Monday, January 28, 2008

Barrister Moinul could come clean this time!

Shabbir Ahmed

The year 2006 was truly remarkable for Bangladesh because in that year the blueprint for rigging the controversial election in January 2007 was foiled by the mass uprising of our people. The mass movement paved the way for the formation of the present caretaker government under Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed. The democracy loving people of Bangladesh left the streets with hopes and trusts on the advisors, who took over power to make a level-playing field so that a free and fair election could finally be held. Surprisingly, one of the advisors started his rhetorics and actions very much against the will of the people in the aftermath of the takeover of this government. He was a learned barrister named Mr. Moinul Hussein. His rhetorics and actions implied his intention to undermine the advancement of the political process toward a stable democracy that people of Bangladesh have been aspiring during the dark days under the rule of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the fundamentalist Jamaat-i-Islami (JI).

As a well-known Barrister, Mr. Moinul Hussein used to be perceived as someone who left Awami League for the cause of democracy probably in 1974 when BKSAL was formed. The anti Awami League (AL) quarters used to portray him as an icon for democracy, who did not compromise on the question for the same. They used to mention his name with reverence just to show their regards for him and for democracy. On the other hand, the AL supporters/sympathi zers and some neutral observers used to identify him as a conspirator once they saw him by the side of Khondokar Mushtaque (who conspired to capture power by killing Bangobondhu, his associates, and his family members) in forming a short-lived party named Democratic League. Despite all these in terms of his controversial track record, many people hoped that with time he probably went through some refinement and would deliver something good for healing the wounds caused by the conspiratorial politics of many political and supposedly non-political groups in Bangladesh. But, alas, old habits die hard. Instead of trying to minimize the differences among various political factions in the country, he started creating controversies and conflicts ad infinitum. He categorically blamed all politicians for corruptions and political conflicts in Bangladesh. It is relevant here to mention that the intellectuals like him were behind one or the other political forces that governed the country and/or demonstrated on the streets at different points in time in the past. It was an opportunity for me to watch a couple of his discussions in Channel I before one-eleven. It appeared that he was in agreement with the political forces that were holding or controlling power in pre one-eleven timeframe. As I remember, he was vehemently supporting the election that was scheduled to be held under a controversial caretaker government and under a partisan election commission aligned with BNP and JI. He even mentioned that the constitution mandated holding of the election within 90 days of the start of the caretaker government. However, his departure from this stance once he became the part of the second caretaker government backed by the cantonment crowd hardly ruffles feather in him.

As many people know, all the time in the past, Mr. Hussein supported the forces that brought political killings, militarism, and religion in politics. The shining example is his political association with Khondokar Mushtaque and his presence as a guest on the stages in the functions organized by JI and Islami Chatra Shibir (ICS). All these were visualized in bright pictures that came out in Internet after his inclusion as an advisor of the supposedly neutral caretaker government. It came as a surprise to many how he being such a politically colored and charged person made his way into the current caretaker government under Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed. His inclusion did not go well in terms of the image of the current government. The television viewers both in Bangladesh and abroad were both irritated and vexed by his controversial and conflicting remarks on a daily basis. He never concealed his anger over all politicians except may be Jamaat-i-Islamists. Whenever these fundamentalist forces were in trouble, he came forward to protect them. On the issue of punishing the JI war criminals, he came forward to protect them by asking for the trial of the politicians who were in power for not trying the war criminals. Such was his antics!

After his "sad" departure from power and fall from grace, there are many allegations published in a number of newspapers on his misuse and abuse of power. His lack of care and concern after the death and injuries of a number of workers in the Rangs Building was criticized by the conscious people of Bangladesh. Most importantly, the allegation of his brother in terms of the abuse of his power to capture the daily Ittefaq is very disturbing. As an astute practitioner of law, he was not supposed to act in such a fashion by abusing and/or misusing power. In fact, his use of power was supposed to set examples for the politicians and others who would come to power in the future. His rhetorics and application of rules were supposed to be meaningful and just that would have been followed by the politicians devoid of high level of education in law. Unfortunately, Mr. Hussein irritated all sections of people due to the lack of thoughtfulness in his expressions and actions while he was in power. No matter how hard he tried, he could not prove that he was different from some of our politicians devoid of thoughtfulness and scruple.

After one-eleven, the people of Bangladesh are not willing to accept the creation of more conflicts and chaos in politics. Instead, there should be efforts to create systems and institutions that would help avoid confrontation. In doing these, he could have contributed significantly. But, he did not concentrate fully to devote his efforts in these directions. He was supposed to be remembered but his untimely departure from power was welcomed by the people living both inside and outside Bangladesh. After all, he was seen more as a problem maker than as a solver. His rapid ascendancy to power was rather short-lived. His fall from grace was equally precipitous. His success as an influential advisor of the caretaker government has now become questionable and has come under severe scrutiny. All these would not have happened if he had acted little carefully in a just fashion. It can be said that he would have been remembered by all quarters for his role at this time even though he had a controversial political past. Mr. Moinul Hussein had ample time and opportunity this time to redeem himself for the mistakes he did in yesteryears but alas he was wayward from day one to the bitter end of his tenure. He simply let go this opportunity to come out clean.

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