November 13, 2007

The World According to Barrister Mainul Hosein

Reaction to the demand to arrest cartoonist Arif "shut down Prothom Alo and arrest its editor and the editor of the Daily Star":

Reacting to the incident, Law Adviser Mainul Hosein yesterday called a meeting of select Islamic experts led by Baitul Mukarram Khatib Maulana Obaidul Haque.

Mainul informed the experts that the cartoonist has already been arrested and Prothom Alo authorities have also promised to take action.

"There is a conspiracy to create a dangerous and unwanted situation," Mainul said, adding, "Everyone has to remain united against the conspiracy to destablise the country."

On the demand to try war criminals:

Meanwhile, Law Adviser Mainul Hosein yesterday said some quarters are trying to obstruct the activities of the caretaker government by raising the issue of trial of the war criminals....

The caretaker government has the constitutional duty of holding a free and neutral election, but it has had to embark on a mission to establish good governance too, he said while addressing a briefing on Bangladesh Code, a compilation of all laws.

Asked if there is any international pressure for not trying the war criminals or if the government is afraid of Jamaat-e-Islami, Mainul said, "The caretaker government is not afraid...This is not the question of fear. This is the question of judgement, intelligence and wisdom.

"We are performing a very difficult duty but some politicians and others are trying to create obstructions by raising the issue now," he said.

In other words, arresting errant cartoonists lead to good governance. Putting on trial war criminals, who had worked against the country's national interest, leads to bad governance.

I gave him the benefit of the doubt when I saw that video clip of him with Jamaat leaders. Now I have to wonder aloud: why is the son of Manik Miah sheltering people who would have been anathema to his father and his father's ideology?

And even as I write another piece on the war criminals issue, I can't help but notice that the openly Awami League- leaning blogs (e.g Shuchinta) were silent on Nur Hossain's 20th death anniversary and the AL propaganda machine back home was low-key too. Surely his death became more salient than at any time in the last 16 years. Surely. That is because they are all wrapped up over the war criminals issue.

Now I'd like to see war criminals tried as much as the next sensible Bangladeshi. But there's a small fear inside me that Mainul Hosein could not possibly be so dumb as to under-estimate the importance of what he's saying and therefore is doing this deliberately to create more fury.

A small fear that all this is nothing but a smokescreen for something else (BNP being smashed out of recognition, Jamaat's entrance as the right-wing option, AL-CTG deal - let your imagination soar).

A small fear that once the need for the smokescreen is gone, the war criminals issue will be dead and buried, especially if the AL and the CTG reach some sort of deal.

A small fear that those of us who truly care for 1971 are being taken for a ride once again.


Unknown said...

As Mainul Hosein is the person setting the editorial policy, this should not surprise you too much:

Sets a tone for what you can expect, doesn't it?

DhakaShohor said...

Ittefaq is his mouthpiece. It's sad that they are printing this by-line. The hidden underlying assumption is that this issue is dear only to Awami Leaguers and not to Bangladeshis in general. Otherwise, how does saying, "Why didn't they try them?" makes no sense whatsoever. It is the duty of any patriotic Bangladeshi to try them. Sadly this is not the case.

The more interesting point is the interpretation of the "maximalist stance" of the current CTG. How much is too much? I've argued in this post that it is absurd for a government that imprisons a cartoonist and takes policy decisions to say that this is going too far. Expect more on that in another post.

I also noticed that ex-BOI chairman Mahbubur Rahman was quoted at a Jamaat-sponsored talk saying the same thing. How you interpret that I'd be interested.

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