Press Release Summary = TIME Magazine publsihed a cover story on Bangladesh in its April 10 issue...
Press Release Body = The fact that Time magazine was running a cover story on Bangladesh had not been a very well-kept secret, nor was the fact that, after what seemed to be a long line of negative stories, that the current one portrayed Bangladesh, and the alliance government, in a very positive light. It may be recalled that the writer of the report titled 'Rebuilding Bangladesh', Alex Perry was the man who published another article in 2002 titled 'Deadly Cargo', in which he depicted Bangladesh as a safe haven for Islamic terrorists, including al-Qaeda. In 2004, the government again had a similarly infuriated response to the Time magazine piece \"State of Disgrace\" that painted a certainly one-sided but in truth depressingly accurate picture of the extortion, toll collection, and other lawlessness rampant in Bangladesh. The foreign ministry poured scorn upon the piece and issued a rejoinder, suggesting that it had been a politically motivated hit-job aimed at undermining the country, and pointing the finger of accusation across the border: \"The timing of the report, the sources quoted its narrow focus and harsh conclusions point to a highly motivated report. It follows upon the heels of another slanted story \"Deadly Cargo\" by Alex Perry, which sought to smear Bangladesh as a radical Islamic fundamentalist state. Is it an odd coincidence that both the correspondents were based in New Delhi?\" What has always been interesting about the government response to negative stories in the international media is the rather far-fetched belief that the stories are some kind of diabolical conspiracy against the government hatched by its enemies. It is not enough to accuse the publications concerned of shoddy or sensationalistic coverage, which in fact is often the principal reason behind poor or incomplete reporting, but it must also accuse them of being part of a coordinated plot to discredit the government, and by extension, the country. Why Time magazine, or The New York Times or the Far Eastern Economic Review for that matter, would be part of an anti-Bangladesh conspiracy has always remained unclear. Hopefully, the recent cover story will have at least have had the effect of removing Time magazine from the sin of publishing bad reports on Bangladesh, most of which were, unfortunately too motivated and biased.. The cover story coincides, more or less, with the one-hour BBC World debate on Bangladesh that has been screened for the first time this week, and for once, Bangladesh seems to be the hot ticket in international news, that too in a good way.
I hope that both the report and the debate will cause more people around the world to take a closer look at this vibrant country of close to 150 million. Perry\'s cover story seems to me to be a reasonably accurate depiction of the country. I think that he does a decent job of capturing the contradictions of the country: the buzz and bustle of economic vitality and the sense of the country on the verge of going places that co-exists with the corruption and the bitter divisions and the tens of millions struggling to make ends meet. I am not quite as sanguine as Perry is about the extremist threat and would not be so quick to absolve the ruling alliance of the less than honorable role that it has played in the rise of the militants. But whatever the murky background that Perry chooses to quickly pass over, the fact that Bangladesh, contrary to enthusiastic reporting in the international media, is not on the brink of an Islamic revolution is a story that the world needs to hear, and to the extent that the Time magazine piece makes this clear, it is to be commended. Interestingly enough, though, the Time magazine cover story coincides with a public relations blitz that the government has undertaken in recent months. The image of the country has long been an obsession for this government which is why it has always identified the media who have had the temerity to report on issues of corruption and extremism as public enemy number one. To this end, the government has made restoring the country\'s image in the eyes of the international community the top priority in the run-up to the elections. As the Time magazine piece suggests, the government has had a fair degree of success in getting influential constituencies who had a more jaundiced view of the country to give Bangladesh a fresh look. Another example of success on the public relations front is the 180 degree turn-around in some sections of the Indian media in the aftermath of the prime minister\'s recent trip to India. Indian media, for the first time has been giving positive and prolific news on Bangladesh, at they are even appreciating the diplomatic efforts of Begum Khaleda Zia in resolving bilateral issues with the big neighbor. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with public relations campaigns. This is quite normal with many governments in the world, that they put lots of efforts and emphasis on getting good coverage on their countries and nations in the international media. But, unfortunately, during the past four plus years, Bangladesh government did not achieve anything remarkable in this, causing lots of bad news and yellow journalism centering Bangladesh, which surely damaged or at least questioned the image In today's world, media is an extremely important tool for any government in the world. Bangladesh government has finally understood the reality and it is a good sign. Let the projection of Bangladesh and the government led by Begum Khaleda Zia continue in positive way, as it has been in TIME magazine.
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