CHT Peace Accord
We wholeheartedly endorse the call of politicians, cultural activists, and indigenous leaders to the government to declare a definite roadmap for effective implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) Peace Accord. Eighteen years is too long a time to keep an aggrieved people waiting for full implementation of an agreement. It is not desirable that uncertainty should persist; and a significant reason for that is the failure of successive governments to implement all the provisions of the Accord.
We are at a loss to understand why the incumbent government, which was the architect of the Accord, is deferring on its committment, and it is obvious that the groups in the CHT are losing patience in the system. And we really cannot blame them. According to the indigenous leaders, two-thirds of the accord is yet to be executed. Of the 72 clauses in the accord, only 25 were implemented during the last 18 years. The CHT Land Dispute Commission has very little power, if at all, to address land-related disputes and safeguard the rights of the indigenous population over their land. Similarly, the district councils are still ineffective.
Postponing the process of implementation will not bring peace to the region, but will only escalate tension. A roadmap for the Accord's implementation – decided upon with the participation of concerned stakeholders, particularly the indigenous groups -- is long overdue. And if there are issues that have resisted resolution so far, the government should tackle those head on instead of soft pedaling on them.