Tuesday, April 16, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Step in the right direction

Update : 09 Apr 2013, 06:00 PM

The fact that MPs of rival parties have come to an agreement about the fundamentals of an anti-hartal bill bodes well for bipartisanship in our nation. This bill, if it came to pass, would make enforcing consecutive hartals a criminal offence, and those who commit such an offence would be tried under the Penal Code. It’s a relief to see that members of opposite parties can sit together and come to an understanding on something. A rare occurrence but most welcome.

The recent sponsorship of an anti-hartal bill by members from both the ruling and opposition parties certainly makes sense. And starting a dialogue and seeking non-partisan support is a good way to get the ball rolling towards ending the frequency of hartals that we have seen over the years. What’s more, the public’s concerns have been taken into account here as most people are fed up with hartals. According to a UNDP report, the highest number of hartals stands at 173, called between 2001 and 2006 when the AL was in opposition.

At the least, an anti-hartal measure would make it difficult for the party calling one to enforce it, especially if the people were to reject it outright. If Sheikh Hasina and the AL want to be taken seriously, then throwing their weight behind an anti-hartal bill is the way to go. The leaders of both parties have been welcomed to take part in the discussion, and they would do well to throw their hat in with this initiative.

Though we can’t expect both parties to unilaterally agree on this measure, this is a good initiative that could go a long way toward ending the stalemate between the two parties and do away with the hartal culture altogether.

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