Bangladesh media’s hesitancy in countering propaganda against the country

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Tarique Rahman, Al Qaeda, Bangladesh Nationalist Party, BNP, Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh

In recent years, Bangladesh has been continuously facing a wave of dreadful misinformation and propaganda aimed at tarnishing the image of the country on the global stage. Despite these serious challenges, the local media in Bangladesh has often been reticent in countering such well-orchestrated narratives. The machinery of the Bangladesh government has also been demonstrating shocking disinclination or inability to grasp possible severe insinuations of such misfeasance. Consequently, the nation continues to bear the burden of such reticence and failures.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been profoundly vocal about her government’s intentions to address various challenges that Bangladesh has been facing, which includes ongoing vile propaganda. She has particularly emphasized her government’s commitment to getting Al Qaeda-connected Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP)’s acting chairman Tarique Rahman extradited from the United Kingdom, where he has been living since 2007.

Tarique, a prominent political figure and the son of former military ruler Gen Ziaur Rahman and former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia – has been living in exile following multiple criminal convictions in Bangladesh. Sheikh Hasina’s firm stance on this issue underscores her broader agenda to reinforce the rule of law and address Kleptocracy and political misdeeds.

Extradition from Western countries is undeniably complex. For instance, India has struggled to bring back Vijay Mallya, and Pakistan has faced similar challenges with Altaf Hussain. In both cases, the media in those countries have been actively vocal against these self-exiled individuals, highlighting the stark contrast with the relatively muted response of the Bangladeshi media.

Furthermore, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has openly revealed that certain Western nations allegedly aim to turn parts of Bangladesh into a Christian state and establish an airbase within its territory. She suggests that these external pressures are part of a broader strategy to influence political outcomes in Bangladesh. By highlighting these points, Hasina aims to rally nationalistic sentiments and caution the public against foreign interference.

Despite the Prime Minister’s clear directives and strong rhetoric, the response from the Bangladeshi media has been tepid at best. No local media has spoken out against these Western conspiracies, let alone the international media. This silence inevitably calls into question the patriotism of Bangladeshi journalists.

Enamul Hoque Chowdhury, a seasoned journalist with experience at Reuters, represents how individuals in his position often exploit their roles for personal gain rather than national interest. He also served as Press Minister at Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi for many years. Despite his deep understanding of global media dynamics, his tenure in the Bangladeshi media has failed to effectively counter foreign propaganda. This not only wastes the country’s resources but also deprives Bangladesh of potential strong bilateral relations by not addressing misinformation that harms its international image. His inability to utilize his expertise for the nation’s benefit highlights a significant failure in achieving the intended goals of his post.

It may be mentioned here that currently Enamul Hoque Chowdhury is serving as the editor of Daily Sun newspaper.

Shamim Ahmad, who served as Press Minister in Bangladesh Embassy in Washington for many years and Shaban Mahmood, who served as Press Minister in Bangladesh High Commission in New Delhi – further illustrate this trend of self-serving behavior among Bangladeshi journalists in strategic international positions.

Shamim Ahmad, known for his journalistic excellence and profound knowledge on local, regional and international issues has been extremely vocal in favor of Sheikh Hasina and Awami League. But since his return from the United States, he suddenly became totally silent in addressing ongoing propaganda against Bangladesh and the ruling Awami League.

Similarly, Shaban Mahmood’s tenure as Press Minister in New Delhi has brought negligible outcomes, with most positive of the media coverages on Bangladesh in India still being initiated by journalists based in Dhaka.

Nadeem Qadir, who worked with Agence France Press (AFP), Reader’s Digest magazine and Press Trust of India (PTI) also served as the Press Minister at Bangladesh High Commission in the United Kingdom. On his return, he first joined as the editor of Daily Sun and then as editor of The Daily Messenger. He continued with Daily Sun for some years and The Daily Messenger for just some months. During this challenging period, he also has been maintaining silence.

Silence or unwillingness of Shamim Ahmad, Nadim Qadir and Shaban Mahmood not only represent a waste of the taxpayer’s money but also a betrayal of their duties, as they have failed to build crucial media connections and enhance bilateral relations, thus bringing zero substantive outcomes for the nation. While being seasoned journalists, Shamim Ahmad and Nadim Qadir could not build any rapport with members of the US and British mainstream media, in Shaban Mahmood’s case, he too has stepped into the same footprint. Considering such unfortunate behavior of these senior journalists – can it be assumed that they just considered those crucial postings as mere rewards instead of an opportunity of widening their connections with the international media which they could use for the interest of the country?

A recent example of the challenges faced by the Bangladesh government is the Deutsche Welle (DW) report targeting the Bangladesh Armed Forces, while Al Qaeda-connected Bangladesh Nationalist Party signals of its connections with this report stating – they too want Bangladesh to be expelled from the UN Peace Missions. Meanwhile, it is learnt, Arafatul Islam, an influential member of Deutsche Welle has been playing key role in publishing reports targeting ruling Awami League as well as Bangladesh Armed Forces and other law enforcement agencies.

This incident underscored the inadequacies of the local media in countering such narratives. While Bangladesh Armed Forces’ Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) issued a statement, it was insufficient in opposing the widespread negative perception created by the report.

In contrast, countries like India, the US and the UK actively engage both local and international media to counter propaganda, demonstrating a more comprehensive and effective approach.

The global media landscape has evolved significantly over the past few decades. The rise of digital media, social networking platforms, and the 24-hour news cycle has transformed how information is disseminated and consumed. In this fast-paced environment, traditional media outlets in Bangladesh struggle to keep up with the sophisticated propaganda techniques employed by external actors. The US sanctions on RAB and several of its high-ranking officials are a stark example of the complete failure of our media and the reluctance of bureaucrats.

Moreover, the geopolitical landscape has shifted, with increasing competition for influence in South Asia. This has led to more frequent and more complex forms of information warfare. To effectively counter these challenges, the Bangladeshi media must adopt new strategies, including greater collaboration with international media, investment in investigative journalism, and leveraging digital platforms to amplify counter-narratives.

The reluctance of Bangladeshi media to counter propaganda against the nation is rooted in a complex interplay of political corruption, personal benefit, and evolving media dynamics to counter rivals. While Head of the State, Sheikh Hasina has articulated a clear vision for addressing these issues, the response from the media remains inadequate. To effectively counter external propaganda, the Bangladeshi media must evolve by embracing new technologies and strategies, and prioritizing national interests over personal gains. Only then can Bangladesh hope to safeguard its image and assert its narrative on the global stage.

1 COMMENT

  1. Most of them yellow chicken shit journalist are getting their directions from BNP/Jamaat, ISIS, UK and USA!

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