How Bangladesh can overcome one of her major problems?

I
 
Bangladesh has to cope up with many problems, some of which are the following:

  1. Natural calamities;
  2. Population growth;
  3. Economic backwardness;
  4. Unemployment, and last, but not the least,
  5. Islamic fundamentalism.

Problems from 1 to 4 are perennial. Even though many Bangladeshis blame Farraka Barrage in India for the causation of periodical floods in Bangladesh, but it is not the real and only cause. Bangladesh suffered two of its severest floods in 1904 and 1954, when India had not built the barrage. Since, I believe, well-informed readers know this fact well, I am not saying more on the causes of flood and their impacts on Bangladesh. Instead, I am concentrating in this write up on problem 5, which needs to be addressed on an emergency basis.

Islamic fundamentalism is a recent development. Recent in the sense that it was not as severe or destructive a decade ago as it is today. Though there are many causes for the birth and growth of this monster -- the Quran’s teachings being one of them -- it needs to be faced and destroyed before it engulfs the entire country in the very near future.

The grenade attack perpetrated on Sk. Hasina on August 21, 2004 in Dhaka by the Muslim fundamentalists should be an eye-opener for all the people of Bangladesh. As a result of the attack, people have been feeling insure and their means of livelihood are also at stake. They need to put the jinni of the Islamic fundamentalism into a bottle and only then would they be able to concentrate on other aspects of their daily lives. But how to do it is the most important question, which I am going to address below:

Bangladesh has only two political parties, capable of forming governments, and ruling the county. They are Awami League and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Other smaller parties have no chance of coming to power any time soon, as they lack not only organizational abilities, the number of their supporters is also miniscule.

In the general elections, both the Awami League and BNP are not always expected to have landslide victories. Since Bangladesh has a parliamentary form of government, only party that has majority in the parliament can form the government. Due to this constraint, any party that has less than a majority of members in the parliament is forced to form a coalition with the smaller parties in order to become the ruling party of the country.

The example is the present government of Bangladesh. As it did not have a majority in the parliament, it was forced to join hands with two Islamic political parties so that it could become the ruler of the country.

In this type of coalitions, ‘take and give’ is the rule of the game. As BNP needed the Islamists’ support, it had to give them ministerial posts, without which they would not have helped BNP to come to power.

After the Islamists got their ministerial portfolios, they became very powerful. They have not only been sheltering the miscreants of their parties, they are also inciting them to get involved in more heinous crimes, with the confidence that so long as they would remain in power, the remaining elements of BNP would not be able to resist them in any way. Their attempt at reining in the Islamic miscreants would be a cause for BNP’s downfall from power.

If both the BNP and Awami League wish to curtail or control, to some extent, the destructive activities of the Islamists in their country, they have only one way to go about it. And it is the promise not to form coalitions with the Islamic Parties ever. To achieve this objective, both the political parties can do the following:

Both BNP and Awami League should come to an understanding that both of them would form governments and rule the country in rotation. If in any election, BNP fails to get the majority in the parliament, in that event, Awami League would support it, without asking for any ministerial positions, to form the government. Likewise, BNP would help Awami League to form its government, when it is its turn to rule the country.

In this way, they would be able to avoid formation of coalition governments. When there would be no need of coalitions, Muslim fundamentalists would have no or little chance to occupy ministerial portfolios. Without ministerial powers, Islamists would not have as much freedom as they have now to indiscriminately kill people and destroy the fabrics of the nation.

I hope the political leaders as well as the intellectuals of Bangladesh would pay due attention to my proposal. I am confident that my proposal has a lot of weight and that it deserves a thorough and careful scrutiny by all who care about the wellbeing of Bangladesh and its people, for nothing sort of my proposal is likely to help Bangladesh in its dire situation.

Are Bangladeshis willing to support my proposal?

August 25, 2004

Mohammad Asghar writes from USA. 

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