Friday, February 10, 2012 EDITORIAL

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 EDITORIAL 

Suicide of bourse investors: Will Govt. be sensitised?

 Universally acknowledged as a most vital area of a market economy as it provides companies with access to capital and investors with a segment of ownership in a business enterprise and the potential of gains based on a company’s future performance, the stock market in this country has become synonymous with misfortune, disaster, wretchedness, ill luck and concomitant extreme hardship and privation of victims of the scam.

As the general index of the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) fell below 6000 points on 14 October 2011 when the satellite TV channels showed footage of the street scene at Motijheel where agitating retail investors locked the gates of DSE office and engaged in shoe and broom procession with bonfire demanding resignation of the Finance Minister and Central Bank Governor. Such protests against bourse plunges have been taking place by incensed losers almost every other day over the past two years. The bullish market turned bearish during 2010, with the exchange losing 1,800 points between December 2010 and January 2011. Most of the estimated 33 million investors became bankrupt as a consequence of the market crash.
Meanwhile two broke stock market investors have committed suicide in a space of two days: Kazi Liaquat Ali Jubaraj committed suicide at Gopibagh in Dhaka on 30th January, while on February 1 Dildar Hossain killed himself by hanging from a ceiling fan at Ashkar Dighi in Chittagong. Several lawmakers of the Awami League-led alliance in parliament —- in presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Finance Minister AMA Muhith in the House on February 7 last —- blasted the government over its failure to stabilise the stockmarket, and demanded immediate arrest of those a probe body had held responsible for the market crash. They warned the government of a backlash from the people, especially at the next general election, if it failed to deal with the share market crisis. Demanding that a discussion be held in the House on the share market crash, the lawmakers also came down hard on the government over police action on share market investors on different occasions. There was plain and simple truth in what senior AL leader Tofail Ahmed questioned, “Why did the government not try those responsible for the stockmarket debacle after they had been identified by the probe body headed by Ibrahim Khaled?” Amid applause from other legislators, he observed, “It is true that people cannot move against us as we are in power now. They will try us on polling day at the next general election if the government fails to tackle the present market situation.” Referring to two stock market investors, who committed suicide recently in despair over the steady fall in the stock market, Tofail said, “Though in government, we, the people’s representatives, cannot remain silent in this situation.” Following a share market debacle in January 2011, the government formed an inquiry committee headed by Khondkar Ibrahim Khaled. The committee’s details listed 100 people who had received shares in private placement, and many influential figures, politicians and businessmen are among them. The report said crooked traders took Tk 20,000 crore out of the market through direct listing, private placement, preferential shares, mutual fund and book-building method. A similar crash happened in 1996 when the same Awami League government was in power. Strange coincidence?
It needs no elaboration that the equity market crisis has been deliberately ignored. Whoever is a finance minister he ought to have comprehensive knowledge of trade, industry and finance albeit he may not necessarily be a student of economics per se. A news item headlined “Stocks none of Muhith’s business” of 30 October 2011 quoted our finance minister as commenting on the equity market: “It’s a Security and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) business, not mine.” We feel dumbfounded. 
The ruling Awami League government seems to have concentrated all its strength to repress, torture, threaten and foil the opposition BNP’s 12 March Dhaka Cholo (let us march towards Dhaka) programme, but not on financial management and governance. Last but not least, finance minister is fully aware of the probe report on share market scam which identified some individuals and financial institutions as the main players in the stock market crash; he should now recover the amount by means of appropriate measures and bring the culprits to book, or else the future seems very bleak indeed.

Comment

 Universally acknowledged as a most vital area of a market economy as it provides companies with access to capital and investors with a segment of ownership in a business enterprise and the potential of gains based on a company’s future performance, the stock market in this country has become synonymous with misfortune, disaster, wretchedness, ill luck and concomitant extreme hardship and privation of victims of the scam.

