Lt General H M Ershad was a shrewd and cunning person ready to anything to grab and then stay in power. Looks like we are having another Ershad in General Moeen U Ahmed.
He occupied the prime time Bangladesh news today with the following news items.

He extended his tenure as army Chief by one more year. Government statement states that it was done in national interest. The nation however does not know what national interest warranted this extension. General Moeen repeatedly stressed the point that the country is not under martial law and he only is helping the civilian administration as he would do any other government. And the country knows that they are in war with any country. And no natural disaster is going on now. So is there absolutely no pressing need to take the extraordinary step to divert from normal proceedings of the armed forces.

He declared that there is no food crisis in the country. He however did not elaborate then why rice price is beyond people’s purchasing power. He probably miss-spoke the cantonment for the country. We know there is no food crisis in Cantonment. The army chief probably meant cantonment. Moreover on what capacity the army chief would speak about country’s food status? He could talk about security issues etc.

During Ershad’s regime, one day he ended up in a Mosque and declared that the night before he had a dream. In the dream he was told that if he comes to that mosque today, he would be gifted with a baby boy. Lo and behold Baby Saad was born in due time. People later however learned that Special Forces knew of Ershad’s visit to that mosque from weeks ago and there is still a lingering question about who are the exact parents of baby saad. Ershad used to do this kind of cheap trick of popularity.
Our General Moeen went to Comilla yesterday and declared that the death sentence of a local man, Rakhal C Naha, who has been given death sentence for killing a neighbor, will be commuted as he will request the president to do so. The reason, he gave is because this man was a freedom fighter.

In the short term, this is the best thing he did yesterday. Death penalty is a horrible thing. Catching a healthy man, locking him up and killing him after several years of waiting can not be a civilized thing to do. The whole death penalty thing needs to be abolished.
However General Moeen’s intervention and the reason behind his intervention leave behind the potential for serious consequences. How, being a freedom fighter is a reason for humanitarian mercy petition? Thousands of freedom fighters have been executed in Bangladesh and many are in death row. Being freedom fighter can not be a reason for commuting death sentence. Doing this now will be an act of precedence for every future death sentence of a freedom fighter. What about Bangabandhu killers? They all were freedom fighters. Will this commutation of death penalty make the ex-freedom fighters citizens beyond law? If the president commute death sentence of a person only because he is a freedom fighter, on what ground he will deny any future request on the same ground? Can there be a double standard when someone’s life is at stake?