Vol. 4 Num 310 Mon. April 12, 2004  

Hawa Bhaban-Sudha Bhaban face-off
A recipe for disaster both sides should shun
We look with great trepidation at the BNP threat to lay a siege on Sudha Bhaban, the residence of opposition leader Sheikh Hasina, as a measure to counter the AL's declared plan to do the same around Hawa Bhaban on April 21. It's a dangerous brew that is cooking. We have been through other close calls to showdowns between the two sides with their incurable fiesta for brinkmanship; but by God, this is the one in prospect that is brisling with imminent danger of an unprecedented scale.

Just the AL threat to march on Hawa Bhaban was itself a potent invitation to trouble. Likewise, if the BNP's plan to gherao the Sudha Bhaban had not been contingent upon the AL's programme for laying siege on Hawa Bhaban that by itself would have spelled danger as well. But now their respective plans to stage the programmes on the same day and that too around extremely sensitive locations doubles the danger in no unmistakable terms.

Hawa Bhaban is a BNP party office dating back to election days, but Sudha Bhaban is the private residence of Sheikh Hasina, who happens to be leader of the opposition at the moment. A party house and a residence cannot be equated with each other, not even for the purposes of political gamesmanship. Politics has become so debased and bankrupt that means have became all important at the cost of the ends. Therefore, what gives a promise of quick result, even if an illusion of it, however desperate and abominable the method maybe, is quickly embraced.

Hawa Bhaban has been a subject of controversy. The AL could highlight it without taking recourse to laying a siege on it which gave the ruling party an excuse to adopt a counter-measure. True, the sanctity of a residence shouldn't be a fodder for politics. Even so, AL should show the maturity of exercising the public mind on Hawa Bhaban without breathing fire to gherao it which is fraught with the danger of the BNP staging a showdown. All this will lead to direct clashes and mounting violence accompanied by loss of lives. What happens in Dhaka could be a trend-setter for the rest of the country with violence engulfing perhaps the houses and installations of mutually inimical political leaders. As we have said before, so are we saying now that dialogue is the only way out; and the expectation of ultimate maturity rests with the ruling party to make it possible.