Voicing concern over the growing confrontation and violence in the country’s political landscape, Transparency International Bangladesh (TIB) has called upon the top leaders of the two largest parties to shun the confrontational course and start dialogue.“We call upon Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and Leader of the Opposition Begum Khaleda Zia to pause for a moment in the spirit of our glorious independence and liberation war, and consider implications of the confrontational, violent and aggressive political game, for the people of the country whose leaders they are and in whose name they are involved in politics,” TIB said in a statement on Tuesday.
TIB executive director Iftekharuzzaman said the rising violence, chaos and disorder are deeply worrying, regrettable and unacceptable by any standard.
This representa an welcome departure from the position that the TIB leaders had taken on one side of the broad political divide surprising its admirers.
He said, “This is the time for the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader to call off the self-defeating contest of legitimacy, and place people’s interest above anything else.”
“This is the moment for you to demonstrate the political acumen, commitment to democracy and democratic rights of the people and to start dialogue, which is the only option to avoid any risks against progress towards democracy,” he said.
Iftekhauzzaman called upon political leaders to adopt a set of legally-binding Code of Conduct for hartal that would ensure that normal public life is not adversely affected by the illegitimate and unlawful use of this legitimate way of political protest.
At the core of these is a zero-sum game for power at the expense of public interest and basic rights of citizens to life, liberty, safety and other individual freedoms, especially of the children, women, minorities and other disadvantaged sections of the society, the statement said.
“Failure to exercise restraint and stop the negative, confrontational and destructive political game can be of grave risk for our journey to democracy and democratic institutionalization.”
“It’s deeply regrettable that the political space is being increasingly captured by undemocratic language and practice, which is sending all the wrong signals to the people at large and the young generation in particular, who have demonstrated in Shahbagh and beyond how deepest emotions and commitments can be expressed peacefully and democratically,” it said.
Failure to stop the use of violent means of political contestation will also demoralise the social fabric, and emerge as worst enemies of democracy, the statement added.
It further said, “The forthcoming national election being at the core of the on-going conflicts, we call upon the two leaders to find a negotiated settlement on how it can be held in a manner acceptable to both sides. The solution lies in a change of their mutual dislike and distrust, which is in their hands only.” UNB