Bangladesh was just rated to be the best country in South Asia in terms of gender equality, even better than India. It is worth noting that both the Prime Minister of Bangladesh and the main opposition leader are women.

However, today Dhaka is virtually severed from other parts of the country and hundreds of opposition leaders are detained in anticipation of a massive strike tomorrow.

Will Bangladesh move forward or backward?

Bangladesh, the ninth most populous country in the world, is moving forward as the second largest exporter of textile products. Even Pakistanis are moving their factories to Bangladesh. Bangladesh was recently honored by the UN as one of the few countries which are making good progress on the UN Millennium development goals.

However Bangladesh today risks sliding back from this hard earned progress.

The Awami League, led by the PM Sheikh Hasina and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) led by Khaleda Zia are on the colliding course once again. This will hurt Bangladesh. It will paralyze the society once again. It will hurt our exports. Textile orders will be cancelled even if strikes cause a couple of days of delays. Here are some things for us to consider:

  • Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia both have served as prime ministers alternatively for over 15 years. If Khaleda’s husband and Hasina’s father are taken into account it would be almost all the life of Bangladesh
  • Both have served Bangladesh despite challenges and issues
  • Both are, however, bitter rivals who have dominated politics for over 15 years
  • This rivalry punctuated by protests, even at time violence and murders
  • Both politicians are once again on the collision course in view of the forthcoming

The Concerns about the fight of the power ladies:

The cycle of conflict has already started. The Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has accused the opposition leader Khaleda Zia of taking money from ISI, Pakistan’s top spy agency while opposition is organizing a massive rally this Monday against the government demanding it not to surrender Bangladesh water to India. Violence is increasing as well: Two journalists and a Saudi diplomat were killed recently. Eight opposition leaders including a couple of former ministers are facing the possibility of death by hanging.

Considering that both, the Prime Minister and the BNP leader, are directly related to the leaders of the independence movement, let us all appeal to them with the following messages.

Both leaders and their intellectuals should meet in a two day summit to reach a compromise and announce an agreement to move Bangladesh forward by compromising for Bangladesh sake. In that compromise the government should agree to respect opposition’s rights in democracy and upholding the rule of law through independent international standards and the opposition should agree to avoid violence which might threaten the progress made by Bangladesh.

Action item

Please call and email the two power ladies of Bangladesh

Honorable Prime Minister Ms. Sheikh Hasina:

Old Sangsad Bhaban, Tejgaon, Dhaka-1215, Bangladesh

Or call the ambassadors to give a message for the Prime Minister

H.E. Akramul Qader             Ambassador to US                Ph: 202-244-2745
H.E. Mr. A. M. Yakub Ali    High Commissioner to Canada   Ph:
(613) 236 0138-39, (Ext.229, 230)

Honorable former Prime Minister Ms. Khaleda Zia

House No:6, Road:86,
Gulshan-2, Dhaka-1212, Bangladesh.