On way to Beijing from Dhaka
At last, one day we commenced our journy. Piking via Hong Kong. Unexpectedly we are heading towards Piking. Never could I immagine that I shall ever get an oppurtunity to go to the country of Mao Tse Tung!
In my early days when I was at school, I had engraved in my heart with respect the names of exceptional persons as my ideal heros like- Carl Marx, Engles, Che Guevara, Lelin, Fidel Castro, Mao Tse Tung, Ho Chi Min, Giyap, Idith, Shuvash Bose.
By the time, I became an adult, reading and writing became my best pass time. Credit goes to my illustrated mother, who left me alone while at college being victim of a tragic accident! She was highly educated, dignified and an accomplished lady. She had been a voracious reader herself and her knowledge was versatile in nature. She was also very conscious socially and politically. As a college student, hailing from a conservative family she had the courage to take active part as a young activist in anti British movement. Her pen was mighty so, she used to contribute regularly as a columnist in ‘BEGUM’ and ‘MAHE NOU’ two leading weeklies for women of her time. Whatever I am today, it is due to her influence and patronization.
With the passage of time as I became a full grown matiured person, I sarted reading the biographies of the last Prophet(SA), Khelafay E Rasheda, Hajrat Musa(SA), Hajrat Isa(SA), Gallant Hamza(R), Salahuddin Ayubi, Khaled Bin Walid, Bakhtiyer Khilji, Sayeed Qutub, Hasan Ul Banna, Umme Khaldun which simply dazed me! Poets like Shukanto and Nazrul deeply touched my soul. Novelists like Sharat Chandra, Shamaresh Bose, Shunil Gangulee, Banaful, Tara Shangkar Banarjee, Shubodh Ghose, Nihar Ranjon Gupta, Manik Banarjee, Asha Purna Devi gave birth of romanticism and passion in my innerself. Philosophers and writers like Socrates, Plato, Maxim Gorki, Tolstoy. Byron, keats, Shelly, Shakespeare, Carlyle steered my mind to study more in depth about political philosophies and social science as well as the history of different civilizations of the world.
Their love for humanity, selfless sacrifices, honesty, unfathomable courage and self confidence left deep impression on me.
While going through anti British struggle, the life of gallant and brave male and female martyrs who had sacrificed their life like-Hayder Ali, Tipu Sultan, Tiger(Bagha)Jatin, Haji Shariyatullah, Devi Choudhurani, Vobani Thakur, Titu Mir, Serajddaula, Lakshmi Bai, Mir Madan, Mohan Lal, Torab Ali, Raj Guru, vogoth Singh, Udham Singh, Khudi Ram, Priti Lata Sen, Master Da, Mir Kashem had opened the eyes of their fellow countrymen what is patriotism! Each one of them was the beacon of independence and freedom in true sense of the word.
Chairman Mao miraculously weakened up an opium edict nation and heightening their political conscience organized them to fight against the Japanise occupation as well as other foreign imperialist powers to regain independence at the same time he started a social revolution to free the peple from the strangulation of oppression and exploitation and ruthless misrule of Chang Kai Shek the protégé of the local fudal tyrants and vested interested quarters. This long drawn struggle was an arduous and difficult challenge. But under the selfless leadership of the Red Army raised and guided by Chairman Mao being imbued with the resolute commitment, morality, ideals and principles, undaunting self confidence started their revolutionary march known as the ‘Long March’ from the difficult mountainous and densly forested terrain Ching Kang Shan, covering a distance of 11000 miles via Yanan after fighting a 28 year’s war finally succeeded capturing victoriously the palace of the king within the forbidden city at Piking and flew the red flag on the top. After the success of this long bloody war and achieving independence the revolutionary leadership under Chairman Mao along with the battle hardended tested caders of the Red Army discarding the state structure, judiciary, bureaucracy, socio economic and political system introduced by the colonial powers had brought fundamental revolutionary changes in all respect in light of their own history, heritage, values, culture, self reliance and the aspiration of the majority of the people to lay the solid foundation of a new China. This was the main reason why People’s Republic of China to day has emerged as the froe most power of the world over coming all hurdles and the iron curtain. At present, People’s Republic of China has become a formidable super power economically, socialy and militarily with unabated continuous amazing feets!
