Sheikh Hasina has done a lot for Bangladesh, has no reason to attack Yunus
JYOTI MALHOTRA: Bono and Richard Branson. Hillary Clinton and Sharon Stone. Al Gore and Narayana Murthy. Ban Ki-Moon and Vinod Khosla.
These names are part of a list of 40 global leaders who, in an open letter to Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, have expressed “deep concern” for the well-being of Bangladesh’s second-best-known citizen, Nobel Peace prize laureate Muhammad Yunus. The letter was published as a full-page ad in The Washington Post last week.
The best-known Bangladeshi, of course, is Hasina herself—and why not. Her sheer courage and resolve, in the face of the threat of physical annihilation as well as her refusal to kowtow to radical, powerful forces, makes her deserving of deep respect and admiration. I tip my metaphorical hat to her. If she ever wanted a place on my table, it would always be there.
So the question—three questions, actually—is why these 40 leaders felt it was important to make public their angst about the manner in which Yunus was being treated by the Sheikh Hasina government, why the defence was publicised as a paid advertisement, and why Yunus feels the government has been targeting him.
The so-called “attack” has been going on for more than a decade. But more on that in a minute. This latest defence of Yunus is remarkable of course because of the assemblage of personalities, but also because it is so direct.
It is “painful to see Prof Yunus, a man of impeccable integrity, and his life’s work unfairly attacked and repeatedly harassed and investigated by your government,” the letter reads.
So let’s get the most obvious question out of the way—Why a paid advert in The Washington Post defending Yunus? It’s simple. No newspaper worth its salt will give away precious space to what is essentially a lobbying exercise. The paper would have refused to be impressed by the celebrities signing the letter. They would have directed Clinton, Bono and Narayana Murthy toward the ad department. Pay up and publish, they would have said – smiling sweetly as they said it.
Which is exactly what these 40 global influencers did. So they put their money where their mouth is.
Remember, too, that elections in Bangladesh are scheduled for later this year. Hasina has been prime minister four times and, barring any unscheduled upset, she is well on her way to becoming PM for an unprecedented fifth term. (The Print)