Dr. Kamal Hossain's seems to be the lone voice of sanity amongst the vast multitude of the hostile opposition leaders, when he speaks in favour of a national dialogue, but the chances are, his voice will soon be drowned in the vast ocean of 'negative response' and he will be constrained to toe the same line as his colleagues in the 14-party combine have chosen, which, as we all know, has out-and-out rejected the ruling party's offer to sit across the table. Frankly speaking, the main opposition has no other choice either when Prime Minister Khaled Zia and her colleagues -- both within and outside the cabinet -- keep on committing the great mistake of blowing both hot and cold in the same breath. In the morning the opposition is invited for talks and by afternoon they are squarely blamed for all the bomb-blasts and the accompanying mayhem. Little does anyone who matters realises the amount of damage which he or she is causing to the nation as a whole for such indiscreet remarks.
However, having landed in a tight corner, the ruling party stalwarts are, of late, working overtime to lure the mainstream opposition in their brand new 'net' -- called 'national unity effort' with confidence writ large on their faces, but unfortunately forgetting the bare fact that Sheikh Hasina is a much harder nut to crack than what they have visualised so far. And if the opposition stands divided today on certain issues, the government side is actually even worse on that count. Each Minister or junior Minister has his own views, opinion and political outlook, because BNP is, after all, such a great conglomeration of sorts -- freedom fighters and the forces opposed to the creation of Bangladesh -- sailing in the same boat, with many who are yet to fully reconcile with the basic fact that Bangladesh is after all a sovereign and independent country today with its own flag, constitution, policies and socio-political agendas.
Conversely, the opposition also seems to be quite confused. Early in the morning they demand the immediate resignation of the government and within the next few hours place their 'Magna Carta' of 20 plus points [or demands] in front of the same government whose downfall they are seeking every moment. And even for argument's sake if we are to accept the fact that the government may eventually agree to an early resignation -- lock, stock and barrel -- the riddle would still remain unresolved, because the blessed 'Caretaker system' would continue as it is and without any reforms for which the opposition is shouting hoarse, day in and day out. What does the opposition expect then -- the 'Caretaker system' reforms to be carried out by the Caretaker government itself whenever it takes over -- earlier, or right on time in October 2006? I don't think anything could be more preposterous than the above scenario. However, the opposition's apprehension with regard to the sincerity of the government, when it speaks of a national dialogue, is perhaps more or less correct, because the present government has a very poor 'track' record of 'accomplishment' as far as pledges and promises are concerned. And who knows, it could be a big trap to rope in the political opponents and comfortably pass time [like the late General Yahya Khan] until the tenure officially ends in October 2006.
However, viewed from a different angle, the call for a national unity just cannot be ignored either. Our 'lifeline', i.e our donor friends and well wishers spread all over, also wish to see positive cooperation between the opposition [forces] and the government side and some of them have hinted openly at stopping all aid flow to Bangladesh in future if the two warring sides do not mend their fences and sit across the table. Unfortunately the opposition's bag is totally laden with 'hartals' of all sorts and types -- half-day, full day and even extended ones -- and the ruling party's collections in its own bag reveals only harassment and oppression on the political opponents. Under the circumstances therefore, it is very difficult for anyone even with the barest welfare of the country in his mind, to drag them to the grand table of negotiation and national dialogue.
However, perhaps we are missing one basic and important point as we proceed in our quest for a solution of the enormous problem with which we are faced today. If, God forbid, by any chance the government fails to curb the activities of the JMB and Bangla Bhai cadres by cutting them to proper size at the earliest, the reverberations from all sides and its consequences would be just 'super dangerous', because the 'Janajuddha' cadres in the southern and south western parts of the country, who mercilessly slaughter any Tom, Dick or Harry whom they consider to be the class enemy, in broad daylight, are all ready for the call -- 'Get set go'. Similarly, the Rohingas in the south east are also waiting anxiously for an opportune moment to smuggle in huge cache of arms and ammunition into our territory that would invariably and totally destabilize the entire social structure and permanently give birth to subversive activities of all sorts. And a large section of the former 'Shanti bahini' cadres who give a damn to Shantu Larma and his followers are all set to strike in the Chittagong Hill Tracts at any moment, because they have a ready made sanctuary across the border [but not necessarily with New Delhi's knowledge] which is always ready to give them a morale booster.
What is left then? In fact everything will depend on how the present 'Jote' government would face the 'mega national' crisis and how soon they can steer the country out of the deep woods that we are stuck in now. And let us not forget one thing: Any amount of mercy or complacency at any stage or to any individual or group would be itself a suicidal act of the highest order.
In fact, what should have been accepted in good grace long time back with accompanying remedial measures was outright denied by the Ministers and their lackeys for no rhyme or reason, simply because of an 'inflated ego' or a perpetual sense of hatred for the opposition, which has eventually turned out to be a very expensive development for the whole nation today. The Bangla Bhai syndrome and its creation could not have been an effort of only a few men, done in haste. It was certainly a well chartered course -- well thought of rather -- because its mentors were on the same wave length as the ruling coalition [of BNP and Jamaat]. The BNP-led government, on the other hand, initially thought that it could kill two big birds with a single stone. First, the JMB and Bangla bhai they thought would take care of the leftist militants called the 'Janajuddho' and then they would automatically act as the first line of defence against the rest of the political opposition, especially the Awami League, as the 'D-day' for the general election would draw nearer. At least in the entire Rajshahi belt there would be no need to worry anymore. Nevertheless, how sadly mistaken they were, since their policy has totally backfired and literarily boomeranged.
In any case, the nation and the country have to be saved under any circumstances because they do not belong to any individual or group. Dialogue or no dialogue, the enemies of the nation should be boldly and unitedly faced together, because if we fail in our solemn duties at this critical juncture of our national life by sticking to the regular bickering, the loss will be indeed colossal and may be irreversible even. The choice is therefore ours' now -- to perish or to live with our heads high!