A Bengali proverb advises first to touch one’s own ears to be certain that those are there before running after a hawk that claimed to have taken away the ears.
The old saying did not seem to have any effect among the media and the politicians who have been tirelessly hawking for the last couple of weeks over a reported claim that Pakistan’s intelligence service ISI had provided funds to a political party in Bangladesh now in the opposition bench.
It has now turned out to be a hoax and manipulation by a section of the media practitioners and overenthusiastic political leaders when the concerned former ISI chief General Asad Durani who had been quoted to have disclosed in a testimony before Pakistan’s Supreme Court to have paid the money to BNP, but he denied it outright.
Former chief of ISI Gen. Asad Durani and former chief of Mehran Bank Younus Habib, both appearing before the court categorically denied making any such disclosure that implicated anyone outside Pakistan.
When contacted from Dhaka over telephone on March 22, General Durani told the Holiday: “in my submission before the Pakistan Supreme Court, there was no mention of anything like providing fund to any party outside Pakistan.”
He told Holiday that he was sorry to know that some media outside Pakistan had attributed something to him that he did not tell before the Pakistan Supreme Court or to the media which was “falsely attributed” to him.
Referring to newspaper reports about ISI funding to a Bangladeshi political party, General Durani said it was “a fabricated report based on falsehood”
It may be mentioned there that Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina publicly accused the leader of the opposition in the parliament Begum Khaleda Zia of receiving fifty million Pakistan rupees from ISI prior to general election in 1991. It appears obvious that she has based her accusation on the media reports.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh foreign minister Dr. Dipu Moni, when asked about the source of the ruling party’s claim of the main opposition party leader receiving ISI money, she openly confessed in a press conference: “What we know is from a report run by the Khaleej Times.”
She further said, “We can provide more details after getting the transcript in our hands. This is necessary to be clear about what actually happened. We also need to know what is actually written in the transcript.”
However, the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party has refuted the allegation saying confession made by former ISI chief does not include anything about the intelligence organisation funding BNP.
General Durani’s denial also appeared in a Dhaka Bengali daily on Thursday. A Karachi-based reporter of the daily talked to General Durani and filed the report which also mentioned that Drrani did not talk to anybody in The Khaleej Times, the Dubai based English daily that first reported the story of ISI funding BNP on March 3.
How did it happen
An Indian English-language daily The Times Assam on March 21 reported that Bangladesh government has been visibly misled by a fabricated report of New Delhi based journalist Dipanjan Roy Chowdhury, who twisted a recent statement of ex-ISI chief Asad Durrani’s testimony before Pakistan’s Supreme Court.
The report said: “It was later learnt that Dipanjan Roy Chowdhury was summoned by some top brasses of Research and Analytical Wing (RAW) on March 2, 2012 and was escorted to New Delhi headquarters of the Indian spy agency, wherefrom he wrote the report for Khaleej Times and it was later sent to the Indian-born owners of the Dubai based newspaper with the special instruction of publishing it prominently.”
The Guwahati-based Indian daily further reported that Dipanjan Roy Chowdhury also contributed the story to Indian online newspaper the Daily Mail (March 15, 2012) with an inflated amount of Pakistani Rupees 500 million, though in the Khaleej Times he quoted the ISI boss giving Pakistan Rupees 50 million to BNP.
Again on March 16, 2012, the same writer wrote in India Today, saying: “Recently a UAE-based daily had alleged that ISI paid Rs.50 crore to BNP chairperson and former PM Khaleda Zia ahead of the 1991 elections in which the BNP won and formed the government.”
Meanwhile, The Times of Assam reported that a copy of the transcript had reached Bangladesh High Commission in Islamabad on March 19, 2012 and the copy was subsequently sent to the foreign ministry.
BY : Abdur Rahman Khan.