As the general index of the Dhaka Stock Exchange (DSE) fell below 6000 points on 14 October 2011 when the satellite TV channels showed footage of the street scene at Motijheel where agitating retail investors locked the gates of DSE office and engaged in shoe and broom procession with bonfire demanding resignation of the Finance Minister and Central Bank Governor. Such protests against bourse plunges have been taking place by incensed losers almost every other day over the past two years. The bullish market turned bearish during 2010, with the exchange losing 1,800 points between December 2010 and January 2011. Most of the estimated 33 million investors became bankrupt as a consequence of the market crash.
Meanwhile two broke stock market investors have committed suicide in a space of two days: Kazi Liaquat Ali Jubaraj committed suicide at Gopibagh in Dhaka on 30th January, while on February 1 Dildar Hossain killed himself by hanging from a ceiling fan at Ashkar Dighi in Chittagong. Several lawmakers of the Awami League-led alliance in parliament —- in presence of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Finance Minister AMA Muhith in the House on February 7 last —- blasted the government over its failure to stabilise the stockmarket, and demanded immediate arrest of those a probe body had held responsible for the market crash. They warned the government of a backlash from the people, especially at the next general election, if it failed to deal with the share market crisis. Demanding that a discussion be held in the House on the share market crash, the lawmakers also came down hard on the government over police action on share market investors on different occasions. There was plain and simple truth in what senior AL leader Tofail Ahmed questioned, “Why did the government not try those responsible for the stockmarket debacle after they had been identified by the probe body headed by Ibrahim Khaled?” Amid applause from other legislators, he observed, “It is true that people cannot move against us as we are in power now. They will try us on polling day at the next general election if the government fails to tackle the present market situation.” Referring to two stock market investors, who committed suicide recently in despair over the steady fall in the stock market, Tofail said, “Though in government, we, the people’s representatives, cannot remain silent in this situation.” Following a share market debacle in January 2011, the government formed an inquiry committee headed by Khondkar Ibrahim Khaled. The committee’s details listed 100 people who had received shares in private placement, and many influential figures, politicians and businessmen are among them. The report said crooked traders took Tk 20,000 crore out of the market through direct listing, private placement, preferential shares, mutual fund and book-building method. A similar crash happened in 1996 when the same Awami League government was in power. Strange coincidence?
It needs no elaboration that the equity market crisis has been deliberately ignored. Whoever is a finance minister he ought to have comprehensive knowledge of trade, industry and finance albeit he may not necessarily be a student of economics per se. A news item headlined “Stocks none of Muhith’s business” of 30 October 2011 quoted our finance minister as commenting on the equity market: “It’s a Security and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) business, not mine.” We feel dumbfounded. 
The ruling Awami League government seems to have concentrated all its strength to repress, torture, threaten and foil the opposition BNP’s 12 March Dhaka Cholo (let us march towards Dhaka) programme, but not on financial management and governance. Last but not least, finance minister is fully aware of the probe report on share market scam which identified some individuals and financial institutions as the main players in the stock market crash; he should now recover the amount by means of appropriate measures and bring the culprits to book, or else the future seems very bleak indeed.

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ISLAMABAD LEARNS NO LESSON FROM 1971

What next in Pakistan? Pashtun Genocide?

A M M Shahabuddin

 
The leadership of Pakistan seems to have lost their sense of correct direction; that is why they are still running on the wrong track. As such, the tragic events of their massacre of innocent people, men, women and children of what is now Bangladesh, was just loss of another ‘wicket’for the them. Another loss of wicket is not far off, unless their ‘batsmen’ gird up their loins.
Now, the young rising politician, a former legend of Pakistan cricket, Imran Khan, has appeared on the shatterred political scenerio of Pakistan, to bodly expose the wrong way the present leadership of Pakistan has been playing their ‘game’. In a recent interview with a British magazine, Imran Khan couldn’t control his emotion when he spoke about the ‘genocide’ committed in 1971 on the Bengalis of former East Pakistan and what is now being repeated on the “Pashtuns” of the North-Western territories of Pakistan, particularly, in Waziristan, bordering Afghanistan. Even the Pashtuns who live in Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi, are not spared. Often they are “picked up and thrown into jail”, because they are Pashtuns. “This is a sad legacy”, Imran said.
 
1971 ‘genocide’ being repeated on Pashtuns
Recalling the “genocide” committed by the Pakistan government and the army in March, 1971 on the innocent Bengalis in former East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, Imran Khan said that if “the offenders of 1971 had been punished, then the Pashtuns would not be harassed in Pakistan today”, adding, that “the present scenerio in Pakistan would have been different.”
According to media reports, about 30 to 35 million Pashtuns, living in Pakistan and Afghanistan, “are the direct victims” of the ‘war on terror’, let loose by former US President George Bush, taking Pakistan as its “key ally” in his war against the Talibans. But instead of gaining any tangible results out of the decade-long anti-Taliban fight, both America and its ‘key ally’ are now enjoying the ‘boomerang fire’ from the battlefiled. Now it has been realised that the Pashtuns are determined to oust the US forces from Afghanistan and to put an end to Pakistan anti-Taliban policy being implemented under the diktat of its “friends, not masters.” 
 
‘Memogate’ and shape of things
So Pakistan is now passing through a threatening situation in the North-West Pakistan territories, particularly in Waziristan and Pashtun-inhabited areas adjacent to Afghan border. In fact, there is no such thing as ‘border restrictions’ for the Pashtuns of Pakistan and Afghanistan, with the possibility of secession from Pakistan the Pashtun-dominated areas adjacent to Afghan border. What shape of things is in the offing, only time will show. However, to worsen the already shaky situation for the government, headed by Asif Ali Zardari, comes the report of an internal crisis for the government centering the so-called ‘Memogate’ which had alleged that Zardari had sent an unsigned note to the US Administration to save his government from the Army ‘plot’ to take over the government through a coup. But Zardari has denied the allegation. And to add fuel to fire, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has now brought charges of contempt of court against Prime Minister Gilani for not implementing court orders, since December, 2009, of reopening of cases of alleged money-laundering against Zardari. 
The ruling party PPP, leadership, headed by Gilani, had tried to escape the court orders on the plea that Zardari, being the Head of the State, is “immune” from any such prosecution. However, ‘Gilani had been asked by the High Court to appear before it on 19 January which he did and got a new date some time in February for hearing of his application. Although much depends on the court verdict about the future of Gilani government, the Parliament has come forward with a majority vote of confidence in Gilani’s government. But this is one side of the coin. The other side is also not so bright.
 
