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"Political crisis needs to be resolved with dialogue"
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"Political crisis needs to be resolved with dialogue"

phprIQ1kiAMBangladesh is at a crisis point, writes Atikul Islam, 24, a Correspondent from Bogra in Bangladesh, who argues in favour of pragmatic negotiations to end the impasse and a crippling round of blockades.

It is a crisis moment for politics and politicians of Bangladesh.

One year has  passed under the present government. Beginning last year on election day, 5 January, opposition political parties started blockades and general strikes, or hartal. The 20 BNP-aligned  political parties  have declared 5 January as the day of the killing of democracy.

On the other hand, a government political party leader has said that if the election had not occurred, the country would seem to be governed by the military.

Burning buses, cars, picketing, barricading by means of cutting down trees and so on are ongoing during  hartal and blockade. No good buses are running any distances from the capital city of Dhaka. People are commuting in some broken buses with high risk of injury and deadly harm. Some are being injured and killed.

To trace and arrest the real culprits who harm people during hartal and blockade has been a challenging task for the government. All blame is going to the opposition political party leaders and supporters. The chief BNP and Jamaat leaders are facing a number of judiciary cases. Many chief leaders and local leaders are in jail. They are arrested repeatedly and faced with bail in the process. Some are caught up in the silent harassment of having to present themselves to the court every month or  even every week.

Since 3 January, Begum Khaleda Zia , the chairperson of BNP, has been in the central BNP office surrounded by the police. The acting secretary of BNP has been reportedly arrested at the National Press Club. The speech of Mr. Tarek Rahman, vice chairman of BNP and son of former prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia, has been banned from broadcast in electronic, print and social media in Bangladesh. These occurrences have awakened the 20 BNP aligned-parties to carry out even more serious hartal and blockade than in the past. They are even doing blockade during the holiday.

My visit to different parts of the country and my present location in Bogra district has shown that hartal and blockade are seriously occurring in some northern and southern districts of the country besides Dhaka city. People have mixed reactions to it. BNP supporters talk in favour while Awamileague, Chhatraleague supporters are against the hartal and blockade. My recent visit to Dhaka city from Bogra reveals that drivers and owners of buses and other vehicles are not angry about the the hartal and blockade, but feel it is a circumstance of the present political situation.

The government party has taken some policies to satisfy the public, such as increasing the salary of the government employess and giving repayment for any vehicle burned during blockade. But they are harassing the opposition politicians and even some innocent people in different BNP and Jamaat region such as Satkhira, Feni, Chapainayabgong, Rajshi, Bogra, Noakhali, Laxmipur, Chittagong, and Khulna districts through police cases. Government has to be careful not to harass innocent people, because if anyone is harassed, he and his neighbors, relatives, and well wishers will  usually then be turned against the government.

Government is very much sensitive about the International Crime Tribunal. Though the ICT is working independently, it has given David Bergman, a journalist, blogger, and the son-in-law of Bangladesh’s constitution-maker Dr. Kamal Hossen, much material for his comment about ICT judgements. Jammat is seriously observing hartal and blockade to create pressure on the government to free their chief leaders.

If the government insists that is it democratic and not like a military government, it will have to be compassionate to the 20 BNP-aligned political parties and supporters. The participation of political parties is important for democracy. There are government and opposite parties in the Jatityo Shangshad. But BNP-aligned political parties have millions of supporters and activists across the whole country. If they are victimized by the government, they can continue their protest through hartal and blockade that are harmful for the people and national economy.

The government is stigmatizing the BNP aligned political parties as extremist, and is trying to harass them politically and legally. Extreme harassment, exploitation and deprivation causes a rise of extremism – and rise of extremism is self-killing for a nation. So the government has to be compassionate to the opposition political parties, and the opposition political parties have to protest peacefully in ways that are not physically harmful to the people and their wealth. The government is talented enough to understand the well-being of the nation; if there is any possibility not to run the country well their way, they have to take the way of dialogue to create pragmatic solutions based on peoples’ demands.

photo credit: Joe Athialy via photopin cc

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About me: I am a youth researcher and writer on different social, political and economic development issues. My aim is to serve my nation and abroad through research work, and to continue my research as a university or college lecturer.

I am founder of an online think-tank named Center for Strategic Analysis, where I work as a researcher and editor. Our vision is to lead the knowledge society through strategic analysis.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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