Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Case Against Sheikh Hasina, a Pawn in the Global Chess?

Dr. ABDUL MOMEN

Do you think the Caretaker Government (CG) is fast losing its credibility by manipulating a false case against Sheikh Hasina, President of the largest political party of Bangladesh or does this case a pawn in the global chess? The report states that one Kazi Tajul Islam Farouk, the Country Director of the Westmont Bangladesh Ltd, a Malaysia-based energy company handed over Taka 3 crore to the then Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence. The report states that he brought cash of 600 packets of Tk500 denominations and handed those over to her. It apparently happened in 1998 and he never thought of filing a case in last 9 years 'out of fear of the ousted Prime Minister Hasina'.

The case appears to be fabricated and motivated. It also appears that it is designed hastily by a gang of immature officials. For example, a seating Prime Minister never accepts even a packet of cookies without being inspected by an array of security personnel. Moreover, any large packets worth of more than Taka 300 or even a ‘jai namaj’, a prayer mat is not allowed to be handed over to the Bangladesh Prime Minister or to take to her room. These are generally retained by the security personnel. After checking and rechecking they take it to the Prime Minister or send it to the government Tusha-Khana. Moreover, the names of all visitors to the Prime Minister are recorded in several books and places including the 'security gates' that issue 'gate pass' to the person. So the case appears to be made without evaluating these realities.

Second, the government should have checked whether Kazi Tajul Islam Faruk had that much cash. Did he pay income tax of earning over Tk3 crore for the period? Did he mention it in his tax return in 1999? IF he did not then he should be penalised for abating the government taxes. How much was his income in 1997, 1998 and 1999? What dates he withdrew such huge sum of cash and from which accounts, and which banks. Was he capable of having Tk3 crore? How did he earn it? Is he a credible person? Why he looked disturbed in the TV while submitting the case and why did he reportedly left for pilgrimage at the Shahjalal Dargah in Sylhet immediately after the case submission? Is there any special reason? If not, and if the case is concocted then he should be punished for filling such a false case.

By lodging an apparently false and surprise case against Sheikh Hasina more so immediately after her critical statement against the government for adopting a delaying tactic to hold the general election, the CG’s credibility is being questioned. Soon people may start doubting whether all the cases that have been entertained so far were ill motivated. My fear is that by lodging such a false case is the CG undermining all other cases? More importantly, if the CG loses credibility, then it would be difficult for them to hold a ‘free, fair, non-violent and credible election’ for which they came into being in the first place. Such will destroy all the hopes of Bangladeshi people both home and abroad for a lasting and credible multi-party democracy. Alternatively, such may install Bush-ian democracy like that of Iraq or Afghanistan that thrives on civil war and wanton blood bath and destruction. I hope and wish that people do not have to resort to destructive movements again to over throw another non-elected government.

Some argue that such strategy is necessary to eliminate the current leadership of the AL and the BNP with a view to weaken these parties so that multi-party democracy could be replaced by a Karzai-like or Al-Maliki-like government in Bangladesh. It is true that until these two ladies are weakened and disgraced, it might be difficult for any 'fresh-in-politics' to get elected and therefore, should they must go...... not by ballots but by palace politics and strategic conspiracies?

It was reported earlier that the Bangladesh army was looking forward to have a very lucrative and substantial assignments in Afghanistan and Sudan and the fears of the global employers like the U. S. and he UN were that a political government (either Hasina or Khaleda) might not be willing to send large contingents in Muslim countries like Afghanistan and Sudan. They have the evidence of it. When US Secretary of State Colin Powell rushed to Dhaka only to get a 'token participation of soldiers' in their 'coalition of the willing' against dictator Saddam Hussain, even the BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia disagreed. Therefore, they would like to have a non-political government in power in Bangladesh until the end of 2008 by which time all the agreements of assignments and initial deployments of soldiers would be complete. Therefore, it was expected that the life of the Caretaker government would last till the end of 2008.

Unfortunately, complexities already develop in the said areas due to US Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi and Senator Reid. In addition, the Australian Prime Minister John Howard's recent decision to send an additional 35,000 soldiers to Afghanistan when the NATO soldiers would withdrew next year has minimized the hopes of the Bangladesh forces to get the Afghan job. Moreover, if the US soldiers are forced to withdraw from Iraq war by next year as Nancy Pelosi and Senator Reid are demanding, they might be deployed to Sudan limiting the scope for Bangladesh forces. If the said assignments become bleak, then the Bangladesh army have to stay in power for longer period under various pretexts. Removal of Hasina and Khaleda therefore, definitely could help such objectives.

It is pleasing that Sheikh Hasina would fight her corruption case to clear her name in a country where 'documents could easily be doctored or forged and false witnesses and confessions are not hard to get under police threats and torture'. In spite of such dire situation, she has the courage and she is rushing to her country. But since 'rule of law and transparency in Bangladesh' is very poor, should she be accompanied by a group of foreign lawyers, human rights activists, UN observers and foreign journalists plus foreign political leaders so that the case is transparent, open, and public.......not decided under cover at a 'kangaroo court'. Should Bangladeshi expatriates raise funds to hire best law firms and engage reputed international investigators to dig out evidence and profile of each person involved with the case and the circumstances leading to the case. The case should be fully exposed in the international media and to the general public to have a 'just and fair trial'. Secondly, is it necessary to tag the guarantee of a free and fair trial to the prospect of lucrative UN Peace keeping assignments abroad for Bangladesh forces to have a surprising impact? #