The publication ceremony of a book ‘President Zia of Bangladesh: A Political Biography.’ by journalist Mahfuz Ullah was held at the BRAC Centre Inn in the capital.
Author of the book, Mahfuz Ullah said he wrote the 670-page title having 14 chapters in four years though it was not a complete political biography Zia.
The event of Ziaur’s March 27, 1971 declaration of independence and the November 7, 1975 uprising, the two great historic events of the country’s politics, deserved two separate books, he said.
Former Bangladesh Bank governor Saleh Uddin Ahmed in his discussion on the book said said that the author rightly depicted that Ziaur Rahman had tried to ensure economic development of the country.
He said that Zia’s canal excavation programme was aimed at natural rural irrigation to enhance the country’s agricultural production. His two-year rolling plan until 1980 mainly focused on agricultural development while the country’s second five-year plan also focused on the same.
Former state minister Abul Hasan Chowdhury termed Zia a ‘great historic personality’ and said, ‘I find that the nation with the greatest Bangalee Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the memory of Ziaur Rahman can forge a sort of unity.’
Former ambassador Sirajul Islam said that the book was a well researched work and rightly said that after the 1975 changeover there was a tremendous uncertainty in the minds of the people about the country’s future and Zia normalised the situation gradually. Zia built the military, normalised relations with India managed to sign the balanced Ganges Water Treaty with the Murarjee Desai government. Subsequently he had promoted normal relations also with the Indira Gandhi government.
Had a stable state and naion not been developed through the tireless efforts of Zia in six years, the military government of HM Ershad that had taken over after his assassination would not have lasted even seven months. But Ershad rules comfortably for nine years taking advantage of the normaly created by Ziaur Rahman, he added.
Hearing Zia’s voice on the radio on March 27, 1971, people could know that it was the time to fight, he said, adding that the contribution of the country’s founding president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was, of course, the highest.
Social scientist and writer Mizanur Rahman Shelley said that Mujib could not complete his work for the reconstruction of the country because of different limitations and the responsibility fell on Zia, who managed improve the situation in a planned way.
Dr. Shelley recalled that Ziaur Rahman replied ‘neither in the negative nor in the positive’ to his question whether he declared the independence of the country on his own. Zia rather had advised him to see and talked to the people in uniform who were witnesses to the great event. He said Zia himself told him, it was not a question of bravery rather a responsibility that had befallen him at the time.
Zia said that opportunity might not have come for him to take such a role had he not been transferred to Bangladesh then East Pakistan from West Pakistan where he had lived and worked for long nineteen years. But he has a vision to strenghthen the nation by empowering the womenfold and growing up the youths as worthy citizens. That explains the creation of the youth development directorate, the Jatya Mohila Sangstha, the ministries of youth and sports, and women and children, he added.
New Age editor Nurul Kabir said that it was important to have comprehensive studies on the lives of those who had influenced the country’s politics and controlled the state machinery in the past, for that helps to analyze the present and properly plan the future.
Talking about Zia’s political life, Kabir said he was primarily a military leader, while the foremost political act was to announce, on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the independence of Bangladesh on March 27, 1971. While the politicians readied the people for independence, Major Zia’s declaration combined the military element with political aspiration that helped shape in the people’s mind the imagination of an independent state.
Syed Zakir Hussain publisher of Adorn Publication also spoke at the ceremony. – Staff Reporter