History always tells the truth. The history of yesterday guides us today. Today’s history guides us to consolidate our tomorrow. I have been reading, with great care the story published under the byline written by Lawrence Lifschultz, both in the Daily Star and the Bangla Daily Prothom Alo. I also read the response of Eugene Boster Jr. and Lawrence Lifschultz's subsequent reply.
I was in Geneva when Eugene Davis Boster was appointed the first US Ambassador to Bangladesh in 1974. He was attached to the Office of the US Arms Control Bureau in Geneva. I had met several times before his posting to Dhaka. I invited him to dinner to the Bangladesh residence with his wife, Mary, before his departure for Dhaka. He wanted to be briefed about the present situation in the country, particularly the situation of national security. At the dinner he asked about the Soviet Naval presence in Chittagong ports. He expressed his fear that the Soviet Union may be using Chittagong as a springboard for further military presence in Bangladesh. I assured him that the chances of his fears being realized were totally negative and told him that before the Soviet Union, the government of Bangladesh called an international tender for clearing the ports, which were clogged with ships and vessels docked prior to and during the war (most of them were Pakistani ships and some were foreign ships). I also informed him that I had approached the UNDP concerning the same issue and they expressed their inability to take the job. Here I want to mention that two of the first UNDP representatives, Mr. Tony Hagen and Mr. Victor Umbricht who had come to Dhaka on my recommendation (the UNDP office was known as the Dhaka office of the UNDP at the time). Therefore, the government asked me to know if the UNDP could at all be of any assistance to the situation in Bangladesh. I checked with the head office in New York, and after a conversation with Peter Peterson, a successful banker who spearheaded the Bank of America, I was unmistakably told of the organization's inability at that moment to do the job.
It was during the 1973 UNDP meeting in Geneva, where an IPF of 36 million dollars was divided equally between Bangladesh and Pakistan. The Gulf States including Turkey, all close friends of Pakistan opposed to the creation of Bangladesh. It was the American lobbying for Bangladesh by Peter Peterson and the head of the American team, Yuri Zarogin, that the Bangladesh resolution was adopted with a good majority. There, my Pakistani counterpart, Ambassador Naiznaik, who was my DG in Islamabad remarked, "Allocation of money to the authority of Dhaka is like turning a sharp knife on the back of Pakistan."After the UNDP Dhaka operation was completed, the first UNDP representative was sent to Dhaka, the gentleman mentioned above, Yuri Zarogin. He had been my original recommendation to the government of Bangladesh.
When I explained our past attempts to persuade the UNDP to assist Bangladesh, then only did the Soviet Union offer to assist in clearing the port of Chittagong, was accepted. The Soviets had much experience in naval ship clearances in Rotterdam and St. Petersburg after the Second World War.
Ambassador Boster reported our exchange to the State Department and the White House. Later, I believe he had also consulted and confirmed with Peter Peterson what I had previously told him, that the UNDP was not equipped to deal with the situation in Bangladesh.
I arrived in Dhaka after completing my sabbatical in Oxford on August 7th 1975. As Head of the mission in Geneva I gave a farewell reception before my return in honor of my friends who had helped Bangladesh during the war of Independence, in particular a pro-Bangla group headed by the socialist MP Professor Jean Ziegler. In Dhaka, I had my first call on Boster around 8/9 August, 1975. I again contacted him on the 16th August, 1975. He asked me to call him the day after. When I met him, I asked him about the events of August 15th. He informed me that there was "some dissatisfaction in the party of the Prime Minister and some members of the Army may be involved in taking some action, the full nature of which I am not aware of.”
He continued. "Some officers of some agencies in the US Embassy had informed me of their contacts with the Army and some civilians. I clearly directed these officers to keep their hands off regarding anything of that kind in Bangladesh!"
