Gowher Rizvi is the best and brightest of the Awami clan. He is soft-spoken, artful, and eloquent. I have met his family members and relatives. He comes from a classy and highly accomplished family. But just like many qualified gentlemen who served dictators in the past, Gowher Rizvi has the job of defending the undefendable. No one succeeds in such jobs.
Such are jobs that most qualified gentlemen would not take. I do not know why Mr. Rizvi took it or continued it for this long and this far.
Gowher Rizvi’s appearance on Mehdi Hasan’s Head to Head is a remarkable event for Bangladesh in many regards. This is the first time a Bangladeshi politician faced a highly publicized international journalistic endeavor in about 60 years. The last time something of this significance happened was when Hussein Shahid Suhrwardi from Bangladesh came to Washington and appeared on NBC’s Meet The Press as Pakistan’s Prime Minister and as a US ally in 1952. One must salute Sheikh Hasina for at least keeping a man like Mr. Rizvi under her fold, which her opponent Khaleda Zia never managed. Compared to the clowns that today’s BNP has at its top for dealing with foreigners, Gowher Rizvi is a rock star.
But all the compliments end just there. One man cannot stop a moving train wreck and that not with just lies. Awami League once was the party of seculars, liberals, and progressives, at least in Dhaka. Gowher Rizvi is the best of that breed of seculars and progressives. Yet, Gowher Rizvi’s humiliation in front of the wide-open eyes of the world’s secular and progressives should be an eye-opener for anyone who can still read and write and support the regime in Bengal. Gowher Rizvi tried to face facts and stats gathered by hardened journalists and organizations with the regimes typical lies, denials, deceits, and smoke screens. He looked puzzled, out of breath, out of witt, and that lady straight from the movie set of an Egyptian-Pharaonic-Classic could not provide him much comfort or support.
Awami League can obviously stay in power for however many years it wants with all the service of Mr. Rizvi and all its brute force. But the Head to Head programme unmistakenly showed to the world that the emperor of Bengal has no clothes, and it is such a shameless laughing stock that the most qualified of its servants can’t defend it no more.
Shafquat Rabbee Anik