BBC Sanglap stresses unconditional dialogue with parties
Monday, 04 February 2008

Staff Correspondent

Politicians and civic leaders have stressed that the government should initiate dialogues with political parties immediately and without imposing any condition to lead the country towards elections as planned.

Ban on politics needs to be lifted to pave the way for fruitful talks, some of them suggested as they were speaking at the BBC Bangla-desh Sanglap in Dhaka Saturday. ‘We are in deep crises.

To get rid of it, unconditional dialogue is needed to be held without further delay,’ Awami League presidium member Suranjit Sengupta said. To forge a national unity, the government needs to keep an open mind while talking with political parties and different professional bodies, he said.

Communist Party of Bangladesh president Manzurul Ahsan Khan, Transparency International, Bangladesh chairman Professor Muzaffer Ahmad and vice-president of Dhaka University Teachers’ Association Professor Tajmeri SA Islam were the panellists.

Kamal Ahmed of BBC Bangla Service moderated the dialogue at the Bangladesh-China Friendship Conference Centre in the capital.

The CPB president said the government should have held the dialogue with the political parties much earlier to put an end to the prevailing crises. The agenda of the dialogue should be how to hold a free and fair election in the country, he said.

He also felt that the government should open up the politics besides holding the dialogue. Professor Muzaffer said if the government imposed any condition on political parties the planned dialogue would not be successful.

Responding to a query over an adviser’s comment that the political parties would have to pledge that they would not take the country back to a Catch-22 situation seen before 1/11 (January 11, 2007), he said there were a number of pre-1/11 matters which were good for the nation. Simultaneously, there are many things after 1/11, which are not good, he added.

All the panellists except Professor Muzaffer said the present government should immediately start trial of the war criminals. Suranjit said the government could appoint prosecutors and set up special tribunals to initiate the process.

Manzurul Ahsan demanded immediate arrest of war criminals to protect the country’s sovereignty and improve law and order situation.

If the present government could identify the war criminals and punish them, it would be one the best jobs done for the nation, said Dhaka University professor Tajmeri.

The TIB chairman held a different view as he believed that the present government did not have people’s mandate to try war criminals. The issue should be left for an elected government, he felt.

The panellists demanded arrest of corrupt bureaucrats in the administration. Suranjit suggested formation of reform commission to curb corruption in the governance.

The TIB chief pointed out that petty corruption rather increased in the last one year. Responding to another query, the panel speakers said the government should take necessary steps to ensure smooth supply of fertilisers.

Over the comment of Canadian counsel Payam Akhavan on the case against detained former prime minister Sheikh Hasina, all the panellists observed that any person, whether foreign or national, could comment on the issue.

Payam’s comments were not tantamount to contempt of court, they said.

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