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About-turn in Dhaka

Filed on October 10, 2007

GOVERNANCE and leadership are no simple tasks. They are easier said than done, as Bangladesh’s interim, military-backed dispensation is learning the hard way. Hence, the about-turn on the anti-corruption front and the setting up of an escape route, a ‘truth commission’, that would, in effect, allow businessmen booked for corruption to go scot-free by a simple admission of guilt.

The ground reality, as is admitted by the nation’s central bank itself, is grim: the economy has slowed down and would miss the seven per cent growth target set for this financial year; and jailing of businessmen is being touted as a contributory factor. This, clearly, is just one among the many wrong signals coming out of Bangladesh these days. So, where was the interim government taking the nation and its people to, with all its bombasts about good governance, over and above its lambasts on, and arrests of, former prime ministers Shaikh Hasina Wajed and Begum Khaleda Zia?

Information minister’s exasperation over the current state of affairs is funny, yet understandable, to the effect that, “Can you imagine how many people will lose their jobs if these companies cannot function because of the detention of the businessmen?” Should the interim government not have thought about such a disaster, disadvantage, before it set out to clean, reform, the Augean stables? The logical question that it must answer now is, why only businessmen, why not corrupt politicians too?

Political governance, or leadership, is essentially for the people’s welfare and the nation’s progress, and it is incumbent upon any responsible form of governance to build a mood of overall optimism. Big talks, grandiose schemes, or even best intentions alone will not do. The results must be positive and encouraging, and the momentum forward. That the interim government lacks direction, is losing out on many fronts, and is simply out on what looked like a wild goose chase, is in itself a pity.

The fact is that the military cannot mastermind political or economic reforms. It has its own agenda, both long-term and short-term. Those who sided with the military are neither doing a service to themselves nor to the nation. Expedite the election process, hold it in a fair manner, and leave governance to the people’s leaders.





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