Bangladesh Army Chief Moeen U Ahmed’s recent comment that the nation has failed to recognise ‘Father of nation’ – apparently referring to Late Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, may very well be viewed as his bias towards Sheikh Mujib and Awami League. It is also likely to be seen as an attempt to start the process of officially confer that title to him.  

I for one, also believe that it was not necessary to bring up this controversial issue in a speech on the auspicious  independence day of the nation as many Bangladeshis do not support the idea.

In his speech he goes out of the way by boasting – “After the proclamation of the state of emergency, I told the inspector general of police that I don’t want to see anybody doing any harm or torch a single garment factory.”  – referring to the recent declaration of emergency rule in Bangladesh.

“Have a look, because of this single instruction, nobody dared to do anything destructive even after two months,” he said.

In reality,  the official chain of command does not give Mr.Moeen the authority to give any  orders to the Inspector general of police.

By giving these type of statements, he will only undermine the legitimate authority(yes, the current government is legitimate and constitutional) of the interim government led by Dr.Fakhruddin Ahmed by giving an impression that there is a parallel government run by the Army Chief.
It is true that this government is backed by the defence forces, however, its public role should be limited to whatever is assigned to it by the interim government. Mr. Moeen Ahmed is not part of that government — he is the the Chief of army staff, whose job is to primarily defend the country from outside aggression. General Moeen is by no means the head of this government and he should stop projecting his power in speeches.

While in general, I agree with Mr. Moeen that Bangladesh politicians have so far divided the country rather than unite it, I do not agree with this idea of ‘Father of the Nation’. Isn’t ‘Bongobondhu’ – Friend of Bengalis- enough for him? Do Bangladeshis really need another official title for him?

With due respect, Sheikh Mujib is not the only leader in the history of Bangladesh — in fact, the very idea of an independent East Pakistan started with ‘Sher-e-Bangla’-Tiger of Bengal- Fazlul Haque, so should Bangladeshis have another title like ‘Grand Father of Nation’ for him?
I personally hold Late Moulana Bhashani in more esteem than any other national leaders  for his Gandhi-like qualities. He is also popularly known as Mozloom Jananeta – the leader of the oppressed – which I think sticks to his name to this day more naturally than any of the titles of the other leaders I mentioned above. Last but not least, What about General Ziaur Rahman? What title people of Bangladesh will give him for declaring independence of Bangladesh from Chittagong radio on that fateful day in 1971?

To sum it up, all of these leaders and many others, made their contributions to the emergence of Bangladesh as an independent nation. Sheikh Mujib united the Bengalis of then East Pakistan by his fiery speeches and I salute him for that but he is by no means the only great leader of Bangladesh and I am not ready to accept this idea of ‘Father of the Nation’ status for him.
Yes Mr. Moeen, let us give our leaders whatever is due to them but let us not promote personality cult and hero worshipping. Have you forgotten that General Ershad’s name is now synonymous with tyranny and corruption even though he took the title ‘Palli Bandhu’ – friend of villagers – during his tyrannical rule?

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