None but IOJ to side with Jamaat
Jamaat-e-Islami is virtually isolated in the four-party alliance on the issue of trial of war criminals as two of its three other partners are keeping their distance from the religion-based party.
Supporting a transparent trial of war criminals, the BNP and Bangladesh Jatiya Party said it is Jamaat that has to face the situation.
Jamaat leaders admitted that they are unlikely to receive any support from others on the issue.
BNP Secretary General Khandaker Delwar Hossain recently said BNP and Jamaat will now work from their own standpoints as the four-party alliance was formed for elections only.
Against this backdrop, survival of the four-party alliance has come under question.
Meanwhile, Jamaat-e-Islami formed a committee headed by party Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid to draw up its strategy and next course of action in connection with the possible war crime charges some of its leaders are now staring at, sources in Jamaat said.
Jamaat's highest policymaking body Majlish-e-Sura has given the party's working committee the authority to report the present political situation and the party's poor performance in the December 29 elections. It also gave the committee the authority to prepare a report on the issue of the trial of war criminals and a guideline in this regard to follow in future.
The Majlish-e-sura yesterday made the decision wrapping up its two-day meetings at Al-Falah Auditorium at Moghbazar in the capital.
Sources in the Majlish-e-sura hinted the possibility of changes at the party's top level at the end of this year when an election in Jamaat will decide its next top brass. They said the intention of the election would be to wash off the war criminal label of Jamaat.
Jamaat leaders hope that the United Nations will be involved in the trial, in which case the party would accept the verdict and remove the guilty people from the party.
The BNP secretary general yesterday said they would support the trial of war criminals if it is conducted properly without any political motive.
"We support the demand for the trial of war criminals in principle and none should have any objection against it," Delwar said talking to reporters at his home in Armanitola.
He also said the ruling party has to be alert about transparency of the trials. "It is an old issue and the trial should have been conducted a long time ago. It was the duty of those who were in power after the Liberation War, but they did not carry out the trials," he said.
Delwar said Awami League came to power in 1996 but they did not take any initiative to try the war criminals.
"We will keep a safe distance from Jamaat over the issue," a close aide to BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia told The Daily Star last night.
"We do not want to interfere in the issue of trying war criminals as we want an end to the issue once and for all," the aide said over telephone, adding, "They [Jamaat] themselves will have to face the situation."
BNP standing committee member Shamsul Islam said, "We do not have any coalition with Jamaat at present. They were our ally in the national elections and it is over. BNP and Jamaat took part in the upazila parishad elections separately."
He, however, said the issue might be raised before the party's standing committee meeting scheduled for tomorrow.
Bangladesh Jatiya Party leaders also said they support the government's initiative to try war criminals. "Jamaat leaders who were involved in committing war crimes should be brought to book," a leader of the party told The Daily Star last night.
Meanwhile, Islami Oikya Jote Secretary General Abdul Latif Nezami said, "All Jamaat leaders, especially the incumbent ones, were not involved in war crimes in 1971. We therefore think that there is not much scope to maintain distance from Jamaat on this issue."
Jamaat-e-Islami directly opposed Bangladesh's independence and many of its leaders were allegedly involved in war crimes.