By Q M Jalal Khan
They should not have been as unfaithful to the BNP and Begum Khaleda Zia as Duke Frederick is to his elder brother, the rightful Duke Senior, in Shakespeare’s As You Like It. It is this betrayal by one brother of another brother that makes the loyal Lord Amiens to sing the following song to Duke Senior in the pastoral and peaceful Forest of Arden:
Blow, blow, you winter wind,
You are not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
Your tooth is not so keen,
Because you are not seen,
Although your breath be rude […]
Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly …
Freeze, freeze, you bitter sky,
That does not bite so nearly,
As benefits forgot:
Though you the waters warp,
Your sting is not so sharp
As friend remembered not.[i]
(Fortunately, in Shakespeare’s play, the usurping younger brother realizes his mistake and becomes reconciled to his elder brother who regains and returns to his dukedom by the end of the play, as a comedy it is.)
Following Chapter 6, “The Chiefs and Their Uddinization of the 2006–2008 Caretaker Government” in my Bangladesh: Political and Literary Reflections on a Divided Country (Peter Lang, 2018, pp. 215-242) and Chapter 12, “On those bumps and blunders and bloopers by the opposition BNP” in my Bangladesh Divided: Political and Literary Reflections on a Corrupt Police and Prison State (Peter Lang, 2019, pp. 225-240), I thought I should write a few more words as a companion article in light of the few pieces of old and new information I recently gathered from the people and the media as well as some recent political developments in Bangladesh.
Of the two major political parties in Bangladesh, the BNP happens to be the most unlucky in having been betrayed not only by who were once its own people but also by itself, that is, by those who still belong to the party, yet try to creep up their treacherous heads from time to time. In other words, there are/were those, in the first category, who immensely benefited by coming under the banner/umbrella of the BNP and then chose to betray most ungratefully. They took the benefits to cast the benefactor away in the ugliest manner possible. They reaped the fruits and enjoyed the favors only to turn, savagely and devilishly, critical of the leadership they were previously blessed with. In their acts of betrayal, they reduced themselves to being indescribably filthy and nasty, as if they were using the same plate to eat and relieve themselves.
To begin with, one such case of first betrayal was that of General H M Ershad. Upon his return from Pakistan after the independence of Bangladesh, he was appointed Adjutant General of the Bangladesh Army by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. When Ziaur Rahman became the Army Chief, he appointed Ershad as his Deputy (Chief of Army Staff) in 1975. Later, President Ziaur Rahman, founder of the largest and most popular political party of Bangladesh, the BNP, appointed Ershad the Chief of the Army Staff in December 1978. Unfortunately, Gen Ershad, with a recent background of attending a training course at NDU (National Defense University), Haryana, India, was a Macbeth, Brutus, or Mir Jaffar in waiting. Though outwardly there was a semblance of loyalty to his boss President Zia, one of the greatest sons of the soil with the declaration of independence going to his credit (among a host of other historic and landmark state building achievements and accomplishments), Ershad was covertly supported and pushed forward by India. It is alleged/suspected that he had a hand, to the pleasure of India and the Awami League’s Sheikh Hasina, in the conspiracy behind the assassination of President Zia within three years of his becoming the Army Chief.
Ershad seized power during a bloodless coup against President Abdus Sattar on 24 March, 1982 and, to disguise his dictatorship, formed his own political party to keep the BNP at bay for about nine years in the 1980s. Then he joined hands, in direct or indirect alliance, with the BNP’S archrival BAL (Bangladesh Awami League) led by the vindictive Sheikh Hasina. To date, Hasina and Ershad (or his JP) have been in a shameless hermaphrodite relationship with each other. In collaboration, they would cause havoc to ruin the BNP. Hasina would not only oppress and persecute, and hammer and hound the BNP and Begum Khaleda Zia in the worst and most destructive and dictatorial manner (much worse than Ershad), especially since 2009, but also would be so mean and small-minded in outlook and attitude as to throw out the sweet-smelling bokul and kathalichapa flower plants that the outgoing Begum Zia, the most legendary politician of Bangladesh, had let grow in her office when she was the Prime Minister.
