Selling the Country to India?



In a press conference on Bangladesh Prime Minster (PM) Sheikh Hasina’s recently concluded visit to India, Madam Khaleda Zia, ex-Prime Minister and current leader of Opposition in the Parliament of Bangladesh, alleged that the PM had sold the country to India. The salient features of her claims are:

• The Water sharing issues were left to the mercy of India.
• Excitements about Import of 250 MW Power from India is laughable
• Ignorance about Tipai Mukh Dam is inexcusable.
• Neglect of Poet Nazrul has frustrated the people.
• Opposition has no way but to go for movement.

It must be mentioned upfront here that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed visited India from the 14th to the 17th January, 2010. During her visit some historic groundbreaking agreements were signed and two Minutes of Understanding were initialled. After the epic summit meeting between the heads of the governments of the two countries a 50-point joint communiqué was published which stated that all issues of bilateral importance came up for discussion and meeting of minds were reached to resolve all these through mutual discussions based on good friendly neighbourly relations. PM Hasina already invited opposition to return to parliament and voice their approvals or disapprovals on anything on the floor of the parliament. Soon after returning from the trip, she already has explained to our people the salient features of agreements and MOUs, as well as issues included in the communiqué.

In 2008 December election, Bangladeshi people have provided land slide majority to PM Hasina-led Mahajote government to serve the nation for five years. Our people have also elected some 30 opposition MPs to represent some sections of the people in the parliament. Unfortunately, under some silly pretexts, the opposition has abstained from attending the parliament after few days of the first session, although they don’t mind enjoying all the facilities and benefits of being parliamentarians at tax payer’s money. This is really sickening! It’s a shameful display of abusing people’s trust for which they were elected.

Mrs. Khaleda Zia stated that people of Bangladesh do not accept the communiqué which in her opinion has compromised our national interest. According to her, the PM has given everything generously to India through this communiqué; the PM has sold the country to India according to Khaleda. We like to ask Mrs. Khaleda: what percentage of people does she represent? What is her locus standee in the present parliament?

While various political parties, traders, business leaders, economic analysts and columnists have welcomed the significant achievement of PM Hasina from this recently concluded trip, seemingly only madam Khaleda and her associates are complaining. As a minority leader, representing only 10% of elected reps in the parliament, she has no right to say that our nation has not accepted the communiqué. She also failed to explain her reason for abstaining from the parliament. She also perhaps does not understand the difference between communiqué, agreement and MOU. A country is not a tradable commodity. She made herself a laughing stock with such silly accusations time and again that our country has been sold to India. She must be asked to explain clearly what she really means by this. She must produce credible evidence of selling of Bangladesh to India.

When she was honourable guest of the Pakistan occupation force in 1971 her husband joined Awami League-led Bangladesh liberation war to liberate our country and took shelter in India, which gave generous and spontaneous support in the liberation war. How can PM Hasina ever think of compromising with country’s interest when her own father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was the very dreamer, architect and the father of this nation? PM Hasina lost most of her near and dear ones on the fateful hours of the 15th August, 1975 when conspirators carried out gruesome murders. It was madam Khaleda and her husband who sheltered those self-confessed killers and rewarded them in many ways. She also enjoys parleys with noted war criminals and hobnobs with them. Her only asset in politics is drum-beating of anti Indian slogans. Did not she state earlier after CHT treaty that a part of Bangladesh extending from Chittagong to Feni will go to India after that treaty? Has that allegation ever happened? What is the ground reality? Today, peace prevails in Chittagong Hill Tracts. We can expect that after the present agreement with India on cross-border terrorism, i.e., commitment not to entertain insurgency of any country in other’s soil, peace will prevail further strengthening the entire region. Mrs. Khaleda’s statement is not only out of context it is outrageous and makes her a laughing stock to world communities.

