CG issue can be resolved through talks: Khaleda

June 30, 2013

She urges US to withdraw GSP suspension
Leader of opposition and BNP chairperson, Begum Khaleda Zia, in a speech in Parliament on Saturday, made a clarion call for forging greater national unity, withering political conflict and clash, and urged the government to take steps to hold the next general election under a neutral and non-party government. She also noted that the ongoing crisis over the poll-time government can be resolved through compromise, instead of conflict.
“Our position on the poll-time government is very clear. We will not participate in the general election under any partisan government, because, in the context of Bangladesh, no partisan government can ensure a level playing field, during election,” the former prime minister said, while taking part in a discussion on the budget.
In her nearly two-hour-long speech, the opposition leader dealt with critical national issues, such as, suspension of GSP by the US, Hefazat-e-Islam, Dr Yunus and Grameen Bank, Indo-Bangladesh relations, corruption in Padma bridge project, freedom of press, human rights, and observed that the government has miserably failed to ensure governance in the country.
About her party’s demand for the caretaker government, she said, “The Prime Minister, often, cite the example of the immediate past military-backed government of Dr Fakhruddin, to defend her government’s move to scrap the caretaker government system, but, the fact is that government was not a caretaker government, it was an unconstitutional government.”
She alleged that though Supreme Court, in its first verdict, had said that the next two general elections can be held under a caretaker government, on grounds of national interest, the ruling party scrapped the CG system ignoring this part of the verdict, which, according to the BNP chief, has caused the present political impasse.
“So, the government has to resolve this crisis, as the ruling alliance has the majority to amend the Constitution,” she argued.
She said her party wants friendly relations with all neighbours, including India, but that should be on the basis of equal respect.
In this regard, she pointed out that the killings of Bangladeshis by Indian border guards, along the border, was a major impediment for establishing good relations with India, and urged the Indian government to stop such killing.
Terming the abusive words used in Parliament as shameful, Khaleda regretted that decent people have been hurt by indecent remarks coming from responsible leaders of the ruling party, ministers, and even the leader of the House, against the opposition and its national leaders.
“The remarks made against Shahid president Ziaur Rahman, myself, my family members, and the leaders of the opposition, are not civilised words. We are no used to hearing such abusive statements. It is against my decency and family education, to reply to these indecent speeches. That’s why, we feel embarrassed and are ashamed of taking part in parliamentary activities,” she said.
The opposition leader said sometimes it is best to ignore indecent remarks and remain silent.
“We should examine as to what lesson the new generation takes from us and what language young lawmakers are encouraged to use. If we want to sustain democracy and maintain parliamentary norms, there is no use accusing young lawmakers of both the treasury and opposition benches. We have to get the answer as to why the atmosphere in Parliament has been polluted,” she added.
The BNP chairperson termed the suspension of the GSP facility by the USA as a “bad news”, and said the garments industry has been playing a significant role in empowering women. “We will suffer badly, socially and economically, if this industry falls in crises,” she added. She called upon the US government and administration to withdraw the decision to suspend the GSP facility for Bangladesh, for the time being.
Khaleda also called upon friendly countries, including European countries, Japan and Canada, not to follow the decision of the US, since it will mainly affect garments workers.
She denied writing to a foreign newspaper, urging the US to cancel the GSP facility to Bangladesh. “The question doesn’t arise… I didn’t write such a letter. Rather, I called upon US leaders to maintain the GSP facility, whenever I met them,” she said.
Referring to the crackdown on the Hefazat-e-Islam rally at Shapla Square in the early hours of May 6, the opposition leader said the government had lost its credibility, whatever be the number of casualties.
She criticised the government move to break up Grameen Bank into 19 units, and said the opposition stand on this remains in favour of Nobel Laureate Dr Muhammad Yunus, and his bank. The BNP leader made it clear that her party strongly backed the position of Dr Yunus, over the Grameen Bank issue. She said the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) was formed by the BNP government to combat crimes, but this force is now being used to serve political purposes, and to suppress political opponents.
She alleged that the police are filing cases against thousands of unnamed people and collecting a huge amount of money, showing them as arrested. It is an open secret and has to be stopped, she said.
Independent mass media and journalism are needed for strengthening democracy. But they have already been fettered by the ruling Awami League, she alleged. Quoting from news published in different dailies, the former premier claimed that thousands of journalists have been subjected to attack, during the last four years.
She claimed that law enforcers and ruling party cadres had killed at least 16 journalists, during the same time.
Khaleda Zia urged the government to lift the embargo on the daily Amar Desh and Diganta and Islamic TV channels. She also asked the government to ensure immediate release of Amar Desh acting editor Mahmudur Rahman.
The government has stopped the telecast of Diganta and Islamic TV, as these channels made live telecast when the law enforcers evicted Hefazat-e-Ismai Bangladesh activists at Motijheel Shapla Chattar, she alleged. Broadcasting of Channel One and Jamuna TV have also been cancelled unlawfully. The government should take steps to resume the channels, in the interest of the country’s democracy, she said.
Accusing the government of unleashing politics of vengeance, Khaleda Zia said that electronic, print and different social and mass media outlets have been victims of government’s partisanship. She also alleged that the government agency people are preparing list of those who take part on TV talk shows. Several well-known critics have been blacklisted, she alleged.
Khaleda said the government will be compelled to hold the next general election under a non-party and impartial government. The opposition leader argued that holding of election is now imperative as lack of confidence and mistrust have been created among the major political parties.
“No election under a party government will be acceptable in the country as long as this crisis of confidence prevails.
Khaleda dismissed the government’s claim that the local body polls under it were free and fair and the national election can be held under it in the same manner. She said the government manipulated the upazila elections and union parishad polls.

-With The Independent input

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