Verdict paves way for secular democracy
The Supreme Court (SC) verdict on the fifth amendment to the constitution paved the way for secular multiparty democracy and development, Law Minister barrister Shafique Ahmed said yesterday.
He was speaking at a workshop styled "Combating terrorism in Bangladesh: developing a national counter-terrorism strategy" in a city hotel, organised by Bangladesh Enterprise Institute (BEI) in association with Defence Institutions Reform Initiative (DIRI).
"Extra-constitutional takeover of state power obstructed the smooth journey of democracy, and the basic structure of the constitution was changed by removing secularism from the constitution," Shafique said.
The SC on Tuesday released the full text of its judgment, around six months after it upheld except for a few changes the High Court verdict that denounced military rule and restored secular spirit of the original constitution.
The fifth amendment legitimised the military rule and the governments since killing of then president Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on August 15, 1975, to April 9, 1979.
The minister emphasised the need for a trusting civil-military relationship as per the constitution, the laws of the land and the established norms and practices.
The principal state organs--executive, parliament and judiciary--must be respected and there should be working relation among them, he said.
Shafique stressed the importance of maintaining the chain of command with prime minister as head of government for smooth functioning of a democratic state.
On combating terrorism, he said Bangladesh has been successful in apprehending a large number of terrorists, but this should not give any cause to relax.
Capacity building of the law enforcers, intelligences and improving coordination among different agencies in the country are imperative to fight extremism, he said.
US Ambassador to Bangladesh, James F Moriarty, commended Bangladesh's role in fighting terrorism, saying Bangladesh is playing an important role in keeping regional stability in South Asia when militants and extremists are trying to destabilise the region.
Bangladesh has proven its commitments to catching and prosecuting suspected terrorists, he said, adding that it is now important to identify roles of different agencies, civil society, military, parliament and other elected officials to bolster the fight against the extremists.
Moriarty said alongside the move against terrorism, Bangladesh should keep improving its democracy and governance, and respect the rule of law and human rights.
"I urge you to think about protections for human rights and rule while developing a national strategy to combat terrorism," he told the participants from home and abroad.
BEI President Farooq Sobhan and DIRI Programme Coordinator John Hansen also spoke.