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'I hope people will re-elect AL for continued national development'

  • Published at 09:33 am May 13th, 2018
  • Last updated at 09:34 am May 13th, 2018
Faruk Khan
Awami League presidium member and former civil aviation minister Lt Col (retd) Muhammad Faruk Khan Mehedi Hasan/Dhaka Tribune

In an exclusive interview with Dhaka Tribune’s Fazlur Rahman Raju, Awami League presidium member and former civil aviation minister, Lt Col (retd) Muhammad Faruk Khan, talked about the next general election and the relationship between the ruling party and Islamic political parties

What do you think about the BNP’s claim that it will not contest the election without Khaleda Zia?

The BNP always tries to manipulate democracy. We saw the party took advantage of the democratic system when it was in power from 2001 to 2006. BNP leaders know they cannot win the election as they are isolated from the people. I have never seen any political activities of the BNP that could attract votes.

BNP leaders think they can get the people’s sympathy by using Khaleda Zia’s name. That’s why they are saying the BNP will not participate in the elections without her. But I still hope the BNP will take part in the upcoming polls [with or without Khaleda].

How will the Awami League attract young voters in the next election?

We are trying to build a digital Bangladesh. During our nine years in office, we undertook many developments projects and have always been trying to create job opportunities for young people. No other government did that. 

I hope young people will again vote for the Awami League to build a prosperous country imbued with the spirit of the Liberation War.

Do you think that at present the young generation does not like to join politics?

I do not think so. Before the Liberation War, a lot of young people joined politics as the country was not independent. They used to join politics to do something for the country. But the scenario has changed. 

Since Bangladesh has become a developing country, young people are getting involved in various sectors, particularly the knowledge-based ones. They are contributing to the country’s development through their work and that is why they are mostly staying out of politics.

We see a lot of businessmen joining politics. Do you think it is bad for politics?

Not entirely. It is true that a number of businessmen have joined politics without any previous experience in the field. However, a large number of businessmen who were involved in student politics, are also entering the field. 

If any businessman wants to work for the country and the people, then there is no problem if they join politics. But we have to ensure that these businessmen-cum-politicians cannot harm our country or take illegal business facilities by misusing political power.

The Awami League is on good terms with the Islamic parties. Do you think this harms the ruling party’s secular image?

We believe in the spirit of the Liberation War, the ideology of Bangabandhu  of a secular Bangladesh, and democracy. We have no problem maintaining good ties with Islamic parties who believe in the spirit of the Liberation War and democracy.

Our discussion with the Hefazat-e-Islam was knowledge-based and did not centre on politics. We talked about modernizing the Qawmi madrasa education system. After that discussion, we established an Arabic University to modernize the Qawmi education system.

We did not lose our secular identity [despite our good ties with Islamist parties] but instead, we encouraged them to follow the spirit of the Liberation War and secular Bangladesh.

Do you think Bangladesh can solve the Rohingya refugee crisis?

There is not a single example in the history of the world where any refugee problem has been solved. But we were able to sit with Myanmar within six months to resolvethe problem after the crackdown on the Rohingya people started. 

We all know that a solution to the crisis is not easy. I hope we can solve the Rohingya refugee crisis with everyone’s help.