Published : Wednesday, 7 June, 2017 at 12:00 AM
Mir Mosharref Hossain
The next General Election of Bangladesh will be held at the end of the current government’s term in 2019. The top political parties have already got busy with developing and implementing the roadmap for the election. The Awami League regime is going through their second term as the government and they have worked with two broad plans till now — Vision 2021 and Vision 2041.
Vision 2021 basically focused on development of the ICT sector of Bangladesh which was referred on the popular term of achieving the goals to make a ‘Digital Bangladesh’. Vision 2041 on the other hand focused more on the development of infrastructural, economical and societal factors.
The government is already working on several large projects stated in those visions. Recently, Begum Khaleda Zia, the Chairperson of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) has presented her plan, ‘Vision 2030’ — a document which many considered as controversial from the perspectives of the history of independent Bangladesh.”In Europe and many other countries, there are laws known as ‘Holocaust Denial Acts’, which does not allow raising questions on the accepted number of people killed in a war. Of course, the number of people killed in a war cannot be mentioned in exact. But usually, a country decides on the people killed in genocides or wars following sum assumptions like how many people were killed in an area or how many people were killed in a day or based on some other factors.”Vision 2030 has been subject to lot of criticism since it was presented to the people of Bangladesh. Many fail to identify that, it contradicts the ideals of our liberation war in many forms. It is already an established fact that, Begum Khaleda Zia with her alliance with Jamaat-E-Islami is questionable in terms of her recognition of the liberation war in 1971.
On top of that, in Vision 2030, sub-point no 57 under the heading ‘Liberation War & Freedom Fighters’, BNP said that, they will prepare a complete list of Martyrs of 1971 to provide their families different benefits. Though expressed with a positive notion, we cannot trust the intention of BNP Chairperson completely here due to some of her previous activities.
During November, 2015 the Pakistani government at their parliament claimed that the fact of killing 3 million Bengalis in 1971 was not right and the figure would be much lower. This was claimed on the verge of trial and punishment of the war criminals of 1971 on the soil of Bangladesh.
Pakistan has been trying to degrade the barbaric acts they had conducted in 1971 as that will lift off a huge burden. Surprisingly, on December 21, 2015 Begum Khaleda Zia spoke in public for the first time in one and a half year. In her speech, she expressed her doubts over the number of martyrs of the liberation war. She said that, it was required to find out the correct number of martyrs. She also said that, she believed that, the number was much lower than the accepted 3 million.
Her speech immediately after Pakistan’s denial of killing three million people raised several question then as it was just another demonstration of her alliance with Pakistan and their supporters here in Bangladesh, Jamaat-e-Islami. Begum Zia once mentioned the number of martyrs of liberation war to be 30,000 rather than 3 million, which was absurd as we all know that, during the dark night of March 25, 1971 only 40,000 people were killed by the Pakistan Army. In this way, Begum Khaleda Zia has raised several controversies regarding the number of martyrs of liberation war which is a matter of great regret considering the fact that, she was the Prime Minister of Bangladesh for several years.
In Europe and many other countries, there are laws known as ‘Holocaust Denial Acts’, which does not allow raising questions on the accepted number of people killed in a war. Of course, the number of people killed in a war cannot be mentioned in exact. But usually, a country decides on the people killed in genocides or wars following sum assumptions like how many people were killed in an area or how many people were killed in a day or based on some other factors.
This figure is not accurate but it provides an approximate number. Then this number is generally accepted and the government of that respective country recognizes that number and after that is done, no one can deny that number of deceased according to the ‘Holocaust Denial Act’.
These laws were made after the Second World War in Europe while Nazis or Nazi-Sympathizers were keen on denying the number of people they have killed during the war. In Bangladesh also, such a law was proposed but till now it is not approved. Hence, we are unable to take actions against those who deny the 3 million martyrs of 1971 liberation war.
Begum Zia and her party BNP had been facing severe criticism for their alliance with the Jamaat-e-Islami, which is an anti-liberation war force. Several leaders of Jamaat-e-Islami were brought under trial for their roles in 1971 against Bangladesh. Few of them including their top leaders have already been served with death sentence or life in prison.
