Bangladesh Political Situation Update - 30th April 2007
It has become very painful to read anything that this Care Taker Government CTG says and quickly contradicts within days, if not hours. If anybody is working feverishly to make sure that the Government gets its reputation soiled it is its Law Adviser Mainul Hussain, who seems by now to have taken on himself the Goebbelian spin, whereby a lie is repeated over and over again till it becomes, or is considered the truth? It does seem very odd that a Government that launched a sort of holy-war against corruption, needs to be reminded that falsehood in itself constitutes corruption, and sooner than not, it will have to contend with them and pay a very heavy price. I guess no other government has faced the kind of challenge that every announcement and false statement by this CTG generates, and while the media remains within purview of self-censorship, or subtle calls by agents of the DGFI to mend ways, every lie is being faced squarely and with sobriety as this report that says “Government ‘misinforming’ people” – which should have aptly read “Government ‘lying’ to People”, spells out:
Providing misinformation is more dangerous than providing no information,’ president of the Bangladesh Federal Union of Journalists Manjurul Ahsan Bulbul said at the function. He found lacunae among the three reasons presented by the president, the chief adviser and a government press note about the promulgation of the state of emergency in the country. The Campaign on Citizens’ Right to Information organised the discussion titled ‘right to information in combating corruption’ at the National Press Club.
A well-placed source in the caretaker government said the state of emergency might continue even till the holding of the next parliamentary election, which is likely to be held by the end of 2008 as the chief adviser had recently announced. Similarly, the ban on indoor politics also might not be lifted soon, the source added. "The situation might deteriorate further if the state of emergency or the ban on indoor politics is lifted. Things might even spin out of control due to provocative political speeches once the ban on indoor politics is lifted"
"Most probably the ban is not being lifted by May 8. But it's true that we are seriously thinking about lifting the ban," Mainul told BBC Radio. But he did not explain when. "Not only the government but people beyond have different views on the issue. Everything depends on political developments," he said. On April 23, election commissioner Sakhawat Hossain spelled out optimism that the ban on indoor politics would go by May 8.
It would have been one thing to have the government lie to the public, but Bangladesh’s tragedy is its politicians are not only habitual, but pathological liars and neither Sheikh Hasina or Khaleda Zia are exempt from the accusations. For example, while a lot has been said about the machinations behind the scene during the ‘exile drama’ of last week, the influential weekly magazine PROBE in its report Minus Two Politics reminds us to the fact that:
After the installation of the caretaker administration headed by Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed, AL had given a thumbs-up and said that Fakhruddin government was the dividend of their movement. The irony is that "their" installed government has now termed her as dangerous to the country's security.
Disturbed with media news about her return from the abroad, the AL chief cut short her visit and decided to come back on April 14 instead of planned return of April 27, 2007. The proponents of the "minus two" theory considered the AL chief's move with trepidation. They felt that with Hasina inside the country, it would be difficult on their part to send the BNP chairperson to exile. So, adviser Gen. Matin came to the scene and he established contact with the AL chief in the USA and also with AL General Secretary in Dhaka with a request not to cut short her planned visit. The AL chief and her comrades did not foresee that the 'request' was a trap and accepted the government request
Reports from Dhaka have suggested that some disgruntled members of the Awami League had backed the caretaker government's effort to keep her from returning. Sheikh Hasina said she didn't believe this could be true. "I don't believe anyone in the Awami League was opposed to me during this crisis or that they collaborated with the caretaker government to keep me out of the country," she said.
Far from it Chicago Tribune in its report on Dr.Yunus, Undercut by Praise has this to say ~~ please note the word ‘kelptocracy’ in describing our two national leaders, which would in ‘normal times’ would have led to series of rebuttals from the Government of the day, and ‘intellectuals’ in its employ:
The famed microcredit pioneer won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for his work with
Grameen Bank, a leading conduit of small loans to the world's poor. His best-known opponents for the job, two prodigiously corrupt women politicians who have run Bangladesh as a kleptocracy over the past decade and a half, are under pressure by the country's military-backed caretaker government -- which took power in January -- to quit politics for good
The dynastic hatred between the two women has been seen as a seminal source of the instability and intransigence of the factions in a curiously archaic version of democracy, in which each side contests the other's moral right to rule. One troubling question hovers over the present purification rituals in Bangladesh. This is, where was the idea dismantling of the existing political structures crafted? It seems to have little to do with internal developments in the country. Where was proposal that Yunus would float a new party conceived? Suspicions of the role of the State Department may not be unfounded. It seems that the intention is to nip in the bud the spread of fundamentalism (from which Bangladesh, for all the secular antecedents of its eclectic Bengali culture, has not been exempt), under the guise of uprooting corruption. This pre-emptive strike, as it were, in spreading of democracy and freedom is intended to cut the ground from under the feet of potential extremists.
India would already say that Bangladesh has become an Islamist terrorist threat. The bottom line is that no one—especially most Bangladeshis—wants to see Bangladesh become a place where Islamist militants can take refuge and act with impunity at home or abroad. Moreover, given the role of the Bangladesh army in this military-backed technocracy, the U.S. and the international community should be concerned that Bangladesh' fragile democracy is ever-more imperiled.~~~ Given that the Bangladesh army appears to be in charge, the international community must act cohesively and decisively to compel Dhaka to lift the state of emergency, withdraw the army from the political arena, and establish a specific date for elections with appropriate electoral reforms such as a legitimate voters' list and EC ~~~~The international community should consider abandoning popular aphorisms to describe Bangladesh as a "moderate, Muslim democracy." Increasingly the evidence does not suggest that this label is deserved.
I wonder if our security and diplomatic mandarins had any inkling of the extraordinary turn of events in Bangladesh. The doubt stems partly from the government's less than elevating preoccupation with pursuing the majorly dubious nuclear deal with the United States, and partly from the fact that the often troublesome Bangladesh has not figured as prominently on our foreign policy radar as it should have. ~~~~ With the army now in the saddle in Dhaka, things are likely to get much worse. So what are we doing about it? Keeping "an eye on the situation" means nothing. Vacuous pronouncements will deter no one. Only action will ~ both punitive and pre-emptive. What we need to do immediately is to seal the border with Bangladesh, shoot-at-sight any and every intruder, and send back all the illegal immigrants without further delay or dither. Are we up to it?
1. A dogged determination to stave off forcible attempts to throw her out. Factions within the Army sympathetic to her, may well not accept an insult to the wife of a former General and President of the country.
2. She may be waiting to see if Sheikh Hasina returns to the country after all, and if she does, how she handles her predicaments with the CTG
3. She may well take the media attention off her and wait for an opportune time (possibly coinciding this with the Indian cricket teams tour of Bangladesh) and it is apparently to her advantage that she leaves quietly. There are rumours of well over two dozen suitcases going with her, and nobody knows the exact nature of the contents! Thus, as I speculated in my last posting, she may make a spirited exit when the media is looking elsewhere.
As far as Sheikh Hasina is concerned, she may well return on the 6th May as announced and it could be a low key matter with the media kept at bay for obvious reason. What transpires next is anybody’s guess.
PS. My Chutneyz One List has changed to BdOsint