When I read about the meeting of Lipschultz with Ambassador Boster in Mexico, I was reminded of my few meetings with Boster and Lipschultz only corroborates what I was told by Boster. I also met Boster later on several times. In those traumatic days I had forgotten to keep a proper diary. He had expressed his grief and sadness with the events of the 15th of August. And I also reminded him of our last conversation in Geneva, when I came down to see him off. "Please look after our poor Bangladesh, particularly our leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He had then responded, "Don't worry, whatever may have happened during the period prior to the war, our policy in Bangladesh is totally devoted to humanitarian support and to help this devastated country to recover."
I trusted him because I found him to be a man of goodwill for Bangladesh. He felt very sad regarding the destruction of the country during the war. He even compared it, remotely, to the Civil War in America. But he also remarked, the Civil War, however, destructive did not kill so many people as in Bangladesh.
I briefed Boster of my conversation with Sheikh Mujib on the 14th of August night where he had asked me to read the Swiss constitution, which had attracted him originally in 1972, during his first visit to Geneva. I read a part in 1973 again in Geneva when he was there for the First Bangladesh Envoys Conference. It was a short visit, I read loudly another part on the night of 14th August. Booster asked me how he thought about the situation that night. I replied that he looked rather tired, but confident. Having been in Dhaka only seven days before that fateful day, I could not grasp the dimension of the conspiracy that was being hatched in the 15th August, 1977, I told him.
I had lunch with Boster sometime later, prior to his departure. When he left Dhaka he looked a very sad man, so did his wife Mary, who regretted they could not give a dinner for me because of the situation in the country. It is interesting to note that although the US did not recognize Bangladesh until 1974, the Humanitarian aid from the US was the largest in the world. The first relief flight was in 1972, soon after the Independence by a fellow named Max Rubb whom I found later as my counterpart in Rome in 1987. Earlier he was the treasurer of the Republican party, with roaring legal procedure in New York. The American Embassy in Rome was opposite the Chancellery of Bangladesh Via Bartolome. I used to meet him quite frequently with his wife Ruth. On one occasion, I asked him about the events of 1975. He in turn had corroborated what Boster said, "I am a Republican." “And, so we shall allow any such situation to take place in Bangladesh. I know it for certain, that excepting for a few Agency members, the U.S. Ambassador did not play any role during the tragic events of August 15, 1975.
I read with interest the letter of Boster Jr. I fully understand his anguish. I am sure from the clarification of Lipschultz, Mr. Boster Jr. will realize that his father was a gentleman, and he had nothing to do with 1975 events. If anything, he may have tried to prevent it, but did not succeed.
I know this story may cause unhappiness amongst some but as is written in the first sentence of this piece, history never lies. The truth will be upheld. The trail of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib did commence but could not be finished for reasons beyond our control. One day justice will be done to the perpetrators of the heinous crime. I have no doubt.
I very often read the history of Cromwell, who had been hanged symbolically, his skeleton sprawled before the House of Commons on charge of regicide. His body was reburied in the same place, on the same day. That is justice. Rule of Law has a peculiar presidency to assert itself today or tomorrow. And in this case, I strongly believe justice will be done, someday some time.
The high court judgment on the 5th amendment tentatively goes a long way to prove the point. It is not for any political party; it is for all humanity I speak. I mourn the death of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib and his entire family and the liberation leaders in Dhaka Central Jail. I also mourn the assassination of president Ziaur Rahaman, Khaled Musharraf and many others during those fateful days following the 1975 murders in many cases – but the perpetrator will sure face justice today or tomorrow.
(Waliur Rahman Author and Founder Chairman, Bangladesh Heritage Foundation. This article was first published in Dhaka Courier)
The Kashmir takeover/ status quo cancellation/ending terrorist attacks move etc. was largely inevitable at this point of time as two Indian elite class battle it out within. One is trying to regain supremacy, the other to consolidate. The colonial elite led by Indian National Congress (INC) has been largely routed and the pre-colonial/indigenous elite led by the BJP is close to home after two consecutive electoral victories. BJP is much more popular than all others and even the traditional zones have fallen to the BJP chariot’s charge.