Pakistan’s nuclear power threatened
In fact, Pakistan has become a target of its powerful first Asian nuclear neighbour, India, and an ‘undeclared’ nuclear power Israel, dominating the Mid-East region. They must be playing their ‘game’ from behind the scene to cripple the only Muslim nuclear country in the world. In such a situation, instead of guarding itself against the coming ‘tsunami’ to blow them out, the Pakistan leadership is busy in digging their own graves. Now the Pakistan leadership is busy in safe-guarding their seat of power, playing the rediculous role of a ‘golf boy’, serving their master players in the political field. 
And to achieve their mission, President Zardari is said to be daily sacrificing a ‘black goat’ as ‘sadkah’ to save himself from an ‘evil eye’! Pakistan is now directly in the grab of the US-led Western powers and their two close allies—-India and Israel—-who are keen to get control over Pakistan’s nuclear plants on the plea of security in the region. It became more obvious when a high US official, like the Chairman of the US Joint Chief of Staff, Admiral Mullen, had expressed in April last year his concern over the safety of the Pakistan nuclear plants, when he said that “Pakistan may implode with nuclear weapons in near future and may also use them.” But what had prompted Admiral Mullen to make such a fantastic forecast has never been explained. However, within a week or so of his ‘forecast’, the Admiral came down to ‘assure’ all with ‘full confidence’ that he was “glad to learn that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons were safe.” What a relief! (But it was not clear, nor he disclosed as to ‘safe’ in whose hand’s?) However, it would serve as ‘big kudos’ for Zardari and Gilani government. Let us hope for the best for the region.
-------------------------------
The author is retired UN official.

 

Comment

A M M Shahabuddin

 
The leadership of Pakistan seems to have lost their sense of correct direction; that is why they are still running on the wrong track. As such, the tragic events of their massacre of innocent people, men, women and children of what is now Bangladesh, was just loss of another ‘wicket’for the them. Another loss of wicket is not far off, unless their ‘batsmen’ gird up their loins.
Now, the young rising politician, a former legend of Pakistan cricket, Imran Khan, has appeared on the shatterred political scenerio of Pakistan, to bodly expose the wrong way the present leadership of Pakistan has been playing their ‘game’. In a recent interview with a British magazine, Imran Khan couldn’t control his emotion when he spoke about the ‘genocide’ committed in 1971 on the Bengalis of former East Pakistan and what is now being repeated on the “Pashtuns” of the North-Western territories of Pakistan, particularly, in Waziristan, bordering Afghanistan. Even the Pashtuns who live in Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi, are not spared. Often they are “picked up and thrown into jail”, because they are Pashtuns. “This is a sad legacy”, Imran said.
 
1971 ‘genocide’ being repeated on Pashtuns
Recalling the “genocide” committed by the Pakistan government and the army in March, 1971 on the innocent Bengalis in former East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, Imran Khan said that if “the offenders of 1971 had been punished, then the Pashtuns would not be harassed in Pakistan today”, adding, that “the present scenerio in Pakistan would have been different.”
According to media reports, about 30 to 35 million Pashtuns, living in Pakistan and Afghanistan, “are the direct victims” of the ‘war on terror’, let loose by former US President George Bush, taking Pakistan as its “key ally” in his war against the Talibans. But instead of gaining any tangible results out of the decade-long anti-Taliban fight, both America and its ‘key ally’ are now enjoying the ‘boomerang fire’ from the battlefiled. Now it has been realised that the Pashtuns are determined to oust the US forces from Afghanistan and to put an end to Pakistan anti-Taliban policy being implemented under the diktat of its “friends, not masters.” 
 
‘Memogate’ and shape of things
So Pakistan is now passing through a threatening situation in the North-West Pakistan territories, particularly in Waziristan and Pashtun-inhabited areas adjacent to Afghan border. In fact, there is no such thing as ‘border restrictions’ for the Pashtuns of Pakistan and Afghanistan, with the possibility of secession from Pakistan the Pashtun-dominated areas adjacent to Afghan border. What shape of things is in the offing, only time will show. However, to worsen the already shaky situation for the government, headed by Asif Ali Zardari, comes the report of an internal crisis for the government centering the so-called ‘Memogate’ which had alleged that Zardari had sent an unsigned note to the US Administration to save his government from the Army ‘plot’ to take over the government through a coup. But Zardari has denied the allegation. And to add fuel to fire, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has now brought charges of contempt of court against Prime Minister Gilani for not implementing court orders, since December, 2009, of reopening of cases of alleged money-laundering against Zardari. 
The ruling party PPP, leadership, headed by Gilani, had tried to escape the court orders on the plea that Zardari, being the Head of the State, is “immune” from any such prosecution. However, ‘Gilani had been asked by the High Court to appear before it on 19 January which he did and got a new date some time in February for hearing of his application. Although much depends on the court verdict about the future of Gilani government, the Parliament has come forward with a majority vote of confidence in Gilani’s government. But this is one side of the coin. The other side is also not so bright.
 
