I would like to thank Md. Mahmoodul Haque for his letter (published February 15th) in response to my earlier letter. I had considered the possibility of government influence or an alleged AL-Jamaat deal with regards to the Abdul Quader Mollah verdict before writing my original letter, but I dismissed these ideas as I could not figure out why the AL would think either option would be successful in reducing Jamaat violence.
The AL had several key Jamaat leaders in custody and a reasonable expectation of favourable verdicts which would weaken their rivals. At the same time, Jamaat was alienating the public with their publicly declared campaign of violence that also put the BNP in an awkward position. The AL would seem to have been in a strong position and if they wanted to reduce the level of violence in the streets the answer was providing the police with more resources in order to deter and arrest their Jamaat attackers. Offering an “olive branch” through a lighter sentence at the tribunal or accepting any sort of deal under those conditions could only be seen as a sign of weakness and an admission that they were losing control of the situation.
After launching their campaign of violence, Jamaat had little to gain by ending it at that point. Even if they had stopped, hundreds of their members would be sought for their roles in the violence that had already occurred. Having one of their leaders spared the noose, but still in prison for life would be far short of their demand for immediate release of all their prisoners. I cannot see why Jamaat would settle for that.
I am not saying that it was impossible that the government interfered or made a deal, but to my mind it does not make sense for the AL to believe these would be successful strategies. For that reason I was optimistic the war crimes tribunal functioned the way it was supposed to.