Moeen Uddin Ahmed, another Macbeth or Mir Jaffar in waiting, was commissioned in the Bangladesh Army, perhaps in early 1975. He was a Second Lieutenant during the 7 November, 1975 Sepoy-Janata Uprising and was assigned to guard Khandakar Mushtaque Ahmed at Bangabhaban. He was promoted to the rank of major-general in 2002 and was made Chief of General Staff (CGS) in 2004, and then the Chief of Army Staff (COAS) in June 2005, all by the then Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia. The Prime Minister appointed him the Chief in good faith while she could easily choose from other senior officers. He was probably a batchmate of (late) Major Sayeed Eskandar, brother of Begum Zia. According to a reliable source, ambitious Moeen earned the chief’s position, superseding a few seniors, by repeatedly requesting Major Sayeed. As the CGS, he got the senior most staff position in the army that he managed to obtain through his customary ‘begging’ and ‘bootlicking’ connection with Sayeed, who, in turn, requested his sister PM Zia. The repeated requests of her younger brother Major Sayeed and also his brother-in-law General Masud Uddin Chowdhury worked as a catalyst for Prime Minister Zia to promote Moeen U Ahmed to the position of the COAS. Moeen remained the Chief of Army until 15 June, 2009 with the last one-year extension during the caretaker government of 2007-08. According to Wikipedia:
Moeen was, behind the scenes, the main actor, although unlawfully, during the 2006–08 Bangladeshi political crisis, violating constitution … Moeen was the key force behind the declaration of emergency in the country on 11 January 2007 widely known as 1/11 phenomenon…He has been accused of playing a controversial role by helping the caretaker government of Bangladesh to retain power after constitution stipulated three months duration. … President Pranab Mukharjee explained how General Moeen lowered him before a foreign President to merely save his job and in turn how the President assured and secured his job from Sheikh Hasina. Many critics view this particular behavior of General Moeen as treacherous.
Following 1/11, Moeen chose to be outrageously mean to stoop as low as a lowly creature in betraying his greatest benefactor Khaleda Zia (as was his other lieutenant, the luridly lurking Masud). Together they must have been criminals in physically torturing the emerging and maturing young leader Tarique Rahman. Begum Zia was their benefactor all the way trusting and placing them in different key positions over the years, but they would treacherously turn against her to strike a deal with Sheikh Hasina, Begum Zia’s main rival. Sources tell that “Moeen was in a hurry – like Khaled Mosharraf – and wouldn’t like to lose to others. And he could not resist the temptation of Indian lures to betray his benefactor on 1/11. In an interview with NY’s Thikana, he regretted not to have become the President. Another example of his undue ambition! If one recalls, he gave more political speeches than the Chief Adviser (Fakhruddin) during the time he controlled the CTG. To me, he is liar too. His book is full of lies!” The rest is history. Only some of his and Masud’s villainy and notoriety has been touched upon in a couple of pieces of writing, one by R Chowdhury of the USA and another by Mahmudur Rahman of Turkey/amardesh.co.uk.[ii]
Fakhruddin Ahmed was the so-called Chief of the 1/11 Moeen-Masud government during 2007-08. Although he was also an appointee of Khaleda Zia, as were Moeen and Masud, to serve as Bangladesh Bank Governor during 2001-2005, he too turned disastrously disloyal against his benefactor Khaleda causing her and her party BNP to suffer endlessly in the hands of the tyrant Hasina.
Iajuddin Ahmed also did not remain loyal to his benefactor Begum Zia all the way to the end turning his back to her to welcome into office both the mischievous 1/11 government and also Hasina who won the 29 December, 2008 election by questionable means as devised by the India-supported Uddin gang (MoeeenUddin-MasudUddin-FakhruUddin-IajuUddin) as she would keep stealing, more openly and darkly, both the 5 January, 2014 and 30 December, 2018 elections, including hundreds of local and provincial elections, always with the raw and naked force of her police power and the ill-motivated support of (RAW) India.
