The current political problem in Bangladesh is primarily one of imagination. Obviously, neither Khaleda Zia nor Sheikh Hasina will accept an option that is total defeat for them. However, a study of the priority of the two leaders may allow us to glimpse what s solution to the current, bloody impasse may look like.

If Sheikh Hasina currently allows an election, she will lose. She will hand over the government to BNP for the next five years. She will certainly face many uncomfortable cases and inquiries about the BDR massacre, the Padma Bridge controversy, the atrocities committed by RAB in the days leading to and the aftermath of the 2014 election, the Share Market scam, and so forth. Moreover, given the age of both these individuals, it is highly likely that this would be the last time they would face off. Hasina understandably does not want to end with a defeat.


In the current conflict of attrition between BNP and Awami League, AL’s main advantage is that it has the resources of the state to inflict as much damage as it can on BNP. Furthermore, the creation of RAB means that AL is able to hand-pick the most AL-leaning of armed forces men and send them on killing sprees, while the rest are kept cooped up in the cantonments. Against this, all BNP can hope for is to slowly unravel the unwieldy coalition of military and civilian bureaucrats and businessmen who are now currently keeping AL in power. In this conflict, as in most conflicts in Bangladesh, the situation favors the state.


A debate is raging around Bangladesh – between real people and on the internet. Opinions are firmly-held, tempers get frayed quickly, and name-calling is always a possibility. And a lot depends on its outcome.

It’s not the debate that was started by Tarique Rahman about a week or so ago, about who is the first president of Bangladesh.


Sheikh Hasina is sitting in her chair at the Prime Minister’s Office. Suddenly, the head of SSF, or BGB, or the Engineering Corp for that matter, suddenly comes into her office and tells her that Tanvir Mohammad Twoki, a brilliant young student, has been murdered and that the suspicion is that the family of Shamim Osman is behind it. Hasina stays silent. Or perhaps, more realistically, she launches several blistering ad hominem attacks against the bearer of the news, Khaleda Zia, “shushil samaj,” and her pet peeves of the day. However, she doesn’t order any specific course of action.

Would that make her culpable for the murder of Tauqi?


BNP has made a mistake! BNP has missed the election train! Khaleda Zia must repent now! I keep hearing version of this argument from various quarters, including individuals in whom I have a great deal of faith and who judgment I regard as sound.

What would have happened if BNP would have participated, and hypothetically, won the election? Would Sheikh Hasina have handed over power to Khaleda Zia and meekly left Gono Bhaban? “I can tell you that Sheikh Hasina will not hand over power. It can only happen over our dead bodies.”  Was Mr. Wazed speaking only in the context of coups, or was it a general statement, encompassing all foreseeable future possibilities? Bangladesh is the country of double standards. That the horrific and murderous attacks on our Hindu communities happened while Awami League is in power, following an Awami League “victory”, with Sheikh Hasina herself handling the Home Ministry, is still somehow all evidence of BNP-JI’s diabolical nature. If the hypothetical victory had actually happened, we would immediately have seen an outcry, and a plausible excuse not to hand over power to BNP.

I was driving back from Florida last week. While passing through the gorgeous plantation-style homes and palm trees in my route, it suddenly came to me what Khaleda Zia should have actually said on the 29th. Instead of attacking the people of an entire district, which is unfair, since they do not bear collective responsibility for the action of certain individuals. She should have lamented, “Gopalganj is too small to be its own country, and too large to be a mental asylum.”*

But Gonobhaban, I think, is just the right size to be a mental asylum. And the current occupant of Gonobhaban is now spreading her own brand of insanity to the rest of Bangladesh.


In the days of yore, when men were men, and giants strode the earth, there used to be a website. It was called unheardvoice. It was, for a while, very good. Then it stopped being as good. Then it disappeared. So it was with great interest that I recently read a newspaper column by Asif Saleh, one of the founders of unhearvoice.



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