Historical relations with 1947
The INC accepts the construction of 1947 with qualifications though while the BJP rejects it, both using it for their own political benefit. The INC was party to making the 1947 so it can’t be denied by them but it fought hard to prevent the birth of Pakistan. Congress was also a party to the partition of Bengal to suit its “one India” ideology. It prevented the success of the “United Bengal Movement” jointly led by both Bengal Congress and Bengal Muslim League. However, under colonial rule, this was the limit of their resistance and India under Congress had to wait after 1947 before the “Kashmir” issue could become a sustainable hostility product. The consequent wars that began in 1947-48 continues even today.
India’s political identity is linked to this “One India” = dismantle 1947 syndrome which under Congress reached its peak in 1971. Its critical support to the Bangladesh movement in 1971, led to the end of the “Pakistan” of 1947. In effect, the current “Pakistan” was born the day Bangladesh celebrates Victory, 16th December 1971.
But the Congress also was unable to deal with the rising aspiration of the middle and lower classes within India which led to its own loss of power and the rise of BJP. Today this party is on the chase to end the leftovers of 1947 as far as possible.
The war that colonialism bred
India under Congress became a nuclear power but so did Pakistan making a conclusive conventional war between the two a remote possibility. The fact was a deterrent to large scale wars which allowed Pakistan to invest more in insurgency emanating from the Kashmir zone. Pakistan has taken advantage of the situation. The area is a clustering of not so happy people which is indicated by the special status it enjoyed till ended recently.
However, the insurgency is seen as a weakness in India by many including those who support BJP. Given the limited options available, India has made incursions, strikes, forays etc. and sold it as “punishment’ to Pakistan to the domestic scene. It has worked but as India grows more confident, election votes become larger and economy grows, more is needed to satisfy that hunger. The withdrawal of the constitutional arrangement for Kashmir within the Indian Union was inevitable as the 1947 dismantling project needs new actions. India’s colonial past is roughly heading towards an ending.
End of rule of law?
Colonialism’s great contribution to feudal India is governance by the rule of law. Colonialism also wasn’t majoritarian as the colonizer’s were themselves a minority hence the rule of law. Choosing to be with one side was not possible as they themselves were the third side, not part of either. They patronized one or the other to suit its need. So it was even handed as far as the colonized people were concerned. This changed once the colonizers left and the conflicts that was already impacting on Indian politics as evidenced by 1947 continued.
It was most pronounced in Pakistan where the “majority” became an “idea’ rather than demographic concept which made the “Centre” – Islamabad /Karachi- the core of a nation/country. The Kashmir wars reaffirmed that status and gave the military of Pakistan the protector’s role of that concept. It made Bangladesh genocide of 1971 possible to protect Kashmir, the military’s control and ultimately Pakistan.
India had played a better game on this side of the border and allowed the military led governance model of Pakistan to collapse which did in 1971. Its half the job was done. The rest now was the ending of the “real’ Pakistan. However, the nuclear arming has weakened that possibility but the aspiration and political potential of using that sentiment to gain politically remains. Hence the cancellation of status and what happens now till something better turns up.
Is China the guarantor of Pakistan now?
India’s worry is not Pakistan but China who control’s many of the fringes of India including the territory over which both fought a war in 1962. Whether India did a deal with China on Aksai Chin before the Kashmir status cancellation – as reported by media- is not certain but Pakistan certainly doesn’t matter in the issue much. China is Pakistan’s guarantor now not its army and 20% of Kashmir is claimed by them so the limits of India’s objective setting are also set.
Till date no credible facts or analysis has been made as to why the step India took was so necessary. After all, no threat existed in India which needed immediate attention of distraction. It has no contest with a political group either. And to make a volatile zone more angry and requiring more investment in its security future will be a costly in resource and energy terms.
India has also threatened to abandon its nuclear “no- firs-t strike” policy which is aimed against Pakistan. This shows that the only country against which it can be used is suffocating its options. However, it will be globally unpopular and Pakistan may also be ready to strike back. Right now unlike 1971, India has no protector or patron like Russia was either. It has to foot history alone.
