Corona Pandemic: Prudent Suggestions of Tarique Rahman were Accurate 

Mohammad Zainal Abedin:  Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina proved the prudent Suggestions of Tarique Rahman as accurate. The current uncontrolled deadly corona pandemic that engulfed Bangladesh could be averted if the Sheikh government would have implemented the suggestions of medical experts. She even avoided the repeated calls of the opposition parties to form a national government to combinedly face this crisis.

Foreseeing the upcoming problems of covid-19, Tarique Rahamn, the Acting Chairman of BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party) in a 1.10-minute video statement on September 1, 2020 suggested the Sheikh Hasina government to take advance preparation to check the havoc of this unpredictable calamity.

Sheikh Hasina’s government unfortunately paid no heed to his timely prudent suggestions. Had she done so, the current wave of death of India-variant corona could not have spread in such a huge volume that daily causes death to so many people.

The BNP Acting Chief said, to face the Covid-19 “The first and foremost priority of the incumbent Bangladesh government is to ensure the availability of coronavirus vaccine for the people.”

He said, “Some countries are almost in the final stage of clinical testing of the corona virus vaccines.” “So, to ensure the availability of coronavirus vaccines Bangladesh should approve the clinical test of 3rd phage vaccines alongside we are to remain vigil regarding all other probable options/ alternatives.”

Suggesting the government he said, “We must have deep relation and communication with the WHO (World Health Organization) and other organizations that conduct research (organizations) on coronavirus vaccine and engage in production process, so that Bangladesh would not face any problem to get coronavirus vaccines in (appropriate) time.”

This was really a timely approach of Tarique Rahman to Sheikh Hasina. He could have refrained from providing such a timely suggestion to the government. He could not remain silent foreseeing the imminent danger looming in Bangladesh.

A teacher of Political Science Department of a renowned private university of Dhaka opined, “Being a national leader, Tarique Rahman did it out of his sense of patriotism and national responsibility.”

 Sheikh Hasina government thoug first accepted a Chinese offer, but abruptly somersaulting  rejected the proposal of conducting the clinical test of the 3rd phase of coronavirus vaccines in Bangladesh.

The Daily Star of Dhaka, on September 20, 2020, informed, BMRC (Bangladesh Medical Research Council) has approved the phase-III clinical trial of a Chinese vaccine for Covid-19 treatment.

The executive committee of BMRC approved it in a meeting after a month-long review by its ethics committee, its Director Mahmood-uz-jahan confirmed it in September 2019, the daily informed.

But at the last moment showing lame excuses Bangladesh retreated from its original commitment and declined to allow China to conduct clinical test in Bangladesh. Stepping one step forward Bangladesh paying an advanced price signed an agreement with India to buy vaccines.

It is strongly believed, RAW and its local agents and operatives deputed in Bangladesh influenced Sheikh Hasina government to deny the cincinnal test of Chinese vaccines in Bangladesh and buy any corona vaccine from China.

“NDTV” on November 5, 2020, quoting (Indian) government sources said Bangladesh signed a deal with the Serum Institute of India on Thursday to buy  30 million doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine (paying advance price) being developed by British drugmaker AstraZeneca.

“Whenever the vaccine is ready, the Serum Institute will give us 30 million doses in the first phase,” quoted (Bangladesh) health minister Zahid Maleque after signing the deal in Dhaka.

But when Bangladesh badly needed vaccines, India cruelly deceived Bangladesh, denying export the vaccines to Bangladesh showing its own crisis of covid-19, which was a catastrophic blow.

“Foreign Minister Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen (repeatedly) requested Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar “to provide Bangladesh Oxford AstraZeneca vaccines immediately,” informed Anadullu news agency of Turkey, on May 19, 2021, informed quoting a telephone conversation between the two ministers.

The Bangladesh Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Ministry in a meeting recommended filing a lawsuit against the Indian firm for breaching the written deal. But the government did not respond to the request of the Standing Committee.

India later informed Bangladesh that it would not continue the commercial supply of vaccines for an indefinite period, citing an internal crisis.

Despite having a written agreement with advance payment, the sudden halt to vaccine shipments from India threw Bangladesh resulted in a deep crisis, which forced it to postpone inoculation of the first dose in late April 2021.

Diplomatic analysts opine India stopped exporting Serum vaccines, out of furry to revenge Hasina’s unpredictable so-called closeness to China. India violating diplomatic decency and bindings stopped the supply of purchased vaccines when Bangladesh desperately needed them.

Now the paw of Indian variant of the corona pandemic, along with its full flurry of destruction, firmly sat on Bangladesh.

Analysts say, basing on the suggestion of Tarique Rahman, if the government, instead of depending entirely on India, could have tried to procure coronavirus vaccines from several sources, Bangladesh could remain the safest country in the region.

Sheikh Hasina’s government now finds no way out to reduce the infection of the virus. Hospitals overflowed with impacted patients, which are basically located in the urban areas. Out of 18 crore people, even one crore could not be vaccinated yet. Vaccines are not widely available in the open market. Poor people  who are over 30% of the total population, cannot afford such expensive vaccines and survive on the mercy of Allah (God).

Bangladesh economy faces severe disaster. Exportable products like garments, and other exportable products face setbacks. Educational institutions are closed for two years, depriving the students of getting proper education. Consequently, a weak and unfit new generation emerges in Bangladesh. Even the common people question if offices, banks, factories, can function, road communication is partially normal, markets remain open, then why do educational institutions remain closed. They find Indian instruction behind it recalling India since 1972 tries to entirely disrupt and ruin our educational institutions.

Observers opine, the poor sections of the Bangladeshis are the main victims of the corona pandemic, who have no earnings and live from hand to mouth. They apprehend, Serious famine, social unrest and disorder, administrative crisis, lawlessness, and many more non-ascertainable and uncontrollable dangers are rapidly heading to Bangladesh, which are the byproducts of India-variant of coronavirus. Bangladesh was relatively safer before the India-variant sneaked into it.

Diplomatic circle says, all the miseries and misfortune the common Bangladeshis face now, are the outcome of extra-diplomatic ties with the Indian mafia cliques. The upward march to prosperity of the common Bangladeshis, depending on their own legs stumbled, which could be easily thwarted if Sheikh Hasina could control her instinct — in the words of her foreign minister (A. K. Abdul Momen) — “husband and wife” relation with India. The nation will suffer more if she does not abandon such a dubious relation.

If Sheikh Hasina, without depending entirely on India, would have deals with China, Russia and America, what Tarique Rahman earlier suggested,  Bangladesh could easily avert the current havoc of Covit-19. Bangladeshis now dearly pay due to Sheikh Hasina’s unstable mindset and her tendency of frequent whimsical somersaults. She cannot avoid the accountability of her irresponsible leadership. Would Sheikh Hasina and flatterers get any lesson from India’s duplicity and treachery that zeroed her waning acceptability in Bangladesh further?

Mohammad Zainal Abedin: A Bangladesh-origin American journalist & researcher

July 15, 2021

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