Embattled begums

THE Bangladesh army has vowed to cleanse the political system of corruption. It's bent on bringing the leaders, who have led the nation from one crisis to another, to book. Therefore, heads will continue to roll in the days to come.

A number of former government officials and politicians belonging to both Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party have been arrested on corruption charges over the past few months. So it was no surprise that former prime minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed, who narrowly escaped political exile, was arrested yesterday for extortion. It was only a matter of time.

The fate of her long-time rival, Khaleda Zia, is no better. Her son is among those detained during the army's anti-graft campaign. The Begums have no one but themselves to blame. While parcelling out the country between each other for more than a decade, they have apparently only pursued their own interests. They have evidently failed to give their countrymen a stable democracy. During their reign, the country was plunged into political turmoil and violence became the order of the day.

None of the leaders seemed to behave responsibly when they were in Opposition. Apparently, the two leaders didn't speak to each other for more than a decade! Prior to the emergency rule, they failed to work together to restore a democratic set-up in the country.

The steps taken by the army to weed out corruption are certainly laudable. But it should also take care not to overstep the mark. Apart from fighting corrupt politicians, the caretaker government should also carry out its responsibility of expediting the process of free and fair elections. It should be left to the people of Bangladesh to decide on their country's fate.

Popular mandate is also necessary for any government to gain international credibility. With polls, people would surely be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

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