This blog was posted July 2007. Sheikh Hasina was just arrested by Gen Moeen and Masud government. The arrest was very humiliating. She was pushed, shoved, forced, dragged. Her glasses were falling off. No one spoke much against it. Media, intelelctuals kept quite. Except one person, her political rival Khaleda Zia. Let look back at the statement…

The Daily Star Reports,

Setting a rare example, BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia yesterday demanded immediate release of her arch political rival Awami League (AL) President Sheikh Hasina, and regretted failure of the administration to protect her [Hasina] dignity while being taken to court.

“I am deeply disheartened to see that being a former prime minister, chief of a political party, daughter of a national leader, an aged woman as well as a distinguished citizen of the country, she [Hasina] faced a disgraceful and indecent situation on the court premises,” Khaleda said in a statement, signed by Maruf Kamal Khan, deputy press secretary to the former prime minister.

BNP leaders however said they are not aware of any such statement.

“It [indecent situation] hurt all conscious people and destroyed the image of the government both at home and abroad,” Khaleda said. The situation could have been avoided if the government would have dealt with the matter carefully and consciously, she added.

The BNP chairperson said, “I think it would be better if her [AL chief] trial is held without arresting and sending her to jail or opposing her bail prayer.”

Calling for immediate release of Sheikh Hasina, Khaleda stressed conducting the case keeping her free. It would decrease the possibility of social and political instability and confusion.

The people do not want to see chaos and disorder again which led to promulgation of ‘unexpected’ state of emergency. Extension of emergency would not however bring any good to the county, she said.

“We have to move forward toward our desired democracy. Ensuring stability and establishing national consensus are necessary for this,” Khaleda said. Everybody should be more foresighted and should exercise wisdom as the opportunity is now created.

Mentioning that none is above the law, she said nobody is also above error. And those who discharge major responsibilities of a country beset with problems have the more chances of committing errors.

Successes of politicians should not be underestimated because of their failures, the former premier observed.

“I was hurt by the illogical, non-political and indecent speeches of Sheikh Hasina against me and my family many times, and I am also hurt in the same way to see her facing unexpected behaviour,” Khaleda said.

“Accused persons may or may not be guilty. So, it is the duty of the government and administration to protect their honour and dignity,” she said. Every accused should get justice, and his/her right to defend, legal assistance and human rights should be ensured.

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I am amazed at this statement. Not only because it is an unimaginable U turn in the attitude of one feuding leader towards the other but also at the strength and quality of the statement.

It is, in my opinion, one of the best political statements in Bangladesh politics I have come across so far.

This exceedingly well crafted piece articulates its message very clearly. This piece captured an issue which was unfirtunately missed and overlooked by everybody else, even her own party colleagues. Khaleda Zia was apparently the first one to bring up the issue of the treatment extended to Sheikh Hasina at court house.

Another reason this statement carries weight is that it signals that Khaleda Zia probably is not all by herself in her struggle with the Mannan Bhuiyan gong. This statements clearly indicates that Khaleda is being advised by someone very prudent and capable in writing and promoting certain political points.

I hope she continues to get the support and good advise.