Kamal Uddin Siddiqui, initially a Chemistry graduate and then a graduate in Development Studies at SOAS London with many books to his credit, is the highest-ranking bureaucrat who benefitted the most by serving under Begum Zia, but he is also the one who made an ugly, dirty and nasty about turn soon after Begum Zia’s second full term ended. He left the country on the same day of Hasina’s bloody logi boitha tandob (poles and oars terror) on 28 October, 2006. As a topmost (if not topnotch) government bureaucrat, he did not have to use the same plate for both dining and releasing. During Begum Zia’s first full term (1991-1995), he was made the Cabinet Secretary and during her second full term (2001-2006), he was appointed the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister on contract basis for, by then, he had passed his normal retirement age. In between, from the near end of Begum Zia’s first term, he had the favor of being appointed as Bangladesh’s ambassador to the Philippines. Long privileged by the BNP government, Dr. Siddiqui was always in office enjoying high-profile roles for as many as twenty years, including his position at the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), which later led to his current academic position at Monash University, Australia. He, however, lives in London, UK at present.
It has been learnt from a highly educated, knowledgeable, well-known and reliable source (a writer, author and journalist with a first-hand knowledge of many political inside stories) that probably in August/September 2001 Dr. Siddiqui sent from Manila, via one of his political associates, three or four essays critical of the immediate past Awami League government that were published in the weekly Jaijaidin. Now, after the BNP government’s term expired in October 2006, “Siddiqui worked hurriedly,” according to the source, “to publish a full page article/interview in the daily pro-Awami Janakantha bitterly attacking Tarique Rahman and cruelly criticizing Khaleda Zia, most of which were not valid or were due to his own failings. All those who were connected with the outgoing BNP government were deeply shocked by this act of betrayal, which was vulgar to say the least. It was an ugly volte face by a careerist civil servant who, whilst trying to take credit for leaving his government post during the Liberation War in 1971, climbed later to the apex of government power and position by supporting the BNP. Obviously, he was scared of the incoming AL government. So, he attempted to absolve himself from any wrongdoings or non-action. In a way, he apologized at supersonic speed to the AL for being associated with the BNP. But, he was not sure whether the AL will forgive him. His main crime was not to speak out before his tenure had expired and subsequently a nasty and vulgar betrayal.”
Now BNP, now Awami (as the opportunity suited him or he found it convenient), wasn’t Dr. Siddiqui like an amphibious creature living both in land and water? It is not known if he made a great contribution to the government during his long tenure. What were his achievements or accomplishments? Did he successfully complete any project that he was asked to supervise or oversee and be responsible for? Was he an efficient officer of decency and dignity or was he like one merely signing the piles of files and throwing them around for his staff to collect? The source I’m relying here comments, “He is not only a betrayer but he let down the [BNP] government. He must account for that.”
Reportedly, Dr. Siddiqui, in front of yet another highly educated, well-read, enlightened and knowledgeable professor a few years ago, made a scathing but unfounded criticism of two top BNP leaders – Begum Zia and Tarique Rahman – in unspeakably foul and filthy language. It is the same Siddiqui who recently made a bitter criticism of Major M A Jalil who was a liberation hero. This professor comments: “Major M A Jalil – a hero or a villain? Major M A Jalil is one of our heroes in the 1971 liberation war. I have not known him personally, but he definitely stood against the Indian hegemony and looting of Bangladeshi properties by some Indian army units immediately after liberation. He might have faults, I do not know, but who does not have any fault or shortcomings? However, […] seems to denigrate Maj Jalil for no good reason at a time when the nation is fighting against hegemony and fascism. And invoking some dodgy character (who has benefited the most during Begum Zia’s governments but then betrayed her) as a witness to Major Jalil’s alleged and fabricated ‘rape’ and ‘loot’ is not acceptable. We have seen many so-called scholars sabotage a movement by pretending to support it.”
During the 1/11 political ‘pandemic’ in Bangladesh, there were a few BNP leaders who betrayed/challenged their top leader Begum Zia from within. In the name of reforming the party and under the evil influence of the Uddins, those leaders (Mannan Bhuiyan, Major Hafiz, Saifur Rahman, for example) crept up to oust her in her absence. The most popular political leader of Bangladesh, Begum Zia was then in the Uddins-generated captivity. Fortunately, the insider BNP gang was not successful in splitting the party. However, as a party, the largest and most popular in Bangladesh, the BNP has betrayed itself in not being able to start a movement against the fascism of Sheikh Hasina and her despotic repression on millions of BNP followers. For example,
- When Hasina engineered to send Begum Zia to years of jail for no reason, the BNP failed to do anything.