Pakistan’s nuclear power threatened
In fact, Pakistan has become a target of its powerful first Asian nuclear neighbour, India, and an ‘undeclared’ nuclear power Israel, dominating the Mid-East region. They must be playing their ‘game’ from behind the scene to cripple the only Muslim nuclear country in the world. In such a situation, instead of guarding itself against the coming ‘tsunami’ to blow them out, the Pakistan leadership is busy in digging their own graves. Now the Pakistan leadership is busy in safe-guarding their seat of power, playing the rediculous role of a ‘golf boy’, serving their master players in the political field. 
And to achieve their mission, President Zardari is said to be daily sacrificing a ‘black goat’ as ‘sadkah’ to save himself from an ‘evil eye’! Pakistan is now directly in the grab of the US-led Western powers and their two close allies—-India and Israel—-who are keen to get control over Pakistan’s nuclear plants on the plea of security in the region. It became more obvious when a high US official, like the Chairman of the US Joint Chief of Staff, Admiral Mullen, had expressed in April last year his concern over the safety of the Pakistan nuclear plants, when he said that “Pakistan may implode with nuclear weapons in near future and may also use them.” But what had prompted Admiral Mullen to make such a fantastic forecast has never been explained. However, within a week or so of his ‘forecast’, the Admiral came down to ‘assure’ all with ‘full confidence’ that he was “glad to learn that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons were safe.” What a relief! (But it was not clear, nor he disclosed as to ‘safe’ in whose hand’s?) However, it would serve as ‘big kudos’ for Zardari and Gilani government. Let us hope for the best for the region.
-------------------------------
The author is retired UN official.

 


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 VIEW POINT 

Editorials must address sensitive issues very cautiously

A. M. K. Chowdhury

 
Every educated person knows what should be the role of a responsible newspaper. Should it spread inflammatory and provocative opinions based on hearsay? Professional journalists must show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by incorrect or misleading news coverage. Responsible journalists must shun hearsay, rumour or unconfirmed information.
A clash over a trifling matter left 15 persons including two journalists injured in October 2011 when it occurred between the unruly Muslims and Hindus at Patharghata in Chattagong city. News report said that some people of Hundu community displayed fireworks during Esha prayer in the mosque at 8 in the evening at Bangshal Road mosque at Patharghata. The devotees raised objection to it. News report also said an altercation took place between a Hindu and a Muslim minor, which turned into a clash. Some 30 houses were burnt at fishermen’s locality and unruly people resorted to fight each other with sticks. 
Thank God, the situation did not take a turn for the worse. The law enforcers acted promptly to bring the situation under control. The leaders of different political parties held a meeting with Chittagong City Awami League President ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury in the chair and restored normalcy in the area immediately after the clash. Chittagong BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party) general secretary Dr. Shahadat Hossain and CMP Commissioner Abul Quasem were present in the meeting, They urged the people to maintain the tradition of communal harmony and not to be misled by unruly sections of people, as reported in a major Bengali daily on October 12 and 13, 2011.
An editorial on the incident was published on October 13, 2011 under the caption “A clash that mercifully did not escalate” in an English language daily which claims to be a ‘‘true and impartial’’ newspaper. The editorial started as follows: “Chittagong city witnessed a shameful happening on Tuesday when Luxmi Puja celebration of the Hindus was obstructed and Hindus were targeted by an unruly section of people. We still do not like to think that it was a communal clash between the numerically more dominant and less dominant communities, the kind of disgrace which we have left behind during our long and painful struggle for building a modern polity in which freedom and right prevail.
“It was a shameful happening, there is no doubt about it. But question arises why there would be numerically more dominant and less dominant communities. The answer is that Hindus are less dominant because they are minority. They are not equal to majority people to maintain equal dominance.” 
The editorial said, “According to a media report, four houses and a temple were burnt and more than 100 people including police personnel were injured in clashes over fireworks display on the occasion of Luxmi Puja. The clash began when a Hindu woman picked a quarrel with an aged Muslim gentleman after he slapped her minor son, who along with other Hindu boys, was engaged in fireworks display near Bangshal Road mosque as part of observance of Luxmi Puja. This triggered a scuffle between groups of young men belonging to Hindu and Muslim communities, which later turned into a clash with the two groups pelting stones at each other, according to witnesses.” The above part of the editorial was written quoting a media report and ‘witnesses’. 
The editorial said, “It is alleged that a stone hit the mosque following which the Imam made an announcement on the mosque’s public address system to the effect that Hindus had attacked the mosque.” Now it is alleged, because only “a stone hit the mosque” and not the temple. The editorial said this appears to be a critical point in the ugly circumstances which fuelled the clashes. It said Imam’s announcement fuelled the clashes. Fireworks display near the mosque during ‘Isha’ prayer did not fuel the clashes. It is to be noted that a flying stone hitting the mosque, though a sacrilegious occurrence in itself, does not amount to “attack”. 
 
