Question over commitment
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been widely accused of playing fast and loose with democracy but the sincerity of BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia's commitment to democracy is also being questioned by many analysts, says a “standard note” of the British Parliament.
The British House of Commons on Wednesday issued a political update in which it voiced concern over the ongoing violence in Bangladesh. The five-page note styled “Political crisis in Bangladesh: January 2015 update” said the political scene in the country remained as turbulent as ever.
“Some wonder whether Khaleda Zia may actually be hoping that her current strategy forces the army to intervene once again and oust the AL government. As yet, there is no sign of this happening. Perhaps understandably, given just how treacherous the waters are, Western donors have held back from imposing sanctions of any kind,” it mentioned.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament Delegation for South Asia has expressed its deep concern at the outbreak of political violence and called for maximum restraint and also asked all political parties to engage in genuine dialogue in order not to further endanger Bangladesh's democratic course and development.
In a press statement, Chair of the delegation Jean Lambert said, “Basic freedoms, including freedom of assembly, speech, and movement have to be respected by all political forces, without exception.”
However, the note of the British House of Commons said despite the almost constant political turmoil, Bangladesh's economy continues to perform remarkably well.
Terming the January 5 general election as “extremely flawed”, the note said the western donors refused to endorse the election outcome on the grounds that it did not reflect the will of the people of Bangladesh.
“In recent weeks, the hostilities between the 'battling Begums' have further intensified,” said the note as it details the events after January 5, 2015 when police confined Khaleda Zia to her Gulshan office and she called for an indefinite countrywide transport blockade in protest.
Regarding BNP Senior Vice-Chairman Tarique Rahman, the note said, “A gagging order was also issued against Tarique Rahman, banning the media from publishing statements by him.” The chairman of Ekushey Television, it added, was arrested shortly after the channel broadcast a speech by Tarique.
About calls within Bangladesh for the extradition of Tarique Rahman, it said under the Extradition Act 2003, Bangladesh can make an extradition request to the UK authorities, but it does not necessarily mean that the UK will actually extradite.
“The UK does not extradite people who could be, will be or have been sentenced to death. Extradition becomes possible only if assurances are received that the sentence will not be carried out,” it said.