Remembering Bhashani, Bhola and Political Possibilities

37 solar cycles ago Abdul Hamid Khan Bhashani returned to his maker after a long political career struggling for social justice through British Occupied India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

45 years and 5 days ago the south of what is now Bangladesh was struck by a Cyclone which devastated communities and killed hundreds of thousands of people.

Allahumma grant them high station and us the collective wisdom and resources to fortify our communities with justice.

The 24 minute UK documentary below centres a team of British Army Engineers as they arrive without much of a clue of what is going on around them.

The film does feature a moving prayer, a rescue story, the long wait for a Pakistani Officer to arrive and some telling banter with East and West Pakistani officials.

The following 13 months is, as they say, history, though that period could have unfolded in any number of ways.

Maulana Bhashani was an elderly and unwell man at the time of the cyclone, receiving treatment in Dhaka. Awaking miraculously the next day he propelled himself to the disaster zone to greet, console and understand what had happened. Returning to Dhaka he delivered a galvanising call and a tremendous bollocking to central government.

His cry of Long Live Independent East Pakistan came from these gatherings and many say this speech act was critical to what happened afterwards even though Bhashani spent most of the Bangladesh War being sat upon by the Indian Government. There will be prayers and conferences in Tangail, provided the ruling party doesn't ban them like they have in the past, the 'secular' left will celebrate him as their totem, unreconstructed Muslim nationalists and (m)islamists will generally dismiss him.

Alternatively, many of believers will smile, sit and marvel at the oath Bhashani's spiritual-political disciples would utter upon and how understanding him unwinds the deceptive secular-religious elite politics of these unpleasant times.

“I give an undertaking that in Allah the Supreme I profess firm belief. 
I will believe with certainty that Rasulullah is the sent messenger. 
I will abide by all the regulations pertaining to the permitted and disallowed, as propagated by the Messenger.   
I will not bow my head to anyone besides Allah.  
I will endeavour tirelessly  to establish socialism, the only way to relieve all forms of human extortion and embezzlement.   
I will join the volunteers corps of the peasantry to eradicate from society all forms of imperialism, capitalism, feudalism,  usury and corruption. 
I will perform litanies, contemplation, meditation,  prayers and fasting… according to the tariqah of Qadria,  Naqshbandiya,  Chistiyyah. 
Every year on the 19/20th January 5 Magh I will attend the large seminar at Santos, Tangail and assist in the advancement and progression of the Islamic University.”
There is a university named after Maulana, primarily dedicated to Science and Technology, but like all institutions in Bangladesh, hardly free to flourish.  Still, it is really important to imagine the possibilities for learning, research and training at such an outfit, unwashed by flags for counter-tyranical, spiritual, social, physical and ecological learning.


Hasina takes a Dutch Trip

The ruler of Bangladesh arrived home in Dhaka from the Netherlands after a three day visit during which she went to vegetable markets, and discussed collaboration over national security and the Delta 2100 Plan.

As far as I can tell, she wasn't greeted with street protests as Egypt's ruler Sisi was in London this Thursday. I hear that European refrain, that she was praised for Bangladesh's development gains.  Which is rather odd, given that her regime has massacred civilians and continues to torture, kill and deny political rights to its opposition.


The Bangladeshi (Shapla Chottor) and Egypt (Rab'aa) state crime scenarios bear more than just a passing resemblance. They happened just a few months apart, on the back of the mass manipulation movements of Shahbag and Tammarod respectively. They tell the story of Muslims marshalling War on Terror production values, to turn other Muslims into dead meat.

There is crucial difference though. Whereas the Egyptian State massacred protesters in broad daylight, the Bangladesh State could only do it in darkness.

[Incidentally, Egypt and Bangladesh are linked by the 1973 war. Basically, Mujib sent the Arabs some tea and Anwar Sadat decided to send him some tanks in return. These tanks, which didn't have shells in at the time, were instrumental in Col Faruq and Rashid's 1975 coup against Mujib.]

Back in the UK, and I am yet to detect that Corbynistas have been able or willing to join the dots between Sisi, Hasina and trouble. The generally Bangladeshi Labour vote doesn't appear to be in jeopardy, at least now that things have gone post Lutfur Rahman, and we should know by now not to await deliverance from the white left.  In fact, the Bangladesh Awami League has an actual MP in the UK Parliament. Here's an Awami League produced and uploaded video of freshly elected Tulip Siddiq introducing herself and giving a shout out to her aunt, who has left hundreds of widows and mourning mothers in her wake. Didn't she do well?

Somewhere in a parallel universe there is a Begum Rokeya writing a short story about this called Sultana's Nightmare.


An important Bangladeshi political truth is the shitness of the opposition.  Last Eid, a visibly ageing Khaleda Zia visited London and clearly radically changed the world with her speech and entourage. Her party has never been so useless, with leaders either jailed, bought off, good for nothing or surrounded by bigger idiots than themselves. Her son is lucky enough to exhibit all of these great qualities.

Meanwhile, the principle local representatives of Islamism 1.0, Jamaat are keeping a low profile. Without a structure to nurture creative leadership/membership or support independent thinking they are pretty much crippled by internal constraints, as well as external oppression and 1971 ishoos

So given the Business As Usual case of depoliticisation, developmentia and determinism, I was wondering what kind of future the people at Delta 2100 were imaging for Bangladesh.


The year is 2050, and Bangladesh is a middle income country running on Adaptation Hush Money, Remittances and the back breaking sweat of 200 million brows. In light of the 2040 climate refugee crisis and India giving them the finger, the country was turned into an NGO and the capital renamed to Bracottabad. Monsanto and Syngenta have innovated genetically modified khichuri that glows in the dark, making all Bangladeshi's predisposed to chetona or visible to India's Border Security Force. The universities still churn out studies gloating that religiosity is an impediment to development whilst barring religiously educated people from competitive entry exams. That Dutch land reclamation project is still going slow and nowhere, and all the Bangladeshi engineers finally got those high skilled visas to leave, but don't worry, Bangladesh has finally got that Ministry for Intersectionality Chelsea Clinton was campaigning for.