Thursday, April 26, 2007

Bangladesh people were let down by Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed


THE conspiratorial regime of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) through their usual intrigue led the entire country into chaos and confrontation. One after another, the conspiracies to manipulate the election results and to control the caretaker government through an obedient and obsequious President Dr. Iajuddin Ahmed brought suspicion among the people of Bangladesh. That resulted in the overwhelming participation in the mass demonstration against the tyrannical influence of BNP and JI on the past caretaker government. The main objective was to bring about a drastic change in the government high-up in terms of neutrality, transparency, fairness, and honesty. The BNP and JI leaders/workers/supporters were hell-bent on continuing the status quo so that none of the factors were implemented for ensuring free and fair election. Under this backdrop, emergency rule was imposed, which BNP-JI wanted on their own terms because to them anything but Awami League was fine. It was unfortunate for them that the emergency rule was not established under BNP-JI's terms.

The people of Bangladesh had high expectations from this government under Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed for bringing reforms and necessary changes within a shortest possible time to pave the way for a free and fair election. It was really a good feeling when I watched the first speech of Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed. It was promising, brief but adequate, and inspiring. Most of the time our head of the government delivered speeches so long that sometimes the speeches were annoying. I must say that Dr. Fakhruddin's speech was a new type in Bangladesh, which was brief but eloquent and complete. Naturally, the conscious people both inside and outside Bangladesh expected very high output from his administration such as in terms initiating rule of law, upholding human rights, and ensuring civil norms in the country as a whole. I reckon no government could establish these things fully. They could take initiative in such a way that the successive governments will have to let these processes continue to progress with time. Like me, many conscientious people thought that the present government under Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed would initiate and establish the foundation for these processes.

On the contrary to the expectation of the people, recently a few missteps taken by the government has become a matter of concern for the political future of Bangladesh. Many have already questioned whether Bangladesh is going to follow the path of Pakistan, where ultimately anarchy and religious extremism will grow in the absence of organized deep-rooted liberal democratic parties. The attempt of the government to send Mrs. Khaleda Zia in exile and at the same time preventing Mrs. Sheikh Hasina to enter Bangladesh has not been taken in good spirits by those, who always supported the liberty and human rights of individuals in the country where they were born. In particular, the case of Mrs. Sheikh Hasina is very tragic and sensitive. During the past five years under the rule of BNP-JI, she had to lose many of her party leaders and workers in the hands of the killers aligned to the former rulers. She herself survived critically from a grenade attack.

As one can assume, the first case under the influence of the government was out of the blue. A person by the name Tajul Islam Farook filed a case against Mrs. Sheikh Hasina few days ago for extortion of three crore taka. The case became questionable after being evaluated by a good number of people. Some analysts thought it was not possible for Mr. Farook to deliver that much money in one suitcase. It was not possible for him even to carry the money alone. Especially, it was not possible for someone to deliver the money in a big suitcase in Ganabhaban (Prime Minister's Office) to a sitting Prime Minister. As it appeared, the strategy was later changed by those who wanted to scare Mrs. Sheikh Hasina. A few days later, a murder case was brought against her. That also did not dissuade Mrs. Sheikh Hasina to return to Bangladesh. The resolve of Mrs. Sheikh Hasina to go back to Bangladesh is probably the reason why the policy makers issued letters to the airlines as a last ditch effort for not carrying her to Dhaka.

All these things centering the return of Mrs. Sheikh Hasina is occurring while we have a chief of the caretaker government, who inspired many of us (including me) because we thought that Bangladesh was going to be in the hands of a well-educated, well-experienced, and well-articulated person. It was our expectation that the rule of law and basic rights of all individuals would be honoured. Unfortunately, our hopes are vanishing fast as we observe the dealings of the government with Mrs. Sheikh Hasina and Mrs. Khaleda Zia in a totally unlawful manner. Especially, Mrs. Sheikh Hasina has been denied her basic rights to go back and defend herself in the court of law. On one hand, the government is filing cases but on the other hand, the same government is not allowing her to go back. In fact, the government should let her go back so that the law enforcement agencies can take steps against her and at the same time she can take steps to defend the charges against her. This is not what we are observing now. Instead, we observe the unlawful and contradictory steps taken by the government under none but Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed, whom the people trusted with high esteem.

As it appears, the policy has been adopted following the steps taken by the military rulers of Pakistan. In Bangladesh, our people are more conscious and more mature politically than the people of Pakistan. Bangladesh was born by fighting against a regime that suppressed the basic democratic rights of the people. The same people are fighting again and again for the same cause. If the basic democratic rights of the leaders are not honoured, then it is obvious that the rights of the common people are going to be violated. We may not agree on the corrupt policies adopted by Mrs. Khaleda Zia but we cannot support her deportation under pressure to any other country. Similarly, we cannot support the obstruction against Mrs. Sheikh Hasina on her return to her country. It is so frustrating that a number of highly contradictory steps violating human rights were taken by the government, wittingly, under Dr. Fakhruddin from whom we expected a lot of thing to achieve. For good reasons, many do not expect very high from the political leaders. Are we getting better from an esteemed well-educated Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed? Then, why do the snobbish educated gentlemen always blame the politicians? #
Shabbir Ahmed writes from USA and he could be contacted