Responsibility
According to editorial the Imam is expected to act with the greatest responsibility. The editorial did not suggest to investigate who pelted stones at the mosque; or who planned to display fireworks near the mosque during Isha prayer. The editorial did not mention about the meeting of political leaders of different parties. The meeting did not suggest to investigate whether the Imam really made the incendiary announcement or who else did so.
The Bangla daily reported only 15 persons were injured and 30 houses were burnt. It did not mention that a temple was burnt. But the English daily’s Editorial said that four houses and a temple were burnt and more than 100 people including policemen were injured.
A matured man does not say I told you so. An editorial is newspaper’s own view. The editorial in question can enable the people to justify whether this daily is true and impartial or not. The bottom-line is: No newspaper should spread inflammatory and provocative opinions based on hearsay because that can be damaging and disastrous. 

Comment

A. M. K. Chowdhury

 
Every educated person knows what should be the role of a responsible newspaper. Should it spread inflammatory and provocative opinions based on hearsay? Professional journalists must show compassion for those who may be affected adversely by incorrect or misleading news coverage. Responsible journalists must shun hearsay, rumour or unconfirmed information.
A clash over a trifling matter left 15 persons including two journalists injured in October 2011 when it occurred between the unruly Muslims and Hindus at Patharghata in Chattagong city. News report said that some people of Hundu community displayed fireworks during Esha prayer in the mosque at 8 in the evening at Bangshal Road mosque at Patharghata. The devotees raised objection to it. News report also said an altercation took place between a Hindu and a Muslim minor, which turned into a clash. Some 30 houses were burnt at fishermen’s locality and unruly people resorted to fight each other with sticks. 
Thank God, the situation did not take a turn for the worse. The law enforcers acted promptly to bring the situation under control. The leaders of different political parties held a meeting with Chittagong City Awami League President ABM Mohiuddin Chowdhury in the chair and restored normalcy in the area immediately after the clash. Chittagong BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party) general secretary Dr. Shahadat Hossain and CMP Commissioner Abul Quasem were present in the meeting, They urged the people to maintain the tradition of communal harmony and not to be misled by unruly sections of people, as reported in a major Bengali daily on October 12 and 13, 2011.
An editorial on the incident was published on October 13, 2011 under the caption “A clash that mercifully did not escalate” in an English language daily which claims to be a ‘‘true and impartial’’ newspaper. The editorial started as follows: “Chittagong city witnessed a shameful happening on Tuesday when Luxmi Puja celebration of the Hindus was obstructed and Hindus were targeted by an unruly section of people. We still do not like to think that it was a communal clash between the numerically more dominant and less dominant communities, the kind of disgrace which we have left behind during our long and painful struggle for building a modern polity in which freedom and right prevail.
“It was a shameful happening, there is no doubt about it. But question arises why there would be numerically more dominant and less dominant communities. The answer is that Hindus are less dominant because they are minority. They are not equal to majority people to maintain equal dominance.” 
The editorial said, “According to a media report, four houses and a temple were burnt and more than 100 people including police personnel were injured in clashes over fireworks display on the occasion of Luxmi Puja. The clash began when a Hindu woman picked a quarrel with an aged Muslim gentleman after he slapped her minor son, who along with other Hindu boys, was engaged in fireworks display near Bangshal Road mosque as part of observance of Luxmi Puja. This triggered a scuffle between groups of young men belonging to Hindu and Muslim communities, which later turned into a clash with the two groups pelting stones at each other, according to witnesses.” The above part of the editorial was written quoting a media report and ‘witnesses’. 
The editorial said, “It is alleged that a stone hit the mosque following which the Imam made an announcement on the mosque’s public address system to the effect that Hindus had attacked the mosque.” Now it is alleged, because only “a stone hit the mosque” and not the temple. The editorial said this appears to be a critical point in the ugly circumstances which fuelled the clashes. It said Imam’s announcement fuelled the clashes. Fireworks display near the mosque during ‘Isha’ prayer did not fuel the clashes. It is to be noted that a flying stone hitting the mosque, though a sacrilegious occurrence in itself, does not amount to “attack”. 
 
Responsibility
According to editorial the Imam is expected to act with the greatest responsibility. The editorial did not suggest to investigate who pelted stones at the mosque; or who planned to display fireworks near the mosque during Isha prayer. The editorial did not mention about the meeting of political leaders of different parties. The meeting did not suggest to investigate whether the Imam really made the incendiary announcement or who else did so.
The Bangla daily reported only 15 persons were injured and 30 houses were burnt. It did not mention that a temple was burnt. But the English daily’s Editorial said that four houses and a temple were burnt and more than 100 people including policemen were injured.
A matured man does not say I told you so. An editorial is newspaper’s own view. The editorial in question can enable the people to justify whether this daily is true and impartial or not. The bottom-line is: No newspaper should spread inflammatory and provocative opinions based on hearsay because that can be damaging and disastrous. 

