Tuesday, 28 March, 2023


Is another one-eleven looming large?

  • Dr. Rashid Askari
  • 12th March, 2023 10:34:02 AM
  • Print news
Is another one-eleven looming large?

What the military-backed One-Eleven (1/11) government and the Iazuddin-Fakhruddin-Moeen Uddin trio did from January 2007 to December 2008 under the banner of a caretaker government is now public knowledge.  Though they began work with a missionary zeal, a damning exposé of their ulterior motive was brought to light and they soon appeared to be a snake in the grass.

The non-party interim Government, formed under the lead of the Chief Advisor, Fakhruddin Ahmed was scheduled to continue for a period of 90 days for holding the elections and 120 days for the handover of power to the duly elected political party, but it outstayed people’s welcome and continued for two years (2006—2008) that fueled suspicions.

The ninth parliamentary election, which was scheduled to be held on January 22, 2007, was finally held on December 29, 2008 due to the Caretaker Government’s overstaying their tenure. And subsequently it was declared “absolutely unconstitutional” by the Supreme Court in its verdict in the constitution's 13th amendment case.

Keeping the state of emergency for about two years without the approval of the parliament was also declared illegal by the apex court. Though all activities of the caretaker government were condoned for the sake of state and its people, the legacy of this kind of government was abandoned by the people after the Supreme Court verdict and the said amendment to the constitution.

Once again after long fifteen years, there is an uncanny feeling in the air which makes us apprehend that the prospect of another One-Eleven is looming large. Some people are trying to hurl the country once again into turmoil to create grounds for another 1/11 to be followed by an unconstitutional government. It is not merely a coincidence that the army-backed caretaker government took charge of the country on January 11, 2007 and just a month later, on February 11, 2007 Dr. Muhammad Yunus, issuing an open letter, entered the Bangladeshi political arena by forming a new political party called Nagorik Shakti (Citizen Power), and announced his intention to contest the 9th parliamentary election. The media organisation and website called WikiLeaks testifies to Yunus’ desire for power which is evident in the website’s February 13, 2007 article titled “Nobel Prize Winner Dr. Muhammad Yunus Considers Entering Bangladesh Politics”, that categorically referred to the professor’s visit to Kolkata and discussion with Indian officials on his intention of getting political. WikiLeaks also revealed his appreciation of the caretaker government and the ‘State of Emergency’. In addition, a write-up that appeared in Kolkata’s ‘Telegraph’ reflected Hillary Clinton’s urge to India to help implement the plan to unseat Hasina and help Yunus in assuming power in her place.

To create a political party in Bangladesh is no big deal. There are already more than a hundred and one, and many more may come into existence on the eve of the parliamentary elections. But Yunus’ party did not seem to be born in the normal course of events. His announcement came during a state of emergency while the country’s two major parties, the Awami League and the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) came into serious conflict with each other.  The Nobel laureate professor professed his willingness to give his countrymen the Promised Land through politics. However, in less than three months, his big political commitment evaporated and he dropped his efforts to establish the party, citing a lack of support.

Dr. Yunus is again seen to be conducting a vicious smear campaign against Sheikh Hasina government before the 12th parliamentary elections to be held by December 2023 or January 2024. He is again grabbing the headlines both at home and abroad.  The Washington Post on March 7, 2023 published an open letter written to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and by a group of forty global leaders which expressed their "deep concerns for the well-being" of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Addressing him as “a man of impeccable integrity’”, Yunus sympathisers voiced concern about his alleged harassment by Hasina government and asked remedy for it. However, the most interesting thing about the letter is that it had appeared as a full-page ad in the WaPo which, roughly speaking, could be done at the cost of Tk 78 lakh as per the cost of advertisement in that premier newspaper. The letter published there is not a piece of investigative journalism prepared by any of the WaPo journalists. Rather it is sort of a signature campaign organised by Hilary Clinton, the former US Senator, Secretary of state and First Lady and signed by 40 people including Hilary herself many of whom may not even know what they have put their signatures for. Hilary and her husband Bill Clinton have always shown unflagging support for Yunus’ cause for reasons known to them. If it were a piece of news, it would have news values and the elements of newsworthiness and would be published as a piece of breaking news. But it was published as an advertisement that filled a lot of column inches in the WaPo. Those who have published the news in Bangladesh do not seem to have drawn up journalism ethics. 

Professor Yunus’ role after the removal from the Grameen bank on the ground of service age limit in 2011 was also politically motivated. The professor perhaps wanted to cling on to his office and die with his boots on. So, he felt aggrieved at the decision of his ouster by the Hasina Government. Driven to desperation, he harboured a grudge against the government. The professor’s wrath over the Grameen Bank incident and his individual grievances against Sheikh Hasina may have taken a heavy toll on today’s US-Bangladesh relations which leads to the recent US sanctions against Bangladesh. And all this is quite unbecoming to a Nobel Laureate and people of Bangladesh have not accepted it with good grace.

Those who want to create a 1/11 like situation before the upcoming 12th parliamentary elections to fish in the troubled waters, seem to be using Yunus as a cat’s paw. They are playing the Yunus card to realise their plans of forging an interim government headed by the Nobel Laureate with the support of their western masters which will make sure that the shoe is on the other foot. But it’s hardly likely because, people of Bangladesh no longer want to see anything unconstitutional to happen; nor do they like to pander to Uncle Sam’s every whim.

The writer is an academic and former vice chancellor of Islamic University, Kushtia

Source: Sun Editorial