Vol. 4 Num 327 Fri. April 30, 2004  

Jalil's 'trump card' fiasco
A heavy price exacted
In a way, we are greatly relieved that AL General Secretary Abdul Jalil's talk of bringing down the elected government has fizzled out. It was so thoroughly out of character with our political tradition and sensibilities as an independent country. The threat, however, was predisposed to failure because of its inherent lack of tenability. Even so, it had ruffled the national psyche as never before.

Jalil has actually made a fool of himself and his party by setting the deadline for the ouster of the government in the first place. Where his foolhardiness came through as a galling thing was his harping on the same tune, despite serious doubts having been cast in the plausibility of the agenda. What is clearly disparaging is that in the process he has made the whole nation suffer. The childish game he and his party played with institutions like an elected government and the parliament has created an extremely unhealthy precedent.

The stuntmanship produced a hype as sinister rumour-mongering and speculative predilections ruled the roost to the detriment of national productivity.

The government, for its part, let loose the 'juggernaut of oppression' thereby compounding the situation. Its actions fuelled panic all around. The government put up a brave face, on the one hand, in the face of the deadline; but, on the other, it became jittery as was evident from the way it wreaked havoc on civic life through the mass arrests and sweeping detentions. It knew very well that a bluff was being pulled on it, and yet it couldn't avert a threat perception overkill -- thanks to the work of the intelligence agencies and the overcautious interpretation of home ministry. The Dhaka streets virtually turned into 'pick-up' zones, with the innocent people bearing the brunt of it all. The indiscriminate haul-up operation that the country witnessed was out of sync with the BNP high-ups being dismissive of the opposition's deadline threat.

The opposition deadline and the government reaction to it only served to multiply the fears of instability in the country. The main opposition party should shun the undemocratic path, return to parliament and raise the issues of mass arrests and the recent arms haul in our greater collective interest. These are issues of great public concern that the elected lawmakers have to take up, instead of resorting to politics of speculations, threats and counter threats.