- When Hasina was constantly harassing and humiliating Begum Zia by taking her to court again and again over the course of the last decade, her party BNP failed to foil any such harassment and humiliation.
- When Hasina had her police cordon off Begum Zia’s premises both at her house and the office with sand-and-cement trucks again and again, the BNP sat idle doing nothing.
- When Hasina designed to get Begum Zia out of her Mainul Hussain Road home at the cantonment area by force, her party BNP relaxed and stayed indoors.
- When Hasina has her men and policemen file millions of fake and false court cases against hundreds of thousands of BNP followers and activists, the BNP leaders have been resting in peace at home without organizing an all-out non-stop agitation.
- When Hasina has entered into a submissive and subjugating ‘husband-wife’ relationship with India, the BNP continues to remain a lazy and passive onlooker doing nothing.
- When Hasina keeps stealing election after election, massively and monstrously, the BNP keeps saying its hands and feet are tied and it cannot swim.
- When Hasina was going to hold farcical elections in 2014 and then again in 2018 without dissolving the Parliament, the BNP failed to do any agitation.
- When Hasina cancelled the CTG (Care-Taker Government) system, the BNP did nothing.
- When Hasina and her men and her police are glad that the BNP remains passive or inactive by not joining to lead any other popular stirrings of movement started by VP Noor, VP Mahmudur Rahman Manna, Junaid Saki, Engineer Ishrak Hussein and many others, the BNP should question the point of its existence and ask itself if it is just alive or already dead.
- When Hasina is gladly gloating to see the useless, hopeless, and ineffective BNP leaders divided against each other, they are also shamelessly ‘cheerful’ to see themselves divided doing nothing to bridge the gap and strengthen the party. And, finally,
- When Hasina is happy to see the largest and most popular party BNP fade and die (as much of itself as because of her knee-breaking repression), the party leaders themselves continue to play a betraying role only to let it flicker and flounder, instead of fly and flutter in victory, like a flag.
Shah Muazzem Hussein was one of my most favorite BNP leaders. He was always a well-spoken firebrand leader. Despite his past controversy (everybody has this or that controversy?) and despite his age, I used to like him most for his forceful speeches in his sonorous tone of voice and powerful body language. As an ordinary observer from abroad, I would have personally wanted him to be on the Standing Committee replacing one of the senile and inactive SC members and even be the Secretary General of the BNP. But I started losing my trust in him after I heard dirty things of criminal nature about him from a reliable source who was close to Santu Bepari, an innocent victim of political rivalry in Bikrampur (who was shot dead on 8 January, 1972), followed by his questionable role as a JP leader under the ‘Cancel My Last Announcement/Agreement’ (CMLA) Ershad. In fact, I lost all my respect for him after he made utterly absurd and ridiculous comments about the glorious Begum Zia, who was/is one of the greatest political phenomena of Bangladesh.
If Shah Muazzem Hussein thinks impressive academic credentials were his criteria for political leadership, he should have joined the Gano Forum of the ever-flop Dr. Kamal Hussein or the Bikalpo Dhara of unreliable and untrustworthy ‘Bodu Kaka’ Dr. B Chowdhury after he had left ‘CMLA’ Ershad’s JP. Since in the interview with journalist Amirul Momenin Manik, he was full of praise for Sheikh Hasina, he should have reattached himself with the Awami League that he had left in 1975. He should know about Hasina what blogger Nazma Mustafa wrote in her blog: that, as she heard from her teachers and came to know from Abdul Hye Sikder’s writings, Hasina was caught copying/cheating in the exam and got a third class, and that she is rough and rude to use such rustic and disrespectful language as ‘Mui Kar Khalure’ (in reference to late Barrister Rafiqul Hoque) or ‘Bodu Kaka’ (in reference to Prof. Badrudduza Chowdhury, who and whose son yet shamelessly support Hasina), etc.
