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Category — Khaleda Zia

IOJ splits again, quits 20-party, Raquib-led group assures Khaleda of allegiance :By Rashidul Hasan and Prabir Barua Chowdhury in The Daily Star, Jan 8, 2016

Dhaka: Ending its 17-year ties with the BNP-led alliance, a faction of the Islami Oikya Jote led by Abdul Latif Nejami yesterday quit the combine.

Nejami, chairman of the Qawmi madrasa-based IOJ’s faction, made the announcement at its triennial council at the capital’s Institute of Engineers, Bangladesh.

Talking to The Daily Star, several leaders of the Islamist party faction said they had no alternative but to quit the BNP-led alliance, as the government put “huge pressure” on them to quit the opposition combine.

“Otherwise, the government would have forced us to change the two principals of the capital’s Lalbagh and Boro Katra madrasas — the faction’s stronghold and the main source of its income,” said one of its leaders, wishing anonymity.

Two leaders of the faction — Abul Hasnet, son of late IOJ chief Fazlul Huq Amini, and Saiful Islam, brother-in-law of Hasnet — are principal and vice principal of Boro Katra madrasa with 600 students.

The two are also members of the managing committee of the 60-year-old Lalbagh madrasa that now has 1,500 students.

“Amini’s family and relatives as well as the faction will suffer a big blow if they lose control over the two madrasas,” said a leader of the faction on condition of anonymity.

Talking to reporters after the council, Nejami refuted the claims that the faction was under “government pressure” to quit the opposition platform.

Within two hours of Nejami’s announcement, the faction’s Senior Vice Chairman MA Raquib made a counter move.

He proclaimed himself as the new chairman of the faction, and said it will not leave the BNP-led coalition.

“Those who have decided to quit the combine violated the party’s constitution. They have lost their positions in the party. We have replaced them,” he said at an emergency press briefing at the BNP chairperson’s Gulshan office.

“Islami Oikya Jote is with the 20-party alliance, and we will remain with it in the future.

Terming the Nejami-led new committee illegal, he said, “We will announce a full committee after holding a meeting of majlish-e-sura within 15 days.”

He claimed that the faction’s top leaders, including Nejami, held a meeting at the party’s Paltan office on Wednesday evening and decided to stay in the BNP-led alliance.

But Nejami and Secretary General of the faction Mufti Foyzullah went back on the decision and announced severing relations with the opposition combine, he told journalists.

Later at night, the Raquib-led faction of the IOJ met BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia and presented her a bouquet at her Gulshan office.

With the latest rift in the Islamist party, it now has three factions — one led by Nejami, one by Raquib, and the other by Misbaur Rahman loyal to the ruling Awami League.

Misbaur broke away from the IOJ in 2005 following an intra-party dispute over the trial of top Jamaat-e-Islami leaders on war crimes charges and Jamaat’s alleged involvement in militancy.

Towards the end of 2014, four components of the BNP-led alliance — National Democratic Party, Islamic Party, National People’s Party and NAP (Bhashani) — split over the issue of staying in the BNP-led combine.

At yesterday’s council, the Nejami-led faction said for the first time that the January-5 national election of 2014 was “legal” since it was held in line with the constitution.

The faction, however, said there were moral questions about the polls.

Nejami said the faction will now give attention to organisational activities and contest the next national election from all constituencies.

The faction announced a 31-member majlish-e-sura, its highest policy-making body, re-electing Nejami and Foyzullah as chairman and secretary general. It also formed a 101-member national executive committee.

The faction raised a five-point demand that includes the enactment of a law with a provision of death penalty for hurting religious sentiment and exclusion of all anti-Islamic elements from the women’s development policy.

Over the last two weeks, there were indications that the Nejami-led faction would quit the BNP-led alliance, as its leaders skipped meetings with the BNP chief.

There were also hints that the ruling AL is building relations with the Nejami-led faction. Many were surprised when Nejami, and Hasnet, whose father Amini was a staunch critic of the Sheikh Hasina-led government and her secularist policies, were invited to the Victory Day reception at the Bangabhaban on December 16.

The faction’s Secretary General Foyzullah, who faces several criminal cases, avoided appearing in public since May 5, 2013, when law enforcers flushed Hefajat-e-Islam men out of the city’s Shapla Chattar.