Mrs. Khaleda talked about Teesta Water sharing agreement. She told that our nation was expecting a resolution of Teesta water issue during PM’s visit. According to her, the PM Hasina left it completely at the mercy of India. We wonder what makes her say that! India and Bangladesh in recent senior official-level meetings have made significant progress on reaching an agreement. Not only Teesta talks are ongoing to resolve water sharing issues of all common rivers flowing from India into Bangladesh, the JRC meeting will be held in February 2010. May we ask: how many JRC meetings were held over the last 5 years of BNP-Jamat rule? Did Khaleda ever raise water sharing issues with India at all? What prevented her to do so? She forgot to raise this issue with India when she was on a state visist to India. So our nation may like to ask her: why she surrenders to India completely when in power and only becomes noisy about issues with India when thrown out of power? Is not it: doing politics for the sake of politics?

Mrs. Khaleda said that our nation must not be elated about trading of 250MW power from India which according to her will be available after 3 years. According to her, this power will not be enough to meet even the demand of a major district. Can we ask ex-PM how much power her government added during her 5-year rule from 2001 to 2006? Her only achievement was an 80MW under-performing Tongi Power plant, while during her time the power demand increased to about 2000MW. When her government took over in 2001 there was no power or energy crisis in Bangladesh. Several power plant-contract processing were in advanced stages. And yet, her government cancelled all those and could not ink even a single new contract during her tenure in office. Can Mrs. Khaleda explain why a contract for 450MW PDB- Summit JV plant at Sirajgonj could not get final approval after it was approved by the purchase committee? There are allegations of ill-gotten money laundering from the developer of the lone power plant of her time against her son and BNP senior Vice Chairman Tareq and his friend Mamun. Will Mrs. Khaleda explain why people talk so much ill about the Khamba scandal? Talk about fleecing of national wealth! She should be ashamed before opening her big mouth!

The current MOU to import 250MW power is the stepping stone to set up regional power grid. Once the grids are connected it will create opportunity of trading any amount of power amongst India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan. Madam Khaleda must tell her dumb advisors to shut up for putting those illogical statements — about power trading in North and South America, East and West Europe, and in South East Asia — into her mouth. Through such ill-informed and ill-intended comments she has made a fool of herself.

We appreciate Mrs. Khleda’s anxiousness about the Tipai Mukh Dam (TMD)? But does she know what it is? Did she do anything about it during her tenure? It’s not PM Hasina, but it is madam Khaleda who appears to be ignorant about it. In contrast, during her first year in office, PM Hasina has taken significant initiatives about resolving this vital matter. She discussed with Indian PM several times about it whenever they met in international engagements.

Why did madam Khaleda stop the opposition MPs from joining the parliamentary team when they visited India in connection with TMD? That committee discussed the issue elaborately with Indian counterpart and acquired important documents. The Indian government has made categorical commitment that nothing that harms Bangladesh will be done at the TMD.We have reports that TMD may be abandoned altogether, if it turns out that this is really harmful to environment.
Kobiguru Tagore and Rebel poet Nazrul are integral parts of Bangla culture. It is really laughable that Mrs. Khaleda wants to make an issue of it. The PM Hasina recited poems of both when speaking to Indian elites after receiving the Indira Gandhi peace award. How did Mrs. Khaleda find that our PM had neglected Rebel Poet? To most Bangladeshis, the Kobiguru and the Rebel poet are like the confluence of Padma-Meghna-Jamuna; they are inseparable. Hasina government has done enough and doing enough for both such towering cultural icons.

From 2001 to 2006 the BNP-Jamat alliance government made Bangladesh safe heaven of Indian and Bangladeshi terrorists. There are allegations that state sponsored terrorists carried out killings of ex-Finance Minister SAMS Kibria, and Ahsanullah Master MP. The terrorists even tried to kill present PM at the heart of capital city during broad day light killing Ivy Rahman (wife of current President of Bangladesh Government) and many other innocent people. Why the Khaleda government could not nab those killers? What happened at CUFL Jetty during her time? What about the allegation of massive Arms Haulage for ULFA? Can madam Khaleda rightfully claim that they were committed to strengthening the sovereignty of Bangladesh while aiding terrorism?

