Sunday, July 14, 2024

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Recently, there have a series of protests by Islamists against the Bangladesh government of Sheikh Hasina. These groups have been pressurising PM Hasina to release the Bangladesh Nationalist Party(BNP) leader Begum Khaleda Zia from prison. Her son Tarique Rahman was convicted in 2018 of the 2004 Dhaka grenade attack targetted at Sheikh Hasina’s rally. While Hasina escaped, many of her top leaders were killed.

The BNP has become desparate to gain power. It is trying to reach out to women and minorities, the traditional votebanks of the ruling Awami League(AL). Ironically, it has gone to the extent of defending many Jihadis hunted down by the government. This is not surprising, for the BNP was created as a safety valve by General Ziaur Rahman when he was faced with protests by all sections of the society after his unconstitutional takeover of the country. To deflect attention, he used the shield of Islam and embarked on a policy of Islamisation.

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After Khaleda Zia became Prime Minister, she sought to rehabilitate war criminals like Motiur Rahman Nizami and the Aamir of Jamaat-e-Islami Ghulam Azam. They were treated like royalty in Bangladesh. Khaleda also travelled to Pakistan and much like Zia, she wanted close relations with Pakistan.

No doubt, BNP leaders still feel that the War of Independence should not have been fought. There have been instances when they have said that Pakistan was much better for them.

The leaders of BNP and Oikya Front, who were defeated by a large number of votes in the 2018 national elections, have lied continuously about alleged rigging and widespread irregularities. But with people voting spontaneously and expressing satisfaction, they could not tolerate their loss and they started blaming the government for their failure. So far they have not been able to present any concrete evidence in support of their claim. Representatives of foreign observer groups ruled the election fair.

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Ever since Sheikh Hasina returned to power, Bangladesh has taken a firm stance against terrorism. While the terrorists in the 1980s were returnees of the Afghan Jihad, by now many educated persons had joined the ranks of Jihadi networks like Jamaat ul-Mujaheddin and Harkat-ul-Jihad. They had been involved in acts like attacks on atheist bloggers, attacks like the simultaneous suicide bombing of courts in Chittagong

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