To correct himself about Hasina, Shah Muazzem Hussein should read Matiur Rahman Rentu’s classic Amar Fashi Chai (“I Want/Wish to be Hanged/Executed,” 1999). Banned by Hasina, this book written by her once very close aide for many years, from 1981-1997, is a detailed description of the notorious conduct and activities she was engaged in. Rentu’s wife also was Hasina’s close household aide for about ten years.[iii]
The deviated and demoralized BNP Vice Chairman should also read the following books and interviews that highlight Begum Zia’s achievements and accomplishments that are even beyond the dreams of the so-called highly educated, be they a party chief or otherwise. The titles are:
- Shafik Rehman’s Democratic Leader Khaleda Zia, or its Bengali version, Shongrami Netri Khaleda Zia (2012), which is a collection of the world press praising her;
- Mahfuz Ullah’s Begum Khaleda Zia: Her Life, Her Story (Dhaka: The Universal Academy, 2018);
- Dr Emajuddin Ahmad’s and Poet Abdul Hye Sikder’s Khaleda Zia, Voice of the Third World (2019);
- Q M Jalal Khan and Khalifa Malik, eds. Begum Khaleda Zia: Portrait of A People’s Leader of Bangladesh (November 2020);
- “Conversations: Khaleda Zia; A Woman Leader for a Land That Defies Islamic Stereotypes” (1993) by Barbara Crossette;
- “New Premier in Bangladesh Vows to Stamp Out Corruption” (2001) by Celia W. Dugger;
- Time Magazine’s cover story on Begum Zia by Alex Perry, April 2006, a rare feat to be achieved by a Bangladesh politician: http://content.time.com/time/covers/asia/0,16641,20060410,00.html, and,
- Abdul Hakim’s Begum Khaleda Zia of Bangladesh: A Political Biography (South Asia Books/Vikas Publishing House, 1992).
How many MPs, ministers, millionaires, business tycoons and real estate magnates of Bangladesh are college graduates? Moreover, Shah Muazzem Hussein should know that there are many great people in the world who were not highly educated. Here is a short list (collected from internet sources) of those who did not even finish their school education, or were college dropouts:
- George Washington, President of the United States
- Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States
- Harry Truman, President of the United States
- Grover Cleveland, President of the United States
- Zachary Taylor, President of the United States
- Andrew Johnson, President of the United States
- John Glenn, Astronaut, U.S. Senator
- Barry Goldwater, U.S. Senator
- Benjamin Franklin, U.S. Ambassador
- Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of England
- John Major, Prime Minister of England
- Robert Frost, Poet
- Florence Nightingale, Nurse
- George Eastman, Founder of Eastman Kodak
- Ray Kroc, Founder of McDonald’s
- Dave Thomas, Founder of Wendy’s
- Ralph Lauren, Fashion Designer and Entrepreneur
- Doris Lessing, Nobel Prize recipient in Literature
- George Bernard Shaw, Playwright
- Peter Jennings, News anchor for ABC
- John D. Rockefeller, Founder of Standard Oil
- Ted Turner, Founder of CNN
- Quentin Tarantino, Movie director
- Mark Twain, Author
- Carly Fiorina, CEO of Hewlett Packard
- Charles Dickens, Author
- Andrew Carnegie, Industrialist
- William Faulkner, Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner
- Li Ka Shing, Wealthiest man in Asia
- Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Atlantic Airways and Virgin Records
- Enzo Ferrari, Founder of Ferrari
- Henry Ford, Founder of Ford Motor Company
- J. Paul Getty, Founder of Getty Oil
- Larry Ellison, Founder of Oracle
- Tom Anderson, Founder of MySpace
- Mark Zuckerberg, Founder of Facebook
- Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple
- Steve Wozniak, Founder of Apple
- Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft
- Paul Allen, Founder of Microsoft[iv]
To return to the question of Bangladesh’s political legend Begum Khaleda Zia not finishing her college education, the answer would probably be that the unbelievably beautiful Khaleda perhaps in her mid-teens, and the equally smart and brilliant Ziaur Rahman fell in love with each other. As mentioned above, the would-be President Zia evolved to be one of the greatest sons of the soil and came to the rescue of the nation again and again. As a young army officer, according to my source, he used to visit Bogra, Rangpur, and Dinajpur on his holidays. He used to come from Karachi and other places. A very smart young man who fell in love with the irresistibly beautiful Khaleda, Zia frequently took her out on a speedy motorbike ride. As the backseat passenger she naturally had to hold him tight. Her family did not want this public sight to continue. Also considering the distance between the two wings of Pakistan and the holidays being short, guardians of both families decided that they should get married without delay. That is what must have happened. This story has also been confirmed, according to yet another source, by Zia’s cousin brother Mahbubur Rahman. In any case, Begum Zia was and is still an avid reader of books and newspapers, gifted with her excellent command of both Bangla and English.