She also alleged that people did not vote Mahajote to power; they came through vote rigging. Why it is only Khaleda and her party who could detect this? Why not rest of the world? Her government set all those senior Army Officers and others who later formed the Care Taker Government in 2007. Army Chief General Moin U Ahmed was preferred by Khaleda Government over few other seniors and more deserving candidates. General Masud Uddin likewise also was their choice because he was Said Iskandar’s (Khaleda’s young brother) bhayra bhai (relative through marriage of common sisters). It was our Army that worked hard for creating the voter ID. Few million false voters who were included in the voter list during Khaleda time as part of her election engineering were pruned. Our people executed their voting right in free and fair manner, a fact which was confirmed by international election monitoring agencies. So her allegations about vote rigging in 29008 elections are not tenable. They appear sour grapes!

About connectivity, madam Khaleda claimed that the current usage to be about 60% capacity at Chittagong port and about 40% capacity at the Mongla port. This is a highly debatable figure. The past Care Taker Government and the present government have done much to increase activities of those two ports after the fall of the Khaleda government. For the sake of argument, if we take her figures to be correct, what is the harm if port connectivity would ensure 100% capacity utilization? Madam Khaleda must explain how offering port connectivity to neighbouring countries jeopardise the sovereignty of Bangladesh? When the proposed port facility expansion, envisioned by Singapore investors for Mongla, is implemented, the facilities will be quadrupled. Instead of fooling our masses, madam Khaleda should tell those cock and bull stories to her grand children. That would be fair and square!

Before the PM’s trip to India, Madam Khaleda vowed to either lay thorn on the ways of PM Hasina or garland her. The people of Bangladesh have overwhelmingly accepted what Hasina has achieved in India. The world community acclaimed the trip in a chorus. The choice is obvious; madam Khaleda must now garland Hasina and join politics of amity and peaceful co-existence. She must join the parliament and keep our government honest so that it does not stray away or deviate from fulfilling its election promises. That is what our nation expects and not empty rhetoric from the leader of opposition.

What is actually happening with opposition politics is rather disturbing. It is in a conspiracy mode since the election victory of the Mahajote Alliance. It is irate that Bangabandhu-killers, which it protected all these years, will soon be executed. There are speculations that the trials of the BDR killings will expose its conspiratorial hand behind the tragic event, which intended also to kill the PM Hasina on that fateful day of February 25 if she had appeared in the Darbar Hall. The Opposition is also uneasy about the trial of the War criminals, which will start soon. The current government is carrying out detail probes of the 21st August carnage, killing of S.AMS Kibria, Ahsanullah Master, and journalists in Khulna (Humayun Kabir and Manik Shaha). None of these developments are desirable for the BNP-Jamat alliance that ruled the country when such acts of violence took place. Many of the killers are now hiding in India. The extradition of such terrorists and killers and the ensuing trial that would surely follow may actually expose their links with the BNP- Jamat government of the past. So the BNP- Jamat opposition is genuinely concerned and are trying to create issues out of non-issues, making moles out of mountains, to somehow take people’s attention elsewhere. And that is what the opposition is up to these days.

But such ploys should not discourage the Mahajote government from boldly facing each of those issues coolly. Per people’s wishes, all acts of crime, corruption, money-laundering and land-grabbing must be probed and all criminals must be brought to justice. That is why people voted for the Mahajote. They want change – a paradigm shift from old, evil days of politics and governance to one of law, order, transparency and justice.

Kh. A. Saleque (Saleque Sufi) is the ex-Director (Operation) GTCL and writes from Australia.

