The double standards we follow

Khawaza Main Uddin | Update:

Our imagination has reached a point of fatigue now.

After two months of the political turmoil, none of the stakeholders can say when the deadlock is going to end or how.

We have not yet seen ‘the next one week’, the timeframe that was spelt out frequently at the beginning of the non-stop blockade, for restoration of order. The scheme of the movement has not come to the fruition, either.

The crisis rather appears to be quite fresh with no signs of the players being tired of living with tensions and hostilities. This suggests the people, who are frustrated by now, should ready themselves to face more sufferings in their destiny.

Our friends from abroad are perhaps more sensitive to the people’s woes and violation of rights – they have time and again emphasised peaceful resolution to the crisis, through an ‘unlikely’ dialogue between political adversaries though.

Of course, the calls for talks and consensus-building came only from that portion of the political and civil society leaders at home, which has been treated more as outsiders in the game of power.

The actors from outside of the country, conscious of diplomatic manners and sensitivities, remind us that there should be a homegrown solution. This is the area where any regime plagued with the opposition’s demonstration loves to agree with foreign diplomats. But all other points on democratic governance, raised by them, are disturbing for the incumbents.

The current regime in Bangladesh has made sure that the electorate does not even need to go to the polling stations. Such a homegrown policy towards perpetuation of one-party rule cannot be rejected as well by the masses taking to the streets, given the arrangements to stop protesters at any cost.

The ruling party leaders and ministers claim the Awami League regime is blessed with support from major capitals, including the powers which did not accept the legitimacy of the 5 January 2014 elections that brought it to power again.

The stalwarts in the ruling party camp have often mocked the foreigners’ calls, especially the one from US assistant secretary of state for South Asia Nisha Desai Biswal, accusing them of ‘meddling’ in Bangladesh’s internal affairs.

Such a ‘patriotic posture’ could have been appreciated, had it been aimed at upholding the people’s interests, democratic rights, national dignity and sovereign equality.

Instead, such an attitude reminds us of a different standard followed during the tumultuous days running up to the elections scheduled for 2006-2007. Is the current crisis not severer than that one?

The AL had then exhausted all options available, be it at home or abroad. The party did not bother about the nature of the solution – homegrown or imported – to the crisis at hand. And the AL had ultimately emerged as the beneficiary of the so-called 1/11 (2007) takeover, which can hardly be called as an entirely homegrown act.

Still our rulers tend to deny the foreign friends’ requests, even if it is meant for the betterment of the Bangladesh people, when it goes against their power mongering. They, however, count on support or backing from abroad to justify and prolong their clinging to power.

It is hard to understand how the regime that faces global criticism for ignoring and suppressing democratic rights of its own people could make its office bearers happy and some of the literate citizens proud of it.

State minister for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam is the one, whose reported misrepresentation of facts about the views expressed by the European Parliament’s delegation for the sake of serving his regime, left us ashamed of his holding of such official position.

Going far away from finding a homemade solution to Bangladesh’s present political crisis, this regime is thoroughly marketing the xenophobia of Islamist militancy to secure global support, no matter if such propaganda damages the country’s image. Designs are also there to mute the voices of democracy by equating them with militants.

A news item stating that India’s Congress leaders stopped trains while demonstrating against summoning of former premier Manmohan Singh in a corruption case, raised our eyebrows. The Congress regime patronised all actions by its AL friends in Dhaka, particularly the 5 January one-sided ballot, which turned out to be the root cause of the political impasse. Now out of power, the Congress is doing what the AL’s political rivals are doing. History is really funny!

We believe our foreign friends fully understand the needs, aspirations and democratic rights of our people.

But when some of them tacitly display a sympathetic view of the regime’s repressive measures in the name of addressing an imagined militancy, a different question comes to our mind. Will they support, in their own countries, the kind of human rights records and mode of elections as seen in recent Bangladesh?

Helplessly, we live with confusion about which authorities actually give a political party the mandate to govern the county – the people of Bangladesh or some others?


Khawaza Main Uddin is Consultant at Prothom Alo English.

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