In a somewhat predictable turn of events, BNP has called a 36-hour countrywide hartal on the heels of ten of its senior leaders, including secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, having been sent to jail. Effectively, therefore, with Hefazat-e-Islam's shutdown call for today we are looking to consecutive three-day long hartal. This development adds to political tension and shouldn't have occurred at this juncture.
The possibilities of further hartal, adoption of tougher programmes, and equally hard line resistance from the government loom large for all concerned to see and act on to roll back to normality, rationality and a forward-looking track, overall.
It is a critical watershed that national politics has reached. Yet, it holds a potential to be turned into a defining moment should the contending political powers so decide. Here is a crisis to be treated as an opportunity. What the political forces need to do now is to deliberate on the transformed objective situation so as to be aware of the new dimensions to the political crisis creeping in by default. Thus positively geared, they can try and quickly get on to a path of engagement and discussion aimed to make a sustainable and constructive dialogue take place.
The forces of circumstances dictate that talks be held on an urgent and sincere basis. Anymore foot-dragging on the long-pending talk initiative is a sure-fire way of compounding an already complicated situation. One trend that has become palpable is that demands keep increasing without any regard for what is legitimate and what is not. And the other facet of the dimensional change we are witnessing is that the extremist agendas are on the ascent. The people are caught between two extremities, one of obscurantism and the other of emancipated liberalism. Not quite a healthy situation to be in.
Given such an inherently explosive situation, the major political parties in the country have no alternative but to sit for talks to thrash out their differences. Any further procrastination can have disastrous consequences on the nation's future.