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 LETTERS 

Trigger-happy BSF’s random Killings

 Dear Editor:

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina considers India to be a friend of Bangladesh, but is this how a friend acts? The government must take immediate steps to prevent further loss of lives of Bangladeshis in the hands of the trigger-happy BSF.
According to Odhikar, the Border Security Force (BSF) jawans killed 907 people of Bangladesh between January 1, 2000 and March 31, 2011. Any person ‘worth his salt’ just can not ignore the illegal and merciless beating of a fellow citizen at the Indian border. how much he may be at fault by a very unfriendly foreign force. Even for illegal smuggling or trespass and any civil crime that does not involve killing or injury of any foreign national of that country, cannot be shot. It is worse than any brutality or killing along the infamous border of East and West Germany (Berlin Wall) during the Cold War period between the Capitalist and Communist European powers.
Who can then justify that we have friendly relations with India, given their illegal border killings of unarmed Bangladeshi citizens despite whatever may be officially stated.  
Is our concerned minister, dumb, deaf and blind too? The LGRD Minister does not care a fig for the recent border beating of a Bangladeshi.  To him it is OK. Bangladesh’s local government minister Syed Ashraful Islam said the recent incidents at the border were everyday matters. When asked by a reporter at an event about the alleged torture of a Bangladeshi at the hands of the Indian Border Security Force, Ashraful said, “The state is not worried about incidents at the border. They’ve happened in the past, are happening now and will happen in future.”
Asked whether these acts of torture and killing at the border were provocative, Ashraf said, “The state is not too much concerned about it. It is not true that the state is focusing only on the issue forgetting other businesses either.”
The incumbent needs to be de-ministered for this strange stance, recorded in all audio-visual and print media in Bangladesh. Paraphrasing and poorly rewording some famous lines from a famous English poem; I dare say:
“Breathes there the man so low,
Who feels not any sorrow in calling it ‘the name of the game’ 
Who feels not an iota of shame!
Unfortunately, there does breathe one such,
With belly full of of goodies much!  For him, no thoughts further dwell 
Highly satiated with his belly swelled.
And doubly dying; shall ho down
To the wild dust from whence it sprung
Unwept, unhonoured and unsung!” 
This is how I am sure we all feel, for the inexcusable subservience from the top.
A Shamed Citizen,
Dhaka.

 
Cultural identity is crucial
Dear Editor:
Culture originally meant the cultivation of mind. According to sociologists, a society is a group of people with common territory, interaction and culture. 
Nobel Laureate George Bernard Shaw, one of the world’s greatest writers, said, “If any religion had the chance of ruling over England, nay Europe within the next hundred years, it could be Islam… I have always held the religion of Prophet Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. I have studied him - the wonderful man and in my opinion far from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the Saviour of Humanity.” G.B. Shaw, The Genuine Islam, Vol. 1, No. 81936
Internationally acclaimed historian Professor Toynbee observed, “The extinction of race consciousness as between Muslims is one of the outstanding achievements of Islam, and in the contemporary world there is, as it happens, a crying need for the propagation of this Islamic virtue.” A.J. Toynbee, Civilisation on Trial, New York, 1948, p.205
Religion is an institution to express belief in a divine power. It is an established fact that religion plays a vital role in our social and cultural life. According to the teachings of Islam, a true follower of Islam cannot lead his life willingly and whimsically as Islam offers him ‘a complete code of life’ indicating that a true follower of Islam cannot perform his activities neglecting the rules and regulations of Islam. 
In other words a true follower of Islam must say prayers in the mosque and he must possess the identity at the time of performing cultural activities. In the verse 162 of Surah Al Anam of the Holy Quran it has been stated unequivocally that a Muslim must do everything for the satisfaction of Allah in every sphere of life. Again, before death one must be a Muslim regardless of geographical or cultural identity as an Arabian or English or French if he claims himself to be a believer. 
The notion of a Thai, a Burmese, a Chinese or a Bangali first and a Muslim later does not conform to the principle of Islam though, of course, it is a mather of personal consideration as well. But it is a matter of regret that there has been trend of disparaging Islamic values and ideas as prescribed in the Holy Quran and Hadith. 
A section of intellectuals have a tendency to vilify Islamic values and practices. They even feel comfortable to term the Islamic books as ‘Zihadi books’. There are great Bengal poets who have enriched our literature among whom Michael Modhusudan Dutta, Rabindranath Tagore (whose song is our National Anthem) are the towering figures. 
After them the most distinguished poet, who appeared on the Bengali literary scene as an extraordinary personality, was Kazi Nazrul Islam, the poet of revolution, who was a resolute enemy of the colonial British rulers and so they imprisoned him for over seventeen months. 
More than one hundred books in Bengali and English on the Rebel Poet Nazrul have been published from India and Bangladesh. Several books have been published in Russian language. In India the Rebel Poet is regarded as a Freedom Fighter against British colonialism. But a section of intellectuals in this country are not much interested in Nazrul Islam and his outstanding achievements in literature though he is the National Poet of Bangladesh whose writings inspired our Freedom Fighters to fight bravely against the Pakistani evil forces. 
Nowadays average and third grade Indian singers and dancers are invited to perform in Bangladesh; comparatively our talented top singers or dancers are not invited to perform in India as much. While numerous Indian TV channels are destroying our cultural identity, Bangladeshi channels are PROHIBITED in India. So, necessary steps should be taken to protect our own culture. 
Abul Kalam Azad,
Ramna, Dhaka.