10 Responses to “Selling the Country to India?”

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    Habib Siddiqui

    This is an excellent piece from my friend Kh. Adbus Saleque that tries to put a stopper to all those silly accusations against the current Awami League Mahajote government about selling Bangladesh to India. Those accusers forget that the people of Bangladesh have never accepted hegemony, at least not for too long, because they are one of the most independent minded people on earth. As the author has pointed out why would prime minister Hasina sell Bangladesh to India which will erase the very name of Bangabandhu who is the father of our nation? The suggestion is simply ludicrous!

    It is, however, true that the English East India Company and later the British government, managed to rule Bengal, and through her the rest of Mughal India; but whenever the opportunity knocked, our people tried to break that shackle of colonial occupation. But Bangladesh is also a place that produced Jagath Seth, Rai Durlav and Mir Jafar. As such, while we cherish freedom, our people must never be too complacent; they must be vigilant against such conspiracies which try to subordinate our independence to foreign interests. For that to happen, we need an informed citizenry that cares deeply about Bangladesh who can analyze contentious issues clearly and fairly without displaying cronyism and silly paranoia – something that are sadly becoming norms these days of nasty politics. The government must also show maturity in accepting constructive criticism without which it will lose direction and focus, and fall into the traps that put our clock back to 1975.

    I again laud Kh. Abdus Saleque’s attempt here to inform our citizenry with some hard facts that our opposition is not too comfortable. Opposition for the sake of opposition is not the smarter way, it is the dumber way. The sooner our opposition leaders understand this age-old maxim and return to the Assembly to voice their legitimate concerns and help guide our Prime Minister so that she does not stray away from doing what is just and right for our people the better it is for our nation.

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    An explicit analysis of rhe whole gamut being unnecessarily opposed by the leader of the opposition only for the sake of opposition. The irony of fate is that she hersel ruled the country for more than ten years and did not take any initiative to solve any problem with India. What ever she has told yeaterday were told many times before by her and her ancestors including Jinnah, Liaquat Ali, Ayub, Yahya, Bhutto, Golam Azam and Fazlul Kader Chowdhury. This lady understands nothing and just recites what ever her advisers teach her. But our hard luck is that she is the three times Prime Minister of our ill fated country. However, thank you my friend. I liked it.

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    Md. Khalequzzaman

    Enjoyed reading the elaborate piece. Agree with most what Mr. Saleque Sufi said. Only comment I have is the fact that his writing has a clear partisan tone. There is nothing wrong about supporting one political party over another, but it should be stated as such. For those of us who are not clearly affiliated with either of the two political parties (AL vs. BNP) we want to see an objective analyses of events. Having said that, it is obvious that our opposition is not being very reasonable. They need to mature and play a constructive role.

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    1.Yes all fathers have good sons and daughters.

    2. What Khaleda did during her tenure was wrong. If Khaleda did 10 mistakes hasina can do atleast one. So what?
    Keep it up

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    Shabbir Ahmed

    I deeply appreciate your writing. However, I feel that having ratification from the parliament of any concerns or or international treaty make a guaranty for its future sustainability. It’s a legal procedure prevalent in any country in the form of referendum or having approval of the Senate.

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    Saugat Lahiri

    Loved this piece.I am a Bangalee residing in Delhi,love to sing “Amar Sonar Bangla” with a lot of pride.To people like Madam K.Zia,would like to say,Indians are not Against BanglaDesh, we do not & have not voted for any government which may be against BD nor we think that it will help us in any manner by putting our neigbours house on fire (Last time happened,people in this of side Bangla opened their Heart out for opar Bangla) people who could barely afford 2 bowls of rice a day gave one to his brother on the other side.Further,as (Jamaat love to use this)we are NOT against Islam/Muslims,FYI,we have the 2nd largest Muslim population in the World,) We Pray and hope not that Bangla Desh becomes another Pakistan.If you want to make or create diffrences,can their be a any limit to it????? and where will that take all of us ??? We have the second fasted Growth rate in the world even now,and the 3 or 4th largest economy in the world,share this success,become stakeholders,lets make it a joint & symbiotic one,that will create thousands of jobs on both side and feed the hungry millions and make our countries better & peaceful places to live in. Just to add boders in East & West germany do not exist,boders between France/Ger/Holland/etc,etc do not exist,EU does.Hoping for a bright future for us as well,Jai Hind,Joi Bangla.

