On unopposed release of Nizami
Saturday, 19 July 2008

Matiur Rahman Nizami's release on a two-month interim bail in the GATCO case Tuesday evening has raised many eyebrows. What is curious, however, is the decision of the military-controlled government and the Anti-Corruption Commission to not move the Appellate Division for a stay on the High Court's order, as they have done in the case of Bangladesh Nationalist Party chairperson Khaleda Zia and two other accused in the case. Also, Nizami is the first among ranking politicians to be released on bail since the interim government assumed office in January 2007, although he was the last to be arrested on corruption charges. Overall, his release gives the lie to the interim government's public posture on war crime and war criminals, and lends credence to the public perception that it has all along treated Jamaat with kid gloves, so to speak, as opposed to iron hand. While the chief adviser and the chief of army staff have severally, and emphatically, enunciated the interim government's commitment to bringing the perpetrators of war crimes to justice, in reality, it has thus far displayed a soft attitude towards Jamaat, which, needless to say, had been at the forefront of anti-independence activism during the country's war of liberation in 1971. On July 11, a freedom fighter was assaulted at the representatives' conference of Jatiya Muktijoddha Parishad, supposedly an organisation of freedom fighters which comprises primarily pro-Jamaat elements, in the capital. As reported in the media, the elderly man came under attack for demanding, in his speech to the conference, punishment to the Jamaat men who actively cooperated with the brutal occupation forces of Pakistan during the war of independence in 1971. While there has been a wave of protests against the assault of the veteran freedom fighter and calls for exemplary punishment for the perpetrators since, the government has maintained a cryptic silence over the entire issue.

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