Friday, September 7, 2007

Impact of the minus two formula

The Economist reviewed “The minus two solution” in Bangladesh on September 6, 2007, that has opened a Pandora’s Box under the current military regime. As the report says, “One way or another, the future looks green” will undergo more testing in the coming days. Bangladesh has always swamped by unpredictability that puts the public on the edge of growing tension. The article says:
“Encouragingly, the army has so far resisted following the example of so many military regimes that form their own political parties to prolong their rule. But this, of course, might change. There is little to reassure Bangladeshis that the generals' attempt to redesign society and stamp out corruption will not end up as the totalitarian disaster that follows so many coups.

It is not clear for how much longer the emergency government will be able to keep people quiet. Since January it has detained an extraordinary number: more than 250,000, according to Human Rights Watch, a monitoring group. The army chief, Moeen U Ahmed, has accused “evil forces” of instigating student riots last month. To Bangladeshis, such language is as painfully familiar as the repression that followed the students' call for the early restoration of democracy—censorship, arrests without warrants, and the beating-up of intellectuals and journalists”.
The article refers about the growing mistrust in the public’s mind about the current regime. The poor are suffering as the economy is dwindling down. International concern is growing up as human rights abuses are increasing. It appears that the fundamentalist groups like Jamaat and their Islamic allies will reap the benefit as they’re not reined under the current military regime. The Economist further states,
“The generals and their civilian front are finding that their legitimacy, which rests on their competence, is eroding. In part, this stems from bad luck. Devastating floods and rising international prices for oil and food have worsened the plight of the poor. But the economic consequences of military rule have become apparent. Garment exports, the economy's backbone, have plummeted. Investment has ground to a halt. To reverse the trend, business leaders, the army chief and the pliable head of the civilian administration, Fakhruddin Ahmed, this week held a “brainstorming” session. It is more likely to have made investors cringe than reach for their wallets. The state is desperately trying to hold down prices through administrative measures, though they will inevitably rise further during Ramadan later this month. Last month it decided, in effect, to use $300m of its foreign reserves to pay for fuel subsidies.

Meanwhile Western governments and donors, who backed the army's seizure of power, are getting cold feet as human-rights abuses mount and public opinion turns. Even so, diplomats say that the present regime is “the only game in town”. The generals' secular stance and tough opposition to Islamist extremism still make them attractive to Western governments. But with the two big parties decapitated, the fear is that the Islamists, both the mainstream and a more radical margin, will profit from the political vacuum and growing economic discontent”.

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