THE NEW YORK TIMES AT ITS OLD GAME
ABDUL GAFFAR CHOUDHURY
The New York Times is not only a world-famous paper but a mouthpiece of the citizens of the world. It has world-wide readership. However, the daily could not earn much respect and credibility because it has always sided with the vested interests of America and its global hegemonic role and distorted the news of the people of the developing world to justify the American interference in those countries sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly. This daily justified the use of Napalm bomb and other chemical weapons by America in Vietnam during that bloody war. It also justified President Bush’s blatant lie on weapons of mass destruction possessed by President Saddam of Iraq. Recently this paper was instigating the Western power to engage in the aggression against Syria but that was halted by the combined effort of the peace-loving people of America and Britain.
We have seen in the 70s when Bangladesh was engaged in the liberation war and Pakistan was committing genocide in the country American peace-loving people at large supported the oppressed Bangladeshi people. On the other hand, American ruling class and their most powerful mouthpiece The New York Times took side with the perpetrators of that genocide. .
I am a regular reader of this world famous newspaper and sometimes I rely on it for the authenticity of news from the far corners of world we cannot reach. Sometimes I am both shocked and surprised to see that a daily like The New York Times has distorted news maligning a regime or country to suit the western powers and interests. Unfortunately it happened not once but many times in relation to Bangladesh also.
Last 20th November, 2013 the New York Times published a comment on Bangladesh under the caption ‘Political crisis in Bangladesh’ which not only distorted the present political situation in the country but lowered down its own standard of journalism by uttering some accusations against the Hasina government which is only a well orchestrated propaganda of BNP and the fundamentalist camps.
I wonder whether it indicates the return of American foreign policy to the early 70s when America took side with Pakistan, and supported their killing aggression in Bangladesh by opposing the liberation war of the Bengali people. At the present moment when Bangladesh politics is polarized in two camps again between the pro-liberation and anti-liberation forces in the country, it seems if not American people but their ruling class and their vocal mouthpiece are going to side with the rising tide of anti-democratic and fundamentalist forces and focus on their false propaganda like 71.
Already there is clamour in some western media that whether a similar scenario is going to be repeated like 1971 in Bangladesh; whether a diplomatic and political clash may occur between India and America like 71 that may pave way for Russian involvement later on in the subcontinent like Syria? It is still a fear in some western media circle but I hope it will not materialize. If it, however, becomes true then the speculation will be proved right that American foreign policy is still under the influence of Kissinger doctrine of the 70s though it seems that the present Obama administration has been trying to move away from that unfortunate saga.
The present Hasina government has proved that all the elections including the last five city corporation elections held under their administration was free and fair. Still opposition BNP is insisting that a free and fair election cannot be held under Hasina government. Under that plea they tried to launch mass movement with the help of Jamaat’s armed cadres and hired goons. They started terrorist activities in the country by arson activities, looting and killing people in stray attacks.Obama administration of America is committed to erase terrorism from the world and they praised Hasina government many times in curbing terrorism in Bangladesh. Now the most influential American paper The New York Times is advocating not to ban a party of terrorists and war criminals but to accommodate them in Bangladesh politics.
New York Times wrote ” Banning Jamaat-e-Islami from participating in the electoral process is only forcing frustrated supporters into the street”. The same paper first tacitly supported the Muslim Brotherhood party to come to power in Egypt and later on supported their eviction from power by brutal military force, though that fundamentalist government was put to power by massive votes.
When the American strategy failed to achieve their goal in Egypt by indirectly helping a fundamentalist government to come to the power, then they changed their policy and did not hesitate to support the military to evict an elected popular government terming them as anti-democratic.
Does Obama government want to play the same Egyptian game in Bangladesh? This means helping the fundamentalists first so that they could come to power in the name of fair and free election and then evict them and place their unelected henchman in the power again telling people that the ousted government is anti democratic.