And this is where China comes in even more. It won’t like its protégé nuclear bomb and China matters globally. It’s the only global power that has ever challenged US in every sphere of life including economics. And China as report says is worried that the conflict may not be fully be under either side’s control. China is thinking only of its own problems.
Has India lost the region?
India’s actions have made everyone become suspicious of India’s future intentions. This is a great opportunity for China, hurting a bit from its “dept trap” criticism. It will find a better environ for selling BRI better in the region. China’s supremacy is probably far easier now and India will have contributed.
China may now assure an anxious Pakistan militarily more robustly and given its investment and stake its given. This may force India to be more cautious and that may impact on its domestic audience. Finally, insurgency actions may increase if the belligerence grows. Global interest in Indo-Pak relations is low and that means it’s a local affair. Who cares therefore about Kashmir? None in general but...
Unfortunately for India, a global power is directly involved in the issue who has become a player. China now cares. And China is next door.
Elites in power switch and India has seen a series. Pre-colonials were of one kind – Turko -Afghans/Muslims - followed by the colonials whose descendant the Congress was. Now a more indigenous pre-colonial Hindu variety is in power. How this elite functions in a multi-cultural majoritarian faith dominated state in which a world power like China has become linked to is not easy to predict.
(This article was first published in Dhaka Courier)
Beijing, June 5 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to sit down with his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump, on the sidelines of the Group of 20 (G20) summit in the Japanese city of Osaka, igniting a flicker of hope to bring the China-U.S. trade talks back on track.
The meeting arrives at a time when Washington's trade offensive against China is not only poisoning one of the world's most important bilateral relationships, but also risking throttling the already frail global economic recovery. Its significance is thus too great to miss.
When the two presidents met each other at last year's G20 summit in Argentina's capital city of Buenos Aires, they reached an important consensus to pause the trade confrontation and resume talks. Since then, negotiating teams on both sides have held seven rounds of consultations in search for an early settlement.
However, China's utmost sincerity demonstrated over the months seems to have only prompted some trade hawks in Washington to press for their luck.
Following its failure to coerce Beijing into swallowing a deal with unequal terms, a disappointed and enraged Washington returned to its tactic of tariffs by raising additional levies on 200 billion U.S. dollars' worth of Chinese goods from 10 percent to 25 percent, and threatening a new round of tariff hikes on another 300 billion dollars' worth of goods.
Some ultra-conservative U.S. decision-makers, who have for many years seen in China a "threat" to Washington's sole superpower status, have tried to extend the trade campaign into a broader operation to shut China out and contain its rise.
As a result, Washington is cracking down on Chinese high-tech companies including telecom equipment provider Huawei, while many Chinese students seeking to study in the United States are facing more restrictions like months-long visa delay.
Thanks to Washington's relentless efforts, the two countries, which should have celebrated the 40th anniversary of their diplomatic ties this year, are seeing their relations slipping down the path to a possible all-out confrontation.
Despite Washington's "in-your-face" style of maximum pressure strategy, China has been steadfastly consistent in its position. It has always been committed to settling trade frictions via dialogue and consultation and safeguarding its legitimate and sovereign rights at the same time.
Beijing, as it has on various occasions reaffirmed, does not want a trade war, but is not afraid of one, and will fight to the end if necessary.
Last week, Xi had a telephone conversation with Trump at the request of the U.S. leader, saying that he stands ready to meet Trump in Osaka to exchange views on fundamental issues concerning the development of China-U.S. relations.
Xi's words reflect an alarming fact that the two countries are facing a challenge to the fundamentals of their relationship. The upcoming Xi-Trump meeting provides a unique opportunity for the two sides to find new common ground in easing trade tensions and bring the troubled ties back onto the right track.
If the two sides can reach an agreement to pick up the talks, the United States needs to place itself on an equal footing with China, and accommodate China's legitimate concerns on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit in order to seek win-win results in the future negotiations.
Just one day ahead of the Osaka G20 summit, some U.S. politician again threatened to slap punitive levies on imported Chinese goods. Such cheap tactics to bring China down to its knees with pressure will get nowhere.
