Four years of Sheikh Hasina

Sheikh Hasina

Clearly benefiting from the 9-11 takeover of Bangladesh by the military and a total disarray of the BNP, Sheikh Hasina started an unprecedented mandate to govern the nation in 2008. A sensible country and a sensible government in a stable nation would take this opportunity to galvanize the people towards unity and propel the country forward at an unprecedented pace. Sheikh Hasina’s government is claiming strides in the economy and trying to take the credit as if it was her doing. Hard working business community (the ones who did not loot the banks, public or private property) are the silent group who are just watching these political jugglers playing their games. Add to that, the mass of people doing menial work in the middle-east and faithfully sending those dollars to their families end up in the government coffers. These are the two biggest foreign exchange earners who are contributing to the foreign exchange reserves. Instead of getting proper credit, they are not even recognized. The people who get recognized are the same old swindlers who earn black money or rob the stock exchange and the banks, then to keep the money in the Swiss or overseas banks for safekeeping. Those who do not make to the foreign banks get the privilege of making “black money into white” scheme every year. This is a small group that bank-roll both parties from behind and actually dictates the future of the country. Politicians extort rest of the money from taking a cut in the tenders and contracts of the government enterprises. Smaller players like the student unions earn their money through extortions.

Instead of making the people galvanized by unity, we see a split nation based on a political divide invigorated by a patriotism myth. It is a marketing ploy to win a political victory for another 5 years. Instead of being progressive, the political parties are boring the country like termites eating away the bamboo foundation of a hut.

Hasina should take a cue from the United States. The U.S. is the most divisive nation right now and yet, Obama is looking for an opening. An opening that will make him the greatest President ever recorded. He got the people’s mandate. Is that enough to give him a real victory?

How can he achieve that? This Saturday, Fareed Zakaria interviewed three eminent secretaries from three administrations; Jim Baker from Ronald Reagan and Bush (senior), Robert Rubin from President Clinton and Paul O’Neal from President Bush Jr. They all served as the treasury secretaries and they all pitched in to advise the re-elected President Obama how to steer the country from impending economic disaster. As a matter of fact, Robert Rubin is already advising the President’s team on how to fix the economy.

The above gentlemen unanimously believe Obama should bend down and get the leadership of the opposition party on board to clean up the economic mess. This certainly is a logical solution barring dire consequences the world’s biggest economy could fall into.

Sheikh Hasina is a person of strong will and determination. Will she follow this phenomenon of opening up to the opposition? She is in the best position right now to open a dialogue with the opposition leadership for the sake of the country. Both leaders took oath to serve the people at different periods. Both have to remind themselves, it is not a cricket match; it is the future of Bangladesh we are talking about. It is not just winning and annihilating the opposition and wave “Joy Bangla” flag. People want them to lead Bangladesh towards a mid-level economy soon. The time has already arrived for us to become a dynamo of economic activity. We have a large population of energetic youth who could propel the country forward at an unprecedented rate. The party government should just be a vehicle to help this mass to success and not become an obstruction by participating in a game to win only. Bangladesh got its independence and that we are free. It is a fact and we should move on and look forward. We need a progressive and open government to propel the dynamic population.

For once, the politicians must salute the people who got the economy racing. Instead of taking credits, they should help the middle business cadres who have toiled to make a dent in the international business community. Help to unify the country, compromise with each other and move from their comfortable bases. Bangladesh does not need a political revolution to uproot a foreign domination anymore. It was done in 1971, thanks to the leadership of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The country fell into turmoil again in 1975. Ziaur Rahman gave the leadership at a time when the chaos reached its zenith. He ruthlessly subdued the trouble makers and put the country under a respectable system. The armed forces were restored and the country got a multi-party system. People should never forget these events. No one should alter the true history to promote their pet political spheres. After Zia’s brutal murder, the country fell into political bliss from which we have not recovered yet. The trust of political parties to each other has vanished. Foreign invasion into our political system and into our government has penetrated very deep. We dance with the foreign music but with a fake patriotism. People are not stupid. They understand all that.

It does not require much wisdom to predict the next election if held impartially. Hasina will loose and the opposition will win with near landslide. The handwriting on the wall is clear. Knowing that the reversal of her regime can occur, why is she rushing to involve the country deep into a political quagmire with a man like Putin? Why is she selling the future of the youngsters to a foreign domination? Is she paying Bangladesh’s dues from 1971? Didn’t we pay enough? Why would someone make strategic policies to bind our beloved nation for years to come? This government has bound our lot to the foreigners in way that would require a revolution to get out of. Many incidents happened during these 4 years. It started with the humiliation of our BDR immediately upon her taking over in 2009. She changed the name of BDR and the new organization is yet to perform. Our people are getting killed at the frontiers daily. This is only one of the scenarios. Our businesses are falling prey to foreign owned entities. Our foreign policy has lost independence. We are slowly falling into a crevice that would be hard to come out of.

Our country needs big reforms in energy, healthcare, economy and education. We made more megawatts but lost huge amount of money to quick rental shenanigans. Without private participation, healthcare and the economy would collapse if the intelligence of the politicians had their full sway. Education is almost a government monopoly where indoctrinated text books are freely provided. Quality of education has taken a back seat as the children of the politicians are studying abroad. For politicians, education is an extension of their political ideology and they openly encourage the young fellows to become political thugs. We are graduating dull young fellows at an unprecedented rate of 99 percent passing capacity to give a big show of statistical numbers.

If we want the good of Bangladesh; energy, healthcare, economy and education should be dealt with by agreement of politicians from all parties. Long term plans should be made by inclusion of the opposition and not by secret plans of a few. We are not playing cricket where one party must win. In politics, the country must win and that should be our goal. The country belongs to the people and not a family or the monopoly of a single (and non-democratic) political party. History should not be trampled with as the truth shall come out one day. Juggling historical episodes to win is a temporary phenomenon and is not going to work in the long run.

The Bangladesh Chronicle

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