Year 2010 –Hopes and Frustrations

Kh.A.Saleque.

Kh.A.Saleque.

In matter of hours yet another year is set to enter into history. Crisis struck Bangladesh has spent the year amidst tensions, expectations, hopes and despairs. There were many pains and some gains. Analysts, experts will continue to make their own observations and critical analysis. What Bangladesh achieved and what could be achieved will come under thorough scrutiny. There is nothing called neutral observation in our politicized society. Still some observations, some analysis will be considered as more reliable.

One must agree that the present government inherited an almost failed country when it won election as grand alliance in end 2008. Wide spread corruption , sponsored terrorism, almost nonfunctional power and energy sector, soaring price of essential, unbearable grid locks and deteriorating law and order situation. Grand alliance in its election pledge promised to change these all, pledged to create digital Bangladesh, pledged to try War Criminals , stood rock solid against corruption. In end December 2010 after spending two years almost 40% of its time in office they made some genuine progress in some areas and stalled deterioration in others. Let us try to make some honest assessment of the pains and gains.

Government took over in Early January 2009. The time coincided with high season of intensive irrigation .Electricity demand usually reach peak at that time. One must give credit to the government that despite serious deficit of power in national grid new government in 2009 handled irrigation load very professionally True urban people had some obvious pains but farmers got power and diesel for irrigation, fertilizer and seeds at affordable costs and with relative ease to produce bumper crops. Government of grand alliance must deserve thanks for that. Government promised to remedy energy crisis and fuel supply crisis within short time as they announced about extensive home work to deal with the crisis. Government could take positive decisions of extracting own coal and petroleum resources in much more professional manner. It is not that government did not have good intentions. But due to poor vision and inefficient management most of the government initiatives to improve power and energy sector situation fell flat. After two years in end 2010 nation is experiencing another massive power and gas crisis. But nation must have patience also. Some initiatives taken for augmenting gas supply and add more power may start giving positive impacts by end 2011.

Failures to start extraction of own coal is a major failure. Initiatives for LNG and Coal import are two major misguided initiatives. Very soon both these will prove not feasible. But valuable time is wasted in the process. Government will do much better to start extracting own coal under strict monitoring of social and environmental impacts management. Affected community must be properly rehabilitated. Mine mouth coal power generation must be our main objective now to address the massive power crunch, energy crisis.

Law and order situation may not be the most ideal .But it is definitely much improved than what it used to be at the time of BNP-Jamat led 4 party alliance. There is no state sponsorship of organized terrorism. Opposition can carry out their political parleys in much safer ways. No terrorists hurl deadly grenades on opposition meetings. No MPs of the opposition are killed brutally. Terrorist cannot carry out simultaneous grenade attacks in several places. Law and order situation has definitely improved a great deal. But whether or not it improved to expected level is a matter of assessment. Think of brutal incidents at Peelkhana BDR Headquarter within a month of new Government rule. Think how the impact was contained.. The trial of the killers has started. Some quarter staying at comfort made prophecies that Government could be more aggressive. But considering the vulnerability of thickly populated BDR Complex and surroundings and possible massive impacts of hurried actions PM Hasina took the best possible actions that any state leader of prudence could take. But we lost several bright army officers .We got many widows and many orphans. We hope the killers and conspirators will be punished. We hope such incidents in future will not happen again.

The continued intolerable excesses of Student, youth and labor fronts of ruling party and government failure to contain these are a major failure. It may not be denied that in Bangladesh culture trouble makers always seek safe haven in ruling party. Fortune seekers always change colors. There may be infiltration of Shibir in Student league. But why not weed them out? Why Student politics cannot be left to genuine students only? Why Student unions in academic institutions are not elected democratically? Failure to control its own aggressive fronts is a major failure of of the government. We hope PM will utilize her senior party leaders [Now in hibernation] to carry out cleansing of her own party fronts soon. Nation wants to see student politics regain its glorious past as soon as possible.

Yet Government could complete first round of trial of Bangabandhu killers and could initiate process of long expected trials of War Criminals. Nation must remain united for this. The trial process must be fair, open and neutral and completed as soon as possible.

Education policy based on ideals of liberation war is a major achievement. Distributing books at the very start of academic session is also a major achievement. Education minister and ministry must get accolade for that. Nation must repulse the conspiracy of a certain identified quarter against education policy.

Positive decision on transit and normalization of relation with major neighbors India is a major gain. Bangladesh surrounded from 2.8 sides by huge India must gain from its geological location. Letting India, Nepal , Bhutan, China and Myanmar use our ports will advance Bangladesh economy tremendously. A small country like Bangladesh can make massive gains through exploiting its proximity to two massive economic giants India and China and balancing its relation with both.

Commencement of Pallasy Jatrabari Flyover, advancement of Elevated Express Highway. Positive developments Historic Padma Bridge, 4 lanes Dhaka –Chittagong Highway are milestone achievements. One hopes that all these will be implemented within the tenure of the present Government. It will be great if works of Modern Bangabandhu International Airport and Deep Sea port can commence within the tenure of the government. There have been somre allegations against Communication ministry for non-transparency. Government must make all its actions transparent. All major decision must be taken in a fair and proper manner. Nation must be made aware through parliament.
Government appears a little panicked in dealing with opposition. Grand alliance having massive peoples mandate must be most tolerant to opposition thoughts and criticism. Khaleda Zia issue of Cantonment board house could be handled without giving BNP opportunity to dramatize it. Similarly arrest of suspected war criminal Salahuddin Qauder Chowdhury could be done ion a much professional manner.

Government handling of Massive Ulfa Arms Haul in Chittagong must be handled more carefully. Every state has own strategy to suit situation and circumstances. We must be very careful in exposing state defense strategy. This issue and August 21 st man slaughtering case must be dealt with very carefully. If previous government hierarchy are really involved they must be brought to justice without trying to gain political mileage here.

But anyway despite various challenges and ongoing crisis deliberately created by vested interest government made several milestone achievement. Government must handle Energy- power crisis, Grid locks, eve teasing and Student front avalanche, Price spiral in more professional manner. Trial of war criminals and other major crimes must be done in fair and neutral manner. We hope by end 2011 nation can start breathing freely and really can witness several positives. Good luck Bangbandhu daughter PM Sheikh Hasina and her mahajote Government in New Year 2011.