women would

Justice triumphs, freedom wins

An execution is no cause for cheer, but a reason for reflection. And when a war criminal, convicted and sentenced through due process, takes those final steps of life to the gallows, the collective prayer is one, and only one:

Nelson Mandela on his 85th birthday on July 18, 2003.
Tribute

Nelson Mandela Man and Superman

In these dangerous, uncertain times we live through, the passing of Nelson Mandela only makes our circumstances a little more parlous than they have been so far. By the time he died, Mandela did not wield political authority, but there

When music exuded romance . . .
CLOUDS AND MIST

When music exuded romance . . .

The beauty of being part of the subcontinent is in being in touch with its many languages and cultures. Think of all the artistes, singers as well as actors, who have played pivotal roles in situations where they have had

News Analysis

War crimes, Kerry & history

US Secretary of State John Kerry called Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday to warn her that if convicted war criminal Abdul Quader Mollah goes to the gallows, Bangladesh’s parliamentary elections might be derailed. Decades ago, in 1977, one of Kerry’s

Our darkness at noon
GROUND REALITIES

Our darkness at noon

POLITICS is in free fall. Governance is under siege. The country is in steep decline. Governments around the world are worried. The United Nations observes it all, sends its representative to speak to our politicians, to little avail. Diplomats from

Last statesman of our times

He was the last statesman of the world we inhabit in these parlous times. There was about Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela the charisma and the wisdom the world was in sore need of, given that values were undergoing change and leadership

The passing of Nelson Mandela

The passing of Nelson Mandela

THERE was humility in him, the kind that comes to men whose greatness has been engendered by experience and empathy for the sufferings of others. It did not matter that he suffered for years, for close to three decades in

When music exuded romance . . .
CLOUDS AND MIST

When music exuded romance . . .

Song sequences in movies are not what they used to be. What you have these days are, in the beginning, a man and a woman in love initiating what looks like a song. Then, out of nowhere, a whole bevy

Within weeks of the dictator's fall in 1990, arrested Ershad is being taken to court.   Photo: Star archive

Irony of politics

Twenty-three years ago, on December 6 in 1990, Lieutenant General HM Ershad stepped down from power in the face of a mass movement against his rule. Handing over power to acting president Shahabuddin Ahmed in what was clearly symbolic of

GROUND REALITIES

This December . . . that December

THIS December is not that December. That winter is not this winter. This country is not that country. That generation is not this generation. But that dream, that old dream of an egalitarian society taking all Bengalis in its fold,

Under an African moon . . .

Under an African moon . . .

ON the higher perches of nature in Bogoro, Congo, officers of the Bangladesh army point to a forested area below. On the face of it, tranquility is all over the place. And yet not everything is in place, as the

News Analysis

Living in anarchy

SCENE ONE A man’s eye falls out of its socket as the bandage is removed. The sight pushes his distraught wife into unconsciousness. His son, petrified, cries his heart out at the eerie scene before him. Screaming men and women

Photo Courtesy: Naib Uddin Ahmed

1971 and the songs we sang

It was early March 1971 when songs became part of the Bengali political consciousness. As the non-violent non-cooperation movement launched by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to counter the conspiracies of the Pakistan ruling junta against popular democratic aspirations progressed, Dhaka

The slow decline of actors
CLOUDS AND MIST

The slow decline of actors

There was a time when Rajesh Khanna reigned in India’s filmdom without any challenge. It was in the early 1970s that he truly became the heart-throb of millions in India and elsewhere around the globe. A combination of boyish charm,

The world of Buddhadeva Bose
Reflections

The world of Buddhadeva Bose

Two decades ago, perhaps more, a reputed Bengali language weekly in Calcutta serialized a number of letters written by Buddhadeva Bose to his daughter. Till then, my idea of Bose had been pretty much vague. You could even say that

The betrayal question . . .
GROUND REALITIES

The betrayal question . . .

KAZI Zafar Ahmed is an angry man these days. His ire has been directed at General Ershad, who he believes has betrayed the nation by opting for elections and deciding to stay beside Sheikh Hasina and her government. One certainly

THESPIAN SIGHTINGS . . .
CLOUDS AND MIST

THESPIAN SIGHTINGS . . .

Seventeen years ago, it was a delight coming across the Pakistani actor Mohammad Ali in the lobby of a hotel in Lahore. Always a hero, in nearly every sense of the meaning, Ali was for us even in his advancing

Out of Africa . . .
Musings

Out of Africa . . .

In Kampala, it is again history you remember. There is the sad episode of the Israeli attack on Entebbe, of course. But more than that, it is the political story behind the pains and pleasures Uganda has spasmodically gone through

Of soldiers keeping the peace

THERE is the survival instinct. And there are the many improbable ways of surviving. Back in 2011, as heavy fighting raged between government and rebel forces in Cote d’ Ivoire, a peacekeeping contingent from the Bangladesh army found itself trapped

Keeping Congo together

The helicopter ride from Entebbe in Uganda to Bunia in the Congo takes close to two hours. As the chopper wades into Congolese territory, it is a vast expanse of pristine green that opens up below. A light rain creates

Now for the epilogue
GROUND REALITIES

Now for the epilogue

DRAMATIC things have been happening in the country. Minus the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, the prime minister has decided to go ahead with the formation of a multi-party government to oversee the next general election. To what extent her gamble will

Remembering the Red Moulana
Ground Realities

Remembering the Red Moulana

Moulana Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani, wrote a Pakistani journalist not long ago, was one man who could have saved Pakistan if circumstances had been different. The way Sheikh Mujibur Rahman went ahead with his political programme and the manner in

Old Masters of Melody
CLOUDS AND MIST

Old Masters of Melody

There will always be a host of memories associated with Manna Dey. If you go back to the distant past, assuming you are in your late fifties, you will be struck by the sheer classical skills he brought into such

Delhi Days . . .
Musings

Delhi Days . . .

