Uncertainty in Bangladesh

THERE are fears in Bangladesh that the parliamentary elections planned for the end of next year will be postponed, under one pretext or other. For, the military-backed interim administration, currently pushing a reform agenda by keeping the nation's two prominent political leaders behind bars, is drifting, and has not been able to take any matter to its logical conclusion.

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Published: Thu 25 Oct 2007, 8:26 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 1:03 AM

There are clear signs, however, that the dispensation is mindful of the groundswell of support for both Sheikh Hasina Wajed and Begum Khaleda Zia. To the regime's dismay, it has not been easy for them yet to break the back of the two powerful political movements, the Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, that these two are leading respectively. More importantly, the interim government's offensive against them, both former prime ministers, have only helped the two parties come together.

Witness the scenes in which, in rare shows of unity, the rank and file of the two parties are papering over the differences they had within them, even as the two forged a rare alliance between them to more effectively take on the government. The administration is wavering as the two are demanding an end to the Emergency and revival of the political process. Clearly, reform or no reform, the people are on the side of their tried-and-tested leaders.

There is general consensus that the interim dispensation has not been able to handle matters effectively. On the one hand, arresting and jailing scores of political activists, including popular figures, will alone not help anyone take the nation forward. On the other, there’s a growing feeling that a rootless set of mavericks, with military help, are playing havoc with the established traditions in governance. While the old order has been held to ransom, no new, viable alternative has been presented. The resultant chaos and confusion are there for all to see.

The point to ponder is, if not Khaleda and Hasina, who's there to lead the nation? Bangladeshis may be living in want, but they are too smart and too politicised a people to leave things in the hands of the military for long. All the more reason why the interim administration should go full steam ahead with the promise of the parliamentary polls next year.

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