Like wise, during the liberation war of ’71, an opportunity presented itself for us to snatch away our independence from the occupied forces at the same time after independence to initiate a national revolution to fullfil the charished dream, the imancipation of the majority people from the unjust oppression and exploitation of the local lackies and their foreign masters. Taking the lesson from the history we alined with the people and initiated the process to lay the foundation of of an organization basing on the freedom fighters who were politically conscious to materialize our dream in the new born Bangladesh. But that dream of national emacipation got shattered after the independence. The person who was responsible for this was the one whom we trusted to be a true nationalist and patriot. A true believer in our cause thus, was accepted to be our central figure on our way forward to fullfil our cherished dream. Cunning like a fox shrouded in the garb of a lamb Gen. Zia being reinstead in the centre of power after the successful revolutionary uprising of 7th November, stabbed at the back of the astruggle for national imancipation! All our relentless hard work, sacrifices and resolve thus had a pre-matured demise. History had never forgiven any one and shall never do it. The day true history of Bangladesh would be written on that day both Mujib and Zia would be certainly judged by the historians as national betrayers. The way Sheikh Mujib the dictator could not get away after killing thousands of political opponants and who dared to raise their voice in the independent Bangladesh similarly, Gen. Zia would also be condemned for killing brutally countless revolutionaries within the armed forces just for his lust of power. I was thinking all these quietly sitting on my seat. Nimmi was comfortably sleeping next to me.
Mean while, announcement was made that the aircraft was landing at the Piking International airport. Hearing the announcement Ninni woke up. Our plane touched down the soil of People’s Republic China.
I felt some kind of excitement! We travelled by the then only national carrier CAAC. The cabin crew and the air hostesses were taking special care with innocent smiling faces all through the flight. The plane was slowly taxing towards the tarmac. Suddenly, one air hostess came forward and and spoke in English, ‘Welcome, to People’s Republic of China. Please, accept this humble momentos on behalf of CAAC and presented two beautifully ribboned packets to us.
Looking around, I found the momentos were given only to us. That gave me the impression that our identities were known to the crews. Both of us accepted the momentos with thanks. The plane came to hault.
As the door opebed, I saw a Bangladeshi gentleman and a lady along with a few Chinese gentlemen and ladies are standing at the end of the staires to welcome us. We came down and our hand carries were taken away by the Chinese. The gentleman introduced himself as Mr. Fasiul Alam, the 1st Secretary of Bangladesh Embassy and the lady to be his wife. On behalf of the Chinese Foreign Ministry Comrade Chen se Hung, the head of South Asia department and his colleagues who came to receive us were also introduced by Mr. Fasi. After the introduction session one of the younger lady handed over two heavy over coats and comforters to us requesting to put them on. Mr. Fasi said whatever you are clad with wouldn’t be enough. The temperature outside was below freezing point along with blowing chilling Siberian wind! We were quickly taken to the VIP Lounge in two waiting cars. The VIP Lounge was located at one corner of the main airport building. The whole airport building was decorated with national red flag but half mast! Mr. Fasi informed a few says back Chairman Mao had expired that is why the whole nation is in mourning.
