Mention Uzbekistan to me and I conjure up romantic visions of a fabled city called Samarkand, and of the great and vibrant trade route or Silk Road and all the great intrigues and powerplays down the centuries from Alexander the Great to Tamurlane to the Great Game to….er Islom Karimov. Who he you ask? Well firstly he is a mate of George Bush. So if you are thinking that Karimov must then be a tinpot dictator who boils people to death and presides over a country which uses child labour for cotton production, you would be right.

So what has all this to do with Bangladesh? Well from July, several European and U.S. firms will not buy Bangladeshi garments if they are made with cotton from Uzbekistan. This Uzbek cotton is bad news for an industry already under a variety of pressures - a lot of it self-inflicted of course. President Karimov recently wrote a book with a very catchy title - “Uzbek people will never depend on anyone.” This is a somewhat surprising title as Uzbekistan is very much dependent on trade. Therefore they are sparing no effort and have sent out their deputy minister for foreign economic relations and trade and investment Nasriddin Najimov to reassure cotton importing nations that all this child labour stuff is a load of old codswallop and that the country can’t be held responsible├é┬á if Uzbek children love to play in cotton fields picking cotton. Its a traditional child’s pastime apparently.

And talking of children, Karimov’s daughter - Gulnara Karimova - has just been appointed a minister! Now which country does that remind you of?? She is a real go-getter it seems having accumulated vast amounts of wealth in the country’s energy industry. Not only that she is also multi-talented. She appears on state tv in her music videos. Going by the name Googoosha, you can see her perform a delightful ditty here on Youtube.