The whole nation is aware of the terrorist activities of Jamaat activists all-around the country. We all expected that, BNP will loosen its tie with them but that did not happen till now. Rather, BNP’s Vision 2030 marks on stronger commitment to the Jamaat’s agenda. Being the ally or to be more specific, support of a party, which is a threat to the sovereignty of Bangladesh, it is absurd that BNP will uphold the idea and conscience of liberation war.
Moreover, it is very unclear that, how BNP plans of making a proper list of martyrs. Many of their bodies were not found. The families of many martyrs have left the soil of Bangladesh during or after 1971. There are not much people in any village of our country who can provide the proper list of the martyrs from their respective villages. We had buried thousands of unidentified bodies during the days of liberation war. Who will provide the lists of those bodies? Who will identify those unnamed martyrs?
It actually seems quite impossible to make the list of all the martyrs of liberation war. BNP knows it as well. They were in the government for several years and they have at least this much knowledge and experience to know that, making a proper list of martyrs is completely impossible. So, why they are committing on such a clearly impossible task must raise a lot of questions in people’s minds. The answer seems to be simple — to help the anti-liberation war force to establish their agenda. BNP is actually committing to the vision of Jamaat-e-Islami as well as that of Pakistan.
Though BNP in Vision 2030 mentioned that, they will make a complete list of martyrs of 1971 to provide them proper recognition by serving their families with better opportunities and benefits, we cannot at all trust their commitment that. It makes us concerned if BNP will try to establish a new number of martyrs by this new list. It makes us concerned if they will deny the holocaust or genocide.
We get worried if our history will again be distorted. BNP has established themselves as the shelter of the anti-liberation war force during the last two decades. Their actions do not make us convinced of protecting our sovereignty. They could never assure us of the trial of the war criminals. They had rewarded the top killers of 1971 at the top position of the country. They have left us with no option to trust BNP to uphold the spirit of the Liberation War. Their Vision 2030 seems to lead us to a position where we might find us in a scenario of BNP versus the 3 million martyrs of 1971.
BNP’s Vision 2030 is detailed in 37 headings and 257 points. But still this document does provide nothing concrete. This is actually an exaggerated vision. Like; it said, BNP wants to transform Bangladesh into a modern and democratic higher-middle income country by 2030. They envision taking Bangladesh’s per capita income to be USD 5000 within that period, which is highly optimistic as our per capita income has increased only for USD 900 with so many development projects and modernization in last 10 years.
In the next 10 years, we cannot expect it to elevate up to USD 5000. If we are to achieve that goal, severe economic activities, development projects and integrated drive in different sectors will be required. But a plan for such actions is completely absent at Vision 2030.
Vision 2030 also talks about the maximum focus on the development of ICT sector. But during their 2001-06 regime, they failed to take the opportunity of connecting to the submarine cable with an excuse of protecting the country’s data. And the decision actually took us far behind in the race of developing the ICT sector of Bangladesh. Current Awami League government has been already working with the plans which are stated under the heading of ICT sector of Vision 2030.
BNP failed to add much in their Vision 2030 considering the Vision 2021 or 2041 of current government. It seemed like they have copied and just edited and in some cases, added a bit to Awami League’s vision except for the issue of distorting the fact of 3 million martyrs to prepare Vision 2030.
The document fails to provide us any assured guidelines of Bangladesh’s development in different areas. Of course, there are many good development initiatives listed in BNP’s Vision 2030 but the Awami League government has already planned or worked on those.
Begum Khaleda Zia came out with her party’s Vision 2030 at a very critical time when the clock is ticking heavily for them to reorganize their party at all levels before the next general election. They need to create their position from now on. We guess, Vision 2030 was an attempt to do that.
But with this attempt Begum Zia could have only assured us of the fact that, they will not be able to protect the spirit of liberation war, they will serve the agenda of the anti-liberation war forces and also our history will be under great risk with them. So, we must raise our concerns to prevent the situation where 3 million martyrs of liberation war stand against BNP’s Vision 2030.
Today, we wish for an enlightened Bangladesh for which so many souls were lost and Vision 2030 just does not tag along. We hope our new generation upholds the spirit of liberation war to establish ourselves in a place of pride and glory all around the world.
The author is the Chairman of Mohammadi Group of Companies Ltd & Director of The Daily Observer