BNP concerned despite int’l support

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The BNP and its allies believe the Awami League-led government has been caught off-guard for the first time since 2013, due to a sudden non-stop movement since the beginning of the year.

Whereas the demand for dialogue came from the BNP alone earlier, different local and foreign quarters, including the UN and the European Parliament, are now talking about negotiations for resolving the political crisis.

However, the party is a bit concerned at the international criticism about violence as a fall-out of the political demonstrations.

The BNP camp is still confident that the Awami League regime will have to come to terms with the BNP. The party also thinks that resolution to the crisis is possible if the government agrees to a dialogue.

Now, the party wants to see international pressure to be exerted upon the government so that it comes to the negotiation table. Effective international pressure will make the government flexible to hold talks, BNP leaders believe.

Since 6 January, the BNP-led 20-party alliance has been continuing a rail, road and waterway blockade with a number of hartal (strikes) in between.

During a recent interview with AFP, BNP chairperson Khaleda Zia called upon the international community to put more pressure on the government to hold dialogues. The UN should take initiative in this regard again, she added.

However, the BNP-led 20-party leaders fear the number of petrol bomb attacks and other violent acts during blockade and hartals are damaging the BNP’s image and credibility as a democratic political force to the international quarters.

The government is portraying the BNP as a terrorist group and creating doubts about their movement. As a result, the BNP is struggling to get wholehearted international support, a party leader admitted.

International quarters are equally emphasising a dialogue and an end to violent unrest to offer remedy to the Bangladesh people.

The BNP could not garner enough public support in their activities unlike 2013. Many leaders and activists are not taking to the streets, fearing stern actions by the police. A big chunk of the party is in hiding to avoid arrest or torture.

All these are creating doubts about the future of this movement.

Being asked about the success of the movement so far, a member of the alliance and Kalyan Party chairman Syed Muhammad Ibrahim told Prothom Alo that they have two aims. “One is to force the government to create an atmosphere for a dialogue and hold the dialogue and the other is to ensure participatory election. In this regard, we made considerable progress,” he added.

He also said even with the government’s inflexible attitude and tendency of using force, a big part of the civil society is demanding peace. “This demand is creating pressure on both the government and the opposition. Since the atmosphere of dialogue has been created, if government backs down from it, they will have to bear the consequences.”

The alliance leaders said they have been reaching out to the government for a dialogue since 2013, but never got any positive response. Since they started fresh programme, the demand for a dialogue is gaining more pace.

“An atmosphere has been created now for talks. It was not possible without our movement,” observed a BNP standing committee member referring to various initiatives.

Source: Prothom Alo

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