Well, I’m glad we got to the bottom of that.
The government finally appears to be registering the adverse consequences of falling foul of the World Bank, both in terms of the foregone development assistance to build the Padma Bridge as well as in the damage to its credibility, but with this belated knowledge has not come much wisdom.
In between hatching unlikely schemes to raise the money and touting talks with ever shadier partners offering ever more dubious deals to build the bridge, the government has ratcheted up its PR campaign, trying to suggest that it has stood its ground against the Bank’s bullying and struck a blow for national dignity.
But, with distressing predictability, the government’s PR machine only succeeds in making it look worse, not better, with its unconvincing fulminations against the Bank’s neo-imperialism on the one hand, and abject back-door pleas for cheap credit as its right as an impoverished third-world country on the other.
The government officially jumped the shark with the PM’s suggestion last week that her favourite bete noir Dr. Muhammad Yunus may have had a hand in the cancelling of the loan, so long is his reach and so vast his influence, to say nothing of how malign his spirit.
This is amusing on two levels. On the first, is the sheer delusion behind the claim and the utter absence of self-reflection or consideration of the possibility that the government could in any way be at fault. It must be someone else’s fault. This could only be the handiwork of … that arch-fiend Yunus! This is thinking right out of a Batman comic.
Secondly, if Yunus really was so powerful and influential, kind of like The Penguin, with armies of factotums at his beck and call, and high officials the world over willing to do at his dastardly bidding, perhaps the government might have considered this before going to war against him for no good reason or gain that anyone can see.
Now see what they have got themselves into! It is clear that everything that has gone wrong in the country these past few years has got to be the evil designs of Dr. Nobel. The government’s serial failures make perfect sense now. It is hard to run a country when you are beset on all sides by the machinations of a criminal mastermind (just ask the commissioner of Gotham City).
Everything makes sense now. The disappearance of Ilyas Ali? That has to be Yunus’s doing, too. After all, it’s inconceivable that the government or any of its agencies could have had anything to do with such an atrocity.
Perhaps he is the unseen hand behind the unrest in the garment sector? After all, who can believe that the garment workers could possibly have any kind of legitimate beef or that global labour organisations could genuinely be outraged by the torture-murder of a trade union organiser?
Nor is it too far-fetched to suppose that he might have had something to do with the Sagor-Runi murder case. And why not the BDR mutiny, while we are at it? Is there no sin of the past few years that cannot be traced back to this criminal mastermind? Is there no stopping this fiend?
It would explain a lot. It would go some way to explaining why a government which came to power in a landslide, with higher expectations of any government in two decades, and with unprecedented goodwill and opportunity, has stumbled from one apparently self-inflicted crisis to the next, unable to meet the people’s hopes.
I am not so sure, however, that it will make for a very convincing re-election manifesto. If the government wants to win back the confidence of the public it is going to have to do better than that. It’s not our fault: the bad guy did it is not a good election slogan.
And what of the evil Dr. Nobel? What diabolical scheme might he have up his sleeve next, Boy Wonder? Sitting high in his lair in the eyrie atop Grameen Tower, twirling his handle-bar mustache with one hand and gently stroking his white Persian cat Mr.Tibbles with the other, he isn’t saying.
Zafar Sobhan is a Dhaka-based editor and columnist.
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