He is not what he pretends to be

Published : 17 Jun 2022 08:32 PM | Updated : 18 Jun 2022 12:36 AM
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There is a man who always pretends to be someone big, but actually he is not. He loves to be identified as a democrat and a famous jurist of the country. But he has proved that he is neither a democrat nor a legal expert. In his entire political life, he never contributed to the flourishing of democracy; rather some of his acts pushed democracy far away from where it should have been.

It came as a shock during  infamous 1/11 and the era of de-politicisation by the military-installed caretaker administration. We witnessed in shock and horror as Dr. Kamal, like many others in our so-called civil society, rather than take a conscientious position to this unconstitutional and undemocratic rule, provided it legitimacy by speaking in its favour and against the political parties.

Yes, our politics needed reforms then, as it does now. It is a continuous process of change and improvement. But that will never be achieved sustainably at the barrel of a gun. And that is exactly what 

1/11 was.

Politically conscious people know that he was instrumental in bringing military dictator General HM Ershad to power in 1982 coup by overthrowing elected president Abdus Sattar. Not only that, he did everything possible to keep General Ershad in power and legalize it.

When the people of Bangladesh irrespective of their party affiliation waged a strong movement against foreign oil company Scimitar Exploration Ltd, this man was the convener of the national committee against Scimitar. Cashing in on the position, he became the legal adviser of Scimitar at that time to make a mint forgetting national interest. Most interestingly, people of Bangladesh saw that he never won a legal battle in 

his life.

The person is none other than Dr Kamal Hossain, the leader of Gano Forum.

 Like Dr Kamal himself, his followers love to dub him an eminent jurist, architect of 1972 Constitution, and all else that brings alive his links to the 1971 Great Liberation War or the years that followed. 

 But when someone points to his present and asks him how could once Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's close associate gang up with the BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami to further his political ambitions, the brigade seemingly run out of temper. 

 A good question is half the answer. Lawyers and journalists, police and intelligentsia all know that.

 In December 2018, as Kamal Hossain reached the Shaheed Minar to pay floral tribute to martyred intellectuals, he was asked about how he could agree to be an important part the BNP-Jamaat led opposition alliance. This question focusing on his political morality drove him to considerable fury.

 “…How much have you been paid to ask such questions? Who paid you? Shut up,” thundered Kamal Hossain in a flat attack on journalists asking such questions.

 Some articles in Indian media outlets describing Kamal Hossain as a 'pro-Pakistan leader' are understood to have driven his brigade into blinding fury.

An angry man is usually someone who has been exposed.

 Kamal Hossain, a veteran of the Liberation War, stands

 exposed because his lust for power has driven him to the arms

 of those who, at every step, seek to 

undermine the values of Bangladesh’s Liberation War

 The pro-Kamal social media brigade has attacked those outlets for defaming Kamal Hossain. They point to those outlets being full of praise of Kamal Hossain in the 1980s. 

 But to the brigade, there is no conflict of interest when the British son-in-law of Dr Kamal also earned the tag of ‘siding with war criminals’ by pro-liberation forces back in the time of war 

crimes trial.

 No wonder he continues to carry an offshore portal, funded by the National Endowment of Democracy (NED) of the US. The NED's role in regime change operations of US Intelligence is well documented by experts like Jeff Richelson in his magnum opus "US Intelligence Community ".

 Well in the 1970s, Kamal Hossain was with the party that led the Liberation War and upheld its noble virtues. In 2018, he was leading the pro-Pakistan Islamist opposition, in which Kamal's Gano Forum was just a lamp post and where BNP and Jamaat called the shots কas a total of 22 candidates from Jamaat took part in the election from the alliance of Dr Kamal. Now even a brilliant lawyer like Kamal Hossain cannot change colours or seasons just by strength of argument, by the gift of the gab. So he cannot make Jamaat, who sided with the Pakistan army in 1971 and perpetrated unimaginable brutalities on Bengalis, a liberal democratic party.

 If Kamal Hossain gangs up with the BNP and Jamaat, is it wrong to describe him as a 'pro-Pakistan leader'?  

But the furious attack on the Dhaka stringer of 'India Today' proves the description of Kamal Hossain, like the questions thrown at him at Shaheed Minar in Dec 2018, had hit the bull’s-eye.  

 An angry man is usually someone who has been exposed. Kamal Hossain, a veteran of the Liberation War, stands exposed because his lust for power has driven him to the arms of those who, at every step, seek to undermine the values of Bangladesh’s Liberation War.

 Like the controversial micro-credit guru Muhammad Yunus, Kamal Hossain floated a party at the behest of Western patrons who seek regime change in Bangladesh but do not want to seen as backing the Islamist ecosystem.

 Both Yunus and Kamal are seen as useful by the West because they can be placed at the top of a new dispensation and projected as liberal and acceptable, though in reality, the BNP and Jamaat will pull the strings. 

 The West is keen on regime change but needs acceptable faces to lead the opposition.  That helps -- or so would some believe leaders like Kamal or Yunus to float new parties with no mass base but still emerge at the top of the heap.

 But Yunus -- or the party floated by him -- sank without a trace. It could have thrived with military backing but flopped when the Bangladesh Army decided to distance itself from politics and emerge as a professional force. So he shamelessly goes back on his past and jumps in to lead the Jamaat-BNP bandwagon.

 Yunus did not have the baggage of the past that Kamal has. So when his role in the 1970s is held up against him and questions are asked about his present role, he flies into rage. As they say in Bangla, no crime if you shit, but a huge problem if that is seen. 

The writer is an Associate Professor, Dept of Mass Communication and Journalism, Begum Rokeya 

University, Rangpur