A DISTORTED VIEW OF HISTORY
Bangladesh Nationalist Party has remained incorrigible in its distortion of the history of the country’s liberation war. In her latest speech to a group of freedom fighters loyal to her party BNP leader Khaleda Zia once again tried to undermine the role of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his party Awami League in the nine-month war against the occupation Pakistani forces that culminated in the emergence of an independent Bangladesh on Dec. 16, 1971.
Reading out from a written speech she accused Bangabandhu, his aides and the Awami League of fleeing from the country to escape the responsibility of leading the Liberation War. Instead, she said, the Bengali-speaking low-ranked Army officers, border guards, police and ansars came out to fill the leadership void created by what she said the absence of Awami League leaders.
She took pains in trying to portray the liberation mainly as a military affair heavily underplaying the political struggle that had started through the Language Movement in 1952. To her the Liberation War and the consequent victory had just been a ripe fruit that dropped on the lap of Bengalis just when her late husband Ziaur Rahman read out the Declaration of the War in a broadcast through the Kalurghat station of then Radio Bangladesh. To keep the record clear Zia made the announcement on behalf of Bangabandhu.
The distortion of the history was started by the architects of the Aug. 15, 1975 coup that saw the assassination of Bangabandhu. The killers and their political backers at home and abroad launched a campaign of turning Bangladesh into a nation where Pakistani ideals – Islam-based politics, an economic system of exploitation and anti-Indian hate campaign – would be restored at the cost of the ideals of the Liberation War such as nationalism and secularism. For the 21 years since Bangabandhu’s murder the state power was held by anti-Bangabandhu and anti-Awami League elements which succeeded to an extent to confuse the nation with a distorted version of the Liberation War.
The role of Ziaur Rahman was highly overstated and his contribution was placed above the leadership of Bangabandhu and other political leaders of the day. It was as if Bangladesh was liberated at the call of Ziaur Rahman, a claim Zia never dared to make when he was alive and very much in power. The highly atrocious claim was never challenged by Gen. H.M Ershad who seized power in a bloodless coup from Justice Abdus Sattar, the man who ran the country after Zia’s murder in 1981.
The post-Bangabandhu governments had resorted to all kinds of dirty business not only to distort the history of the nation’s liberation but also to vilify Bangabandhu and his family. The longer these forces had remained in power the greater had been the extent of their abominable campaign. They plunged the nation into an identity crisis. Worse, the nation saw the emergence of a divide between pro-liberation and anti-liberation forces.
BNP was not born when the nation had fought its war of liberation. It came into being after the assassination of Bangabandhu formed by a military ruler who ruled from Dhaka cantonment. The party had brought together all the anti-Awami League elements and among the elements had been those who opposed the liberation war and who were still hatching conspiracy to restore Pakistani ideals in Bangladesh. With Zia’s death BNP suffered a leadership crisis which was resolved with the arrival of Zia’s widow Khaleda at the helm of the party.
Khaleda’s leadership helped stabilize the party though she made little effort at overhauling the party to rid it from the influence of the anti-liberation forces. Her leadership instead has seen the anti-liberation elements take more control of the organization. This has been evident in BNP’s close alliance with Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh, the party of the anti-liberation forces. Tariq Rahman, senior vice-chairman of BNP widely considered to replace his mother Khaleda, also stands accused by his detractors of siding with the anti-liberation forces.
It’s up to BNP to come clean out of these allegations. Khaleda’s latest description of the history of the liberation war has no indication of any reform.
DECEMBER 25th, 2014