The owner of the little bookshop at Shankar Market in the Connaught Circus area is a scholar. It is in his talk of books, in his ability to know what sort of books you need that you assess the man.

GROUND REALITIES

Remembering Khaled Musharraf. . .

IT is November again. It is time to remember the War of Liberation, when Khaled Musharraf perfected the art of guerilla warfare against the occupation Pakistan army. He was a hands-on soldier, in that conventional sense of the meaning, and

Our four brave martyrs

Thirty-eight years ago, in the early hours of today, Syed Nazrul Islam, Tajuddin Ahmad, M Mansur Ali and AHM Quamruzzaman were murdered by renegade soldiers in the supposedly secure confines of Dhaka Central Jail. The assassination of the four men,

GROUND REALITIES

The problem with dynasties

WHEN the conversation is about political dynasties, it is a whole big prospect that opens out before you. You might begin to wonder at the beauty or the immensity of it all, which is why you cannot deny the place

News Analysis

Why hartal not withdrawn?

The nation’s expectation that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina would make a telephone call to Leader of the Opposition Khaleda Zia has come to pass. We would have been happier if the call had come sooner, but that it has finally

CLOUDS AND MIST

Movieland beauties . . .

Some of the most beautiful women have dominated the screen in India’s filmdom. There is that remark attributed to Satyajit Ray about Jayaprada. In his opinion, Jayaprada’s was the most beautiful face in the Indian movie industry. And he was

In the fullness of melody. . .

In the fullness of melody. . .

Manna Dey (1919-2013)

The adda at Coffee House truly, decisively came to an end with Manna Dey’s passing yesterday. Six years more and he would have qualified as a centenarian. And yet it is safe to suggest that Manna Dey lived a full

Bad language and worse politics
GROUND REALITIES

Bad language and worse politics

SADEK Hossain Khoka’s use of incendiary language reasserts once more the distortion politics has of late been going through in our part of the world. His call for his party workers and supporters to be armed with axes and machetes

News Analysis

PM’s offer and…

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s invitation to the opposition last evening to join an interim all-party government had all the elements of sincerity in it. An all-party interim government, in a trouble-free democracy, would be a good idea. The trouble, though,

Songs we do not  forget
CLOUDS AND MIST

Songs we do not forget

  There are songs that you always remember, melodies that you associate with particular phases of your life. Syed Abdul Hadi once sang a rather spiritual number, doyal tor bhoroshae amar buuk baindha / ei maajh doriyar panthopaane nau bhashai.

Musings

Remembering, on starry nights

One should always trying singing at times. It does something good to the soul. It elevates the senses, it rekindles the dying embers of lost romance and it makes one feel young, sort of, again. Now, these are some of

Photo: Star File
Musings

A Season for Gormandising

How soon time flies! Believe it or not, Eid is here again, the second of the two that Muslims celebrate annually. Now, Eid is a most wonderful happening, especially when you recall the near hunger with which you waited for

The death of Che Guevara
GROUND REALITIES

The death of Che Guevara

ERNESTO Che Guevara was murdered in the Bolivian village of La Higuera on October 9, 1967. Caught a day earlier by Bolivian soldiers in the jungles near the village, 13 days into the siege he and his fellow guerrillas had

Those  Bengalis in  West Pakistan
CLOUDS AND MIST

Those Bengalis in West Pakistan

Our very own Shabnam spent long years in what used to be West Pakistan, making a huge impact on filmgoers in the province. Her Urdu, when she first decided to settle away from her Bengali ambience here in Bangladesh, was

Soeharto (right) and Soekarno during an Independence Day parade in 1967.
GROUND REALITIES

Indonesia and September 1965

HORRIBLE things happened in Indonesia between autumn 1965 and spring 1967. There is that eternal battle between memory and forgetting, a reality which reasserts itself when you go into any discussion of the horrors that were inflicted on Indonesians after

News Analysis

Ramu, stories of the dark

There is yet no news of Uttam Barua. Even a year after Islamist fanatics vandalised Buddhist temples in Ramu and other areas in the south-east of the country and weeks after the inauguration of the renovated temples by the prime

The comedians we remember
CLOUDS AND MIST

The comedians we remember

In a world which tends to focus only on the leading men and women in movies, all too often we are inclined to forget the other characters who go into the making of a substantive story. Take, for instance, the

When Humour Charms . . .
Musings

When Humour Charms . . .

The good thing about Jatileswar Mukhopadhyay is that he sings beautifully, even in these advanced years he happens to be going through. The better thing is that he has a remarkable sense of humour. Seeing him last week and hearing

Our history and its ironies

BANGLADESH’S history is replete with ironies. If you have lately heard or read of Information Minister Hasanul Haq Inu’s invitation to General Ershad to broker a dialogue between the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, you will get a

The world of Angela Merkel
News Analysis

The world of Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel may not have led her party to an absolute majority in Germany’s elections. And yet she has achieved a victory the dimensions of which have not been seen since Konrad Adenauer was in power between the late 1940s

CLOUDS AND MIST

Those piercing songs…

The world is a sad place. For proof, you have to go back to the world of songs. Of course, there is always good cheer which comes with happy, dance-and-frolic music. It is the melancholy songs, though, which stay with