Jamaat feigned surprise, embarrassment at graft charge against BNP
New Age | Newspaper
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Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami amir Matiur Rahman Nizami was ‘surprised’ and ‘embarrassed’ by the corruption allegations made by the immediate past army-backed interim government against the Bangladesh Nationalist Party but had kept his judgement to himself until the legal process was completed in the court.
Nizami maintained a wait-and-see approach to the interim government and the fate of his former alliance partner, said a diplomatic cable sent to Washington by former US ambassador in Dhaka Patricia Butenis on June 17, 2007 and released by WikiLeaks on August 30 last.
The cable was dispatched after Butenis had made her farewell call on the Jamaat-e-Islami amir on June 12, 2007 in
a business room of Hotel Sonargaon.
Nizami in the meeting said his party had no ‘firsthand knowledge’ but had heard from the widespread rumour on the grapevine about the military efforts to organise a so-called king’s party. He, however, mentioned it nonchalantly that this country already had witnessed the military creating two such parties during the dictatorships of general Ayub Khan and general Ershad. ‘We wish success to this third party or else elections will be delayed,’ Nizami quipped.
According to the cable, Jamaat secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, who was also present in the meeting, interjected that his party members were too honest to be interested to join such a party [the king’s party]. ‘A new party with corrupt leaders is no threat to us,’ Mujahid was quoted in the cable as saying.
Nizami sought an improved relation with the West and the United States claiming that the US was one of their key development partners and they tried to maintain good relations with the US embassy in Dhaka. ‘America is one of our great development partners and we try to maintain good relations with the embassy,’ he said, adding, ‘As an Islamic party, we seek better relations with the Western world.’
The Jamaat amir, however, remained mum when asked about the violent activities of Jamaat-backed student organisation Islami Chhatra Shibir.
He, however, affirmed his party’s commitment to the policy of holding dialogues to resolve any international or national dispute.
Nizami endorsed the ambassador’s observation that Bangladeshis want political reforms, saying ‘small’ parties like their own would benefit from an end to savagery and illicit campaign financing.
Asked what a JI-ruled Bangladesh would look like, Nizami said, ‘We are practical. We know that in the near future we won’t form the government. So, now we are working for democracy and development in the country. If people develop trust in what we do then we will see what happens next.’
Butenis commented, ‘Nizami stuck to the JI’s well-rehearsed message of democracy, dialogue, and moderation. His linking the concept of a king’s party to the discredited Ayub Khan and General Ershad indicates he does not see it as a substitute for his busted relationship with the BNP.’