Apparel Sourcing Intelligence - Worldwide

A tale of two South Asian scandals

During April 2018, two five-year old clothing industry scandals involving corrupt South Asian governments played themselves out.

In Bangladesh, a campaign to identify and punish the murderers of clothing union activist Aminul Islam in April 2012 finally resulted in the conviction and sentence of at least one of his murderers on April 8.

The convicted man was a serving member of the country’s intelligence service, and the Bangladeshi government had suppressed attempted prosecutions in 2014. The subsequent change in the government’s behaviour is largely the result of pressure from Western retailers and unions. And extraordinary heroism from some Bangladeshi workers, and extraordinary altruism from some Bangladeshi manufacturers – often coordinated by possibly the world’s most discredited politician: Hillary Clinton.

In Pakistan,  a five-year investigation into an arson attack on a clothing factory in  the Karachi suburb of Baldia, burning 259 workers alive, petered out on  April 6. Rauf Siddiqui had been Minister of Commerce  in the provincial government at the time of the fire: he was forced to resign when it became clear he had planned the arson attack  in revenge for the factory’s refusal to pay extortion demands. On April 6, a provincial court discharged Siddiqui on medical grounds.

The ailing Siddiqui was not present in court. He was getting married in Mecca that day.

Later: back in Karachi, Siddiqui was  clearly looking a lot better on April 14

In fairness to Pakistan, however, investigations into the links between the ruling party and  targetted ethnic and sectarian murders have not been entirely abandoned. On April 11, one of Siddiqui’s accomplices in the Baldia murders was brought to trial for an extraordinary series of killings and racketeering. His better-connected accomplices, though, fared better.