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        Society for Policy Studies


Bangladesh is no stranger to disasters, both natural and man-made. Still, this is one of the saddest chapters since we won our independence in 1971, precisely because the tragedy could easily have been prevented.


The Savar tragedy is another sad episode in the chapter of our garment factory disasters, which has once again sent a loud and clear message to the world that Bangladesh is not a country of chaos and corruption only, but also of man-induced tragedies.


Violence and vandalism in the name of politics continue to increase, tears and blood are shed, sufferings of people continue. Leaders have to open a dialogue and mutual understanding that will contribute to the reconstruction of a mindset so vitally needed for an authentic road map for Bangladesh's journey towards a better future.


The trial of war criminals was a long-pending issue in Bangladesh after it won its liberation war from Pakistan in 1971. This issue re-emerged on the eve of December 2008 elections when it was prominently raised by the civil society, especially the freedom fighters of Bangladesh. Seeing popular sentiment in favour of trial of war criminals, one of the main political parties in Bangladesh, the Awami League, adopted the issue on its own agenda.


The acting President Abdul Hamid is all set to become the 20th President of Bangladesh as no other candidate has submitted nomination papers to join the presidential race. He has filed nomination paper for the April 29 presidential polls on Sunday, the last day for filing nomination paper with the Election Commission (EC). This means he would be declared elected uncontested to the presidency by the EC on April 24 following the scrutiny of his nomination paper and when the deadline for withdrawal of candidature expires.


Common perception makes it amply clear that Bangladesh needs broad-based national consensus to overcome the political crisis through which it has been going for a considerable time. The worst ever confrontation involving two major political forces has now been joined by previously unknown elements that makes the situation more volatile. No peaceful solution is in sight as yet. All stakeholders and observers say there is no way out except compromise among the contenders through dialogue across the table.


Various Islamist groups in Bangladesh are demanding that a new anti-blasphemy law be formulated under which the death penalty can be awarded to those who defame Islam and the Prophet (PBUH). It has been rejected by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. Nevertheless, the demand and the scale of the emotion and controversy it has stirred up serve to deepen political polarisation in the country. There is little doubt that the end result will be an intensification of the divide between secularists and Islamists.


Most of the freedom fighters are about to cross the bar when they found that a section of the community has started concerted efforts to put the country back to 1947. They have come in camouflaged way but their identity has become absolutely clear with their thirteen points of demand. They are trying to be true replacement of Jamaat when Jamaat has become disdainful name to the youths of the nation and lost credibility to their pay masters too. The masters have now chosen to stretch hands in the grassroots levels to reach the most needy, most distressed and most vulnerable part of society.


BNP chief Khaleda Zia, who is now leading a one-point movement to topple the present government, as means to realise opposition’s demand for reintroducing the caretaker government (CTG), was vehemently opposed to the system when she was prime minister around 18 years ago.


The recent arrest of the so-called religiously motivated extremists that included four foreign nationals along with dangerous explosives and incriminating materials once again confirms the premonition that serious threats to our democratic pluralist existence are a reality. There is cause for concern because such apprehension comes in the wake of deliberate mischievous attack by suspected extremists on the personnel of law enforcement agency.


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