TERRORISM CRUSHES TOURISM
Last month, I had been there in Dhaka for more than a week and every moment was a moment of learning. When I was looking across the windows of my car at the sky-kissing buildings on the jam-packed roads of Dhaka, a saying of Bill Gates kept on resounding in my ears, \”I always failed in exams but my class fellows always topped. Now the toppers of my class are employed in my company.\” No doubt that great hustle and bustle and the lively hue and cry was a proof that I was somewhere in a land which is destined to be world’s tomorrow. The most important thing I learnt there was that tourism is the main source of bringing prosperity to a country; and Bangladesh is certainly very much fertile in this respect. I also concluded that terrorism and tourism never go side by side; the presence of so many tourists in the streets of Dhaka indicated to me that Bangladesh is a land still safe from the menace of terrorism.
Before embarking on my journey to Bangladesh I had an impression; no doubt a false impression that people of Bangladesh have unfathomable distances and differences with the people of Pakistan but altogether different were the on-ground realities; just opposite to the impression that I had had. Wherever, whenever I got a chance of interaction with the Bengali youngsters, I was received with passionate smiles and ardent hugs. We like Pakistan; Pakistan is an Islamic nuclear country; these were the words that always welcomed me. If I am asked to comment on the relationship between the two nations, I would put the people of Bangladesh into two different categories; those who are above forty-five and those who are below forty-five. The above ones are less in number and have some reservations regarding Pakistan but these reservations cannot be named as hatred. Whereas the below ones, I mean the youngsters, have all their hearts for Pakistan. But one thing is common between both the categories; a strong disliking for India.
It is something very strange that in the streets of Dhaka from motorbikes to busses and from insurance companies to the household machinery; one finds India everywhere but the situation is altogether different when one peeps into the hearts of the Bangladeshi people; there is no India. And the episodes like that of Habibur Rehman who was brutally tortured by the Indian Border Security Forces somewhere in the month of January 2012 add more to this hatred. Even after four months, the newspapers of Bangladesh are replete with the articles full of rage and protest against this inhuman incident. That time I was in Islamabad when I had a chance of watching the video clip of this brutality and to tell you the truth I was so horrified and frightened that I could not bear to watch it till end. I thought that the BSF soldiers would shoot Habibur Rehman at the end and I had no courage to see a man dying. Thanx to Ishtiaq Hassan, the press counselor at Bangladesh High Commission Islamabad who offered me some newspapers from Bangladesh to go through when I was there in his office, waiting for my visa to be processed. Through those newspapers I came to know that Habibur Rehman had somehow escaped from the brutal clutches of those villains of Indian BSF. Maltreatment with Habibur Rehman is not the only example of Indian brutality against the people of Bangladesh. There are so many other examples also, more heartrending and more frightening. The killing of Felani, a 15 years old Bangladeshi girl is also one of such terrible incidents. It was 7th of January, 2011 when she was returning to Bangladesh with her father from Nayadilli, India. Since there was no proper place of crossing the Bangladesh and Indian border, the father and the daughter managed to go across the barbed wire boundary using a ladder. Unfortunately Felani’s clothes got entangled in the wire and she started screaming for help. In response to her call for help, the BSF members started shooting at her mercilessly and just in next fifteen minutes she was no more in this world. Such inhuman and callous incidents are a part of routine at the Bangladesh-Indian border. The people of Bangladesh are so helpless that they could do nothing but raise slogans of dissent and protest against these atrocities. But on the other hand, it is something very much appraisable that in spite of all these hindrances and hurdles, Bangladesh is making progress by leaps and bounds in every field of life but it is also a fact that for its neighbouring countries like India this progress and success is very much difficult to be accepted and digested. In such a critical situation Bangladesh needs brother-like friends. Pakistan and Bangladesh are two brothers who have the same blood running through their veins, they follow the same religious and cultural philosophies, they have the same point of view and no doubt the list of their friends and foes comprises of the same names. Whatever happened there in 1971 was nothing but a long story of conspiracies these two brothers had fallen a prey to but now that story is simply buried somewhere in the pages of history. Division and distance are two different realities. It is not necessary that division always results in distances. Sometimes the past becomes a sin and successful are those who learn a lot from their past. Pakistan and Bangladesh must try to look forward instead of repenting and lamenting over the past. Both the countries need a sincere effort for a brilliant present and an honest struggle for a better future. An air of coordination and harmony would be in the larger interest of both the nations.