• Sunday, November 23, 2014

STRATEGICALLY SPEAKING

Is the government losing control?

Brig Gen Shahedul Anam Khan ndc, psc (Retd)

HAVING ensconced her party, for five years, at least that is what the AL would have us believe, in the seat of power through an electoral coup de grâce on her opponent, it would be no exaggeration to suggest that things are not running as smoothly as the prime minister would like. And the cause of her discomfiture in part is more because of the internecine feud within the AL rather than the activity of her rival political party. And in part it has also to do with the state of law and order in the country.
There is no comfort in hiding behind statistics; comparing the number of incidents of abduction and killing occurring now to the past is an odious exercise that will draw only opprobrium from the public, particularly those who are the direct sufferers of such acts.
The state of law and order, despite what the police chief would want us to believe, has caused more than an embarrassment for the AL, although one feels it has long stopped feeling embarrassed for any act of indiscretion on its part or for that matter of any other institution or agency of the government.
Not only has the state of law and order in the country taken a nosedive, a peculiar phenomenon has emerged recently where the intra party feud of the AL has degenerated into acts of gruesome killing of own party men. And added to this is the alleged complicity of the police in the killings, apparently taking sides with one of the factions. When such is the case, there can be no other conclusion than what the title of the piece suggests.
The Narayanganj murders have highlighted the extent to which the party leadership seems to be beholden to a party MP so much so that it is unable or unwilling to take action against him who by now has all the fingers pointing at him as being the alleged mastermind in the gruesome killing. Giving party ticket to such a person for the January 5 election betrays the bankruptcy of the party. Surely the people of Narayanganj deserve better, but they had no hand in his election since he won uncontested like 153 other of his party men. Would he have won had there been a free and fair election? Given the fact that the AL has not put up a candidate for the forthcoming Narayanganj-5 by election to be held on June 26 suggests that it is not willing to bet even on its own candidate at this particular point in time.
To explain the reason for the spate of intra-party bad blood and the sheer brutal manner of the killing is the job of the social scientist and the criminologist. But as a dispassionate observer one cannot but be alarmed at the unholy nexus of the administration and the law enforcing agencies with the criminals who also happen to be members of the ruling party.
One could argue that the feuds within the AL that have manifested in the violent killings are perhaps because of the current opposition-less politics, where contest for political domination as well as for control of economic activity at the local level occurs between two factions of the AL. And where such a situation occurs the law enforcing agencies deliberately keep aloof lest they displease one of the factions, except when they become a part of the plot as in Narayanganj.  


Narayanganj is a classic case where the party and the government, the dividing line has been diluted long ago, were caught between action and inaction, between fealty to party men allegedly involved in crimes and honouring the law of the land. And if one were to conclude that the former perhaps predominated the decisions of the high-ups in the administration following the seven murders that allowed the main culprits to escape, one would not be very wrong. The sacking of the additional advocate general, reportedly for not opposing the High Court's order to arrest the three Rab-11 officers strongly enough, suggests that the administration was not in favour of taking the three in custody.  One wonders why.
Government's loss of grip has caused it enough unease to harden its position vis-à-vis the BNP. That perhaps explains why the BNP has not been allowed to hold meetings and rallies in the capital. The reportedly 20 conditions of the SP of Munshiganj to the BNP for holding elections, one of which is that no provocative statement can be made, reflect the situation. What conclusion can one draw when the law enforcing agency is used to issue ridiculous diktats to restrain the political activities of the opponents.

The writer is Editor OP-ed and Defence & Strategic Affairs, The Daily Star.

Published: 12:00 am Thursday, May 29, 2014

TAGS: Rapid Action Battalion Rab N'ganj 7 Murders

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