Carter departed for Bangladesh
- Washington D.C., 31st July, President Carter, just before departing for Bangladesh, was addressing a press conference in National Press Club in Washington as a co-chairman of the bipartisan National Commission on Federal Election Reform of USA which was formed and funded by private donors after last election .
He will lead the team of NDI (National Democratic Institute) of USA for pre-election meeting with the President of Bangladesh, Advisors of caretaker government, academicians, and political leaders of major political parties.
Commenting on his visit to Bangladesh President Carter said " In an hour I shall be in a plane on my way to Bangladesh. There is no government now, Prime Minister has stepped down for election under care taker government. Two women head the two major parties. Both of them have not been together in a room of a building for the last two years. People are being killed in daily violences . Compared to that
our(USA) election is much better". Without finishing the press conference President Carter stepped out to catch the plane.
Golam F. Akhter
Convener, Bangladesh-USA Human Rights Coalition
- Whenever we have our periodical debates on the state of Bangladesh, most
Alochoks either demand radical constitutional change similar to the one in
America, or imposition of authoritarian rule prevalent in much of East Asia.
Those who crave for authoritarian rule should realise that this system does
not work in Bangladesh, as successive military regimes found to their cost.
For authoritarian rule to succeed, the ruling elite or those who aspire to
be part of it, must come from or be willing to be part of, the same group.
In Bangladesh there are mainly two opposing groups of roughly equal
strength. Which means if one group imposes itself on the other, the outcome
is stalemate at best or bloodbath at worst. And if a third person tries to
ride into town, the opposing groups will unite to run him out. The people
would have to be accepting of this style as well of course. But in a
country where ordinary middle-class people ransack the local WAPDA office,
for 'load-shedding' or for taking tough action against pilfering,
authoritarian rule seems implausible. Since the success of 1971 and with
the overthrow of successive authoritarian regimes Bangladeshis have become
experts at direct protests, therefore, Bangladesh is probably not ripe for
an authoritarian take-over.
A while ago I wrote that the problem with Bangladesh was not that, it did
not have a sound constitution, in fact it had a much more sound constitution
than Britain and probably even America. Did you know that until 1998
Britain did not even have an electoral commission to regulate national
elections? And of course by now we are all experts on the shortfalls of the
American constitution. But what both of these countries have in abundance
is 'goodwill' not just amongst its politicians but also its people. Can you
imagine what would have happened if either Sheikh Hasina or Khaleda Zia
attained power in the manner in which George Bush did. In politics the
'sprit of the law' is more important than the 'latter of the law'. For
example, if the latter of the law was applied then the speaker would always
be a member of the largest/majority party, but this is not desirable since
most people find it difficult to make the transition from being a partisan
to being a neutral ? while others cannot accept that a partisan can ever
become a neutral. If the election officials were directly elected or
appointed by partisans then the problems would be even worse. So, the
crucial ingredient or prerequisite to a successful democracy is not
necessarily what is written on a piece(s) of paper, important though it is,
the most important ingredient is goodwill. With time the people and
politicians of Bangladesh will acquire the necessary goodwill to compensate
for the inherent deficiencies of democracy. The current discord is
personality based, reflecting the feudalism prevalent in Bangladeshi
society. Eventually, Bangladeshis will get tired with personality based
dynastic politics, just as their Indian neighbours did. But for this to
happen the respective dynasties have to be given a chance to self-destruct,
as with the Gandhi-Nehru dynasty. If self-proclaimed messiahs periodically
interrupt their rule, they will continue to make comebacks as martyrs, as
with Pakistan. And in another 30 years Bangladeshi will still be suffering
from political, social and economic instability like their Pakistani
Bangladesh cannot progress economically without political stability at the
top, be it authoritarian or democratic. It should be remembered that both
China and India did not make the turn-around by magic, the changes were
undertaken by their politicians.
[M:MS] Threre is an exclusive interview of Roquia Haider of the Voice of America, in yesterday's issue of Alochona magazine. See it here
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