Wednesday, February 2, 2011

After our defence system, is it now our economy?

People who love Bangladesh and have the deepest concern for the future of the country are still highly bewildered about the BDR carnage of 25 February 2009. This poor nation had to spend a lot to train those senior army personnel who were brutally killed on that day, as it took sincere efforts of many years to organize the BDR organization. Loss of about 60 bright sons of the soil and some of their family members has left the country crippled, though it may have gladdened a neighbouring country that traditionally plans it defence system on three fronts: Bangladesh, Pakistan and China.

Now our border forces being totally disorganized and petrified by the legal proceedings, we are less protected. Our country has become an open market for the goods of India. However, the biggest loss is the weakening of our defence system. The government’s role in the BDR bloodbath is still not clear. Some people believe that, to make a ‘friendly’ country happy, the regime played a complicit role in those killings, and thus it served that ‘big neighbour’ pretty well.

We have been hearing arguments for the disbanding of the Bangladesh army for a very long time. Unfortunately, those who espouse this idea of dissolving our defence forces are largely known as Awami intellectuals. Sometimes they make sotto voce demands to break up the army, and often they are loud especially at university lounges and canteens. We have had to bear with their laughter during the days following the BDR mayhem. This has led, to some extent, the people of Bangladesh to believe that the Awami government ‘let the BDR carnage happen’. These facts and theories actually put the onus on the current regime to come clean of all such allegations.

In the midst of arguments and counter-arguments in favour and against the army, our defence system has already been shattered. Now we are much weaker and at the mercy of the hostile forces our big neighbour. Our fellow country people have regularly been killed for a very long time by the BSF personnel, and Awami League has maintained an unforgivable silence about this; and this has been the case when the party is in power and in opposition. It is now obvious that BSF incursion inside Bangladesh and the rate of killings of Bangladeshi civilians by BSF personnel have increased since that tragic day of 25 February 2009.

The second important sector that is considered the lifeblood of a nation is economy. The defence system and the economy are closely related to each other. For example, since our BDR is weak now, illegal infiltration of Indian goods to the detriment of local markets is much easier and is happening unabated.

The most important economic sector of our country is the garment industry that earns us huge amount of foreign revenue. Our competitor in this sector is our neighbouring country. We are already losing the foreign labor market to ‘them’, as ‘they’ have successfully branded us as ‘militants’ which we are not. During the last government, when Awami League was in opposition, its party chief tried to tell the world that our country was full of militants, which eventually served the interest of India quite well. Our migrant workers are being sent home, while ‘they’ are being welcome! Now to destroy our garment sector, ‘they’ must have expected the current loyal Awami regime to co-operate.

The recent flare-ups of agitations among the garment factory workers really worry us. Like the BDR carnage, is it another ploy to destroy our economy? The ruling party thugs and hooligans now regularly thwart opposition rallies and beat up opposition activists on the street. They have excelled in money extortion, rape, admission business, killing and in so many other social evils. Interestingly, unlike the opposition party activists, the unruly garment factory workers do not have to feel scared of the bludgeon of the Awami affiliates.

The Prime Minister is well aware of the misconduct and terrorist activities of Chhatra League, the student wing of her party. We have not seen any action on her part to stop their misdeeds, except for issuing meaningless statements. We have received similar statements by the Prime Minister with regard to the lawlessness and rampage by the garment factory workers. Are the garment factory workers being used now to destroy our economy, as the BDR personnel were used to destroy our defence system? After our defence, is it now our economy?