Throwing the country into further turmoil
This has not been an easy year for Bangladesh. Along with the rise of political turmoil, it was visited with probably the worst floods in a decade. Hardly had the flood waters receded than the cycle of terrorism and political violence returned with a vengeance. So much so that when the Awami League opposition staged a major rally to protest against the government’s inability to bring terrorists and violent criminals to justice, it was the target of a massive armed attack. Sheikh Hasina, the Awami League leader, barely managed to escape the grenades and automatic weapons, but the attack claimed the lives of at least 19 others and maimed several top party leaders. Given the bitter rivalries that characterise Bangladeshi politics, there was considerable anger and violence in the aftermath of the attacks. Bangladesh may already be past the brink.
The government of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia lacks coherence and commitment in handling incidents of terrorism and violence, in part because of its own alliance with the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party, whose members are both sympathisers and active support of Islamic terrorists. In its absence a slew of conspiracy theorists have sprung up blaming the Awami League itself and that perennial whipping boy of Bangladeshi politics, India, for staging this attack to ‘internationalise’ the issue; many of these are the same people who argue that the 9/11 attacks were the result of a Jewish conspiracy.
After his own foray into investigative blogger-journalism, Rezwan notes that the grenades used in the attack could have come from either Pakistan or China with their markings suggesting that they were specifically intended for covert purposes. Bangladeshi authorities apprehended a huge arms consignment in Chittagong earlier this year: could these have been parts of consignments that got away?
The Islamic fundamentalists are using the Khaleda Zia government as a vehicle to establishing their own political power. In a vicious political game where the two ladies fight each other to death, the victors will be the fundamentalists who will be the only ones left standing. It may be time for the ladies to suspend their vicious political dogfights and focus on tackling a bigger menace that could very likely consume them both.
Both the parties could do well to learn from Nepal where fighting between political parties made the parliamentary system non-functional and has allowed Maoist extremists to take control. Indian options may be limited, but it canâ€™t be complacent to the developments that could lead to yet another neighbour going down the route of chaos and anarchy. [HT]