 
Bangladesh: A giant leap
Dear Editor:
This is to admire crusader Sir Frank Peters. On July 20, 1969 the first man to step on the moon Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong spoke the now famous words: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
His statement linked one small action of a man with a monumental achievement for humanity.
Similarly it can be said, as time will one day reveal, that the Bangladesh High Court ruling by Justices Md. Imman Ali and Sheikh Hasan Arif on January 13, 2011 that outlaws corporal punishment in schools, greatly serves Bangladesh and is a significant lesson to all mankind.
Lone voice crusader Sir Frank Peters also deserves a special round of applause for his spirited and incessant effort to warn Bangladesh of the wrong and consequences of corporal punishment, and for helping to bring about the historical change.
In their summary, the honorable HC judges described corporal punishment as: “cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child’s fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom.”
Sir Frank described it as: “a form of mental and physical torture that causes pain, humiliation, irreparable damage, violates the human rights of the child and teaches hate, violence, resentment, vengeance and disrespect.”
It is clear from both that corporal punishment serves no good purpose.
Loving and concerned parents here in the United States of America admired, applauded and were inspired by your HC decision in 2011. They are now anxiously awaiting, hoping, and praying for the passage through Congress of an anti-corporal punishment bill by Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy.
We at Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education (PTAVE) wholeheartedly wish the people and children of Bangladesh (especially) ‘Happy Birthday’ on the first anniversary of the anti-corporal punishment law.
Jordan Riak
P.O. Box 1033, Alamo,
California, 94507, USA,

 
Foot-bridges: Awareness building needed
Dear Editor:
We all know that it is very dangerous to cross the road before the speeding vehicles. During crossing road in this way any fatal accident can happen. We almost get to know from newspapers about such accidents. There are many foot-bridges and underpasses in the busiest roads of the capital, although these are not enough for the pedestrians of the city. But most of the pedestrians do not use them. They usually leap over the fence or road dividers to cross the roads before the speeding vehicles which is very dangerous. On the other hand due to moving before the speeding vehicles, the normal speed of the vehicles is slowed and as a result fatal traffic jams are created in the roads.
We are surprised when see most pedestrians in front of law enforcers, avoiding foot-bridges and underpasses, cross the roads before the speeding vehicles. The law enforcers who are there on duty do not prevent them.
We hope the concerned authorities will take realistic steps to raise people’s awareness for using foot-bridges and underpasses.
Md. Iqbal Hossain,
Shankar, Dhaka.

Comment

 Dear Editor:

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina considers India to be a friend of Bangladesh, but is this how a friend acts? The government must take immediate steps to prevent further loss of lives of Bangladeshis in the hands of the trigger-happy BSF.
According to Odhikar, the Border Security Force (BSF) jawans killed 907 people of Bangladesh between January 1, 2000 and March 31, 2011. Any person ‘worth his salt’ just can not ignore the illegal and merciless beating of a fellow citizen at the Indian border. how much he may be at fault by a very unfriendly foreign force. Even for illegal smuggling or trespass and any civil crime that does not involve killing or injury of any foreign national of that country, cannot be shot. It is worse than any brutality or killing along the infamous border of East and West Germany (Berlin Wall) during the Cold War period between the Capitalist and Communist European powers.
Who can then justify that we have friendly relations with India, given their illegal border killings of unarmed Bangladeshi citizens despite whatever may be officially stated.  
Is our concerned minister, dumb, deaf and blind too? The LGRD Minister does not care a fig for the recent border beating of a Bangladeshi.  To him it is OK. Bangladesh’s local government minister Syed Ashraful Islam said the recent incidents at the border were everyday matters. When asked by a reporter at an event about the alleged torture of a Bangladeshi at the hands of the Indian Border Security Force, Ashraful said, “The state is not worried about incidents at the border. They’ve happened in the past, are happening now and will happen in future.”
Asked whether these acts of torture and killing at the border were provocative, Ashraf said, “The state is not too much concerned about it. It is not true that the state is focusing only on the issue forgetting other businesses either.”
The incumbent needs to be de-ministered for this strange stance, recorded in all audio-visual and print media in Bangladesh. Paraphrasing and poorly rewording some famous lines from a famous English poem; I dare say:
“Breathes there the man so low,
Who feels not any sorrow in calling it ‘the name of the game’ 
Who feels not an iota of shame!
Unfortunately, there does breathe one such,
With belly full of of goodies much!  For him, no thoughts further dwell 
Highly satiated with his belly swelled.
And doubly dying; shall ho down
To the wild dust from whence it sprung
Unwept, unhonoured and unsung!” 
This is how I am sure we all feel, for the inexcusable subservience from the top.
A Shamed Citizen,
Dhaka.