For more than a year, Washington's spoils in its tariff campaign have so far only seen rising daily costs for ordinary American consumers, growing rejections from U.S. farmers, industry workers and business leaders, roller-coaster rides in U.S. stock markets, as well as China's increasingly stronger determination to defend its rights.
The trade fight between the world's two largest economies has already hit hard the global market and dented investors' confidence worldwide. The latest World Trade Outlook Indicator reading of 96.3 remains at the weakest level since 2010, signaling continued falling trade growth in the first half of 2019, according to the World Trade Organization.
Trade wars produce no winner. In his latest telephone talk with Xi, Trump said he believes the entire world hopes to see the United States and China reach an agreement. To get an agreement, Washington's hardliners need to know that Beijing will neither surrender to their pressure, nor permit Washington to deprive Chinese people of their rights to pursue a better life.
And for the agreement to be sustainable, Washington's China policy should be rational. A rising China is not seeking to grab global hegemony. It will continue to work with nations around the world, including the United States, to boost common development and build a community with a shared future for mankind.
The past 40 years of China-U.S. relationship have proved that when the two countries work together, they both win and the world gains as well. But when they fight each other, all are poised to lose.
China and the United States, as two major economies in the international community, bear special responsibility for the wider world.
Therefore, the two sides, just as what Xi said during his meeting with The Elders delegation this April in Beijing, need to manage their differences, expand cooperation and jointly promote bilateral relations based on coordination, cooperation and stability so as to provide more stable and expectable factors to the world.
Beijing, June 5 (Xinhua/UNB) -- The Group of 20 (G20) rose to prominence in 2008 when leaders of the world's 20 leading economies gathered for the first time amid fear and panic of a global financial crash arising from Wall Street.
Through multilateral cooperation, they have helped get a beleaguered world economy out of the woods and bring it onto the track for recovery.
While the global economic recovery remains fragile, it now encounters a surge of anti-free trade rhetoric and protectionist measures that threatens to upend the rules-based multilateral trading regime.
As G20 leaders are gathering in the Japanese city of Osaka this week to discuss global economic governance, they face an urgent task to prevent world economy from being derailed by protectionism and unilateralism.
To that end, the G20 Osaka summit needs to send a clear and strong message in upholding multilateralism and an open world economy in a bid to renew global confidence in trade liberalization and economic globalization.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the G20 mechanism as well as the 10th anniversary of its emergence as the premier platform for international economic cooperation.
Unlike the Group of Seven, an exclusive club of highly industrialized wealthy countries, the G20 brings together both major developed countries and developing ones for international coordination of economic policies.
This broader and more representative grouping, which accounts for about 85 percent of the gross world product, 80 percent of world trade and two-thirds of the world population, epitomizes the very spirit of multilateralism.
In addition, given the fact that its member states range from developed countries to emerging market countries on different continents, the G20 relies on the principle of consensus, a key manifestation of multilateralism, for its success.
China has been a firm and resolute supporter of multilateralism. As Chinese President Xi Jinping said in March at a global governance forum co-hosted by China and France in Paris, global affairs should be settled by the peoples of the world through consultation.
As the increasing trade frictions risk dragging global economy back into crisis, the G20 members need to follow its traditional principle of a consensus-based approach to properly handle differences and fully accommodate the legitimate concerns of developing countries.
Another lesson the group has drawn from coping with the 2008 global financial meltdown is that they need to jointly promote a more open world economy, which is also needed to boost growth worldwide.
Over the past 30 years, the share of free trade in the global GDP has risen from 17 percent in 1990 to 28 percent in 2016. This growth has helped support economic growth and poverty alleviation across the globe.
At present, a certain country within the G20 resorts to such tactics as raising tariffs and threatening trade wars to make its trading partners knuckle under to unreasonable demands.
Such unilateral bullying bears potentially devastating consequences for global prosperity and runs counter to the spirit of multilateral cooperation and openness historically advocated by the G20.
