Is the current leadership strong enough to give ‘direction’ to Bangladesh? | Cartoon in September 14, 2008 By Arifur Rahman for ebangladesh.com | Click for image
Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, like so many others in thrall to the All India Muslim League in the 1940s, was initiated into politics on the premise of a separate, independent state for India’s Muslims. Under the influence of Huseyn Shaheed Suhrawardy, then prime minister of Bengal and a leading advocate for Pakistan, Mujib was inexorably drawn to the communal politics pursued by Mohammad Ali Jinnah and defended to the hilt by Suhrawardy. The latter, one might recall, despite being the fount of political authority in Bengal, had no qualms about declaring a government holiday on August 16, 1946, as part of his plan to observe the so-called Direct Action Day that Jinnah had called to press the demand for Pakistan. Tragedy swiftly followed, with tens of thousands of Muslims and Hindus dying in riots that no one had foreseen.
Is the real Bangladesh? | December 16, 2008 By Arifur Rahman for e-bangladesh.org | Click for image.
In these incomplete memoirs, Mujib recalls the frenzy with which people hacked one another to death simply because of a difference in religious beliefs. Having survived and saved lives in Calcutta, Mujib moved to Patna, where a reprise of Calcutta had occurred. Despite all these troubles breaking out almost without warning, Mujib’s belief in the political leadership of Suhrawardy never wavered. As these recollections reveal, to the very end — until Suhrawardy’s death in late 1963 — Mujib remained a devoted, almost stubborn Suhrawardy loyalist. (via Mujib, in his own words – Indian Express).
Cartoonist Syed Rashad Imam on Bangladesh elites’ fear of the poor for himalmag.com in March 1993 | Click for image.
East Bengal was Pakistan
What is usually forgotten is that initial support for Pakistan came from what is now Bangladesh – and Suhrawardy was a bigger leader than Jinnah during the British Raj. Has Bangladesh outgrown its sectarian roots? Has the Bangladeshi-tree grown branches that will offer shade to all its people – and not just the extremist elements?
Finding true colors is difficult in case of Pakistan, as Pakistan keeps sending out monochromatic signals. Bangladesh produces more color – often in a color palette that has clashing colors. A Taslima Nasreen – and her opponents also, for instance.
The descent of Pakistan into a self-consuming fratricidal frenzy is a popular topic within Pakistan, in the neighborhood and international media. Sheikh Mujibur’s memoirs may add little value to that analysis.
Cartoon titled ‘How long will it continue?’ | December 19, 2008 By Arifur Rahman | Click for image.
More interesting is how Bangladesh sees itself today?
- An Islamic country with a hostile ‘Hindu’ neighbor?
- A poor country which needs to stabilize its economy and provide growth opportunities to its people?
- A dead-end country, ruled by a corrupt elite, from which all Bangladeshis must escape?
- A country with abundant opportunities with cheap labour, strong agriculture and endowed with natural resources.