Review Nepal News

Bangladesh needs to prioritize on coverage in the international media
  Kathmandu      June 10 2024

By Tajul Islam

The Awami League government in Bangladesh formed government for the fourth consecutive term following the election held on January 7, 2024. This election posed significant challenges for the ruling party. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's strong leadership was pivotal in securing a majority, especially since the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and its ally, Jamaat-e-Islami, did not participate. Despite pressures from Western powers for an impartial and internationally acceptable election, the Awami League succeeded. The January 7 election became the only viable option to maintain the country's overall development and stability.

However, maintaining the popularity of the ruling party in the next election will not be easy. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is also the president of the ruling party, must recognize that various disinformation campaigns against the government, both domestically and internationally, can negatively impact perceptions worldwide, including in Western countries. To address this, the government's press department has appointed an efficient and experienced senior journalist and editor as the Prime Minister's Press Secretary. The appointment of Nayeemul Islam Khan to this position is undoubtedly a sign of the government's foresight.

The turbulent political landscape in Bangladesh sees the government's surprising inaction against severe propaganda, posing ongoing challenges that tarnish the nation's reputation. Appointing key individuals becomes crucial for shaping both perception and government effectiveness. Nayeemul Islam Khan, an experienced journalist, emerges as a competent candidate for the Prime Minister's press secretary role. His appointment would notably boost the image of the Awami League government and improve Bangladesh's global reputation.

Nayeemul Islam Khan's extensive journalism career uniquely qualifies him for this role. With decades of navigating the media landscape, he understands both domestic and international dynamics. His tenure as an editor during Bangladesh's tumultuous 1/11 period demonstrated his resilience and ability to manage media pressure. Despite coercion faced by many editors to print defamatory content, Khan emerged with a reputation for steadfastness and truthfulness.

In the current political climate, Nayeemul Islam Khan has faced a barrage of propaganda. Detractors have painted him as a villain, with some even attempting to label him as a war criminal's son, ignoring the context of his actions during periods of political instability. It is crucial to recognize that he was not alone in facing coercion; many in the media industry were similarly pressured. However, he is now being singled out while others are exonerated. This selective outrage reflects not on his character but on the motivations of his critics. It is essential to assess his qualifications and contributions without the taint of baseless propaganda.

In recent years, Bangladesh has faced a persistent wave of misinformation and propaganda aimed at damaging its global reputation. Despite these serious challenges, the local media in Bangladesh has often been hesitant to counter such well-coordinated narratives. However, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been vocal about her government's intentions to address the various challenges facing Bangladesh, including ongoing malicious propaganda.

The global media landscape has undergone significant changes over the past few decades. The rise of digital media, social networking platforms, and the 24-hour news cycle has transformed how information is disseminated and consumed. In this fast-paced environment, traditional media outlets in Bangladesh struggle to keep pace with the sophisticated propaganda techniques used by external actors. The US sanctions on the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and several high-ranking officials highlight the complete failure of our media and the reluctance of bureaucrats 

Furthermore, the geopolitical landscape has shifted, leading to increased competition for influence in South Asia and more complex forms of information warfare. To effectively counter these challenges, the Bangladeshi media must adopt new strategies, such as greater collaboration with international media, investment in investigative journalism, and leveraging digital platforms to amplify counter-narratives.

One of Nayeemul Islam Khan's most valuable assets is his ability to counteract negative propaganda effectively. His deep understanding of media operations equips him to dismantle false narratives and promote the positive aspects of the Awami League government. By highlighting the strides made under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's leadership, he can reshape the narrative both domestically and internationally. His expertise can be instrumental in showcasing Bangladesh's progress, thereby attracting foreign investment and fostering a more favorable global image.

While Nayeemul Islam Khan's capabilities are substantial, the complexities of international media require a specialized approach. Managing Bangladesh's image on the global stage necessitates an expert who can navigate the intricacies of international media relations. Such a professional would enhance efforts, ensuring a cohesive and strategic approach to media management. This combined expertise could amplify the positive branding of Bangladesh and mitigate any adverse propaganda.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's leadership has always been characterized by pragmatism and a keen sense of judgment. The role of a press secretary is pivotal, demanding not only loyalty but also competence and integrity. Nayeemul Islam Khan embodies these qualities. Unlike sycophants who merely echo what they believe the leadership wants to hear, Khan offers a balanced perspective rooted in experience and factual accuracy. His appointment would signal a commitment to transparency and effective communication, reinforcing the government's credibility.

Upon his appointment as the Prime Minister's Press Secretary, Nayeemul Islam Khan began by paying homage to the portrait of the Father of the Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. During an interview with the media, he articulated his dedication, affirming, "I will strive diligently to convey Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's accomplishments to both local and global audiences. Collaboration from all quarters is indispensable for this endeavor."

Bangladesh now needs some hands who can continuously publish articles in foreign media outlets to counteract negative narratives. While the Sheikh Hasina government is making significant strides in development, anti-government activists frequently portray the government negatively in international media. Notably, in Washington, D.C., BNP and its ally Jamaat-e-Islami, with connections to Al-Qaeda, have individuals like Mushfiqul Fazal Ansarey who continuously spread anti-government propaganda and motivated the US State Department. Unfortunately, there is no one effectively countering his efforts in favor of the ruling government of Bangladesh.

On the other hand, some anti-government propagandists reside in Sweden, Canada, France, the UK, and other countries around the world. Pinaki Bhattachariya is one such anti-government social activist. He continuously spreads negative information about Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the ruling government of Bangladesh on his YouTube channel and social platforms like Facebook and 'X' (formerly Twitter). However, no one has been able to counter him effectively except for Blitz, a newspaper published from Bangladesh.

Blitz, which also is known to a section of people as "Weekly Blitz" - edited by Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, is the only newspaper that consistently countered anti-government propaganda through its writings while promoting positive campaigns for the government. Although some view Blitz as a government propaganda machine against online anti-government activists, the publication actually portrays an accurate picture of Bangladesh's ongoing development and successes. Additionally, Blitz does not hesitate to criticize isolated incidents in various government sectors, thus proving a balanced perspective.

Therefore, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina may be advised to find someone who can counter these anti-government activists and publish the government's actual scenario in international media.

The appointment of Nayeemul Islam Khan as the Prime Minister's press secretary would be a strategic move for the Awami League government. His extensive experience, coupled with his ability to counteract propaganda, makes him an ideal person for this role. While addressing the negative narratives, he can also promote the positive aspects of Bangladesh's development under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's leadership. However, complementing his efforts with an international media management expert would further enhance Bangladesh's global image. Ultimately, it is essential to prioritize competence and integrity over mere loyalty, and Nayeemul Islam Khan exemplifies these qualities.

By appointing Nayeemul Islam Khan, the government can take a significant step towards improving its communication strategy, countering false narratives, and highlighting the genuine progress and development taking place in Bangladesh. This proactive approach would not only protect the nation's image but also foster a more accurate understanding of Bangladesh's achievements and potential on the global stage.