Feature Img
Photo: bdnews24.com
Photo: bdnews24.com

What on earth is going on with the Quader Molla issue? We know that the government was trying to make an example out of him but the way the events developed, it seems the government is making an example of high class fumbling all by itself. It was announced that he was to be hanged at Tuesday midnight, even the final visit by Molla’s family members were completed but then suddenly it was postponed, delayed, whatever.

Although the law minister and every other legal bigwigs of the government had declared that all recourses to relief was gone, a supreme court judge suddenly gave a stay order on the execution for an appeal hearing. Why?

Another unique statement was left for the Attorney General to make that he had no idea of what was going on and was actually very hurt because he felt left out. It was for making such ridiculous statement that he may or may not be remembered of, but under the present circumstances, he is certainly looking like a little boy without his shoes. What are you doing here if you don’t know what is going on?

It doesn’t matter whether Molla hangs when the court system seems hell bent on suicide. It was a stunning display of chaos that has claimed the legal system where the boundary between law and politics has been removed.

* * *

Bangladesh is a product of Pakistan which after birth till date has failed to produce a functional constitutional state. Bangladesh’s birth’s immediate trigger was Pakistan’s own constitutional failure which was the refusal to hand over power to the elected representative by its martial law rulers in 1971. Pakistan was a perpetually constitution violating state. Each of its crises was produced by lack of constitutional rule and each of its solutions was burdened by the same lack of rule of law.

This has been Bangladesh’s greatest political inheritance and this is what we have been practicing. The Molla incident is the latest symptom of that malady which infected us at birth which is to ignore rule of law.

* * *

Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

The reason why we are like Pakistan is because we don’t want to live legally; because we never did learn how to. Though there is such a lot of songs and dance about the 1973 constitution, it lasted only two ramshackle years and by then underwent three major changes including PO 9 which is sacking officials without showing any cause. By 1974 emergency had been declared and by 1975 one-party rule was established through the 4th amendment ending all pretensions of pluralistic democracy violating one of the four major state principles. In August 1975, President Sheikh Muib and most of his family members were killed by a section of the military and martial law was imposed followed by a series of coups.

Of course all this was a result of the first August 15 coup which again was triggered partly by the one-party rule which was probably triggered by the lack of ability and experience of its rulers to rule a post-war state constitutionally. By 1981 General Zia who imposed the first martial law and ran an authoritarian state and facilitated the return of the banned Jamaat-e-Islami to politics was himself killed by his fellow freedom fighter comrades and soon General Ershad came to power in 1982. After several miserable rigged elections which began from 1973 onwards, he was ousted by a mass upsurge and we have the 1990 scenario.

So where did we have a phase when the country was ruled by law supported by the constitution? We built the unconstitutional phase from 1972 to 1990 as the foundational phase and the 1990 was not a victory of the constitution but the inauguration of the next unconstitutional phase that begin with the caretaker government system during elections.

Bangladesh has never lived under a constitutional phase and it has been legitimised and endorsed by the ruling parties. This is the basic crisis and till it’s resolved things can’t improve. The 15th amendment is an extension of this syndrome.

* * *

The present crisis is the legitimate child of this illegitimate system. The 1990 arrangement was itself a contingency one because the two political animals would rather kill each other than work together.

In the immediate stage two things happened.

In 2006 the BNP tried to manipulate the caretaker system and kept putting in power various people allowed under the list of possible chief advisors in a pathetic but dangerous attempt at manipulation ending with their own president. It provided the opportunity for the AL to give a ‘logi-boitha’ call and take to the streets. On no side was there any commitment to constitutional rule.

After the Fakhruddin-Moeen caretaker  phase was over, a result of the AL-BNP fighting, there was an election effectively under a military “caretaker”’ supervision, the AL came to power  and within three years had brought the 15th amendment which ended the caretaker system that was designed to ensure elections without violence and was acceptable to both. So the AL is at least half responsible for the present crisis and has given the BNP a chance to do a  ‘logi-boitha’ display at an epic scale. If anyone wishes for a showcase of failed politics this is it.

* * *

It was also a display by the AL of either complete lack of foresight that does not know what the consequences would be by imposing the 15th amendment or a level of cynicism that is unprecedented in national politics. They simply didn’t care what happened. The Government and its supporters seem to gain great pleasure in pointing out the horrors of the present violence conveniently forgetting that this was largely triggered by the decision to unnecessarily impose the 15th amendment. The AL knew what was going to happen but it still did it knowing full well the consequences of its decision.

