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Friday, January 02, 2015, Poush 19, 1421, Robiul Awal 10, 1436 Hijr

Bangladesh from 'basket case' to rice exporting nation
Published : Friday, 2 January, 2015,  Time : 12:00 AM,  View Count : 107

Azizul Islam Bhuyian
Banglar Kakoli--- a commercial ship and a national flag carrier--- has left Chittagong Port for Colombo, Sri Lanka with 12,500 tonnes of rice the other day; another ship of the Bangladesh Shipping Corporation (BSC) with equal amount of rice would very soon leave for the same sea port.
These are small quantities but symbolic representing the maiden journey of Bangladesh from rice importing to a rice exporting nation. It has at its disposal a reserve of 1.3 million tonnes of rice. Some rice would soon be exported to the neighbouring India from this reserve.
This journey, though look humble, is enough to dispel the disgrace of 'international basket case' labelled by Henry Kissinger, President Richard Nixon's National Security Advisor, in the initial days of Bangladesh.
Earlier, on account of Bangladesh's liberation war issue, US administration under President Nixon suffered a disdainful diplomatic defeat internally from the popular public opinion led Senator Edward Kennedy and externally from the United Nations.
During the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971, the Nixon administration not only sided with the Yahiya Khan's genocide campaign--'Operation Searchlight'-- but also supplied arms and ammunitions to the Pakistan military despite arms embargo imposed during Indo-Pakistan war in 1965.
Following the emergence of sovereign and independent Bangladesh, Henry Kissinger continued to vilify the new nation whatever way possible. But people of Bangladesh have proved that their nation has stood with its head high as a sovereign, independent and fasy progressing nation.
Bangladesh is today two scores and four years old. The future ahead of us is rosy and shiny because the base we have, by this time, built for the fledgling nation is strong both in terms of our moral commitments to it and the developmental infrastructures laid out around the country.
Today we have at our reach sufficient quantity of energy either in the production levels or in the firm levels of installations. From a petty few thousand MWs only a few years ago, the total electricity production under the Sheikh Hasina-led Bangladesh Awami League government, the country is now able to feed the domestic as well as the industrial requirements from local power production as well as from those being imported from the neighbouring India. Enough of electricity would be produced once the projects taken in hand in the southern Cox's Bazar and the northern Sylhet areas in the next few years. By 2021, Bangladesh would be able to produce 24 thousand MWs of electricity from hydro-coal and gas- fed turbines being established in various parts of the country.
The communication sectors--surface and riverine-- are also sufficiently promising to take lift off. Work on the four-lane Dhaka-Chittagong Highway has, though very slowly, almost been completed; and in the next one year time, it is expected, the two cities--Dhaka and Chittagong--would provide one the yard of the other, which means the commercial hub of the nation would come close to the capital city of the nation. Work on the two lane Dhaka-Mymensingh highway is progressing very fast. Communications network all across the country is more than well-off.
The deep sea-port, now being envisaged, along the coastal Chittagong would zealously be emulated by a great many sea-faring nations in the East and the West. The existing sea ports--Chittagong and Mongla --- are already feeding the nation's need. Bases for foreign direct investments plus the foreign exchange remittances from our people working abroad, and export earnings on account of our ready-made garments, tea, leather and leather goods are well-built by now. Industry sectors are also doing pretty well. The international demands of our jute and jute goods are also increasing.
But things were not always the same. The nation had to make great sacrifice in terms of lives, properties, honours and everything to defeat the draconian colonizers and earn sovereign independence. No nation, nowhere under the sun, had to shed so much blood, particularly those of the innocent and unarmed rural people to earn sovereign impendence.
The haunt of General Aga Mohammad Yahya Khan, about two lakh mothers and sisters of Bangladesh were violated in the camps of the Pakistani occupation forces. These 'handfuls' were wilful optees to offer company to the occupation forces in their camps. In collaboration with the local anti-liberation groups, the occupation forces, in surprise raids gathered young women in the countryside and picked them up to their camps.
Archer Blood, US Consul General in East Pakistan (Bangladesh), reported all these ruthless killings and violence on innocent people particularly the violation of women, to US State Department which Nixon-Kissinger nexus despicably ignored. Rather they secretly withdrew the embargo on arms supply to Pakistan, which was using them on the unarmed innocent people of Bangladesh. It was because they thought it wise to reward Yahya Khan who had worked as go-between to pave the way for a Richard Nixon's visit to the People's Republic of China.
In his The Blood Telegram, Garry J. Bass says, 'Yahya got a reward in late October 1970, when he met Nixon in Oval Office at the White House. In their last meeting before the crisis erupted, Nixon began to sell weapons to Yahya again, in what was officially billed as a one-time exception to the US arms embargo imposed on both India and Pakistan back in 1965. It was the kind of exception that demolishes the rule.' Nixon's promises included six F-104 fighter planes, seven B-57 bombers, and three hundred armoured personnel carriers.
According to general estimate three million people were done to death by the beastly occupation forces in urban as well as in the countryside. In short, humanity cried in wilderness in this part of the globe.
In the name of religion, one section of people also took side with the Pakistani dictators, and aided and abetted them to carry out heinous conspiracy against the liberation war of Bangladesh.
Media report says, 'Villages burn. In the ravaged countryside of East Pakistan we saw some burning, villagers scurrying, bundles on their heads, children with suitcases, running, away anywhere. Those that are fortunate have made it to India. Those that are rich have made it to the US or UK. The majority remain either waiting in their village for the attack to come, or living as refugees in the homes of Muslims, Christians or other Hindus.'
Millions of people crossed the border over to India to take refuge--Tripura, Assam, West Bengal and the contiguous states along Bangladesh.
It is forty-three years now. By the time, Bangladesh, as a sovereign independent state achieved in every aspect a position to be called even by those who were inimical during the liberation war, a role model for others. Economically, politically and even in literary pursuit, Bangladeshi people are a driving force. It has already achieved food autarky. Though symbolically, Bangladesh has begun export of agricultural items--rice, potato, vegetables--to various countries including those in the Middle East and the SAARC member countries.
One thing which is very important to note here that the pro-liberation government under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has started trials of those who had committed crimes against humanity during the 1971 War of Independence of Bangladesh. Hasina says, 'It is necessary to remove the stigma from the face of the nation.' The tribunals established in this connection have already delivered judgements against some collaborators of the Pakistani occupation forces who had committed crimes against humanity during the war of liberation.
In a parliamentary democracy, one can retain one's membership while abstaining from or boycotting the parliamentary proceedings up to a statutory limit allowed under the rules of procedures or the constitution of a given country.
Boycotting election is negating 'politick'. Therefore, our observation about the January 5 election is ipso facto explanatory. Any regret or repentance on the part of those who have boycotted the election amounts to crying in the wilderness. Despite their lamentations, Bangladesh will march ahead making Kissinger's remark an empty and useless utterance.r
Azizul Islam Bhuiyan is Contributing Editor, The Daily Observer

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