Space For Rent
Thursday, May 12, 2016, Baishakh 29, 1423 BS, Shaban 4, 1437 Hijri

When war criminals become ministers...
Anis Ahmed
Published :Thursday, 12 May, 2016,  Time : 12:00 AM  View Count : 40

With the hanging of Motiur Rahman Nizami, Ameer of Jamaat-e-Islami and former Al-Badr chief, the curtain dropped on the top-brand War Criminals. Nizami, like many others, had not only opposed Bangladesh's independence from Pakistan but joined hands with the Pakistani occupation troops to unleash genocide, mass rape and rampage during our War of Independence in 1971. Thus he stained his hands with the blood of the freedom fighters and those who supported separation of former East Pakistan and its independence of Bangladesh.
But even after doing such heinous crimes against humanity, Nizami and his first-track comrade Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed became Ministers in Bangladesh, flying the National Flag on their vehicles which they opposed in 1971. They never accepted Bangladesh's independent, sovereign entity. This dark chapter happened during the rule of Khaleda Zia, chief of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and a friend of the war criminals. Khaleda's BNP and Jamaat remained strong allies over the decades and backed up each other in all elections. They also used their pet killers and gangsters to thwart elections, boycotted the parliamentary polls in 2014, lobbied across the world to overthrow the elected government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina - but did not succeed.
The Jamaati ministers Motiur Rahman Nizami and Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed, hanged after trial by International Crimes Tribunal as war criminals on charge of their crime against humanity during our War of Liberation, shamed the nation by flying the flag of a country they never wanted would be born. Those including who supported and made league with jamaat should also share the shame for patronizing war criminals.
But alarm bell rang for the War Criminals when Sheikh Hasina launched her irrevocable mission to try and punish the war criminals irrespective of their political affiliation or social standing. In the process, four Jamaat leaders and one from the BNP had been tried by the ICT and hanged. Last of all it was Nizami who hit the gallows on Tuesday night.
Others who are on the death row for war crimes include mostly convicts from Jamaat and one from Sheikh Hasina's ruling Awami league. This reflects on her strong resolve not to spare any war criminal from the law and set them up before judiciary for exemplary punishment.
But BNP and its Chairperson Khaleda Zia never supported war crimes trials and made repeated efforts to thwart trials by the ICT, calling it inefficient, partisan and not up to the international standards. But everyone else, except Khaleda's political mentors Pakistan, had rejected the allegation and hailed Bangladesh for trying the war criminals.
Given that, people expected the BNP will change its political track and come on the line with all Bangladeshis who stubbornly demanded trial and maximum punishment of the war criminals. But they did not. Instead, Khaleda and her allies kept up their lobbying and campaigning across the world trying to placate the process of law executed by Bangladesh's independent judiciary and undermine it for acts that everyone else hailed.
Last of all, Pakistan made a plea to the ongoing Commonwealth meeting in London, urging it to take up the case of Kahleda Zia with the Bangladesh government - to make way for BNP's return to power. But the C'wealth meeting turned down the proposal. This again proved Khaleda's close link with Pakistan that often try to interfere in Bangladesh's internal matters and have vehemently tried to block the war c rimes trials in Bangladesh.
As such, we can assume that BNP and Jamaat are two sides of the same coin when it comes to the issue of war criminals. BNP proved this amply by making Nizami and Mojaheed ministers - and tried ceaselessly to save them from the gallows.
Pakistan understandably has a reason to oppose Bangladesh and stand for their friends in erstwhile East Pakistan, which fought for independence and won it at the cost of three million lives. But what inspired Khaleda Zi a to stand for the War Criminals?  It's not clearly known but believed to have been string pulled by her mentors and friends in Islamabad.
Jamaat-e-Islami and its militant student wing Islami Chhatra Shibir are still trying to trigger political chaos and cause unrest through violence to hinder Bangladesh's democratic governance and its steady march towards economic solvency. BNP supports them because the coveted economic progress and peace in the country will prove Sheikh Hasina's worth as the supreme leader of Bangladesh.
Recently, Bangladesh has been experiencing a rise in militancy and terrorism - claiming lives of people - which draws support from the Jamaat and its affiliated bodies. Like jamaat, BNP leaders also made no statement on the militancy but repeatedly blame it on the government. In this, Jamaat and BNP walk the same route.
The War Criminals should have been brought before law long ago after the BNP first came to power in 1991 but instead, Kahleda Zia and Jamaat leaders made lasting friendship in politics. It was Sheikh Hssina's resolve and brevity that saw finally the war criminals going to the gallows
It is now time for the people to ask Begum Zia and BNP whether they will keep Jamaat as ally and make war criminals ministers again if she comes to power. Begum Zia did not apologies to the nation for making war criminals as ministers but she must be compelled now to clear her party stand on this issue before the next general election in the country.

Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
Published by the Editor on behalf of the Observer Ltd. from Globe Printers, 24/A, New Eskaton Road, Ramna, Dhaka. Editorial, News and Commercial Offices : Aziz Bhaban (2nd floor), 93, Motijheel C/A, Dhaka-1000. Phone :9586651-58. Fax: 9586659-60, Advertisemnet: 9513663, E-mail: [email protected], [email protected], [email protected].