MNA Editorial Desk: Politics all around the world is actually a fight of establishing particular ideologies. Every leader in history was committed to certain principles and built their identity over those. Without ethics and dedication towards the welfare of people, society and country, leaders cannot grow and it is true at all levels. Bangladesh also should not be any different from that but some interesting developments in this regard were observed recently.
As the 11th national parliamentary election is scheduled to be held on late this year or early next year, we are standing only few months away to elect the next government of Bangladesh for a five-year term. All the political parties especially Bangladesh Awami League and Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) are trying to organise their bases throughout the country for last few months.
In between these election-oriented activities, BNP chairperson, Begum Khaleda Zia was sent to prison after a five-year sentence in Zia Orphanage Trust graft case on February 8 this year.
She being behind the bars has shocked BNP’s political base. On the same case, her son Tarique Rahman, BNP’s senior vice president and acting chairperson, was also sentenced a ten-year term. As he is currently staying at London, strong anticipations are going on regarding his return or bringing him back.
Tarique Rahman, son of late president Ziaur Rahman and former three-time prime minister Khaleda Zia, is being used by BNP as a secret weapon to create their political ground despite him being charged with many corruption and criminal cases. He went to London in 2008 after getting released from prison and stayed there since then with his wife and children. He has been very vocal in criticising Bangladesh government’s works and often utters demeaning comments on the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and the father of the nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Considering the current lame context of BNP in the Bangladeshi politics, Tarique is their last hope. But from abroad, it is impossible to do politics in Bangladesh. He should return to Bangladeshi soil to play an effective role in the upcoming election but several developments have contradicted that possibility in recent days.
With Tarique’s sentence, discussion started if he will be brought under justice by making him return from London. With national election, his return is highly anticipated. Recently, when PM Hasina went to London for Commonwealth summit, she promised in a meeting to bring back Tarique. Surely, when he returns to Dhaka, he might face immediate or slightly delayed detention.
So, PM’s commitment has some special indication. It is not unusual for our PM to put extraordinary effort to bring Tarique under justice in Bangladesh as she has already done that in the cases of war criminals and Bangabandhu’s murderers.
Another interesting development regarding Tarique came into media few days ago. Our State Minister for Foreign Affairs said Tarique might not be a Bangladeshi citizen anymore as he had submitted his passport at the home office of UK and they have sent the passports to the High Commission of Bangladesh in London. He presented few related documents to the media. He also told that, Tarique cannot be the part of BNP’s politics if he does not remain a Bangladeshi citizen.
But BNP denied that fact and truly traced out many mistakes in the documents presented by the State Minister. Hence, a controversy became evident. It is already very difficult for Tarique to return to Bangladesh considering possible immediate detention and this additional development will make it much harder and the election is not far. Without Begum Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman, BNP stays in no shape to create any influence in the next general election.
Here, the main point is if Tarique returns to Bangladesh or not. Every politician around the world works with a particular ideology and that is why thy affiliate with certain party or movement or activities. A movement is always against some power and is never welcome by the ruling parties or powerful ones. Thousands of movements takes place all around the world in each year and all of these faces strong pressure from the law enforcers and the government.
Without oppression, no movement takes place. The leaders of a movement often have to face imprisonment or torture. Someone becomes a leader must acknowledge that he might be punished. He must have the courage to face that pressure. Hiding in the shadows is not a leadership trait. Tarique also must face the adverse environment to establish his ideology. Sitting in London, he cannot win the hearts of the voters.
Many leaders in the world faced arrests and imprisonment just because of their ideologies as they did not hesitate to face the consequences and were strict in mentality. Aung San Suu-Kyi, Myanmar’s State Counsellor had faced house arrest by the military junta of Myanmar several times from 1989 till 2010 but her will power could not be tarnished.
She was given the option to leave the country but as she was fighting with a cause, she rejected and remained arrested for a long time. She received Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her effort to establish democracy and human rights in Myanmar while she was still under house arrest. In the face of huge adversity, she remained in the country and fought her war.
Nelson Mandela, an inspiration for the civil rights activists all around the world, was also imprisoned for 27 long years for political disobedience and offense. But he later became the first black president of South Africa and also turned into a global symbol for peacemaking. He also won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
Mahatma Gandhi also faced imprisonment by the South African government and British Empire for his movement and protest for establishing the rights of the people of India. Martin Luther King Jr, winner of Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, was jailed 30 times for his movement to establish the rights of the black people and to eliminate differences based on race or colour. He is considered to be the most important civil rights campaigner in the American History. Prison could not stop him either.
Other than the leaders mentioned above, prominent global leaders like; Indira Gandhi, Fidel Castro, Mikhail Gorbachev, Kim Dae-Jung, Yasser Arafat, Benazir Bhutto and many others faced imprisonment defending their ideology. But their will power and dedication to the cause made them immortal in the pages of the history.
In Bangladesh also there are few examples. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was imprisoned for several times by the Pakistani government while he was fighting to eliminate discrepancies in the rights of the people of East and West Pakistan. Prison only made him stronger and could not stop him from establishing an independent country named Bangladesh on the world map.
Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina and Begum Khaleda Zia also faced imprisonment. They had the option to leave the country also but they never did so. They faced whatever the consequence is standing in the front row. Even former president of Bangladesh, autocratic military leader HM Ershad also faced imprisonment and after being free he took the helm of his party strongly and now too is very much active in the Bangladeshi politics.
Here the issue of Tarique’s return is completely based on his ideology. It is for sure that, he cannot make much impact in Bangladeshi politics staying in London. If he is making a fight to be a part of the government, then that must uphold few principles and commitment, which we from far can say is very much missing.
If Tarique wants to come to power so that he can enjoy lavish lifestyle and can take away people’s money, then he will not be able to return to the Bangladeshi soil where huge risk of imprisonment awaits for him. Hence, he should not demand to be a leader as he lacks the most important qualities of a leader — courage and commitment.
Tarique is considered by many to be the Prime Minister of Bangladesh sometimes but he never actually did politics rather was involved in Business and corruption. Many leaders of the world were charged with corruption but that happened after coming into power which makes Tarique different from them.
If Tarique has the intention to work for people’s rights and welfare, he should not hesitate to return. But his fleeing in London proves his guiltiness on corruption charges which makes him keener to enjoy the corruption money rather than returning home. It is just like Sadeque Hossain Khoka, who also fled abroad despite being the Dhaka City Mayor for long 10 years. He has no commitment to the people of Dhaka or Bangladesh. Hence, he is safely enjoying his life abroad.
Leaders with strong commitments to the society or country are respected everywhere. Even if he dies fighting for a cause, history never forgets him. Tarique Rahman should find some principles and have some guts to face the political turbulences in Bangladesh. Hence, he must return to Bangladesh to become a leader and to bring back BNP its lost glory.
The write is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA) and Vice-Chairman, Democracy Research Center (DRC).