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OP-ED: What made Mohammed Nasim a great leader

  • Published at 08:12 pm June 14th, 2020
Mohammad Nasim MP
A man who empowered his people MAHMUD HOSSAIN OPU

His life remains a testament to the importance of dignity, humility, and decency

The political landscape will be pervaded with tributes to Mohammad Nasim MP in the days to come. And rightly so. 

Nasim Bhai was one of the bravest, most principled, and most decent political commanders of our time. In nearly 60 years of public life, many disagreed with his political positions, but very few ever questioned his virtues or doubted his integrity.

He was outstanding in many ways. As a young student in the time of the six-point movement, he found himself in Pakistani prison along with his father Captain Mansur Ali. In captivity, like all his fellow revolutionaries, he had faced torture, deprivation, and humiliation which could have broken him. 

But that didn’t stop his active participation in the greatest struggle of our nation -- the 1971 Liberation War.

Later on, after the brutal killing of the Father of the Nation and his own father, as a politician, Nasim Bhai continued to be driven not only by the same sense of bravery of his youth, but a profound sense of duty towards his fellow people, along with a clear sense of right and wrong. 

To him, self-interest was never the standard. Neither was petty party-interest. Time and time again, we have seen him criticizing the party line and his comrades, risking his political career.

These actions showcase the beliefs he held on to, doing what he felt was right for the people rather than what was right for his political success. Such actions, to be honest, have harmed his political standing within the party but they also earned him respect.

But it is not my intention today to list his accomplishments or talk about his struggles and triumphs. Nor am I here to mention how he may have contracted Covid-19. Instead, I wish to highlight the values he lived by and make a plea to our political leaders to do the same.

This is a plea to those in positions of power to act in accordance with the exemplary conscience, morality, human decency, and gallantry set by Mohammed Nasim, qualities which, unfortunately, are in short supply in the halls of power across Bangladesh today.

We in Bangladesh have entered an unfortunate time when, in politics, virtues such as conviction and conscience have become useless, intelligence and intellect are in short supply, principles and morals are often referred to as unnecessary and unwinnable “old-fashioned” values. Yet, they’ve never been more essential or pertinent to the challenges faced by Bangladesh today.

The advantage many politicians have today is that, because of 24/7 news coverage, chasing soundbites and mastering the media can become an easy way towards fame -- in the short term. 

But in the longer term, there is no alternative to interacting with people as one of their own and doing what is right for people over what is politically convenient. And having the courage to acknowledge and pay attention to the views of those we disagree with, instead of humiliating or suppressing them.

Very few would disagree that the value placed on political openness, inquiry, and investigation has taken a pummelling recently in Bangladesh. This is exactly what Mohammed Nasim fought against as a frontline leader of the opposition during the pro-democracy movement. 

He fought against a constant stream of lies about Awami League, about our history, and our people. He was a truth-teller. 

No one can accuse him of descending to the incivility and name-calling of his opponents. This refusal to disparage or dehumanize his opponents for short-term partisan political agendas won him immense respect and continues to contribute to his family’s political legacy.

As we watch with great dissatisfaction the incompetence, lies, and dishonesty currently unravelling in our political arena, Mohammed Nasim’s life and work remain a testament to the significance of respecting the values of dignity, humility, and decency.

The outburst of love and tribute to Nasim Bhai is not only evidence of the kind of person he was but also to the desire people have of returning to the principles he lived by. 

That is his legacy. He has fulfilled his earthly duty in the most dignified way and earned a place in our memory alongside the finest.

It is high time for his party to acknowledge that values are the foundation upon which rest the success of organizations, countries, and leaderships.

And to reflect on this legacy. Not just on his ministerial role, but on how he empowered and interacted with people, how he served Bangladesh on its path to democracy and dreamed of a safer, more equitable, and more prosperous Bangladesh for all, not just for the privileged few.

Nur E Emroz Alam Tonoy is a blogger.

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