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29 October, 2017 11:15:01 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 29 October, 2017 11:18:55 AM


An unfinished political thriller

The failure of all attempts and the changed situation have forced Begum Zia to return to her country
Abdul Gaffar Choudhury
An unfinished political thriller
Khaleda Zia

Sometimes political events are more thrilling than a political thriller. Long ago after the death of Nehru in India when Morarji Desai, a veteran Rightist Congress leader tried to manipulate his party to become prime minister, a dedicated pro-Nehru group under the leadership of Kamaraj wanted to thwart the conspiracy of Desai and tried to install Indira Gandhi as the prime minister.

The political atmosphere of Delhi at that time was very mysterious. A famous journalist who knew the inside story wrote a book which sold millions of copies. This book was more thrilling than a political thriller. I finished that book in one sitting and enjoyed it like a book of Sherlock Holmes.
Now I think I can write not only a political column, but a political thriller on Begum Khaleda Zia, the leader of BNP. A few months ago her travel to London, staying there for a long time on the excuse of treatment, hiding herself in her son Tareq's house, not meeting her party's leaders and supporters and fully engaging in secret activities and finally her sudden return to Bangladesh are all good materials for writing a political thriller. In that thriller Begum Khaleda Zia and her son Tareq Rahman could be portrayed as the main characters.
The first question is, why did she suddenly leave the country telling the people that she was going abroad for treatment? Generally she went to Saudi Arab for treatment. Her knee operation was done in that country. Then why did she go to London for a simple treatment? Her son, with his family lives there. So some observers believe that she went there for political consultation with some secret political agenda. When all her attempts to overthrow the Hasina government by terrorism with the cooperation of Jamaat, killing people with petrol bombs in the street and other violent activities in the name of movement failed, after a long period of hibernation her sudden departure to London was very meaningful.

Now the question is if BNP will exist? The last attempt of Khaleda Zia was launching a movement for a neutral government removing Hasina government before election or keep Hasina as the Prime Minister without any executive power. But people did not respond to these demands and if Begum Khaleda does not participate in the next election her party will split up. So many observers believe that her London trip and staying there for a long period was not associated with open political activities. She wanted to consult her son and keep herself engaged meeting her foreign supporters on how to force the Hasina government to resign by multiple secret attempts. That is why Begum Zia was seen in London in a shopping centre once and never attended a party meeting and did not meet her supporters in spite of their many requests.

But there was a strong rumour that she had secretly met the member of Pakistan's military intelligence agency (ISI). It was reported that some leading members of BJP, the party in power in India had met her. Perhaps from them Begum Zia came to know that the foreign minister of India Sushma Swaraj was going to visit Bangladesh very soon. That might be also a reason for her return to her country immediately so that she could meet the Indian minister. In her absence in the country there was one after another conspiracy to oust Hasina government from power and there are ample reasons to believe that BNP had an active role behind these secret manoeuvres.

When the country was enjoying somewhat a calm and cool political stability and Sheikh Hasina was being admired around the world as a leader of humanity and peace, suddenly a conspiracy was hatched in Bangladesh to oust Hasina government by a judicial coup. Obviously the conspirators were encouraged by a similar coup in Pakistan which toppled the Nawaz Sharif government. BNP and other anti-Hasina forces including a so-called elite class along with three eminent lawyers tried to mislead the Chief Justice to create a division between government and judiciary and hoped to recreate the scenery of Pakistan. That failed.

Then came the natural and man-made disasters. Suddenly there was heavy rain and flood in Bangladesh that destroyed the harvest in the country and a short fall of food grains which brought a temporary crisis. When the government was fighting the natural disaster, the Rohingya problem came. Though the primary responsibility for this crisis was of Myanmar army but it was instigated by the Jamaat of Bangladesh. They wanted to create a Muslim majority Rakhaine state, so that they could destroy secular Bangladesh. With Saudi Arab and Jamaat's help there was a guerrilla force- Arakan Salvation Army. They first attacked the Myanmar police post on 25th August and gave the Myanmar army a cause to start a genocide against the innocent Rohingya population. Like before Rohingyans came to Bangladesh in lakhs when they were tortured by Myanmar army.

The anti-government axis in Bangladesh hoped that this twofold crisis would destroy the Hasina government. They will not survive in the face of these natural and man-made disasters. The economic pressure and its political impact would change the political face of Bangladesh. I do not know whether my interpretation is right or wrong that Begum Khaleda Zia was hoping that Hasina government will not survive long and she and her son Tareq Rahman would come back to the country with laurels of victory and all the cases of corruption and abuse of power against them would be dismissed. There was a strong rumour in some news circles that she will become the Head of the State and Tareq Rahman would be the Prime Minister after an easy victory. It did not come true.

So long Tareq Rahman was afraid to return to his country because he was accused and convicted on several serious cases and might be arrested upon his return to the country. Begum Zia, was also afraid that just before the election, the verdict on the Zia orphan trust case would send her to jail and the only way to escape that fate was the fall of Hasina government.  But this hope and attempt to change the government did not materialize. Now the failure of all attempts and the changed situation have forced Begum Zia to return to her country and the positive sign of this return is, she would hopefully take the decision to join the ensuing General election without any hesitation.

Begum Khaleda Zia met Sushma Swaraj, the Indian foreign minister in Dhaka after a cat and mouse game. She invited the Indian foreign minister to dine with her at her house. The Indian minister very politely avoided that request. Then the BNP leader requested the Indian minister to visit her on her way back to airport. This request was also politely and diplomatically declined. The desperate BNP leader rushed to the Sonargaon Hotel where the Indian minister was residing to meet her. There was a meeting between the two and Begum Zia did not come out of the hotel with a smiling or reassuring face for her supporters. It was rumoured that the BNP leader was asked that why she refused to meet the ex-Indian President of India, Pranab Mukherjee during his visit to Dhaka and showed disrespect to the great neighbour of Bangladesh. She was also asked what her son, Tareq Rahman, was doing in London. By these the Indian Minister indirectly asked her about the nature of Tareq's meeting with Pakistan's ISI in London recently when Begum Zia was there.

I do not know what the reply of the BNP leader to the Indian foreign minister was. This political thriller of mine is unfinished. I request my readers to wait. I myself do not know which political drama will unfold in the next chapter of this thriller. I am also waiting to see that after so many failures what new tricks BNP will perform now that its leader is home. I hope she will announce the joining of her party in the election without opening a new chapter in this political thriller.
London, Wednesday 24 October, 2017



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Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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