* * *

As for the BNP, no words are ever going to be strong enough to condemn their condoning, encouraging and fanning violence. Street rumour has it that it’s not the BNP cadres who are doing all the violence but Shibir cadres whose survival is at stake. The BNP as the guardian party of Jamaat-e-Islami  has truly benefited from the easing of Jamat back into Bangladeshi politics and apart from the 2001 alliance which brought them electoral victory , they are also benefiting of running a “war” without getting hurt. And the statement of Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury to this effect (For Mobin, this is ‘war’) also shows the mentality of this party. The last time a government went into war with its own people was 1971.

* * *

The Quader Molla show is a signal of how bad things have become and if rumours are right, it’s foreign powers again who are trying to manage the situation. Bangladeshi politicians don’t have the will or the skill to look after its people. One may not like the interference but then wouldn’t you try to rescue a child with mental problems, the equivalent of an autistic state?

And the drama rolls on.

Afsan Chowdhury is a journalist, activist and writer.

Afsan Chowdhuryis a bdnews24.com columnist.

24 Responses to “Quader Molla and the autistic state”

  1. Farhad Mahmud

    When Afsan Bhai starts his article with, “What on earth is going on with the Quader Molla issue ?”, could the answer be as simple as “we were seeing a judicial process in motion, which wants to ensure that no stone is left unturned before the State is allowed to take a human life, even if the process has some faults (e.g. the prosecution was not present when the plea was made)”. My kudos to AL government and the judiciary for not hastening the process for the sake of expediency, much that we were thirsty for ANY form of closure, and even though the delay of even a couple of days could have thrown up grave political and legal ramifications. On one hand we exhort the separation of the executive from the judiciary, but on the other hand question the government what was it doing when judges were taking their decisions. Who is being autistic, might I ask (a particularly bad choice of adjectives) ? On the prosecution not knowing what was happening, did he not see live on television the number of times the defence lawyers went to the chief prosecutor’s house and their desperate attempt to reach him on his cellphone before they were compelled to go to the Chamber Judge’s house without him to stop/stay the hanging ? What we saw were the brilliant efforts of a desperate lawyer to save his client within the legal norms and a State making no concession in allowing him his rights even while it prepares to take away his life.

  2. Tanim

    I don’t understand how the writer dare to say Bangladesh is a product on Pakistan. He has no sense and idea and knowledge of Bengali culture and history. Pakistan was a mistake blinded by religious fanaticism. Bangladesh is the rectification and remedy.

  3. Fazlul kabir

    plz correct yourself when you write Bangladesh is a product of Pakistan,you should know our heritage is ancient . we have to enlighten ourselves first and then only the transformation process begins.

    • afsan chy

      Bangladesh’s political culture is certainly Pakistani in nature. Our rules and laws, politics and its violations follows the tradition of non-constitutionality set up in the Pakistan era. Our social heritage is ancient but our political heritage is fairly recent. I explain this in our book “Bangladesh 1971” published by Maula Bros 2007.

      Was this just a point raised in righteous resentment or are you familiar with the political history of the region ?


  4. Dibosh Rajani

    Any thoughts why Oscar Fernandez-Taranco had asked to meet with the military chief? Of course his wish was not granted. Is it that the UN, Uncle Sam and Western powers espouse the idea of a 1/11 type of solution? The army is quite wary of getting involved again because if they conduct an election, the first task of the elected government would be to hang the army chief. If Uncle Sam promises free passage to the army chief after the election, in concert with the UN threatening to cut back on the peace-keepers if peace is not restored, perhaps the army may consider stepping in to stop the squabbling between AL and BNP and the wanton killings, fire-bombings, etc. by the BNP and Jamaties. Your thoughts?

    • Anwar A. Khan

      The writer will not respond to your last sentence! Any movement should be peaceful. But the movement is being conducted BNP + Jamaat are all violent terrorist activities. One should condemn in strongest language these types of activities marked by extreme and violent energy to stop them. You will find that he and some other commentators’ write good articles and make comments respectively but the principal theme of their writing + comments centre round “squabbling between AL and BNP.” To arrive at a negotiated settlement between the two major political parties, BNP must forsake the violent path, lend support to the trials of war criminals and leave Jamaat. Only this way, it will produce positive results; otherwise rapprochement between them is a very distant cry.

      And most of the leaders of BNP are purchased by Jamaat-e-Islami and without Jamaat’s fund, they can’t live; Jamaat’s registration with EC has been scrapped for which they can’t contest in the ensuing parliamentary polls. So they will not dare leave Jamaat. I foresee the mass people will be the causualty only in the days ahead. Up till now, whatever harm and damage done to the country and its people by Jamaat and BNP are unpardonable.

      Bangladesh has been created to run its course strictly in line with the values and spirit of our liberation war and there should be no compromise in this regard. If any people are found not commensurate with these qualifications but want to rule us, I must say they do not belong to Bangladesh; they do not own this country or the country does not own them.

