It has been almost one and half year. The pressure started soon after the military coup of January 11, 2007 and it continues today. The pressure over the months has gotten astronomically uglier.
I am talking about a political leader and chairperson of Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Two time elected PM Mrs. Khaleda Zia. I am talking about this person who ruled the country for over ten years, who lead anti dictatorship movement for nine years, who was the first-lady of the country for nearly five years and who was in Pakistan army custody during the nine months of our liberation war.
Now , thanks to a military coup, Mrs. Khaleda Zia is in jail. Even Pakistan army did not jail her. They kept her under house arrest. So did Ersahd. He did not dare that either.
The current government not only jailed her, they tortured her. They have arrested both her sons and tortured them inhumanly. And the military intelligence people ( Who affectively are the government these days) made sure that Khaleda Zia is informed of all the graphic detail of the tortures on her sons.
Khaleda remained steadfast on her resolve,
1. Not to leave the country.
2. Not to quit politics at the order of a military general and his two editor cronies.
3. Hand over the control of her party to a bunch of turncoat leaders.
The government tactics continued to get uglier. More and more cases started being processed by Lt General Hasan Mashud Chowdhury’s anti Corruption Commission.
Uglier things started happening. Cases started being cooked up with the help of intelligence and ACC mid levels. Zia orphanage trust case is one such case which was cooked up by intelligence people. Physical and mental torture on Tarique worsens.
After ten months of Khaleda’s uncompromising stand against the military government, on January 01, 2008 Tarique was taken back into remand. He was kep their several days. Worst possible physical torture is inflicted on Tarique during this remand. And during the physical torture at this time, two of Tarique’s vertebral bones get crushed, making him practically crippled.
Khaleda Zia is made aware of the unfolding of events. She is again given options- ‘hand over the party mantle to some chosen turncoats and leave the country’. She refuses. The government asks for more remand time for Tarique Rahman. (If you looks at Newspaper archive reports from January-February; you will read about proceedings with repeating requests by the government to remand Tarique). Khaleda remains steadfast in her resolve.
Over the next six months, the government keep on trying all possible ways. Her eldest sons condition keep on deteriorating and now he is on the verge of becoming crippled for the rest of his life. Yet, Khaleda remains hell-bent on her principle against negotiating a political retirement in exchange of foreign treatment of her tortured ailing son. More and more cases pile up on her.
Government gives indication of their unwillingness to allow essential emergency treatment of Mr. Tarique Rahman, despite the facts that every single physician who visited Tarique, spoke, with highest sense of urgency that he needs immediate treatment and the treatment is not available in Bangladesh.
In the meantime, while Khaleda lingers in jail, Khaleda’s nemesis, Sheikh Hasina, after a shady deal with the generals, leave the country. She spends her time with family-extended family doing fun stuffs. She attends her nephew’s wedding gala in Finland, spends a week in London to spend time with her sister and sister’s family. She also meets political friends, old and new. And then she again flies back to USA, escorted by her son, daughter-in-law and grand daughter. Her public speaking, remain within the script given to her by the speech writers of current military regime. She keeps on talking about a great lesson for corrupt politicians, and about a mid income country within next ten years etc.
Khaleda Zia remains in isolated confinement. She even was not produced before the court today. The lower court goes ahead with the proceedings despite Hgh Courts clear direction not to do so. It was reported she was not well today. Also reported that her blood pressure was not stable.
Whose blood pressure will remain stable under such coercion? Her uncompromising attitude, however remains stable. She remains unmoved on her decision, not to leave the country and quit politics at the order of a corrupt General.
Although she loves to go back and spend time with her grandchildren ( who were all with her since their birth), although she is not used to living in a solitary confinement, although she is extremely worried about the grave illness of both of her sons, although she does not know how her younger son is doing in Bangkok hospital, she refuses to compromise.
We, the people of Bangladesh always complain that we do not have good world class political leaders. But may I boast now, how many living or dead mainstream political leader would ever be able to show the strength, resolve and selflessness; Mrs. Khaleda has been showing for the last 18 months?
To be fair, if we had only one more leader of this magnitude of mental power, steadfast and principled stand; Bangladesh would have been a much better place.