One of the many very negative characteristics of BNP’s 2001-2006 government is ‘paranoia’. During the whole five years Khaleda Zia was captivated by an uncontrollable suspicion of an Awami League hatched, bureaucracy-NGO supported conspiracy against her government. She could never accept her 1996 street defeat in agreeing to CTG system and her election defeat which she always believed as engineered.

In fact Khaleda Zia’s mortal hatred or ‘possibly’ fear of conspiracy originates much before her 91-96 governance. Depriving her husband of the army chief position in 1972, attempts to send her husband out as ambassador to Czechoslovakia throughout 74-75, events of 75, numerous attempts to kill her husband between 75 and 81 have made Khaleda Zia very severely obsessed with conspiracy theories. En masse defection of top tier BNP leadership, multi-pronged attempts to dismantle BNP did only embolden that paranoia. Then throughout her anti autocracy movement through 1990, she had been struck several times by betrayals. Notable among those are BNP Secretary General Obaidur Rahman’s secret liaison with Ershad, Sheikh Hasina’s somersault to join 86 election. Even at the fag end of anti Ershad movement the jewel in Khaleda’s crown, some senior leadership of Chhatra Dal, decided to betray her by colluding with Ershad.


During her last government, she apparently lost her clear vision to the overwhelming cloud of this fear of conspiracy. Every single political step of her government was somehow meant to prevent conspiracy. Removal of B Chowdhury was first in a chain of events. Despite all her carefulness and all the paranoia, she could not prevent 1/11. And 1/11 came as the perfect epitome of what she always has feared.

Since 1/11, her party has been vandalized, she as well as both her sons have been arrested. Most of her long trusted colleagues have abandoned her. Both her son, whom she raised as single mother are morbidly sick as a result of severe torture inflicted on them by the people she herself chose to protect her. And while we all talk about the torture on Tareq or Arafat, the nation has easily forgotten that the most tortured person post 1/11 is Khaleda Zia herself. You tie a mother down and torture both her children in front of her—can there be a torture worse than this?

Her family is broken since March 2007. She knows how her daughter-in-laws are regularly being harassed and how her minor grandchildren are living in fear and confusion. And she is very acutely  aware of what her sons have been through. She was told, informed in graphic details of the torture inflicted on her son Tareq Rahman, day after day, remand after remand. She know how much force one need to apply for how long to break two strong thoracic vertebra of a young healthy man. She knew all these much before we learned all these. She knew all these and then she noticed attempts at more remand of Tareq Rahman which was snubbed by the high court. She was also informed of the alleged/rumored near death situation involving Arafat Rahman within hours after Arafat was taken to the torture chamber and hanged from the ceiling.

Khaleda Zia also knows why the police chief Nur Muhamamd in collusion of the military chief Moeen, puts a totally outsider, ex deputy Minister Abdus Salam Pintu in August 21 case. She knows it is a far fetched effort to falsely convict Tareq Rahman with August 21 event and threat a potential capital punishment.

We knew of all these torture only for a few days. And none of us like or love Tareq Rahman or Arafat Rahman. Still our heart dip a bit at the torture. Khaleda knew all these for at least six month to one year. And she is the mother. As a mother she could visualize what her sons were going through. She solely carried all these agony, pain, nightmare, fear, sorrow by herself. Alone in her jail room, she tried to figure out the pressure impact of the kicks and hits on Tareq’s back while Mannan Bhuiyan talked about a new BNP in his Gulshan flat. She shivers at her sons Arafat’s nervous breakdown while Daily Star -Prothom Alo write, for the 12 thousndth time to tells us how corrupt, inhuman, criminal Tareq/Arafat were. She had in fact none to share her feelings with, neither she cared for one. Her mother died in the meanwhile.

And yet, she remained hell-bent against a deal. For her a deal is a conspiracy. And conspiracy is something she despised and feared so much for the last 36 years. Reflexly and inherently she is unable to be part of a deal.

So in the future, remote or near, for those whoever may take interest in Khaleda’s Zia’s next move, especially those AL policy makers who always are afraid of an Army-BNP deal, please know it as a certainty. Please know it for sure that Khaleda Zia will rather break, but never bend. This lady does not understand the politics of a deal. Even if BNP changes its decision tomorrow and join the elections, please know it that it was a political decision, not a deal with anybody.

For those decent civil society people in the government who are resorting to a very uncivil and nasty thing of resorting to bargaining with a mother for her sick sons, let it be known that this lady won’t budge. She did not budge last six month, she will not now.

Khaleda Zia lacks many political quality, including the shrewdness needed to survive in politics. Yet she survived all the bad days only with her steel strong will power. This uncompromising tenacity sure will help her sail through the rough seas ahead.

Advertisements