But he started making public appearances around three weeks ago.http://www.thedailystar.net/frontpage/ioj-splits-again-quits-20-party-198808

January 8, 2016   No Comments

Khaleda Zia’s numeracy and the 1971 genocide: by Mohammad Badrul Ahsan in The Daily Star, Jan 1, 2016

The writer is editor of the weekly First News and an opinion writer for The Daily Star.

God knows why BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia chose to make her case at this point in time. Whether it was some divine revelation or a deranged convolution or a dastardly act of political enunciation, she has recently questioned the number of people killed in 1971. What she has said isn’t half as difficult to understand as why she has said it now.

It’s not clear what political brownie points she wished to score by stirring up a hornet’s nest. How does it help, if not hurt, the shaky ground on which she stands today? How does it have anything to do with her political future if three million people were killed or not forty-five years ago? An astute politician should be more focused on mustering numbers on the streets than minding headcounts buried in the graves.

Let’s in the name of God cut her some slack and give her the benefit of doubt. Let’s say she chose to speak up for the sake of truth and unburden us of a historical blunder. But how exactly has she done it? She hasn’t given us an alternative number or explained why she has her reasons to doubt. Of course, she said that different books have given different accounts of how many people were killed by Pakistani soldiers.

But anybody who has read some of those books already knows that those aren’t scholarly works but personal accounts of people who closely watched or were close to those who closely watched the Liberation War. As a matter of fact, while so much scholarly work has been done on the history of our Liberation War, very little has been done to ascertain the number of people killed or raped during the nine months of 1971.

Nurul Qadir, who claims to have been one of the four roving ambassadors of the Bangladesh government in exile, has written a book titled Dusho Cheshotti Diney Swadhinata, the first edition of which appeared in 1997. In page 346 of this 720-page book, the author claims he was at the Indian embassy in Tehran on September 5, 1971. There he typed two letters, one addressed to the Shah of Iran and another to the Iranian Prime Minister Amir Abbas Hoveyda. In those letters, he claims, he put down “four million” as the number of people killed in the Pakistani military crackdown in Bangladesh.

Qadir confesses that he had alternately cited “four million” and “three million” at various press conferences and interviews during the war. In the eighth paragraph of that same page, he says that while he was quoting those numbers, he was thinking that 300,000 to 400,000 people were killed by the Pakistan army and their collaborators. At the bottom of the page, he eats humble pie, admitting that he didn’t know until after independence that one million was not one hundred thousand but ten hundred thousand, that also when his nephew, who had done his PhD from Singapore, explained it to him.

The tabulation of any genocide does not involve physical count alone but also certain amount of extrapolation. The death toll of the Rwandan genocide is still debated although the UN report of 1994 gives a safe range between 500,000 and one million. The American Indian genocide figures are also vague. It is believed that nearly 80 percent to 90 percent of this population died after the arrival of the Europeans.

The number of Jews killed in the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II was initially claimed as 9 million, which was revised to 4.1 million. The Auschwitz State Museum tamped down that number to one million 45 years after the Holocaust. Thus, a census of victims in a large-scale population cleansing can go wrong for a number of reasons. Flawed data collection, faulty assumptions, distorted assimilation and motivated conclusions can lead to understatement or overstatement of actual figures.

What has then prompted Khaleda Zia to unsettle settled matters? Why did she want to stir the sleeping dog of a foregone conclusion? But foregone conclusion doesn’t mean it can’t be challenged for scholarly reasons or historical correctness. It means political impulses shouldn’t dominate a matter of factual judgment, and something shouldn’t be said or done if it doesn’t clarify things for better understanding instead of creating more confusion.

As a two-and-a-bit time prime minister of the country and repository of the trust and adulation of a sizeable portion of its people, Khaleda Zia has every right to tell the truth if that truth tells something. She may or may not have some substance in what she said, but how has it improved our knowledge of 1971? She has only made her admirers more doubtful and critics more spiteful.

It was a waste of breath for her to take on history. She sounded as questionable as the history she questioned.http://www.thedailystar.net/op-ed/khaleda-zias-numeracy-and-the-1971-genocide-195079


January 1, 2016   No Comments