Leave it alone
The BNP yesterday called upon the media not to make an issue out of Khaleda Zia's write-up in The Washington Times seeking western intervention to save the country's democracy by putting pressure on the Hasina administration.
The rather bizarre call came amid strong criticism of the article and a day after the US newspaper's Executive Editor David S Jackson told The Daily Star and other Bangladeshi media that his paper did carry an article by Khaleda Zia on January 30.
But talking to reporters, BNP Joint Secretary General Rizvi Ahmed yesterday said: "Our party has been protesting ever since the newspaper published the article under BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's byline."
But media reports suggest just the opposite. Top BNP leaders, including Moudud Ahmed and Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, hailed Khaleda Zia for the write-up and slammed those who condemned the piece titled "ZIA: The thankless role in saving democracy in Bangladesh."
The issue surfaced again after Khaleda in parliament on June 29 denied sending any article to the US newspaper. Her denial came just two days after the US suspended the GSP facility for Bangladesh.
It may be mentioned that one part of the article talked about cancelling the GSP facility for Bangladesh.
In this part, Khaleda wrote: “They [the US] also must explain to Ms. Hasina that general preferences for trade will be withdrawn if those who support workers' rights and have political views opposed to those of the prime minister are not now allowed to express their beliefs.”
Yesterday, when reporters reminded Rizvi about BNP leader Moudud Ahmed's comment supporting Khaleda's article, Rizvi said: “You should ask the leader who made the comment at that time.
"And we ask you not to make things complicated over the issue any further."
He, however, had no answers when reporters asked him whether the BNP sent any written rejoinder to The Washington Times.
The byline write-up, which appeared in the opinion section of the paper, drew huge public attention. At the bottom of the article, Khaleda was identified as former prime minister of Bangladesh and current leader of the opposition.
But Khaleda told the House on June 29: “I did not write it."