Another betrayer (in addition to Inam Ahmed Chowdhury) is Shamsher M Chowdhury, who rose to the top diplomatic position of Bangladesh and later became a BNP Vice Chairman through Begum Zia’s patronization. He was a familiar face in the BNP’s diplomatic briefings, but, unfortunately, he left the party quite unceremoniously after he had spent time languishing in Hasina’s jail. A physically disabled person (wounded in the liberation war in Kalurghat Chittagong and won a Bir Bikram title), he might have succumbed to the intimidation, if not torture, during confinement and decided to switch loyalty. Though not directly with the Awami League, his affiliation with it through ‘Bodu Kaka’s’ Bikalpa route is evident. Was he lured to switch on the prospect of a high political/diplomatic assignment? He filed for nomination to contest in a Sylhet seat in the 2018 election but coerced to withdraw in favor of the ‘husband-wife’ Dr. Abdul Momen. SMC seems to have lost both ‘the mangoes and the sack’ (aam and chala).
It is good that Shah Muazzem Hussein apologized for his foolish and preposterous statements before long, but the damage to himself has already been done. In his advanced age, he lost the trust he had earlier earned as did all other mean and myopic betrayers. Let them repent and realize and seek forgiveness not only from Allah the Almighty but also Bangladesh’s political legend, Begum Khaleda Zia. As I conclude this article, I take the opportunity to refer the readers to my “Sheikh Hasina’s Brutal BNP-Phobia and Her Scandalous ‘Midnight’ Power Grab Through Vampire Vote Dacoity and Villainous ‘S/Election’ Rigging With an All-Time High Record of Humongous White-Collar Corruption” that has appeared in Sabria Chowdhury Balland (ed), Bangladesh: A Suffering People Under State Terrorism (Peter Lang, 2020). Also, another two co-authored and edited volumes, Begum Khaleda Zia: Portrait of A People’s Leader of Bangladesh and India’s Hegemonic Domination of Bangladesh that are on the way.
[i] Act II Scene VII, with the spelling of the original pronouns changed to modern English though.
https://defence.pk/pdf/threads/general-moin-s-story-some-comments.22404/ ; “Begum Khaleda Zia: A Tale of Courage, Patriotism, Betrayal, and Tragedy” in the book, Begum Khaleda Zia: Portrait of A People’s Leader of Bangladesh (forthcoming).
[iii] Here are the links to Rentu’s book: http://amarfashichai.blogspot.co.uk (in English); http://docshare01.docshare.tips/files/2977/29771574.pdf (English); https://mazams.weebly.com/uploads/4/8/2/6/48260335/amar_fashi_chai_bangla.pdf (in Bangla);
[iv] For more references, one could visit: mashable.com/2016/09/22/12-entrepreneurs-who-dropped-out-of-college/ and www.cnbc.com/2017/05/10/10-ultra-successful-millionaire-and-billionaire-college-dropouts.html
Q M Jalal Khan is the author of Bangladesh: Political and Literary Reflections on a Divided Country (Peter Lang, 2018) and Bangladesh Divided: Political and Literary Reflections on a Corrupt Police and Prison State (Peter Lang, 2019), in addition to numerous other publications on literature and culture. After disengaging from many years of full-time teaching abroad, American-educated Dr Khan is currently on the adjunct faculty at an institution of higher learning in North America. His recent work, “Sheikh Hasina’s Brutal BNP-Phobia and Her Scandalous “Midnight” Power Grab Through Vampire Vote Dacoity and Villainous “S/Election” Rigging With an All-Time High Record of Humongous White-Collar Corruption” has appeared in Sabria Chowdhury Balland (ed), Bangladesh: A Suffering People Under State Terrorism (Peter Lang, 2020).
Cafe Dissensus Everyday is the blog of Cafe Dissensus magazine, born in New York City and currently based in India. All materials on the site are protected under Creative Commons License.
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