After reaching the VIP Lounge Comrade Chen said
On behalf of the Chinese government I am wormly welcoming you both. Hope your stay would be enjoyable. We were having having tea ta te over served snacks and green tea one of the Chinese companion of Comrade Chen came in and informed that luggages had been placed in the cars. All of us got up and Comrade Chen got into one of the cars along with an interpreter and invited me and Nimmi to get in. Rest all got into the pre-arranged cars. Destination was the Piking Hotel. This was then only five star hotel in Piking later Beijing. There in a suite arrangement has been made for us to stay. It was about one and half hour drive from the airport. It was not too late at night but we saw not many people on our way. After a while Comrade Chen begged leave and before leaving said
We are cordially invited to a friendly dinner arranged by the Foreign Ministry in our honor next evening at 7PM. At the right time one of his representative would come and escort us to the venue from the hotel. After Comrade Chen and his copanions left we freely sat down with Mr and Mrs Fasi. I was told there are two diplomatic enclave in Piking. The old one at San Li Tung which is fully occupied so, another new and more mordern one is being constructed speedily at Wang Fu Ching. Our Embassy is located at Wang fu Ching, only fifteen minuites drive from the hotel. Mr. Fasi further said People’s Republic of China is on its way progressing fast and in the same way their diplomatic relation with the out side world is also expanding impressively. That is why, at present, there is shortage of accommodation for which we may have to stay at the hotel for few months before moving to our befitting allocated residencial flat.
Construction work at Wang Fu Ching is going on day and night therefore, it is expected this scarecity would be over soon. The Chinese are constructing multy storied high rise buildings all with residential flates of different size to be allocated to the diplomats keeping in mind their status.
Piking hotel was located at the centre of the city. In front was Thien Men Square, the biggest paved Square in the world. In the middle stands high the pillar called martyer’s memorial, infront of that now Chairman Mao’s magistic Mausoleum has been constructed. At one side of the Square is the Great Hall of the People, on the opposite of that National Musium. Opposite of the Square across the main road, Chun Han Hai(Forbidden City)the Imperial Palace, an ancient heritage of China. This has been now converted into highly secured offices cum residences of the state leaders after necessary renovation. Chaiman Mao also used to live there. At one end of the Suare the Central Bank of China’s Head Office has been built. Not very far, the Radio Piking building stands on the side of the main Avenue. In those days Radio Piking used to broad cast news and other programs in 18 different languages. Bangla section was also functional there. Since the days of united Pakistan one Mr. Zahed was employed as the head with the responsibility to look after the Bangla section. Later during my tenure Mr. Mahfuzullah and Mr. Sajjad Qadir were brought from Bangladesh as replacement and were assigned to run the Bangla section. At a short distance from Radio Piking, the Museum of Chinese Revolution is located. One can learn about every thing regarding the history of long 28 years revolutionary struggle of China. Each event becomes alive! Mr. Fasi had informed that there are 6-7 students from Bangladesh were doing their language course in the Piking University. One of them was one Capt. Mahbub from the Corps of Engineers sent by the Army Headquarters to do the language course. Besides, the members of the Embassy and these few there were no other Bangladeshi in China. As customery, after getting introduced to all of them I fully devoted myself with the work at the Embassy.
Deep rooted relation has to be developed in every sector like- economic, defence, agricultural sectors, irrigation system, health, education, cultural, industrial sectors, trade, science and technology, infrastructural sectors, communication system, cottage industry and Media to build up the solid foundation for bilateral relation. One thing I could understand very clearly that there is no darth of interest from the Chinese side to strengthen bilateral relation with Bangladesh. From every quarters the Chinese side tried to let us know that historically China had age old relation with Bangladesh and to further strengthen that relation the revolutionary government of People’s Republic of China and its leadership are prepared all the way. They further conveyed that People’s Republic of China historically does not beleave in hegemony and expansionism. They want to develop friendy good relation on the basis of equality. This is their clear commitment to the principle of foreign relation. Besides, ancient Bangladesh is known to the Chinese people as a citadel of an old civilization. Between both the people of these two ancient civilizations all through had existed brotherly friendship. People’s Republic of China at present also considers Bangladesh as a brotherly and friendly country. The Foreign Minister of People’s Republic of China in a meeting made a very valuable comment. He said
‘One may not choose a neighbor but surely can always choose a friend. It is unfortunate that we do not have a common border but we drink same water that flows from the mighty river Brahmaputra and thus can be trusted friend’. Such a statement from an ealderly and experienced diplomat was not only full of wormth but also an indication that People’s Republic of China sincerely wanted to develop close relation with Bangladesh.
