<%-- Page Title--%> Chintito <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 137 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

January 9, 2004

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While the fifteen lay in State and the nation was observing a nationally declared 'day of mourning' on the 31st night, many went into revelry in clubs, hotels, restaurants and homes to ring in 2004; the dead had not been buried.

In this New Year our heart goes out to the families of the Shaheeds. They rest in eternal peace in the garb of a martyr.

There have been admirable gestures though. The Cadet College Club Ltd. in Gulshan cancelled their scheduled New Year's party because the casualties in Benin included several ex-cadets. So did the Retired Army Officers Welfare Association (RAOWA) Club for obvious reasons. There would surely have been many more such laudable expressions of comradeship, both in private and public.

Life in fact is full of such contradictions.

Top of the list last week has to be Communication Minister Nazmul Huda who went on record as saying at a conference on December 30 that Jamaat-i-Islam did not commit any crime in 1971, that is did nothing wrong, by demanding the non-separation of Pakistan, that is the unity of Pakistan, that is by opposing the War of Liberation.

'Nazmul Huda's remarks are basically contrary and contradictory to BNP's emergence and existence'. I quote that from BNP Secretary-General Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan and Chief Whip Khandaker Delwar Hossain's letter to the Prime Minister. (DS 4 January 2003)

The contradiction here is that Huda belongs to a party that was founded by one of our valiant freedom fighters, an esteemed sector commander and a person credited with making a timely announcement of the declaration of independence on behalf of Bangabandhu. Huda in effect is countering everything that President Ziaur Rahman fought for. As communications minister he is not communicating the palatable.

You will also see some of our bank managers and their bosses get extremely jittery and awfully tough on a small borrower who has missed a monthly repayment or two of a few thousand Taka. But the same bankers are enthusiastic to the extent of going overboard to 'adjust' the loan of some wreen khelafee with a one hundred Taka debt.

There is a huge gap in their dealings with a customer, who has perhaps genuine reasons for failing, and a public enemy, who is moving about in a sixty-lakh Taka Mercedes during the daytime. The one crore Taka BMW in his garage is for going out with his wife in the evening to the marriage ceremony of a son of a banker. Both (not the Begum) should be taken to task after taking out the banker's hand from the glove of the loan defaulter, and vice versa. In this cold they will feel a little cold, but spare a moment for the millions shivering across the country for want of proper housing and clothing and food and education because of the illegal perks being enjoyed by the immoral offenders and the unpalatable undeserving.

Take the case of the French. They are proud to be judged as liberals, pluralists and secular. But then comes along president Chirac. He partially took the right pro-people stand in opposing the US decision to unilaterally attack Iraqi civilians, but emerges reeking with communalism by proposing the ban of all 'conspicuous' religious signs and symbols in public schools, a planned legislation that directly targets the headscarves that Muslim girls wear. This will leave the children to make an extremely difficult decision to choose between French schools and their religion. For to the Muslims who practise 'hijab' it is not merely a religious symbol, but rather an act of worship in compliance with one of His commandments.

While it is possible for a Christian to conceal the cross with clothing, not that they should necessarily do so under any sort of legislative compulsion, the Muslim headscarf is too obvious and can only be hidden with a large Mexican hat perhaps.

Don't forget president Bush, who won an election with the narrowest of margins, and his electorate have been gradually withdrawing from him over Afghanistan, Iraq and Saddam. Poor Laden Bhaiya! Even Bush wants us to forget about him because he just cannot be found, not even in a hole. So when Bush attacks a country and its civilian population he is supposedly 'liberating' the enemy through a necessary war and bloodshed, and razing of schools and hospitals; but if the enemy attack US and allied targets to save themselves from the humiliation of foreign occupation they are resorting to terrorism.

All these double standards remind you of George Bernard Shaw, who wrote one hundred years ago, 'When a man wants to murder a tiger he calls it sport; when a tiger wants to murder him he calls it ferocity'.


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