DECEMBER 2 will mark the 18th Anniversary of the signing of the CHT Peace Accord, and, regrettably, we are still talking about its full implementation. The Accord of 1997 was a welcome development that held the prospect of permanent peace in a region that had witnessed turbulence and bloodshed for a good part of twenty years. And the best we can say about the Accord is that it has been only partly implemented; some of the more complex issues have been left in a limbo. The Accord was swept under the carpet during the BNP tenure between 2001 and 2006, but it is quite inexplicable that the Accord should be floundering during the last seven years of the rule of AL which was the author of the Accord.
It will be well to remember that the Accord was a commitment of the state to a particular segment of the people, a commitment that the state cannot go back on. If there are any intractable issues that are resisting implementation then the only reasonable step is to engage all stakeholders to devise ways and means to address those. Keeping quiet and doing nothing gives rise to misunderstanding which seems to be the case at the moment.
Bangladesh has a very small ethnic population and it seems incongruous that when the rest of the country is developing rapidly they are suffering because the state has not fully delivered what it had promised them. The simmering discontent should be addressed sincerely and promptly before it boils over. Not only are we obligated by an accord to do so, it is also in the greater national interest that it is done.