… in today’s Bangladesh, don’t bother working hard, striving for excellence — okay, those old virtues had been out of fashion for a while — but even the ‘new formulas’ of bribing and using one’s maternal uncle to get the desired outcome, even that stuff is useless in today’s Bangladesh.  If you want something in today’s Bangladesh, I suggest you do two things: find some way to blame Ziaur Rahman for whatever ails you, and then claim you are the victim of a vast conspiracy to foil the war crimes trial.

Consider the recent verdict declaring the 7th Amendment to the constitution illegal.  Since Ershad now dreams Mujib’s dreams and believes in trying war criminals, some readers might not be aware of the background to this.

Bangladesh had a democratically elected civilian government on 23 March 1982.  Abdus Sattar, a distinguished public servant and judge (and the election commissioner who presided over the historic 1970 election) had defeated Kamal Hossain, another distinguished legal scholar in the presidential election of 15 November 1981.  There was functioning parliament, where the opposition regularly debated issues of national importance.  Another parliamentary election was scheduled within two years.  There was no anti-government andolon, no hartal-oborodh-gherao.  In short, there was nothing like the political gridlock that the supporters of 1/11 claim to have justified Moeen’s coup, nor the stifling fascism that some claim to have precipitated 15 August.  But this didn’t stop Lt Gen Hussein Muhammad Ershad from overthrowing the government, suspending the constitution, and declaring martial law.  Then, in 1986, after a farcical election involving Ershad’s current leader Sheikh Hasina, the parliament retroactively amended the constitution to legalise Ershad’s military regime.  According to Justices AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury and Sheikh Md Zakir Hussein, this retroactive amendment to the constitution is illegal.

So far so good.  Now, how is this relevant to Ziaur Rahman?  That guy was dead and buried (or his dead body thrown into the Bay of Bengal according to the Awami version of history) when all these happened.  But it seems to me the two judges have ambition to become Chief Justice someday.  After all, they saw how a partisan hack like Khairul Haque got the job by showing unrestrained hatred of Zia. How else to explain the Zia-bashing in the verdict?

And anyone pointing out that our judges are undeserving of any honour is routinely accused of being part of the conspiracy to save the war criminals.  Don’t believe me?  Ask the TIB folks.

So, dear reader, do you want to start a business and need some loan?  Go to the bank and say how Ziaur Rahman betrayed the nation and if you don’t get the loan, war crimes trial will fail.  You want a ticket to the World Cup cricket?  Go to the counter and say Ziaur Rahman is a murderer, and you need the ticket to save the trial.  Your girlfriend won’t put out with you, I am sure Zia is to blame.

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