• Friday, Sep 21, 2018
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What next?

  • Published at 01:04 pm March 24th, 2018
What next?
Bangladesh has graduated from the list of Least Developed Countries and joined the list of Developing Countries -- naturally Bangladesh is celebrating this success. And for this success, if one person deserves the credit, then we can name Sheikh Hasina, who has worked hard for this success for the last 10 years. This doesn’t mean that she is the only one who has worked hard: Perhaps all Bangladeshi citizens and non-resident Bangladeshis deserve the credit as well. However, to keep a country on track -- politically, economically, and socially -- leadership is always an important criterion to be fulfilled. After the brutal death of the founding father of the country, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, along with four other national leaders in 1975, many thought the country had lost all hope for leadership. In this hopeless situation, military dictators were pushed forward to take over the leadership. When AL came to power, she proved herself to be a visionary leader in a country of almost 200 million people. We should not forget that what Sheikh Hasina achieved through political movements, others, for example Begum Zia of BNP, acquired by default. As we know, when the Awami League chose Sheikh Hasina as their party chief, the party of General Zia chose his wife as the BNP party chief. By graduating from LDC, Bangladesh automatically takes on some responsibilities. We could not even have thought of this 10 years ago; even then, Bangladesh was often named on the “about-to-fail” states’ list. Coming out of this situation was definitely hard, but to keep this position or grow further will be even harder. For this, Bangladesh needs to fight internally and internationally. We know some Middle Eastern and other countries which used to be rich and developed, but those countries have now become graveyards of economic and human skeletons. Is Bangladesh also under threat of similar downfall? One needs to think about this carefully. Why have those countries of the Middle East or other places in the world succumbed to this situation? In the answer to this question lies the answer to the question related to Bangladesh. Many of those countries were in continuous internal political and social turmoil, and the turmoil was so grave that often foreign invaders easily got access to those countries. On many occasions, the absence of democracy and the rise of religious extremism dragged countries to unfortunate situations. We can cite Pakistan as an example. Bangladesh was a part of Pakistan but now Bangladesh, in many ways, has left Pakistan behind.
Today, while Bangladesh is celebrating, there are some un-pronounced -- though not unknown -- questions on the horizon
The geo-political stance of Bangladesh is in between two fighting giants, India and China. There are advantages and disadvantages in this. Especially in case of regional security, Bangladesh has often fallen into difficult situations because of their fight. Bangladesh is an over-populated country and the majority of this country is practising Muslims. These two facts can be a big issue, while dealing with the neighbours, who are not Muslims. Therefore, Bangladesh should take additional measures, and extra care, in her internal and external affairs. At this moment, Bangladesh is celebrating the success of its graduation to the status of a developing nation with the uncertainty of an upcoming election, democratic space, and political stability -- let alone the need for economic growth to feed the millions of people. In the recent past, Bangladesh faced immense political violence, especially while the country was trying her war criminals and when the opposition parties were trying to hinder the last election, in the name of defending democracy. Bangladesh was about to fail as a country. But Bangladesh has fought hard and made great strides of progress since then. Recently, the judicial court jailed Begum Zia, the leader of the main opposition party, on account of corruption. Many thought that the court’s verdict would lead to instability. But her party showed genuine maturity in not calling for violent protest against the verdict, and they deserve thanks for this. Although any judicial matter should be dealt with thorough legal procedure, Bangladesh has not seen this practice in her recent past. The government claimed that they did not have anything to do with this verdict, but the de facto opposition blame the government for the jail sentence handed down to their leader. Thus, the arch-rivalry between the two major political parties has now become even more fierce. Often in the clash between the political parties, it is the people and the country which pay the price. At the moment, the parties who are religious are not seen in the political sphere, as their main power base is preoccupied with the issue of their leadership crisis. But one should not think that they have become powerless. The Awami League in power, in the recent past, has shown cooperation with a fundamental religious sect which has hold over the vast madrasa education system of Bangladesh. This could be for many reasons, but the most important cause is that the Awami League led the country’s independence movement and the secular spirit of the Bengali nation is carried by this political party still, which is what the religious parties despise the most. One can argue that it has been a long time since Bangladesh won its independence and there is a new generation of people who might not think of the AL in the way the older generation thought of it. However, the anti-Islam propaganda against the Awami League still receives massive attention inside and outside Bangladesh; and, Bangladesh often pays a high price for that propaganda. Today, while Bangladesh is celebrating, there are some un-pronounced -- though not unknown -- questions on the horizon. The concerns are: An election in which all participate; the clash of political parties to be in the power or to get into power; the equating of religious political parties with the mainstream parties; and how the authority will act in the coming days to maintain economic growth in case the country faces political violence like before. As discussed earlier, a country always falls into a bad situation because of its internal clashes, therefore the country loses its competency. In addition to this, in the same situation, foreign aggression comes into play. There is no guarantee that Bangladesh is out of that risk and danger, regardless of the success the country’s economy has achieved thus far. In this case, the most important question that emerges among people is: What next? The question is political, social, and economic. Moreover, the sustainability of the current celebration of Bangladesh’s graduation to Developing Country depends on how this question is answered. Masuda Bhatti is a poet and a columnist.