Friendship in Bangladesh Beckons
By C. Naseer Ahmad
A warm “Assalamo Alaikum” greeted the visitors and then “Apni Kaymo nachin?” - how are you - the sweet words of Mohammad Siddiq kept ringing in the ears as the conversation of the staff in Bengali began flowing with the morning tea. Dhaka and Chittagong might be a thousand miles away from Lahori Gate of the old city but you can walk to Bangladesh territory in perhaps few hundred steps from Pakistan that exists in the Embassy on International Court in Washington.
The morning tea becomes more delicious with a beautiful view of the Pakistan Embassy from the second floor of the Bangladesh Embassy. The relaxed atmosphere harkens back memories of days gone by when the people were united by humanity and common purpose. One realizes that the arc of history has bends in many directions and interests sometimes diverge but in the long run they converge.
“Bangladesh Beckons” is a coffee table book that proved very useful for coordinating an international correspondents meeting at the Bangladesh Embassy recently. It is a very useful book for travelers and takes you through a wonderful journey through time and space.
Readers will be able to appreciate the natural beauty of riverine Bangladesh and its six seasons. The Shimul-Polash flowers invite you to spring in Bangladesh and the golden luster. Enchanting pictures of the longest unbroken natural sandy beaches of Cox’s Bazar and coastal island of Bangladesh please still awakening eyes. You get the view of tea plucking in the tea gardens of Srimongol, which is known for hosting the largest tea gardens in the world.
Chittagong, located in picturesque hinterland of large forested hills and lakes, was a name heard often on Pakistan Radio. The serene beauty of Foy’s Lake in the hills of Chittagong is depicted well in the book which takes you through the lush green hills of Bandarban – a place considered ideal for trekking through this tribal area.
The Sundarbans, designated as a UNESCO world Heritage Site – a refuge for wildlife like the graceful spotted deer, the majestic royal Bengal tigers and it has the world’s largest mangrove forest. Numerous rivers and canals crisscross the Sundarbans.
The section on the Islamic Architectural Heritage brings home the commonalities between Pakistani people and Bangladesh. The historic Sahit Gombuj (sixty domed mosque) built in 1459 in Bagerhat is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Tara Mosjid (Star Mosque) in the old part of Dhaka has some breathtaking views as does the Shat Gombuj Mosjid (Seven Domed Mosque).
The shrines of Hazrat Shah Jalal (RA) and Hazrat Shah Paran (RA) are among the most revered places. “Hazrat Shah Jalal (RA) is credited with the help extended to the Muslim army, which conquered Sylhet in 1303,” says the book. The historic Lalbagh Fort in Dhaka built by the Mughal Rulers is highlighted in the book and it is an inviting picture.
Just as inviting was the warm reception by H.E. the Ambassador of Bangladesh to the USA Mr Mohammad Ziauddin. He spoke at a special gathering of more than 50 representatives from the Press including Washington Post, BBC, Associated Press, Voice of America as well as members and leadership of National Press Club in Washington.