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
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.
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
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'.