Khaleda failed by saving 'corrupt' son Her top aide confided to ex-US envoy Dr. Kamaluddin Siddiqui
July 18, 2013 at 10:47pm
Khaleda failed by saving 'corrupt' sonHer top aide confided to ex-US envoy Dr. Kamaluddin Siddiqui, principal secretary to former prime minister Khaleda Zia, in early 2005 told Harry K Thomas, the then US ambassador to Bangladesh, that Khaleda's biggest political failure was to protect her corrupt son Tarique Rahman."He [Siddiqui] described PM Zia's indulgence and protection of her corrupt son as her biggest political failure," said a cable that WikiLeaks, an anti-secrecy organisation, leaked on August 30.During a 40-minute meeting with Siddiqui on March 13, 2005, the US ambassador told Siddiqui that Tarique's request via confidants for having meetings with senior US government officials in Washington could not be accommodated for protocol and other reasons.Siddiqui wholeheartedly agreed and said, "Dynastic politics are not good for a nascent democracy."Tarique Rahman has been accused in 15 cases -- eight for extortion, three for graft, two for links with the August 21 grenade attack, one for money laundering and another for tax evasion.Tarique held sway on Hawa Bhaban, political office of the then premier Khaleda Zia, which was widely considered as an alternative power centre during the tenure of the previous BNP-led coalition government.In the meeting with the US envoy, Siddiqui said US pressure and the World Bank meeting on Bangladesh in Washington had finally convinced Khaleda to stop protecting BNP lawmakers in Rajshahi region and arrest the "gangsters" of Jama'atul Mujahideen Bangladesh for the sake of Bangladesh's global image.
JMB, a banned Islamist outfit founded in 1998, and its leaders Abdur Rahman and Bangla Bhai gained nationwide notoriety for terrorist activities between 2001 and 2005. However, the then government had been in denial in initial years of JMB's operation and said "Bangla Bhai is a creation of the media." Later, the kingpins of the banned outfit were captured and executed in 2007.Siddiqui said, "That's the problem with this BNP government� It only acts under pressure, so it doesn't get the credit it deserves for doing what it should have done months ago."The trial of the murder of SAMS Kibria, former finance minister and Awami League leader, figured prominently in the meeting held barely a month and a half after the killing of Kibria in a grenade attack in Habiganj on January 27, 2005.
Siddiqui even referred to the then prime minister's political secretary Harris Chowdhury when the ambassador enquired about the media speculation that an insider of the Prime Minister's Office had links to the local BNP leaders charged with the grenade attack. Referring to Harris, he asked whether the US envoy wanted him to name the person, who is from Sylhet and "is a problem." Siddiqui told Thomas that sustained US pressure on Bangladesh government was essential to bring Kibria's killers to justice. The principal secretary also indicated that Mir Nasiruddin, the then state minister for civil aviation, wanted a bribe to decide on whether state-run airline Biman should buy Boeing or Airbus. Siddiqui said he had declined to meet a Boeing official, who was to visit Dhaka the next week (March 2005), as there was no need for Boeing "to preach to the converted." The principal secretary said he supported Biman's purchase of Boeing aircraft, and would press the reluctant state minister underscoring the political and commercial benefits of choosing Boeing. He indicated that the state minister's desire for a bribe was one of the factors behind the delay in deciding on the issue.