In absence of a competitive democratic system Islamic militancy is beginning to thrive, commented Lisa Curtis a senior research fellow of the Heritage Foundation and an expert on South Asian affairs at the Asian Studies Center. She said, the government blaming opposition parties for the incidents like incursion on bloggers and terrorist attacks will give Islamic extremist the opportunity to blend into the society.
Curtis came up with the views while speaking as the main speaker of the panel at a seminar titled ‘Bangladesh Democracy Conference-2017’, jointly organized by the Club Bangla, Bangladeshi student’s council at Columbia University, with the New York based think tank the Archer Blood Center for Democracy (ABCD) on Wednesday.
The seminar was moderated by the ABCD President and the Columbia university fellow Professor Dina Siddiqi. Observer Research Foundation India’s South Asia expert Dr. Jayita Bhattacharya and prominent human rights activist in the US, expert on human rights and labor rights Attorney Samatali Haq spoke among others.
Curtis said, although the socio-economic situation in Bangladesh is progressing steadily but the achievement will be hampered unless a multi-party democratic environment prevails.
The political impasse was created for cancellation of the caretaker government, said the South Asia expert. She urged the US to improve political situation in Bangladesh.
Dr Bhattacharya said, Bangladesh practiced democracy for a good period from 1991 to 2008. However, the situation returned to its previous stage after 2014 although the government held elections under the Constitution.
She also said, India’s foreign policy has no such practice like influencing the development of democracy in any other country. However, robust democracy does exist in India and democracy in Bangladesh is still under evaluation.
Human rights leader Samatali Haq said, Bangladesh government is against underprivileged and indigenous people. The government is giving Bangladeshi land to foreign entrepreneurs instead of local people. Santhal people are being evicted form their own land. The Information Technology Act is being used to suppress political opponents.
She also said that the government views opposition leaders and activists as terrorists. This also effected their prospect in US. The US government is now rejecting opposition party leader’s application terming them as terrorists.
Awami League supporters present in the seminar protested Haq’s comment.
The ABCD’s executive director Kawsar Mumin delivered the welcome address at the seminar. More seminar on various aspects of democracy in Bangladesh will be organized in future, he said.