Wednesday, April 27, 2011

BNP boycott of inter-party talks only hurts BNP

Opposition leader Begum Khaleda Zia's decision to boycott inter-party talks means that the priorities of BNP supporters will go unrepresented says today's Daily Star.

We think it is only appropriate that the BNP chairperson reconsider her position for some very significant reasons to get her ideas across. In the first place, she leads the opposition in the Jatiya Sangsad, which in essence means she and her party speak for a good number of people in the country. In the second, she has been prime minister in the past and, we dare say, certainly looks forward to holding that position again in future. In the third, and most importantly, it is the future of democratic politics which will be served by the ruling party and the opposition cooperating on such vital issues as constitutional amendments. Begum Zia owes it to the people to let them know her position on the constitution in a manner befitting her present position in parliament. Democracies are more than an exercise of power by the ruling party. They are also a demonstration of how a strong and effective opposition can keep a government on the defensive on matters of public interest, besides informing the nation on where it stands on national issues.

In this instance, an important lesson might be learned from the way that Pakistan's opposition parties have shifted in recent years from a strategy of strict obstructionism to working more closely with the PPP-led government to find common ground or, at a minimum, put the brakes on opposed reforms without upending the democratic process.

As noted by The Daily Star, the government's offer to invite opposition parties to participate in the parliamentary special committee is a commendable gesture that demonstrates a willingness on the part of Awami League leaders to move beyond past ways of doing business in the Jatiya Sangsad (Bangladesh's parliament).

Begum Zia may find this gesture suspicious – a reaction not unwarranted in light of past political fights – but only by taking up the offer will the BNP be able to say for certain whether the offer was made in good faith. At the end of the day, the BNP would only stand to gain from participating in talks: Either their suspicions would prove correct, or their voice would be heard in the committee – each a BNP win.

Since the 2008 elections, the democratic process in Bangladesh has run relatively smoothly. Continuing the trend of increased participation by opposition parties will only serve to improve democratization and ensure that the opinions of the people represented by opposition parties is represented.

No comments: