As I write this piece at least two people have been killed in pre-election violence in Bangladesh, but festivity still prevails, even though campaigning started three days ago. the key issue in this election is peace or violence.
We have seen how Bangladesh has been praised in different quarters for holding onto peace till now. In the contest of the election, peace means peace for the next five years and anything other than that could be disastrous.
Some analysts have been saying that violence and other issues were most likely set the 30 December 2018 voting day back by another two weeks. Some even feared that elections might be abandoned citing security concerns.
Thus everyone calling for perfect democracy in Bangladesh is now required to ensure that peace is maintained and the local elders must do their bit to ensure this peace. Police need to restrain themselves when dealing with violence.
Attacks on some leaders contesting the polls are not good news. There have been some clashes between rivals of the same political group and some between opposing groups. Yet, the motive behind such outbreaks of violence is not always clear.
We must not ignore these small incidents. Many fear that unless checked promptly, these might lead to major violence and eventual bloodshed.
Security agencies must put their intelligence wings on maximum alert to stop such outbreaks. They must be strategically equipped to control problematic political rallies or marches. Taking the right decision at the right time will save us from unnecessary disruptions in our daily lives, above all avoiding any loss to the country’s economy.
There are elements who want to derail the elections to serve their narrow interests some even want to damage our economy as they do not want us to progress.
Many foreign commentators have praised the quiet and peaceful atmosphere that has so far prevailed.
Political parties have the most important part to play here. They must order their activists and supporters to restrain themselves even under provocation. if reports of talks between Pakistan’s ISI and BNP leaders as reported by the media here are true, then security alertness assumes greater importance.
Out of power for the past 12 years, it is likely that the BNP would try all means to return to power. They tried to blame the ruling Awami League after its own activists, as per sources, torched police and private vehicles in front of the BNP’s headquarters.
A foreign friend asked me to explain why there was a festive mood in our election. I proudly said people in Bangladesh are very conscious politically and they dance, sing and hold many rallies in a festive mood.
People in the West sometimes ignore elections in their countries. It is difficult at times to appreciate that elections are on in a country. There is no festivity, no marches or walls plastered with political messages.
This election has to be conducted well to restore our dignity in the comity of nations and strengthen governance, Westminster style. A free and fair election means a new journey in our politics. It means a poll without the interference of our foreign friends, an election that will give us a new sense of pride.
Nadeem Qadir is a UN Dag Hammarsjold Fellow.