It is really astonishing that only one political leader–Sheikh Hasina–in Bangladesh has to repeatedly face the threat of assassination. The question is: what exactly are the reasons behind this aggressive animosity? The answer is not very difficult to guess. Since she is the daughter of the Father of the Nation and since her father was held responsible for dismembering Pakistan by the anti-liberation forces and was killed by the pro-Pakistan agents, Sheikh Hasina’s life is also equally insecure at the hands of those who still believe that dividing Pakistan was in fact an attempt to destroy Islam. These unjust and unfair attitudes of the fanatics are still operative in Bangladesh. These anti-liberation forces who joined hands with Pakistani occupation army to kill millions of innocent and unarmed Bangalees still believe that Pakistan is their motherland and they do not believe in Bangladesh’s independence.
But the reality is Bangabandhu and his party was never anti-religion, Islam was never the cause that separated Bangladesh from Pakistan. The fact is that it is under the leadership of Bangabandhu the Muslims of Bangladesh have really advanced more than other Muslim countries. It was during Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s rule that Islam as a religion of the majority people of Bangladesh has really gained ground. If Masjid and Madrasas are sacred places of preaching Islam there are lakhs and lakhs those in the country. If the number of pilgrims determines the affinity for Islam, nearly 1.27 lakh Bangalis left for performing Hajj this year. The second largest Muslim religion gathering (Tablig) is held every year at Tongi. .
On Friday, nearly 3.5 crore Muslims go to mosques to offer the jumma prayer once a week. In the two Eid Jamaat, at least 10 crores Muslims gather to offer their congregational prayer. Bengali culture means a confluence of the culture of Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Christians. So the apprehension that Islam would be endangered if Pakistan was dismembered was absolutely misplaced. Rather, Muslims of east Bengal are more advanced today in a free and fair independent Bangladesh.
So, the charges brought against Awami League that it is a party that cares little for Islam and work against the interests of Muslims is nothing but a vicious campaign against Awami League to agitate the so called pro-Islamic forces against Awami League. This ugly conspiracy started when East Pakistan was a part of Pakistan and that was the evil design to unite the Islamic forces against Awami League. During the 23 years of struggle against the autocratic regime of Pakistan, the pro-Islamic party like Muslim League, Jamaat and others acted in favor of the Pakistani occupation forces to resort to atrocities on Bangalees with the slogan “saving Pakistan means saving Islam.” Islam was no factor in our war of liberation; it was just a vile propaganda to help the occupation forces and to protect Pakistan. Thus, the country was divided into pro-and anti-liberation forces by those communal elements who desperately tried to keep this sectarian ugly politics of the Muslim League and their Pakistani agents. The wrath of the West Pakistani rulers against Sheikh Mujib was that he is the person who made the Bangalees understand that Islam was never a factor for the animosity between the people of the two wings. It is the exploitation and oppression of the west that was really the cause of conflict between the people of the East and the West. Sheikh Mujib mobilized the people against Pakistan’s exploitation and oppression. Reality was the core of his politics. Independence of Bangladesh has proved that Pakistan was broken up because of its aggressive economic design against Bengalees. Sheikh Mujib, the visionary leader, realized this timely and took the necessary required steps.
The anger of anti-liberation forces against Sheikh Hasina, daughter of Sheikh Mujib, the founding Father of the Nation, is almost for identical reasons. Sheikh Hasina is a devout Muslim who offers her prayer 5 times a day and having the holy Quran read every morning. Her government has been persistently trying to consolidate Islam and its values. The anti-liberation forces and the enemies of independence still consider Begum Khaleda Zia as their leader and protector of Islam in Bangladesh although it is known that she does not even say her prayers regularly and the way she dresses herself is highly anti-Islamic.
It is now obvious that Islam is much safer in the hands of Sheikh Hasina than any other previous rulers like Zia, Ershad and Khaleda. Why then is the vengeance against Sheikh Hasina? It is absolutely dirty politics. Islam has got nothing to do with this ugly politics.
Their grudge against Sheikh Hasina is due to the fact that why she (Hasina) has brought the country back on the right track that was altered on 15th August 1975. Why she has been able to restore almost all the values associated with the war of liberation? Why has she reintroduced Joy Bangla slogan? Why the 1972 constitution has almost been restored? Why Sheikh Hasina has been reviving Bengali nationalism and secularism? Finally, why has she been improving the standard of living of the poor and graduating the country from least developed country (LDC)?
The fact is: Bangladesh will be a rich country within the next two decades if Sheikh Hasina can work for the people. By all cannons of development, Bangladesh is now a role model. It has per capita income of nearly $1700, GDP 7.28%, inflation below 5.6%, it is now in second position in garment exports, 4th in fish production, 5th in vegetables production. It has launched its own satellite in space, it produces nearly 18,000 MW of electricity a year. Bangladesh is far advanced in health, education, poverty alleviation and women empowerment. Bangladesh is advancing so rapidly under the dynamic leadership of Sheikh Hasina that by 2041 the country will be a developed one. Those who opposed the creation of Bangladesh and fought against our war of liberation are still very active. These notorious forces Rajakars, Al-badars and Al-Shams have joined hands with the main opposition BNP to reverse the wheels of progress. These forces have made repeated attempts including that of 21st August 2004 grenade attack to kill Sheikh Hasina. The unity of the pro-liberation forces is a must to foil the evil design of anti-liberation forces.
It is because the people of East Pakistan were united behind Sheikh Mujib that we got independence. It is Sheikh Hasina who has united the pro-liberation forces again. Sheikh Hasina has already proved that under her leadership Bangladesh would be able to move towards the goal of Sonar Bangla, the dream of the Father of the Nation.
Dr S A Malek is former political adviser to the Prime Minister and Member of Parliament, General Secretary of Bangabandhu Parishad and a columnist