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    Engr Khondkar Abdus Saleque( Sufi)

    Thanks all who liked my post.
    Some people in Bangladesh take exception to Joy Bangla , Joy Hind Slogans. I saw one of my BUET batch mate and now editor of a Bangladesh newspaper wrote a crazy article in his paper Amat r Desh other day. Indians will say Joy Hind and Bangladeshis will say Joy Bangla . What is the harm in it? Joy- means victory . This was our slogan our war cry in 1971.It encouraged us to fight against mighty Pakitani killers when they were carrying out genocide in Bangladesh.Yes Amar Desh Editor has allergy to Joy Bangla. He is extremely communual. It is sad that this happens in Bangladesh. Educated and enlightened people are also prejudiced.
    Bangladesh must take maximum benefit out of thriving Indian economy. That is only possibly being free and open with them. India will be extremely benefitted if Bangladesh remains peaceful and stable.

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    Arefin Sadique

    Bangladesh should go ahead with opening up its borders and ports to the rest of the world. We must get linked to the global seaway and highway ASAP. We should look upward into North and downward and southeastward into China and southeast Asia.

    The Awami League is heading in the right direction.

    The government should be cautious about conspirators like Jamaat-e-Islami, Akbar Ali Khan, Fazle Hasan Abed and Tofael Ahmed trying to instigate commotion in the political arena to derail democracy again. Akbar Ali Khan has no principle. He is now aspiring for power through the barrel of the gun. He is now likely to team up with Abed and Asafuddowla after having failed to do anything by allying with Yunus in the past to sow the seeds of dictatorship.

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    Noor Mohammed

    It is the shame of our nation that we are led by people like KZ, who are far far behind the age and even miles behind thought of mass people of Bangladesh. Leaders of this type should be put in museum to remind our next generation how ignorant we were in 20th century and in 1st decade of 21st century. We just can’t believe a leader of a country can say a country would become part of other country, there will be ULU in masjid in place of AZAN, a country can be sold by a prime minister, Islam is in danger in a country of 90% muslims.

    But she has put barristers doctorates in dozens around her to convert all her street statements into legal and logical ones. They are sincerely doing as the intellectuals did in Rabindranath’s JUTA ABISHKAR.

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    Saugat Lahiri

    With ref to the “ Ulu in the Masjid”

    I really do not understand what KZ wants and quite a few questions come to mind. What kind of insecurity is she trying to breed in her country? Whom does it help more, her or her countrymen? For her, are the remaining 10-15 % minorities in Bangladesh not her own people? Does she really care about Islam and does it preach only intolerance and hatred towards faiths? As far as I know in both faiths, the ultimate form of God is “Nirakar”.

    Let me share something, am in Delhi,and last weekend in the local Kali Temple here, we celebrated “Bangladesh Day /Divas” wherein people/artists/poets from both sides of Bengal were invited in which the local Bangladesh High Commission also helped .In the evening some of the guests wanted to offer evening prayers, to my pleasant surprise, the local priest immdly told his boys to help and carpets were laid down within the temple lawns and Azan was completed. In Delhi and in many other parts of our country, you will still find Masjid, Temple, Guruduwara’s, Churches next to each other. How has it made me, my faith or my country weak?
    Even today during Durga puja’s in the same temple, many Muslim artisans decorate the pandals & arrange festival lighting, Sikh Khalsa and the police take care of security, all citizens come in the evening to see Jatra of “Sher-e-Bangla-Siraj-ud-dulah”. May be as we have seen this diversity since childhood, we take it as a fact of life .

    “Hum hi hum hain to kya hum hain, Tum hi tum ho to kya tum ho”

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