STRATEGICALLY SPEAKING The Defence of the Duffer’s Drift

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ANY fool can get into a hole as a Chinese proverb goes. And I am sure most will agree that we, given the current political situation with little prospect of an amicable solution, are in the hole now. And we all know why we are there, but whether those that are responsible for the country being in the hole, meet the depiction in the proverb may be open to question.
I don’t think our leaders are inept, I think they lack the mental aptitude that makes up a successful leader. Here I recount a story of Lieutenant Backsight Forethought. And I apologise for drawing a military analogy with a political situation. In a fictional story, The Defence of the Duffer’s Drift, the said British officer was given a piece of land, the Duffer’s Drift, to defend. And with every encounter with the enemy he learned from his mistakes till the sixth when he finally defeated the enemy. He uses his experience to fulfill the task given to him to overcome the adversary. It seems our leaders have learned nothing from the past, from their experiences of the political follies they have committed, both while being in the opposition and, not surprisingly, are repeating the same mistakes to the detriment to the country.
We are presently in the hole, a situation that we have been finding ourselves in every five years at the end of tenure of the incumbent government. The situation is enacted with the script remaining exactly the same; the change is in the cast only. What the ruling party uttered exactly at the fag end of the last government is being uttered comma, semi-colon, full stop and all by the ruling party now; and vice-e-versa for the opposition. Of particular interest is the expression of their unmitigated love for the Constitution which, apparently, they hold more sacrosanct than the Scriptures.
Our hope for a resolution through dialogue was perhaps premature, but history also shows that dialogue has never been a successful mechanism to resolve our differences. Optimism has been replaced by an eerie sense of apprehension. We have had 60 hours of shutdown, and while we count the cost of it with 15 people dead, I am sure the BNP would not be able to show what political gains it has got out of it, or how the people have benefited from it. If anything, it has made the prospect of a dialogue more bleak, more so with the details of the conversation between the PM and leader of the opposition being made public.
And the less said about it the better. One was initially pleasantly surprised that the two leaders had spoken for 37 minutes on the telephone, but listening to what transpired between the two one can only say that while it must have added to the mobile company’s revenue it certainly did nothing to lift our hopes and expectations.
Both the AL and BNP must realise that the country cannot be held hostage to the inflexible position of the two parties. Laying conditions for talks is a non-starter, and yet that is what the two parties are doing. One party is willing to talk but only on the idea of an all-party government while the other is willing to sit for a dialogue only if that is about how to get a non-party dispensation in the interregnum.
How to get out of this situation is difficult to suggest, but it is hard to believe that our leaders lack the faculty to realise the gravity of the situation, the magnitude of its deleterious potential has even caused many a foreign ambassador not only to put their heads together among their ilk trying to figure out what might evolve out of the mess but also to make forays to nearby capitals.
Election must reflect the will of the people. The two parties froth in the mouth trying to prove how much they are doing for them. AL sees 15th Amendment as a guarantee for unhindered democracy and thereby a victory of the people, and the BNP’s programme of hartal and blockade are enforced in the name of the people. Has anyone ever asked the people what they actually want?
The people want election. And that must be peaceful and participatory where odds are even for all the participants, whatever may be the mechanism of ensuring that. As of now that is not the case, and the 15th Amendment is the cause of the political gridlock that the country finds itself in.

The writer is Editor, OP-Ed and Defense & Strategic Affairs, The Daily Star.

Source: The Daily Star







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