‘One may not choose a neighbor but surely can always choose a friend. It is unfortunate that we do not have a common border but we drink water from the mighty river Brahmaputra and thus can be trusted friend.’
I was trying to develop close relation in every sector. But considering Geo-Political position of Bangladesh, special emphasis was given to strenthen the Armed Forces of Bangladesh on priority basis with utmost seriousness. The Armed Forces is the spinal cord of any nation. If the spinal cord is not strong then it is impossible to be strong physically. Gen. Zia was also wanting that.
Within a short time, I succeeded to develop intimate friendship with many highly placed leaders in most of the Ministries, PLA(People’s Liberation Army) and in the corridors of power. Being alarmed with the fast growing relation between Bangladesh and People’s Republic of China(PRC), India invited Gen. Zia on a visit to India. The reason was very clear. To create a crack in the fast on going development of relation between Bangladesh and People’s Republic of China. Besides, the Chanyakas had another political reason behind this move which made Zia to think hard being apprehensive. He realized during his visit, India would definitely raise the issue of the secret understanding that he had made with India through Dr. Kamal Hussain and Barrister Amirul Islam demanding immediate return of both the sisters and he would be undone! And after his visit when Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana on their return from exile in India would become active in politics then his nationalist and anti Indian immage will get unmasked before the countrymen. At the same time, his nationalist political philosophy would become questionable! More over, the people would also realize that Gen. Zia’s politics has no relation what so ever with the revolutionary spirit of 71’, 15th August and 7th November’s uprisings and in view of the deal with India, Hasina and almost dead Awami-Bksalites were given the oppurtunity to be rehabilited in the main stream of national politics by Gen. Zia. It was no one else other than Gen. Zia who had brought back the Anacondas digging the canal on his way to do politics of compromise and power sharing.
To extricate himself from this quagmire he tried with many countries to get invitation for a visit so that his foreign visits didn’t start with India. But his luck did not favor him and he failed to get invitation from any other country as most were reluctant to invite him as the CMLA(Chief Martial Law Administrator). Despondant Gen. Zia then sent a request to arrange a visit to PRC by any means. The request was raised with the Chinese authorities. In reply they politely regreted and conferred that such vsit needs time to be arranged. However, even after their negative response, we persued the case with strong logic and reasoning which convinced the Chinese and they finally agreed to invite Gen. Zia, the CMLA on an official visit considering the critical juncture of Cino-Bangladesh relation. Gen. Zia got a sigh of relief and accepted the Chinese invitation.
We all got busy with the home work about the visit. It was evident by then that the Chinese leadership would be willing to meet whatever request for help and assistance would be made from war ravaged Bangladesh side in stages. This was very encouraging. Gen. Zia was very happy knowing their mind. One day quite unexpectedly Chinese side informed us that the leadership of PRC has decided to send their Presidential Plane to Dhaka to bring Gen. Zia and his entourage. This was a rare guesture indeed! But when I informed this to Gen. Zia, he sounded uncomfortable while replying that the guesture was certainly praise worthy but he would let his decision known within a day or two. It was not difficult for me to understand from such a reply that it wouldn’t be possible for Gen. Zia to accept this offer. And it happened so. Gen Zia convyed his decision that acceptance of this Chinese guesture would add fuel to fire in exsisting strenuous Indo-Bangladesh relation. Therefore, he would take a special Biman flight up to Canton.
After Gen. Zia’s decision we went ahead fullsteam to finalize the agenda and other details affiliated with the visit but I somehow, felt that the Chinese were not that much enthusiastic about the visit like before! I was apprehensive and wondering what could be the reason.
