‘Hasina is Bangladesh and Bangladesh is Hasina’


Recently a US$73,0000 full-page advertisement along with few more PR bids portraying Mohammad Yunus as a “victim” caught attention of many Bangladeshi nationals as well as very few curious minds in the United States. In the advertisement, Yunus published a letter signed by Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Ban Ki Moon, Sharon Stone and 36 other internationally known individuals, although Yunus tried to push these names as “global leaders”. One may ask – except for Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Ban Ki Moon, who else are so-called global leaders in that list? But Yunus has no shame. In fact, he has been all through an extremely shameless creature who has fooled the entire world with his bogus story of turning Sufia Begum, the first borrower of Grameen Bank’s loan into a wealthy woman. Yunus has also played foul with Hillary Clinton, as during her visit to Bangladesh, Yunus had named a village after the former First Lady and Secretary of State stating lives of the dwellers of the village would be dramatically changed. But, immediately after Hillary left Bangladesh, dwellers of that village were trapped into Grameen Bank’s loan with exorbitant interest rate, thus pushing everyone in the village into cruel sufferings and acute poverty.

It is well-understood by everyone that through that full-page advertisement in The Washington Post and PR stunts, Yunus tried to put pressure on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, despite the fact that Sheikh Hasina has succeeded in transforming an under-developed Bangladesh into an economic star in Asia.

Commenting on Muhammad Yunus’ recent publicity stunt, Jyoti Malhotra, a senior consulting editor at ThePrint in an article wrote:

“… [Sheikh Hasina’s] sheer courage and resolve, in the face of the threat of physical annihilation as well as her refusal to kowtow to radical, powerful forces, makes her deserving of deep respect and admiration. I tip my metaphorical hat to her. If she ever wanted a place on my table, it would always be there.

“So the question—three questions, actually—is why these 40 leaders felt it was important to make public their angst about the manner in which Yunus was being treated by the Sheikh Hasina government, why the defense was publicized as a paid advertisement, and why Yunus feels the government has been targeting him.

“The so-called “attack” has been going on for more than a decade. But more on that in a minute. This latest defense of Yunus is remarkable of course because of the assemblage of personalities, but also because it is so direct. It is “painful to see Prof Yunus, a man of impeccable integrity, and his life’s work unfairly attacked and repeatedly harassed and investigated by your government”, the letter reads.

“So let’s get the most obvious question out of the way—Why a paid advert in The Washington Post defending Yunus? It’s simple. No newspaper worth its salt will give away precious space to what is essentially a lobbying exercise. The paper would have refused to be impressed by the celebrities signing the letter. They would have directed Clinton, Bono and Narayana Murthy toward the ad department. Pay up and publish, they would have said – smiling sweetly as they said it.

“Which is exactly what these 40 global influencers did. So they put their money where their mouth is.

“Remember, too, that elections in Bangladesh are scheduled for later this year. Hasina has been prime minister four times and, barring any unscheduled upset, she is well on her way to becoming PM for an unprecedented fifth term”.

In the article, Jyoti Malhotra further wrote:

“Yunus’ Grameen Telecom is being probed on corruption charges, accused of misappropriating workers’ money, embezzling Taka 45,52,13,000 without distributing the money to the worker’s welfare fund, and transferring Taka 2,977 crore to affiliated institutions through money laundering.

“But there’s much more to Hasina’s anger than a few million dollars in alleged corruption. Truth is, in 2007-2008, when the army was pulling the strings in Bangladesh, running the quasi-democratic government from behind the scenes, Yunus threw in his lot with them and started the Nagorik Shakti Party. Hasina felt he was siding with the military and against traditional political parties like Hasina’s Awami League and Khaleda Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). She was furious. It was the beginning of the antagonism between Yunus and Hasina”.

“… But the fact of the matter is that Hasina is too big and too powerful and too much of a role model to all of South Asia, if not the whole developing world to bother about Muhammad Yunus. She should just ignore the accusations and let the agencies do their job, instead of stooping to criticize him.

“Truth is, Hasina is Bangladesh and Bangladesh is Hasina—there is no other leader worth her salt in that country. The BNP’s Khaleda Zia is ageing, her son Tarique Rahman is sitting in exile in London and she has the otherwise powerful Jamiat-i-Islami [Jamaat-e-Islami] where it belongs — under her thumb. Certainly Yunus, a civil society type, has very little or no role to play in shaping the politics of Bangladesh”.

I fully agree with Ms. Jyoti Malhotra. But she possibly has missed an important issue. The recent propaganda stunt of Muhammad Yunus is not just for the sake of saving his skin from possible imprisonment due to massive corruption charges. Yunus has already reached an agreement with the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, where the latter has agreed to make him Bangladesh’s president once it comes to power. But, Yunus wants to become the next prime minister with direct support of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jamaat-e-Islami.

As we know, Washington is willing to curtail Dhaka’s growing relations with New Delhi and Beijing and the Biden administration is eager in turning Bangladesh into another subservient state of the US. Yunus is trying to take that advantage. And, unfortunate fact is – Yunus has a large number of his cronies inside Bangladeshi media as well as civil-military administration. For the sake of national interest, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina needs to immediately identify these evil elements.


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