What a pity that a paper like The New York Times commented that “trials held by the international tribunal in Bangladesh which was set up in 2009 to try people accused of committing atrocities during the 1971 war with Pakistan, have targeted Opposition leaders.
The tribunal appears to be yet another tool to stifle political opponents. “Pakistan committed genocide in Bangladesh more than 40 years ago and the names of the war criminals like Ghulam Azam, Motiur Rahman Nizami are known throughout the world. So long they have escaped trial and punishment for particular situations in the country.
But the unanimous demand of people was to try and punish them. Awami League won the last election on the promise of the trial of these war criminals. How could The New York Times propagate this blatant lie that the present government has targeted the opposition leaders and the tribunal appears to be another tool to stifle political opponents? Then how come the opposition parties in Bangladesh including BNP and Jamaat could call hartals and create destruction whenever they wish?
At present the American government is conducting vicious drone attacks on their allied countries killing hundreds of civilians in the name of defeating terrorism. Can we call it a ploy to destroy the opponents of America by Obama government?
It is a democratic norm in western countries also that election is generally held under a sitting government.
In America after the presidential election the outgoing president remains in power for three months before handing over power to his successor. In Bangladesh Hasina should have followed the same procedure. But to show respect to the Opposition demand she formed a multi-party government and kept open the door for BNP to join to supervise the election. If this is not the democratic procedure of election than what is the right procedure? To follow a procedure prescribed by America and to select a Karzai or Zardari government?
The other accusation of The New York Times which is nothing but to add fuel to the politically motivated propaganda of BNP and Jamaat is that a human rights activist has been arrested and the court verdict and sentences flouted “the most basic standard of due process”. The daily could not cite one proper example.
Everybody knew that those who were arrested in Bangladesh were abusing the rights and privileges of a human rights activist and spreading rumours as news which was proved to be a total lie.
They were granted bail duly from the court. They did not become the victim of McCarthyism in America during the 50s and 60s. It is a false accusation that “Hasina scrapped a constitutional provision for the governing party to cede power to a neutral caretaker government three months before elections take place”. In reality Hasina did not scrap a constitutional provision. It was the parliament which abolished the care-taker government system after a Supreme Court verdict and when it was found that the system was abused more than once and has become useless. The Parliament took the decision after debate and discussion..
This is not the first time The New York Times played a mischievous role. In 1954, 59 years ago in the-then East Pakistan (Bangladesh) the most oppressive and anti-democratic government Muslim League was defeated in the provincial election and Joint Front under the leadership of AK Fazlul Huq formed the provincial government.
That time also American administration took the side of the communal, anti-democratic Muslim League government and wanted to destroy the newly formed democratic administration of East Pakistan. For his old-age complications Fazlul Huq went to Kolkata and addressed a reception in the city where he was Prime Minister of undivided Bengal for 6 years. He said in the reception speech,”the political division of the country is not a great thing to me.”
Surprisingly The New York Times sent their reporter Mr.Callahan from America to Kolkata only to cover the provincial reception of a chief minster. It was neither a national nor an international event. Then why did the daily feel it necessary to send a reporter to Kolkata? The reason was later exposed-they wanted to destroy a new democratic government of East Pakistan. Callahan reported in his paper which was followed immediately by two Muslim League papers The Daily Azad and The Daily Morning News that Fazlul Huq said in his Kolkata speech that he did not believe in the political division of the country.
Fazlul Huq immediately protested but without taking cognizance of his protest the Pakistan central government sacked his popular government and put him to house-arrest.
I wonder what game this American daily wants to play in Bangladesh again. In their utter desperation that Hasina government could not be toppled by this type of propaganda or pressure The New York Times has prescribed sanctions against Bangladesh which American government applied against their perceived enemy countries-Iran, Iraq, and Syria. Does this super power put Bangladesh in the category of those countries?
The New York Times may wish it but would Obama government follow this advice? It is unlikely because this arrogance and show of power will destroy the image and influence of America throughout South-east Asia and the history of 1971 may occur again.
November 22, 2013