WHY HASINA ERA WILL BE REMEMBERED IN OUR HISTORY?
ABDUL GAFFAR CHOWDHURY
One of the most influential American magazines Foreign Policy has published a list of 100 top global thinkers of the present decade and Sheikh Hasina is one of them. Four years ago, in 2015, Foreign Policy published another list of 100 great global thinkers of the world. Hasina was included in that list also. In the decision makers category 13 top intellectuals were selected and Hasina was included there. Foreign Policy said that Hasina faced the greatest challenge in the field of defence and security but she handled the opposition with tolerance. She did not oust the 7 lakh Rohingyan refugees from her country but gave them shelter.
After her massive election victory in Bangladesh Hasina’s leadership has been far more appreciated all through the outside world. In the past she received a peace prize from Neil Kinnock, the former leader of the British Labour Party. For her role in ending the long war in the hill tracts and her non-aggression policy to settle disputes with the neighbouring countries she was awarded the Helsinki peace prize. Even a war mongering British leader like Tony Blair praised Sheikh Hasina for her peace making role in the world. Henry Kissinger, the controversial ex-foreign secretary of America praised Hasina for her contribution to world peace.
A few years back there was a strong possibility that Sheikh Hasina will be awarded the Noble Peace Prize. She deserves it. But it was rumoured that the-then Clinton presidency exerted their influence to give this prize to a Bangladeshi banker, who had no contribution to keep peace in the world or even in his own country. For her contribution in the movement to save the world environment from pollution, Hasina was named Mother of the Earth. She has received numerous awards, medals, honorary doctorates from different institutions of the world. Her constant effort for empowering women, rehabilitating the homeless and the street children and introducing social benefits for the elderly, widow and the families of the freedom fighters has been appreciated in home and abroad.
Under her stewardship the country is no more a bottomless basket, but has become a wonderland of economic development. With this background she has become the country’s prime minister for the fourth time. Her political enemies accused her of malpractice in the election. But the world opinion is not fully in agreement with the opposition’s propaganda. The British weekly Ecnomist commented that even without any malpractice Hasina would have won the general election.
In the last ten years she has fulfilled almost all her promises to the people. She fought against poverty and hunger successfully. The war criminals of 71 including the killers of Bangabandhu were put on trials and punished. Under her leadership politics in the country has stabilized, the democratic practices are continuing, economy is flourishing and the law and order has not deteriorated. If this process continues then within the next ten years the country will become a developing country of middle-income. The most dangerous enemies of democracy in Bangladesh are communalism and ultra-fundamentalism. These forces have almost been crushed. The unfulfilled agenda of the Hasina government is the taming of the demon of corruption which has created a powerful place inside Awami League too. The Prime Minister assured the public that this time her government’s main target is to free the society and administration from corruption and that the government will try to establish good governance for the people.
My friend Barrister Moudud Ahmed, though he belongs to BNP keeps himself above political controversy as a writer. He wrote a book on the Mujib era in Bangladesh. In his opinion Sheikh Mujib’s politics in the opposition and government created an era called Mujib era. He paid tribute to Sheikh Mujib for making the country independent and criticized his own leader General Ziaur Rahman strongly. His analysis of the Mujib era is sometimes nearer to truth, but as a politician Moudud himself could not uphold this truth. As a politician Moudud’s vision has been blurred by opportunism. Otherwise, he could establish himself as a true political analyst than many members of our so-called civil society.
The history of Bangladesh has witnessed several glorious periods or eras from the ancient times, especially the era of Shaista Khan is very prominent and has turned into a folk lore. People say that in that era one could buy a huge amount of rice in one rupee, which means that the price of essentials was within easy reach of people. There was also the era of Alivardi Khan when several groups of vicious thugs called ‘Bargi’ and another killer group under Bhashkar Pandit were crushed through strong operation and good governance was established. During the British rule the era of Fazlul Haque was known for the renaissance of the Bengali Muslims, the rise of peasant powers, spreading of education and the emancipation of ordinary people from the torture of landlords.
The most significant era was Mujib era when Bangladesh achieved its independence and the rise of a non-communal, cultural nation state was accepted by the whole world. Then progress of this era was disturbed by the counter revolutionary forces who were defeated in 1971. After defeating these evil forces Sheikh Hasina came to power in1996 and again in 2008. Since then a glorious period of development and democracy started and is still continuing. Now this is called the Hasina era.
I have already mentioned her amazing success in socio political and economic fields earlier. She has shown courage to face mighty America, ignored the threat of the World Bank and started building Padma Bridge with undaunted courage and stamina. No doubt this era will be included in annals of the history of Bangladesh and will turn into a folk lore among the future generations like Shaista Khan’s era. I don’t want to add to the list of her success and make it longer. I feel proud and fortunate that I am one of the witnesses of the two glorious eras associated with the names of Mujib and Haisna.
JANUARY 24, 2019