The global trading system with the World Trade Organization (WTO) at the core is standing at a new crossroads as it is facing assaults by unilateralism and protectionism.
China has, on many occasions, reaffirmed its support for the necessary reform to the WTO to enhance its authority and effectiveness, in stark contrast with a certain country, which has been undermining WTO's effective running.
Beijing has been a staunch defender of the rules-based global trading system, as its active embrace of global rules along with its opening-up policy over the past 40 years has helped China achieve staggering economic development.
Only by opening up further and being integrated more deeply into the world can China make even greater strides in achieving high-quality economic development.
Recently, China has unveiled and pledged its earnest endeavor to implement a slew of new opening-up measures, including significantly easing market access, creating a more attractive investment environment, strengthening protection of intellectual property rights and expanding imports.
Along with the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative, all these measures reflect China's determination to open up wider and make greater contributions to an open world economy.
As China goes forward to fulfill its promises to the world, it stands ready to support multilateralism and uphold the multilateral trading system. For the sake of the wellbeing of all humanity, multilateralism is a must rather than an option.
Seoul, June 7 (Xinhua/UNB) -- Top Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Friday wrapped up his widely-watched state visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the first of its kind in 14 years, bringing bilateral ties to a new height in history and reaffirming China's commitment to a political settlement of the Korean Peninsula issue.
The landmark visit has sent a clear message to the rest of the world: the China-DPRK traditional friendship has been ushered in a new era and the stronger-than-ever bilateral bonds will provide new impetus for addressing the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.
During his state visit, Xi, general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Chinese president, met with Kim Jong Un, chairman of the Workers' Party of Korea and chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK, for the fifth time over the past 15 months.
The meeting is expected to open up a fresh chapter for advancing bilateral relations under new circumstances and carrying forward the unshakable friendship between the two peoples.
Xi's two-day visit to Pyongyang received hearty hospitality from the DPRK side. More than 250,000 people flocked to the streets in Pyongyang to welcome Xi.
At the square of the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun which serves as a mausoleum honoring two former DPRK leaders, Xi received a salute from the DPRK's party and government officials as well as crowds of Pyongyang residents, making him the first foreign leader to be given such an honor at the highly symbolic venue.
The extraordinarily high-level reception once again showcased the close bonds between China and the DPRK. As Xi wrote in a signed article published ahead of his trip on Rodong Sinmun, the DPRK's mainstream newspaper, the time-honored friendship between the two peoples, which is more precious than gold, grows even stronger as time goes by.
More than a chance to look back on and consolidate 70 years of China-DPRK traditional friendship, Xi's visit offers an opportunity to inject more vitality into the traditional and cooperative relations and lift bilateral ties to a higher level, as the international landscape is going through profound and complex changes.
What's more, enhancing strategic communication and building closer ties between Beijing and Pyongyang not only accord with the interests of the two countries, but will, in a larger picture, contribute to regional peace, stability and prosperity.
As Xi stressed in his talks with Kim, China is willing to strengthen coordination and cooperation with the DPRK as well as other relevant parties, and play a positive and constructive role in achieving denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and long-term stability in the region.
The denuclearization process has seemingly faced a stalemate since the summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump in Hanoi, Vietnam, ended without an agreement four months ago.
During their talks, Kim told Xi that over the past year, the DPRK has taken many active measures to avoid tensions and control the situation on the Korean Peninsula, but has not received positive responses from the party concerned, which the DPRK does not want to see.
Fortunately, resolving the highly sensitive and complex issue through negotiations has not veered off course.
China, for its part, has always been a strong supporter of a political settlement of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and has advocated accommodating the reasonable concerns of all relevant parties through dialogue and consultations.
Better coordination between China and the DPRK will facilitate that ongoing process and help provide more positive force, pushing forward dialogue among parties concerned.
A peaceful and nuclear-free Korean Peninsula is what the international community desires. It is expected by all that a brand new chapter in the China-DPRK relations on the occasion of Xi's historic visit can also gather more momentum for dialogue and possibly greater progress on the Korean Peninsula issue.