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Sleepless in Bangladesh


India’s neighbour is under threat of being taken over by its military
RAHUL PANDITA | Issue Dated: January 21, 2007
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Sleepless in Bangladesh It is a development whose effects can spill well beyond the borders of Bangladesh. With political stalemate on elections fast turning into unrest and violence, analysts fear that the failure of political parties to arrive at a consensus will only benefit hard-liner Islamist groups such as the Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen. A real danger of martial-law now looms large over the country if the elections fail to happen as scheduled on 22 January. Immediately after President Iajuddin Ahmed’s caretaker administration gave a green signal to the polls, a blockade was imposed by Sheikh Hasina Wajed-led 14-party alliance. The blockade led to major clashes between protestors and the police. Hasina’s party has refused to participate in what she terms as a flawed election. She says the Election Commission is biased and that President Ahmed should resign. Begum Khalida Zia’s Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), which left office last October, is in favour of polls and maintains that they should proceed.

The irony is that Bangladesh’s political system is supposed to prevent exactly the sort of crisis which has led to the current mess. Under the system, the elected government resigns 90 days before elections, and hands over to a non-partisan caretaker government. But when Khalida Zia’s government resigned this time, she and Sheikh Hasina could not agree on any issue, including the appointment of a neutral caretaker.

For years, the two ladies – Sheikh Hasina and Khalida Zia – have been playing a political musical chair. “We have floods, cyclones, many people die.

But Zia and Hasina are worse,” says Abul Islam, a 51-year-old Dhaka shop-owner affected by the recurring violence.

Strategic analysts in India believe that the events unfolding in Bangladesh are a worry for India. They feel that with the reports of deployment of armed forces, there is a strong possibility of violence abetted by the government. “There is money involved and it has played its role,” says strategic expert,

Maloy Krishna Dhar.

The Indian government, sources say, fears that there may arise a scenario in Bangladesh where Khalida Zia’s party would run the government while its ally Jamaat-e-Islami may toe the al-Qaeda line of establishing an Islamic Caliphate in South Asia. That is surely a grim scenario.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017