To believe the unbelievable is not progress25 January 2016 Editorial Desk
The readers will forgive us for not mentioning his name, yet relying on what he has said for making some unpalatable observations to bring home the truth that a government isolated from the people has more reasons to be afraid of its friends than its enemies.The point we want to raise is nothing new and not unusual to be applicable to Bangladesh government. All undemocratic governments are destroyed by its own reliable friends. The honest critics suffer as enemies. It is also true that nowhere democracy survives without the vigilance of a strong civil society. But many professors, lawyers and journalists are happily ripping the benefits when going is good without caring a fig about the consequences of a withering democracy. It is said Bengalis are everything but not foresighted. This professor of our discussion has been maintaining an unalloyed reputation of being intellectually honest and a dedicated teacher. During the movement against President Gen. Ershad in the year 1990 he played a pivotal role as a non-partisan intellectual, inspired by his burning belief in democracy. Our readers must have noticed that while criticising the present government for its ill-conceived and undemocratic actions, we blamed mostly the persons surrounding the Prime Minister.Once a constitutional government with strong popular foundation, Awami League government is now relying on police power.There is another reason why we are avoiding his name being mentioned and that is because we still find it difficult to take seriously that he could change and contradict himself so palpably.We know he has every reason personally to be grateful to this government. But we wanted to believe that he was deservedly awarded the honour he received and we were also happy for him.According to a reliable report published in the press, while speaking at a discussion organised by the government party men to celebrate seven years of achievements under this government the dear professor praised in glowing terms the successes of the government.He talked of the government's attainments in the sphere of the country's economy and with some reservations in the education sector also. He did not fail to point out the government's triumph for the trial of those Bangladeshis accused of crimes against humanity as abettors of Pakistan army during the liberation war. Punishing ones own people is the easiest. Bravery was necessary to punish the Pakistani war criminals. Surprisingly for us, he spoke like other active leaders of the government. Like them he also praised the government successes in other fields including local self-governments. But nothing in the government, including the local governments, is functioning as the way it should be. This is bound to happen when a government has no interaction with the people.In the same breath the professor has admitted, though diplomatically, that the democratic institutions have not grown properly. There is also no objective assessment of the achievements in the light of the sacrifices of our people in the liberation war. In the context of the liberation war, the failure of democracy is our ultimate failure. He found the crippling corruption everywhere in public life not worth bothering. He cannot deny that extra-judicial killings or trial by torture in police remand can be anything to be proud of. He has tried to make us belief that all those who went to India are the real patriots and above suspicion. Whatever they do is right for the people. Anti-liberation forces are to be found among those who made the greatest sacrifice for the liberation of the country. Among those who went to India there were certainly some who believed in united Bengal. Besides, using the liberation war to end democracy will be seen as denial of people's liberation war for democracy with an ulterior motive. A new kind of rift may arise for drastic political change. It is for the reason of peace and unity we have been labouring asking all sides to keep our politics safe as people's politics. The other day in a television talk show someone was challenged by the moderator insisting that just because they are talking and not being stopped so it cannot be said that democracy does not exist. So naive an idea. But for a professor of great stature, we are referring to, cannot mean that democracy can exist with farcical election and without the opposition and where the people have to live in the fear of police power and cross-fire or where the power of the judiciary remains under political pressure and the Chief Justice has to seek help to protect the judiciary. Amazing prosperity and joy of the few does not alleviate the anger or economic hardship of the general public. Lies of 'high way' development will burst sooner than expected. Mismanagement and corruption cannot be a guarantee for development. Some successes are found in the worst of governments but they end up in chaos that follows. We must first build the democratic foundation to recognise that the people are the masters of the country and government has to be elected by them to serve them. Anything else does not make a government of the people, by the people and for the people for stability, peace and justice.