 
Cultural identity is crucial
Dear Editor:
Culture originally meant the cultivation of mind. According to sociologists, a society is a group of people with common territory, interaction and culture. 
Nobel Laureate George Bernard Shaw, one of the world’s greatest writers, said, “If any religion had the chance of ruling over England, nay Europe within the next hundred years, it could be Islam… I have always held the religion of Prophet Muhammad in high estimation because of its wonderful vitality. It is the only religion which appears to me to possess that assimilating capacity to the changing phase of existence which can make itself appeal to every age. I have studied him - the wonderful man and in my opinion far from being an anti-Christ, he must be called the Saviour of Humanity.” G.B. Shaw, The Genuine Islam, Vol. 1, No. 81936
Internationally acclaimed historian Professor Toynbee observed, “The extinction of race consciousness as between Muslims is one of the outstanding achievements of Islam, and in the contemporary world there is, as it happens, a crying need for the propagation of this Islamic virtue.” A.J. Toynbee, Civilisation on Trial, New York, 1948, p.205
Religion is an institution to express belief in a divine power. It is an established fact that religion plays a vital role in our social and cultural life. According to the teachings of Islam, a true follower of Islam cannot lead his life willingly and whimsically as Islam offers him ‘a complete code of life’ indicating that a true follower of Islam cannot perform his activities neglecting the rules and regulations of Islam. 
In other words a true follower of Islam must say prayers in the mosque and he must possess the identity at the time of performing cultural activities. In the verse 162 of Surah Al Anam of the Holy Quran it has been stated unequivocally that a Muslim must do everything for the satisfaction of Allah in every sphere of life. Again, before death one must be a Muslim regardless of geographical or cultural identity as an Arabian or English or French if he claims himself to be a believer. 
The notion of a Thai, a Burmese, a Chinese or a Bangali first and a Muslim later does not conform to the principle of Islam though, of course, it is a mather of personal consideration as well. But it is a matter of regret that there has been trend of disparaging Islamic values and ideas as prescribed in the Holy Quran and Hadith. 
A section of intellectuals have a tendency to vilify Islamic values and practices. They even feel comfortable to term the Islamic books as ‘Zihadi books’. There are great Bengal poets who have enriched our literature among whom Michael Modhusudan Dutta, Rabindranath Tagore (whose song is our National Anthem) are the towering figures. 
After them the most distinguished poet, who appeared on the Bengali literary scene as an extraordinary personality, was Kazi Nazrul Islam, the poet of revolution, who was a resolute enemy of the colonial British rulers and so they imprisoned him for over seventeen months. 
More than one hundred books in Bengali and English on the Rebel Poet Nazrul have been published from India and Bangladesh. Several books have been published in Russian language. In India the Rebel Poet is regarded as a Freedom Fighter against British colonialism. But a section of intellectuals in this country are not much interested in Nazrul Islam and his outstanding achievements in literature though he is the National Poet of Bangladesh whose writings inspired our Freedom Fighters to fight bravely against the Pakistani evil forces. 
Nowadays average and third grade Indian singers and dancers are invited to perform in Bangladesh; comparatively our talented top singers or dancers are not invited to perform in India as much. While numerous Indian TV channels are destroying our cultural identity, Bangladeshi channels are PROHIBITED in India. So, necessary steps should be taken to protect our own culture. 
Abul Kalam Azad,
Ramna, Dhaka.

 
Bangladesh: A giant leap
Dear Editor:
This is to admire crusader Sir Frank Peters. On July 20, 1969 the first man to step on the moon Apollo 11 astronaut Neil Armstrong spoke the now famous words: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
His statement linked one small action of a man with a monumental achievement for humanity.
Similarly it can be said, as time will one day reveal, that the Bangladesh High Court ruling by Justices Md. Imman Ali and Sheikh Hasan Arif on January 13, 2011 that outlaws corporal punishment in schools, greatly serves Bangladesh and is a significant lesson to all mankind.
Lone voice crusader Sir Frank Peters also deserves a special round of applause for his spirited and incessant effort to warn Bangladesh of the wrong and consequences of corporal punishment, and for helping to bring about the historical change.
In their summary, the honorable HC judges described corporal punishment as: “cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and a clear violation of a child’s fundamental right to life, liberty and freedom.”
Sir Frank described it as: “a form of mental and physical torture that causes pain, humiliation, irreparable damage, violates the human rights of the child and teaches hate, violence, resentment, vengeance and disrespect.”
It is clear from both that corporal punishment serves no good purpose.
Loving and concerned parents here in the United States of America admired, applauded and were inspired by your HC decision in 2011. They are now anxiously awaiting, hoping, and praying for the passage through Congress of an anti-corporal punishment bill by Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy.
We at Parents and Teachers Against Violence in Education (PTAVE) wholeheartedly wish the people and children of Bangladesh (especially) ‘Happy Birthday’ on the first anniversary of the anti-corporal punishment law.
Jordan Riak
P.O. Box 1033, Alamo,
California, 94507, USA,

 
Foot-bridges: Awareness building needed
Dear Editor:
We all know that it is very dangerous to cross the road before the speeding vehicles. During crossing road in this way any fatal accident can happen. We almost get to know from newspapers about such accidents. There are many foot-bridges and underpasses in the busiest roads of the capital, although these are not enough for the pedestrians of the city. But most of the pedestrians do not use them. They usually leap over the fence or road dividers to cross the roads before the speeding vehicles which is very dangerous. On the other hand due to moving before the speeding vehicles, the normal speed of the vehicles is slowed and as a result fatal traffic jams are created in the roads.
We are surprised when see most pedestrians in front of law enforcers, avoiding foot-bridges and underpasses, cross the roads before the speeding vehicles. The law enforcers who are there on duty do not prevent them.
We hope the concerned authorities will take realistic steps to raise people’s awareness for using foot-bridges and underpasses.
Md. Iqbal Hossain,
Shankar, Dhaka.

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