Gowher: “Rumours of my demise are greatly exaggerated”

Oct 10  2020

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Screenshot of television interview given by Gowher Rizvi to Al Jazeera in March 2019

In recent days, a rumour has circulated in Bangladesh amongst journalists and in political circles that the prime minister’s foreign affairs advisor Gowher Rizvi had left the country, after handing in a resignation letter to Sheikh Hasina.

A Facebook post, written by a retired Bangladesh army officer, now based in Canada, Shahid Islam, who used to be the managing editor of the weekly newspaper Holiday and subsequently wrote for The Daily Star, might been the original source of this rumour. Titled “The Trio in Dubious Trips Abroad,” the article claimed that:

PM’s foreign affairs adviser, Dr. Gowhar Rizvi, is learnt to have gone to London, UK, for reasons that too are touted as personal. “He had sent a resignation letter to the PM prior to leaving Dhaka,” said a reliable source. …

Dr. Gowhar Rizvi’s tendering of resignation is linked to his ‘dissatisfaction’ about the PM’s ‘double and duplicitous deals’ with both India and China, which Rizvi thinks is a “dangerous position to take when the two nuclear armed neighbours are on the throes of fighting a major war, and Bangladesh’s allegiance is desperately sought by the both,” said the source, insisting on anonymity.

Those hopeful of a change in government have jumped on Rizvi’s supposed resignation to suggest that this reflects a significant weakening of the Awami League government.

Netra news Fact Checked whether Rizvi had resigned or not and emailed him. He responded by denying that there is any truth to the claim. He stated:

“I am tempted to paraphrase Mark Twain: the rumours of my demise are greatly exaggerated. I have not resigned. The rumours are totally bogus.”

So, that is that.

What about the other claims made in the Facebook post? One is that the finance minister is now in Dubai supposedly to deal with:

“urgent trouble shooting of a personal predicament of the PM’s son in law, Khondoker Masrur Hossain Mitu, who is looped in an embarrassing investigation by the UAE police over what some media reports claimed “illegal transfer of Taka 100 crores … from an account in Qatar.”

In January 2020, Netra News fact-checked a claim made at that time by a number of pro-opposition websites that Mitu had been arrested over similar financial wrong-doings and found that this was bogus. We can assume therefore that this new account is also false.

The other claim made by Islam in his Facebook post was that another advisor to the prime minister, HT Imam, had gone to the USA and was unlikely to return in the near future allegedly because:

“the admin cadre of the country, which HT Imam takes care of, is on the brink of a rebellion due to the recent murder attempt on a UNO, Wahida Khanam, in Rajshahi …”

Attempts by Netra News to contact HT Imam have been unsuccessful, but the supposed reason given for his presence in the USA seems very far-fetched.

//DB

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