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     Volume 12 |Issue 07| February 15, 2013 |


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AL at a Crossroads


Photo: Amirul Rajiv

Presently the government is sitting on a string of issues that have made a complex web to entangle itself into a crisis that no government would have dared to find themselves in. It goes back to the sad and suicidal decision to oust Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus from the Grameen Bank, an organisation that he has painstakingly built to become a byword for human being's age-old fight against poverty. He was humiliated, dragged into the court and the Awami League's (AL) treatment of him has seriously dented the country's image abroad.

A myriad of scandals followed suit. The government's inability to reign in on marauding goons of its student wing made educational institutions across the country resemble more like a battleground than anything else. As though, the Share Market, Destiny and Hall-mark scandals were not enough, an AL minister's personal staff was caught with a sackful of money near the leader's house.

The government has also scrapped the provision for a caretaker government, which is still hugely popular among the masses. To make matters even more grievous, the government failed to meet the World Bank's demand of including AL leader Abul Hossain Chowdhury in the list of accused in the Padma Bridge corruption case. The failure resulted in the WB's departure from the bridge, which has been one of the major electoral pledges of the AL. The project is in a limbo now.

The worst in this litany of failure perhaps has been the war crimes trial. As two judgments of the ongoing trials have come out, it has become obvious that the government has made the laws and has set up the tribunals without much homework, and finding several loopholes, Jamaat leader Kader Mollah has got away with a lenient punishment. Abul Kalam Azad, another war crimes convict, has fled abroad even though the police claim they had his home watched all the time. Some prosecutors that the government has hired have also turned out to be inept, not to mention lacking the depth and discipline that lawyers of such stature should train themselves into.

The AL should launch a dialogue with the main opposition. It will isolate Jamaat, and the functioning of the war crimes trial will become smooth. Abul Hossain and other alleged suspects in the bridge scandals must face the court, and the government should take steps to bring the WB back to the Padma bridge project. A recast of the cabinet has also become the order of the day: it needs more ministers like Obaidul Quader, Matia Chowdhury and Nurul Islam Nahid. All the financial scandals must be thoroughly probed. The prosecution team needs to be reconstituted, and sincere, dedicated and professional lawyers have to be inducted after doing proper background check.

The AL needs to do some quick soul-searching before taking some drastic steps to get out of the current quagmire. It should not forget that time is running out on the party, and in the election year another failure can be fatal for its future politics.


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