There is no doubt that the top leadership of PRC must have gauzed Gen. Zia correctly from his decision. Have they realized that Gen. Zia would only go only that far in developing relation between Bangladesh and People’s Republic of China which is required to balance India! They might have also realized that Gen. Zia’s focus would be India and his foreign policy would be centering around the oil rich Muslim countries of the Middle East and powerful countries of Europe including America. Gen. Zia would rebuild a capitalist Bangladesh under the influence of the western countries and refrain from bringing any fundamental change in the socio economic sector that serves the interest of the vested interested quarters of the past. As a result it wouldn’t be possible to build Bangladesh as a self reliant country. Instead of any reduction, the gap between the rich and poor would be widening further with the passage of time. A new Novo-rich comprador class would be created in the country. Being the henchmen of Gen. Zia, with their money and muscle power would establish themselves as the national and social leaders and capture the state power in their fist giving priorities to the interests of forein powes. However, these rulers and exployters would shroud themselves with the cloak of democracy, nationalism and religious values.
Where as, the spirit of ’71 and hundreds of matyers and molested women were after the independence the country would be run by the dedicated patriots for the betterment of grater majority of deprived people against the vested interest of the termites. Those who would materialize their dream iron handedly with transparency with self confidence. But the politics that Gen. Zia is going to introduce in that once again the vast majority of down trodden and persecuted people would become enemies of the powerfulls.
Lets go back to Gen. Zia’s visit.
The Chinese leaders are now considering the visit as a customary visit being frustrated to some extent. In such a situation Gen. Zia arrived at the fixed date. Among others, Gen. Nurul Islam Shishu was also there, that is our dear Shishu Bhai. Gen. Zia, the CMLA and his entourage was welcomed in a beffiting manner.
In the official bilateral talks Ge. Zia didn’t ask asked anything substancial. Why? All though he was well briefed that Chinese government was ready to provide help and assistance whatever is required to rebuild war torn Bangladesh, the armed forces in particular. He only requested for some nuts and bolts(spare parts)for the armaments of Chinese origine that were left behind to be repaired. These belonged to the Pakistani armed forces which Indian army failed to trace and technical assistance for Ghazipur small arms factory to be functional again as it was partially decapacited during the war. He also requested the Chinese to supply some spare parts and Batteries for the MIG fighters to be operational as the Soviet Union stopped the supply after the change of government with the successful revolutionary uprising of 15th August 1975. Those were brought from Soviet Union during Mujib’s time. A few Gun Boats for the Nay was also in his list. The magnitude of his request surprised us all! Reason being, the Chinese side was expacting Gen. Zia would be requesting to sign a far fetched comprehensive bi-lateral treaty of friendship and co-operation. I could apprehend to some extent but to know the real reason I had asked Shishu Bhai on the quite and his reply was, ‘Try to understand’. This is how Gen. Zia’s visit ended.
After qute some time in a meeting at the Foreign Affairs Bureau with Gen. Chen Tsai Chen, a long march veretan and the director made a passing remark. He told me
To the extend we were prepared to go to establish our relation with Bangladesh, your leader could not dare to go one fourth of that!
I had the reply to his meaningfull remark, but remained quite with out saying anything.
Immediately after visiting PRC Gen. Zia went to India. Mutual understanding was finalized and the road map was chalked out for the return of Hasina and Rehana to Bangladesh. ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ vote on Gen. Zia’s 19 point programe was organized. Wining the referendum Gen. Zia’s self confidence heightened. From the womb of Jago Dal his political party BNP(Bangladesh Nationalist Party) was born with chosen people of varied shades and color from different paths with conflicting idiologies. There after in 1978, he held Presidential election and became the elected President himself. Neither Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed nor Col. Faruk or Col. Rashid were allowed to contest in that election as his opponant. After being allowed to return Sheikh Hasina revived the Awami League from the critical condition but Col. Faruk and Col. Rashid were not allowed to float their political party. Opportunity was denied to Khandakar Mushtaq’s party Democratic League to take roots in the political field. This was the face of multy party democray that was given back to the people by Gen. Zia as claimed. Two basic fundamental criteria of democracy are tolerance and cordial behavior towards the oponants. Now, let us see how much respect was given to those fundamentals by Gen. Zia, top leadership of his party and BNP as a whole.
