Tuesday, 28 March, 2023

Out of the Box

New Collaborators and Their Anti-state Plots

Dr. Rashid Askari

The outbreak of a new species of collaborators is a sad reflection on our society today. The term ‘collaborator’ has taken on pejorative connotations in Bangladesh. By it we now mean the felonious quislings and the local lackeys of the Pakistan occupation army -- the Razakar, Al-Badr, Al-Shams, who despite being our fellow countrymen joined hands with the marauding occupation forces during the 1971 Liberation War and aided and abetted them, with malice aforethought, in genocide, rape, arson, plunder and all forms of crimes against humanity perpetrated upon the defenceless millions of the country. They were the villains of the Liberation War episode and fought against the heroes, the freedom fighters and the great cause of independence. However, along with the occupation army were beaten the collaborators in the war.

But unfortunately for the nation, in the wake of the August Tragedy in 1975, those collaborators were cordially invited to active politics. And quite surprisingly, this was done by a man who claimed to have been a freedom fighter and to have ‘declared Independence’. This is an ever-disquieting matter to the pro-liberation folks in Bangladesh that this claimant to the independence declaration credit, a man with dark glasses, had forged a political party in association with the collaborators which subsequently came to power. People with great astonishment saw the 1971 killers and collaborators sitting on the Treasury Bench, and riding in cars with national flags. What a disgraceful sight! A sheer dishonour to the martyrs of the Independence War! But this was a reality.

But those days are bygone. The regimes of the dark glasses and their successors are over. After Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina came to power as the representative of the pro-liberation people of Bangladesh, while the collaborators and marked war criminals were standing trial and undergoing punishment, a new generation of collaborators appeared on the scene.  They are the shadows of their masters and are against the secular spirit of our independence. They are the enemies of our independence who like to distort our independence history, pervert the liberation war ideals and invite regression to medieval Pakistan.

More than five decades after the liberation war, the collaborators have changed their appearance and taken on a veneer of patriotism especially in their speech, but they have not changed their conservative mindset. They can be called new collaborators. The new collaborators are more dangerous, because they are snakes in the grass. Known enemies are easier to fight than unknown enemies. These new collaborators, like their predecessors, are prone to do harm to their own country and serve the purpose of their alien masters.

Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its loyal ally Jamaat-e-Islami have become a breeding ground for the new collaborators. As a matter of fact, BNP is a weird mix of people from diverse walks of life-- leftover political leaders, unprincipled opportunists, power-hungry politicians, faceless bureaucrats, disgruntled army officers and above all the new collaborators and religious extremists who have gathered in the BNP to make a fortune by means of politics.

The secretary general of BNP-- Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, is the leader of these new collaborators who, through the lack of own strength tend to bank on the foreign masters. Fakhrul sent letters to the former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe making serious allegations against Sheikh Hasina’s government. Not only that, there is convincing evidence of their appeal to their foreign masters to stop aid, export trade and foreign financial assistance to Bangladesh.

It has also come to our knowledge that the BNP-Jamaat alliance had appointed a number of lobbying firms for no good political ends but to prevent the trial of war criminals, thwart elections, make elections questionable, protect Bangabandhu killers and militants and, obstruct the process of development, tarnish the image of the country and to stop foreign aid and development assistance to Bangladesh. They wrote a series of letters to US politicians and policymakers bidding to withhold all development facilities to be given to Bangladesh by the US. Not only that, the former Chairperson of the party, Begum Khaleda Zia had written an article in “The Washington Times” in 2013 calling for immediate US intervention in Bangladesh’s internal affairs where she quite unabashedly urged the United States and its loyal allies, to bulldoze Bangladesh government into instituting a caretaker government which she thought would help her party to take power. She also urged the US Government to warn Hasina of the withdrawal of the general preferences for trade and to impose travel and other sanctions against her government.

The new collaborators under the umbrella of BNP are hatching plots to discredit Sheikh Hasina’s Government by misleading people through a campaign of misinformation. The World Bank’s cancellation of Padma Bridge loan, the abrupt US sanctions on Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), and the publication of US State Department’s report on alleged human rights violations in Bangladesh without any prior discussion with the Government are nothing but the outcome of the conspiracy of the new collaborators. Besides, the foreign embassy’s nose poking into Bangladesh’s internal affairs and the organized and repeated smear campaign by hired hands are acts of criminal conspiracy perpetrated by the ringleaders of the new collaborators. They are doing all this at such a time when Bangladesh is advancing on all fronts.

The pro-liberation people feel deeply resentful toward the new-collaborators and question the sources of every penny they are spending on hiring lobbyists against Bangladesh's interests. People should also feel that the collaborators are not only scheming Sheikh Hasina’s downfall, but they are also busily scheming against the political ascendancy of the pro-liberation people of Bangladesh. This realization should dawn on us all in the month of independence.


Dr. Rashid Askari is a freethinking writer, academic, translator and former vice

chancellor of Islamic University, Kushtia, Bangladesh