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     Volume 4 Issue 33 | February 11, 2005 |

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K for Kibria (1931-2005)


Call it political apathy or professional difference, to some the generation gap, or sheer ignorance only a handful of us were aware of his academic luminosity and magnificent career, very few of us knew that Shah AMS Kibria was from tranquil Habiganj, some of us came to know of him as a finance minister. Destiny was such that many of us had never met him in person. After his brutal murder on 27 January most of us wish we had.

Therein lies the enormity of a mortal whose heart bled for the common man, the greatness of a patriot whose brilliant mind was ordained to serve the downtrodden, the integrity of a Bangladeshi politician whose children came to light only before his burial.

For much of his working life, the 74-year old Kibria wept for the world. Today the world weeps for him.

First class first in both BA Honours Economics and MA from Dhaka University, first in Pakistan civil service examinations (don't forget he was a Bangalee), a director at Pakistan's foreign ministry, Pakistan's envoy to USA, India, Egypt and Indonesia (1957 and 1970), the nationalist left the Pakistan embassy in Washington to join the War of Liberation for a free independent Bangladesh.

Kibria was Bangladesh's foreign secretary, an ambassador and permanent representative to the United Nations, the executive secretary of ESCAP (UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific).

As an Awami Leaguer in the 1990s, he was political advisor to Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh's finance minister1996-2001 and incumbent MP from Habiganj-3 elected in 2001 when many of his party stalwarts lost.

When a person of his stature is murdered in the manner that he was, he rises above political identity, overcomes professional boundaries, bridges the generation disparity and touches the spirit of millions.

From the head of the state to the last voter in the queue, from the universal United Nations to his local constituency, they all mourn his death.

They grieve for K.

K for knowledge: that he was blessed with, and that which he dedicated to the service of the people of this land

K for keystone: the minister, the politician, the freedom fighter, the diplomat, the scholar that he was

K for kinship: that he had with his family, friends, colleagues, party men and constituents.

K for kudos: the man himself

K for keynote: the speech that he delivered that fateful evening

K for the keyword: grenade, with which he and his departing peaceful political meeting was attacked

K for kerfuffle: the commotion that followed the heinous attack

K for the kilometres: that his last breath had to contend with

K for kneeling down: in prayer to Almighty Allah for his eternal abode in heaven, for the peace of a nation down below

K for kick in the teeth: for everything this nation stands for

K for knot: in the enduring mystery of such violence

K for kismet: even a man of his standing could not be guaranteed natural death.

Mere mourning is not enough. Garnering strength shall not be sufficient. Sustained resolve is essential. A gifted son of the soil deserves no less.

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