Gen. Zia had rolled the steam roller of state terrorism on Khandakar Mushtaq’s party the Democratic League. His party was threathened not to hold any public meeting, demonstration or to take out any procession. Ruthless actions by the police and other agencies such as tear gassing, warrents and arrests, dumping into Jail, hooliganism by his party goons, bomb blust, and even unleashing live poisionus snakes on to the dias of public meetings were patronized by Gen. Zia. However, Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed and DL leadership braved all such undemocratic coercive practices and refused to succumb so, Khandakar Mushtaq was placed under house arrest. This is how Democratic League was nipped in the bud and Gen. Zia managed to win the election of ’79. Helpless Janab Khandakar Mustaq Ahmed breathed his last as a prisoner under house arrest. An unique example of tolerance and cordial behavior!
On the other hand with Zia’s blessing and patronization Sheikh Hasina and her Awami League gradually turned into a full grown Anaconda and due to it’s poisonus breath Zia had to leave this world prematurely!The whole nation is gasping breathlessly under the strangulation of the same Anaconda. This Anaconda would no way be at rest after gulping the nation. It is just a matter of time, it would also crush and digest BNP, JP of Gen. Ershad and Jamaat. All these self proclaimed champions of nationalism and custodian of religious values though enjoyed power sharing for more than 30 years cohabiting with this monstrous serpent being complacent. The leaders like Zia, Ershad, Khaleda, Golam Azam and Nizami shall have to be answerable to the people for their such selfish and suicidal policies some day in this world and also on the day of the judgement here after.
In 1971, the people fought a bloody war and had established an independent country called Bangladesh not for just a geographic independence but toal imancipation. Inspite of having bright prospect and resources, the people are watching today their expectation being turned into a dreadfull illlusion due to deceitful, greedy and selfishly power hungry political leadres who had been ruling the country til this date. Their politics of status-co and compromize has become a threat to the very independence and our separate identity. The nation is being turned into dependant slave of expansionist India.
Now I shall dwell in short on the Presidential election that was organized by Gen. Zia.
In the Presidential election Awami League did not put up a candidate as advised by India. On the other hand Khandakar Mushtaq Ahmed, Col. Faruk nor Col. Rashid were allowed to fight the election. The reason being, had they been allowed then it wouldn’t have been possible for Zia to get any benefits of 15th August and 7th November revolutionary changes. However, this had created a problem of legitimacy. To resolve this crisis he requested Mr. Sadek Khan of Weekly Holiday, Barrister Moinul Hossain of Daily Ittefaq to some how manage Gen. Osmani to be a Presidential candidate. After 7th November, Gen. Osmani was very angry with Gen. Zia’s activities. Particularly, he coun’t accept his compromise with India against national interest, his ruthless killing spree within armed forces, his attitude towards Khandakar Mushtaq and his decision not to brought us back. Taking advantage of his animosity they could manage Gen. Osmani to stand against Gen. Zia as a Presidential candidate, Awami League just announced to support Gen. Osmani in words only at the dictate of India. The Sylheti expatriates in UK generously raised fund for Col. Osmani and handed over to Mr. Sadeq Khan in London. I was then in London. However, Gen. Osmani got defeated in the election and Gen. Zia, the beneficiary of 15th August and 7th November got a land slide victory. With this victory the players were duly rewarded. Sadek Khan got fund to buy a modern press for the Holiday. His younger brother Enayetullah Khan became a Minister first then an Ambassador. Barrister Moinul Hossain was also included in the cabinate of Gen. Zia as a Minister.
After this in the general election of 1979, Gen. Zia’s party BNP bagged very easily more than two third majority and formed the government. Awami League was given the opportunity to sit in the Parliament as the opposition party. Gen. Zia then was ridding high everywhere. Thus, having all powers in his hands when Gen. Zia was ruling with confidence at that time behind the scene the conspirators were moving towards the last act.