Establishing mutual trust key to productive dialogue: Akbar Ali

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As the demand for dialogue between the two major political parties is getting louder, there are people who prefer establishing mutual trust first to get the desired outcome and break the political standoff.

Concerned over the worsening political situation, diplomats and civil society representatives have been pushing over the last few months for dialogue between the heads of the two major parties — the ruling Awami League and the opposition BNP.

Former caretaker government adviser Dr Akbar Ali Khan sees establishing trust on each other is more important than anything else right now, and said if the two major political parties cannot revive mutual trust, there is no possibility of productive dialogue.

“You must establish trust on each other. Or else, there’ll be no positive outcome even if the dialogue takes place,” he said.

Responding to a question, Akbar Ali Khan said the political parties should be asked whether they need any mediator to hold the dialogue. “Let them decide it.”

The former World Bank executive director was very clear on one point: “The government’s responsibility is much more than that of the opposition.”

Talking to this correspondent, TIB Executive Director Iftekharuzzaman said, “What’s very important is the political willingness.”

He said there are some people in the civil society who are widely acceptable to everyone. They can also take initiatives if both the parties want, but the political parties should realise first that enough has been done in terms of volatile political situation.

Responding to a question, he said political dialogue cannot be held by giving any condition. “Discussions should be there without any condition.”

Iftekharuzzaman said there were efforts in the past for mediators but it did not work. He said they have heard that internationally efforts are on for mediation but a particular country should not do so.

The TIB has already called upon Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Leader of the Opposition in Parliament Khaleda Zia to pause for a moment in the spirit of our glorious independence and liberation war, and consider implications of the confrontational, violent and aggressive political game, for the people of the country whose leaders they are and in whose name they are involved in politics.

A senior Awami League leader, however, preferring anonymity said, he does not see anything wrong with the current political situation. “I think the political situation is quite right. I don’t see any problem.”

On dialogue, he said he did not talk about dialogue. “You better ask them who are talking about dialogue.”

Asked whether the ruling party sees a trusted person to be a mediator for dialogue between two major parties, he said, “No, I say I don’t know about dialogue. So, there’s no question regarding a mediator.

BNP senior leader Brig Gen (retd) ASM Hannan Shah has described Awami League general secretary Syed Ashraful Islam’s invitation to dialogue to break the ongoing political impasse as dubious.

“The offer for dialogue is hazy as Awami League has neither taken any decision in this regard so far in their presidium meeting nor in that of its central working committee,” he said.

Meanwhile, as their frequent requests to political parties went unheeded, leaders of the country’s apex trade body, FBCCI, have planned to meet opposition leader Khaleda Zia and Jatiya Party chairman HM Ershad to convince them to solve issues through dialogue without hurting the economy. They have already met Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The board of the FBCCI (Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry) has agreed to sit with Khaleda for describing the difficulties they are facing in doing business and to request her for solving differences through discussions.

Source: UNB connect

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