Political Bankruptcy Syndrome (PBS)


Published on February 14, 2023
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Dr. Rashid Askari:

What BNP has done in the name of politics over the last decade can be called PBS—an acronym for Political Bankruptcy Syndrome. To illustrate my point, let me begin with a very recent event. At the end of a joint meeting of Bangladesh Nationalist Party held on February 2, 2023 at their central office in the capital, the Secy. Gen. of the party Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, while exchanging views with the journalists, made an admission that he had written a letter to the former Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe complaining bitterly about Sheikh Hasina Government. He added that BNP had sent many similar letters to many people and countries making serious allegations against the government. When in counter-question he was asked if they had appealed to their foreign masters to stop aid, export trade and foreign financial assistance to Bangladesh, the clever Secy. Gen. answered in the negative.

Fakhrul’s confession to writing to the late Prime Minister of Japan and others provides a revealing insight into the party’s modus operandi which may have suffered from a political disease worth calling “Political Bankruptcy Syndrome”. Apart from Fakhrul’s own admission, BNP’s attempts to appoint political lobbyists to destabilize the government were further authenticated by the Information and Broadcasting Minister Dr. Hasan Mahmud who accused BNP of lying through their teeth to defend themselves from the widespread criticism of their anti-state conspiracy letters to foreigners. The info minister also showed some documents of agreements between BNP and lobby firms using the party’s Dhaka office address (28 VIP Road, Nayapaltan, Dhaka, Bangladesh) and some letters to different departments of the United States written on the party’s official letterhead and signed by the Mirza. The Minister also read out the last paragraph of a letter where BNP allegedly urged the US Government to stop economic aid to Bangladesh (The Daily Star, February 2, 2022).

Mirza Fakhrul has been writing to US politicians and other globally influential leaders since 2015. The BNP-Jamaat alliance had appointed eight firms to lobby to stop providing aid and development assistance to Bangladesh and to pervert the course of war criminals’ justice. Fakhrul wrote a series of letters to US policymakers and politicians to stop different development facilities provided by the USA to Bangladesh. Besides, BNP’s former Chairperson Begum Khaleda Zia also wrote an article in “The Washington Times” in 2013 calling for immediate US intervention in Bangladesh’s internal affairs. In her piece the Begum unabashedly urged the United States and its loyal allies, “to insist that a caretaker government is instituted…. The Begum’s article was intended to provoke the US Government into ensuring this intervention by means of “words and actions [that] must be much stronger”. She urged the US Government and the “Western Powers” to warn Hasina of the withdrawal of the “general preferences for trade” and to “consider targeted travel and other sanctions” against her government. Hailing the US as the saviour of democracy in the world Khaleda concluded her letter by urging the US and its Western allies to continue their “mission to democratise the world”. While America’s most distinguished public intellectual and one of the superstars of the intellectual world of our times, Noam Chomsky himself considers the USA, as World’s biggest terrorist” ( Euronews, Dec 12, 2019), and US foreign policy as “straight out of the mafia” (The Guardian, Nov 7, 2009), the battling Begum considered it as a political messiah.

However, defying the rallying cry of anguish and despair of BNP and its allies, the continuous progress of the country in the world democracy index has proved that the allegations are totally unfounded. On the Democracy Index 2022 prepared by the London-based 'The Economist Intelligence Unit' (EIU), Bangladesh ranks 73-- two notches up from the previous year. It is reasonable to assume that the country's democracy would have been more consolidated and could have reached a better position in the democracy index if BNP had not trodden the dangerous path by abandoning the constitutional norms of politics and by resorting to violence. It is the duty of a responsible political party regardless of whether they are in power or in opposition to help strengthen the process of democracy and promote the public interest.

When Sheikh Hasina was the Leader of Opposition in Bangladesh, she met with American Ambassador Mary Ann Peters in Dhaka on February 2, 2003, and made a formal appeal to her to exempt Bangladeshis from the special registration requirement and managed to discuss to settle the matter with the members of US Congress. But BNP is hardly seen in pursuit of such goodwill political gesture. Maybe they believe in the politics of cutting their nose to spite their face. They never requested the US government to lift the long-standing ban on Bangladesh’s GSP facilities nor did they ever ask anybody to come to the resolution of the long-standing Rohingya repatriation crisis. They rather want to throw the country into total chaos and cash in on the situation. Seeking help from embassies of different countries and lodging complains with foreigners is a sign of political bankruptcy which better characterizes the politics of Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its allies.

Writer: Academic and translator

Courtesy: Daily Sun