April 06, 2004

April 2004 - turbulent time in Bangladesh

TIME magazine publishes an article on the current state of disgrace of Bangladesh. Although the report is a bit too critic, it rightly says:

Bangladesh's drift toward mayhem threatens to undo several decades of solid progress made by one of the world's poorest countries. Foreign direct investment in Bangladesh fell from $280 million in 2000 to $45 million in 2002..

The law and order situation has turned really bad. Many businessmen have already been targeted for kidnappings & murders by extortionists. The worse was the murder and mutilation of bodies of a businessman & his son in Dhaka. The bodies were dismembered in 149 pieces. However, Dhaka police commissioner Huda insists "there is no crisis."

The main reason of the lawlessness is that there is a nexus of corruption, politics and violence. The politicians are sponsoring gangs of armed youths in order to intimidate their opponents. These hooligans were bailed out of their imprisonment for their past crimes are used to work as extortionists, sometimes to collect cash for their political patrons, sometimes simply to make money for themselves. The mostly corrupt police department do not take the pain to work independently in fear of loosing their job and are quite happy to do as the ruling party leaders tell.

Another reason for this mayhem is that the political acrimony. The rivalry between the ruling party BNP & the opposition Awami League is so personal in nature that the nation is caught awkwardly in between. The opposition is demanding early elections and taking the streets to pressurize govt. to step down within 30th of April (which is unconstitutional and a farce). It seems the opposition leaders are losing their heads not capitalizing on the shortcomings of the present govt. but running an agenda which won't be endorsed by the common people let alone the international community. The ruling party is challenging the opposition threat and are applying pressure to opposition party activists by arrests and police actions. It is going to be a turbulent month in Bangladesh with many hartals (strikes) and violence.

In this PEPSI or COKE situation think that the general people know that:

If they [the BNP and the AL] fail to control lawlessness, then Islamists can present themselves as the only real alternative. Another likelihood is that the situation would transgress to a military rule.

Is there a hint of hope? TIME reports:

Sari seller Siraj, like many other Bangladeshis, says he is adamantly opposed to the fundamentalists because he finds their brand of Islam too extreme. "I am a Muslim, but they are my enemies," he says. As he sees it, the government and the opposition must wake up to the impending crisis before it is exploited by Islamic radicals or by the military: "Corruption and violence have to end. Both political parties have to understand this, or there is no future for our children."


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