- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 4, 2006

A very offensive and fictitious commentary article on Bangladesh by Arnaud de Borchgrave was published in the Feb. 18 Commentary pages, under the headline, “Cry for me Bangladesh.” Mr. Borchgrave first published the same article in the World Peace Herald (WPH) on Feb. 16, under the headline “Bangladesh fallen victim to Islamists.”

The author’s two pieces were headed differently, but the contents are the same, which reinforces descriptions published of him as a “disinformation guru” bracketed with “fraudulent journalists.” This also suggests Mr. Borchgrave’s article is a highly motivated figment of his twisted imagination.

Not only is the commentary totally skewed and seriously uninformed, it is fraught with falsehood and untruths. He did not provide an accurate perspective of the situation in Bangladesh or globally.

It is now well known to anyone that terrorism is a global phenomenon. Like many other countries in the world, Bangladesh had become a victim of some unscrupulous elements who carried out despicable acts. The prime minister is herself on record speaking strongly on this issue, both inside the country and internationally, not just denouncing terrorism in the strongest terms, but also describing the terrorists as enemies of Islam and of mankind as a whole.

She was the lone leader of a Muslim majority country to have appealed to the members of the Organization of Islamic Conference to pledge against granting perpetrators of such despicable acts any space in their territory. Her words have since been followed by actions.

It is also a matter of record that the government of Bangladesh has acted resolutely and effectively to hunt down perpetrators of terrorist acts and bring them to justice as provided by the law of the land. The death sentences imposed recently on 22 Jamatul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB) cadres for their involvement in the terrorist bombings of Aug. 17, 2005, is clear evidence of the government’s commitment to punish the culprits. The Bangladesh Government is now in the final stage of formulating a comprehensive counterterrorism law that will make the activities of the perpetrators extremely difficult, if not impossible.

he prime minister is not alone. She enjoys the support of the mass of the Bangladesh people who have spontaneously responded with full support in speaking out against the extremists. These include religious leaders and imams of the mosques in Bangladesh.

Bangladesh has contained and eliminated extremists from a sense of its own deep commitment to this objective and to ensure social harmony. This was clearly demonstrated at the recent Conference on Interfaith Harmony in Dhaka.

The Bangladesh government’s action in fighting terrorism, both through domestic measures and by joining all international efforts, has been widely recognized. President Bush has said as much in a recent letter to Bangladesh Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, delivered personally by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca.

Thus, for Mr. Borchgrave to say the U..S assistant secretary of state “flew to Dhaka at the end of January to convey U.S. alarm to government leaders coupled with a stern warning” of “sanctions under the U.S. Terrorist Financing Act” is nothing but sheer fantasy, specially when he himself was not physically present in Bangladesh. Not only did the U.S. assistant secretary convey her government’s appreciation, she described Bangladesh “as a shinning example of one of the few Muslim democracies,”,adding “Bangladesh stands out as a model in this part of the world.”

As part of the U.S. administration’s policy on fighting terror and spreading democracy, the U.S. assistant secretary of state sought assurances from all for a level playing field and free and fair elections at the scheduled time and for sustaining the campaign against extremists and terrorists.

It would not be out of place here to inform Mr. Borchgrave of the commitment and resilience of the government and the people of Bangladesh in ensuring sustained socioeconomic growth while preserving democratic governance and political stability. This has resulted in Bangladesh’s high ranking by global economic institutions in the areas of women empowerment, education and health.

Mr. Borchgrave should know that in a society like Bangladesh where empowerment of women has become so deeply entrenched, there is no scope for radicalism.

The very term “micro credit” was born in Bangladesh. And over the years millions of disadvantaged families, especially women, have overcome poverty through this. The concept of micro credit has now been replicated in many countries of the world, including the United States.

Presented above are hard and empirical facts. And ill motive on anyone’s part can undermine or deny what Bangladesh and its people have achieved. Using distortions to serve one’s own interest and frame of mind is pure dishonesty and does not equate with professionalism expected of a journalist. Mr. Borchgrave would be well advised to take note.

SHEIKH MOHAMMED BELAL

Counsellor-1(Political)

Embassy of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh

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