Thursday, January 15, 2009

Bangladesh – False dawn?

Good reading, but may be ringing a false alarm, based on sheer frustratation of BNP's electoral debacle.

BANGLADESH politics, like Pakistan, is riddled with coups, assassination and civil-military alternate rules. Right or wrong, the election of December, 2008 appears more as electoral jugglery than the sanctity of votes or human right of freedom. According to last available reports, Awami League of Ms. Hasina Wajed won 331 out of 295 votes, under the monitoring and supervision of more or less 2,00,000 journalists including 2500 foreign reporters. There were no reports of any rigging, altercation or any other indecent incident. Her rival, Bangladesh’s Nationalist Party headed by Ms. Khalida Zia, former President, won 31 seats. Apparently, all went well and questioning legitimacy of Awami League landslide victory appears criminal.

According to subsequent reports Ms. Hasina Wajed Wajid again opened up Pandora box of the 1970’s war crimes and BNP countered her rival reminding her supporters how national referendum held in May 1976, approved by 99% voters, affirmed their confidence in President Zia’s policies, that helped him winning June 1978 elections. By and large, Ms. Khalida Zia BNP was leading in the opinion poll surveys. But, the election results not only startled the entire world when sensational disclosure about Awami Lealgue’s overwhelming majority by 2/3 majority was announced. Later it was further disclosed that Awami Leagues’ party workers, hooligans and ruffians created mayhem by forcing the voters, to stamp their votes in favor of Awami League candidates at gun points. Their official lobby helped them jamming mobile transmission to preclude any possibility of calling rescue team of security forces or para-military forces, performing election duties. Her coalition partners manipulated and signed underhand deals to win the election through all hooked and crooked means. In short, Awami Leagues miraculous landslide victory, if grilled to unbiased analysis is liable to expose many hidden loopholes.

The separation of Bangladesh left Pakistanis hearts bleeding with grief. Acknowledged or otherwise, most of the elders, if not all, still hold their Bengali Muslim brothers in high esteem. They still, curiously watch all the developments and pray for their betterment and prosperity. But it is now feared that wheel of fortune is taking a strange turn. These Pakistanis have neither anything to do with the internal politics of Bangladesh nor want to deride the leaders of Awami League but dynamics of change which the hidden enemies are now playing, one like in Pakistan does not bode well for Bangladesh’s future. It is said whom the God would destroy, make mad. Hasina wajid’s party is playing in the hands of those who have stings in their tails.

If one really digs deep to probe what all went wrong in the final rounds of tight contests, in reversing the trends, role of the hidden hands of vested interests would become tangible/discernible. The role played by the Military rulers, to deliver pre-cast results, by cordoning of politics to unleash a politics of hide and seek, exert pulls and pressures, ruthless use of tools of influence, discriminate application of instruments of coercion and repression crystallized clouds of suspicions. But, this not perhaps the all, rather it appears to be the beginning of new game against patriotic peaceful Muslim bloc dubbed as fundamentalists, with no valid reasons.

Bangladesh was a country whose only fulmination was directed against linguistic disparity – its political elite’s rancor over power sharing anomalies and real or perceived much publicized issue of economic disparities created ripples in the friendly relations between people of East and West Pakistan, when the dust about such asymmetries were being blown. The masses ignored how many common features between the nations of the two limbs, lying apart are common. The binding features such as cultural heritage, history of Muslim struggle against imperial forces, bond of religion - bonhomie of the past relationship based on common political and economic outlook, bound the two entities into a single mould.

Since the politicians of West Pakistan enjoyed upper hand, tilt in having unequal share in power would naturally create some bickering. But such unfriendly features were temporary, whereas common traits ran into hundreds. It was as if, a patient having palpitation, headache, blurt vision, insomnia and such complaints, decides to commit a suicide rather than treating his disease. There were clear indications that one day this balance will shift from West to East Pakistan, as the electoral college of East Pakistan was more in number than West Pakistan. This would have either turned the tilt in East Pakistan’s favor or both might have experienced alternating bouts of changes. But such diversities do exist in every state and country. Even in Pakistan, the language and even some features of culture do change after twenty kilometers or so.

While New Delhi’s well-entrenched lobby was sowing the seeds of dissents through Hindu academicians through their enticed chauvinistic elements in most of the universities and seats of learning, the politicians in West Pakistan were busy in playing power innings. It was a classical show of Indian par excellence psychological warfare to win over the Bengalis by playing all hooked and crooked means. To achieve their objectives they blew up things, created storm in the tea-cups, made mockery of treatment being met by them and made hill out of molehill. When the reins of power passed into the hands of humpty-dumpty General Yahha Khan and debauchee like A.A.K Niazi, time was perhaps ripe for Ms. Indira Gandhi to emerge as epoch making leaders to deliver her final blow to tear up Pakistan into two parts apart. If the leadership had demonstrated an iota of political acumen in those early formative days, history of Pakistan would have been different today.

What Pakistan experienced during the recent past at the hands of its enemy is no secret to the world, India first unleashed a reign of terror by turning Pakistan into a cauldron of sabotage and subversion and the world watched so desperately. It shook the country with 580 bomb blasts, killed thousands of its innocent people, and rendered millions displaced by hitting the centers of peace like Marriot, ruining institutions like FIA, devastating its Ordinance Factory and creating unprecedented trauma by targeting its administrative network. The people could not guess what all enemy would cook up.

Since Bangladesh is already facing very serious charges e.g. providing sanctuary to the fugitive rebels of ULFA and other separatist guerrilla leaders of Manipur, Tripura, Assam and Islamic extremists from across the entire Asia. God forbid, tomorrow Bangladesh would face Mumbai like situation as in the words of former Indian foreign secretary “but beneath the diplomatic niceties, it is quite likely that India’s greater hope lay with Sheikh Hasina, so there should be considerable satisfaction in South Block as the turn of events” Indian bids to implicate Pakistan in Mumbai fiasco also alarm its bell in Bangladesh, as the supporters of Ms Khalida Zia might face similar charges for alleged charges of providing sanctuary to the rebel leaders of ULFA and a number of separatist groups in Bangladesh.

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