By Swadesh Roy*
Hit by political upheavals, Bangladesh is now peaceful. The cautious people of the country and many foreign diplomats are now convinced, Bangladesh has entered a nonviolent political chapter. In this chapter, road agitations, deadly violent politics, will gradually become history. Some pessimistic intellectuals and foreign diplomats in Bangladesh however do not agree with this. In their opinion, this is a deep silence before the storm. However, on any socio-political issue, difference in thinking is a reality; pessimists and optimists will be divided in two pools. This is the character of any society, and Bangladesh is no different.
The naysayers are thinking, the present government of Bangladesh has destroyed the opposition’s political agitation ruthlessly using the administration, but not the politics; and that the government has shifted from a democratic one to authoritarian. People of Bangladesh have never liked an authoritarian government – which is like a black hole through which the snake will enter into the brides-room at any time. If we look at it through the naysayers’ eyes, it is correct because no political movement should be checked by the administration. Political problems should be tackled by politics. It is true what happened in the name of politics in the beginning of this year in Bangladesh, was all dealt a tough blow by the administration.
The pessimists would be right – if what occurred in Bangladesh can be termed politics. For those, who are terming it as politics, a big question is why they are saying this. Did they fail to differentiate between politics and terrorism, or are they doing this purposefully? In Bangladesh, an Islamic fundamental opposition ally called for a political programme but none of the common people came on to the streets to make it succeed. Fundamentalists were successful in unleashing horrific deadly violence. It was totally a copy of the programme of the Islamic States (IS). They indulged in that type of violence, showing highest brutality – which is the way of IS. Their policy is, through the horrific brutality to making the society disturbed. In Bangladesh, under the leadership of Khaleda Zia the Islamic terrorists did it. They did burn to death 150 people and about 500 people are still fighting with death, besides they hacked to death some intellectuals. Though it took three months but the present government controlled it successfully; and former prime minister Khaleda Zia is now the Abu Bakr al Baghdadi of Bangladesh.
Despite the horrific violence, the present government of Bangladesh is going to act against them through a special tribunal. Khaleda, the Baghdadi of Bangladesh, which she has become, should be punished in any way. But the government is going to set up special tribunal for trial Khaleda and other Islamic terrorists. That shows, the government of Bangladesh is going to destroy the Islamic terrorists by the legal process, not the gun. For what the Baghdadi of Bangladesh has done, the government could take any action against her, but they are instead going through the legal process to punish her. Despite the negative criticism, the present government of Bangladesh is so politically powerful that they are going to destroy the Islamic terrorism by the legal way, not the gun. This absolute political power has made Bangladesh a politically stable country and it is going to enter a new stable political chapter. For this reason, it is the time in Bangladesh that politics is in shape and has to wait to see what baby bird will emerge from the egg.
A new political baby will come very soon in Bangladesh because the heat of the incubator is in the last stage for breaking the egg. So, now the question is what type of baby will come and how quickly the nestling will learn to fly? The pessimists say that if the era of Khaleda Zia is ended, the new baby will be a risky Islamic terrorist group. People and analysts can then ask, how much more dangerous can the face of the Islamic fundamentalist be, than what Khaleda already has? For what Khaleda did, she is not only the Baghdadi of Bangladesh, rather more than Baghdadi. Besides that, they have to keep it in mind that the Muslims of Bangladesh are different from the Muslims of the world. When all the religious blindness is emerging in the world, including in Bangladesh, still the majority Muslim’s life in Bangladesh is driven by their nation’s inherent culture. It is also proved that in Bangladesh, in social life and in the politics, religion has never won; ultimately culture takes the driver’s seat. Despite all the obstacles, Sheikh Hasina will win, because her weapon is culture not religion.
The party and ally of Sheikh Hasina is the nation’s culture base and her economic policy is social welfare. Now a big stakeholder of Bangladesh is the business environment. Hasina is trying to convert her party from populist to business friendly. She is trying, but will not go to the optimum pro-business goal. Her party structure and supporters will not support her to give up the populist character. That is why, in Bangladesh, now the opposition of Hasina is the Islamic fundamentalist, who is not supported by the huge majority. They are merely a gang of Islamic terrorists. So the space for the pro-business politics is still vacant. The new baby of politics will emerge in this pro-business space. After it emerges, the politics will take a proper shape. It will be like the Liberal and Conservative politics in UK.
However, without doubt – breaking of the egg, emergence of the fledgling and its learning to fly, all will be created naturally. But every incident has to acknowledge the present situation. In this global village, nothing is out of the world’s concern. So, the democratic world, including India, the biggest parliamentary democracy that is also a neighbor – has to play a role. If the democratic world can play the role correctly, obviously under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh will enter a new chapter of politics. The violent, Islamist politics will then be history here. Then Bangladesh will be a truly democratic country.
*Swadesh Roy, Executive Editor, the Daily Janakantha, Dhaka, Bangladesh. He can be reached at [email protected]