  5. Khademul Bashar

    I am pretty sure that my statement would be guillotined. Civilized nations go by the principle of “benefit of doubt for the accused”. Neither Afsan nor any other took note of the fact that this Quader Mollah had never been in hiding since the nation emerged independent. There have been lots of discrepancies in the witnesses piled up against him. Why no mention about that? Do you think following a populist trend would set you free from the professional ethics of journalism, you all so often vow to uphold

  6. mithun ahmed

    There is no autistic government–there is only autistic leadership.
    This tit-for-tat politics–an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth– can only lead to a country with of blind and toothless people! What is deeply worrisome that even the young generation is deeply divided and is imbued by an ideology of hate and revenge.

  7. Matiur Rahman

    I agree that the Constitution in its current distorted form has become a great source of all ills. According to my research, the original 72-page Constitution was written hurriedly in line with the West Minister System borrowing heavily from the Indian Constitution( the original was in 80,000 words that took 2 years 11 months and 18 days for framing). Actual time of writing our original Constitution was, perhaps, no more than a month or so. Mr.Abdur Rouf/Rob( a Supreme Advocate) was the main writer.It was written in his Dhanmondi residence. He is now a forgotten man. Dr. Kamal Hossain( the then Law Minister) chaired the Constitution Drafting Committee. He visited this Dhanmondi residence many times.
    Good job, Afsan. Stay safe.

  8. Junaed Ahmed

    It is a good reading article; thank you Mr. Afsan.

    Molla will be hanged as the apex court has finally rejected his review petition and I demand it to happen without further delay. He and other war crimes criminals now in the cages committed unbounded crimes for which everyone should go to the gallows; the sooner it is, the better it is.We have waited for it for long 42 years; we have no patience to await any longer.

    No conclusion is drawn up in your write-up, Mr. Afsan!

  9. Shabbir A. Bashar

    Interesting reading where the writer points to the Constitution as the root cause of many of today’s national maladies. He claims that the foundation was weak. My question is, what stops us from excavating the old weak foundation and installing a better and stronger one? Yes, it will cause temporary mayhem and inconvenience but if we as a nation are aligned on the bigger picture where we agree that such time has come and we HAVE to prioritize that task if we are to grow bigger. The Constitution needs to be put to a referendum. It is not a document that should be hurriedly cut-and-pasted without public consultation and participation; it represents a contract between and amongst all the citizens of the country.

    For years this country has been run by the civil servants from the behind the veil of an elected/unelected government. This class claims to be educated and has the power to manipulate governance which impacts everyone YET they are not answerable to the public. Elected officials – sadly – are not as academically established that the civil servant class. The latter class has viciously exploited this reality for the benefit of themselves and at the cost of Bangladesh. How is it that most of their children are educated abroad and live abroad while ordinary Bangladeshi people have to live with a broken system? Why has Bangladesh as a nation put so much authority in the hands of a bunch of bureaucrats who have no personal stake in the development of the country?

    There is very little option but for the talent from the younger generation to come and supervise these civil servants while owning the responsibility of development of the nation within the circle of elected officials only. Yes, that means, Bangladesh must start electing people based on talent from the younger generation.

    • Golam Arshad

      Can’t agree more. Bloodshed NOW must be stopped. Both BNP and AL must compromised for the sake of the Nation.

  10. pothik

    It is not simple as you have analysed. The main point was supposed to find a fair electoral system. The BNP actually does not want that and the AW wants the BNP to device it within the current constitution. The sushil babura don’t want a fair election but an unfair election so that BNP wins.

    The other point is that all the parties should be do politics with muktijudder chetona in bangladesh not paki chetona.

  11. Dr A Rahman

    The writer is absolutely right in blaming the ‘political leaders’ for all the present ills. The state itself is autistic now; but it has been made so by the perpetual abuse of the selfish, greedy and corrupt ‘guardians’ or political leaders. If some external forces can wipe out the cancerous politics genre of these two parties or ladies, then probably Bangladesh will rise again from the ashes like phoenix.

  12. Mo Chaudhury

    Another outstanding, candid and profoundly incisive commentary from Afsan.I hope Afsan remains safe from the clucthes of the new ICT Law, now and in future.

  13. Golam Arshad

    Afsan: Painful “Blood-Game” ! Shocking Truth ! Sadly, the Drama Rolls on !

  14. Akhtar Shah

    A simple summary by Afsan. Reads well indeed. Its mind numbingly appalling lack of skill , will and a horrible drill by past and present leaders . I am certain there are some with grey matters within the parties who simply shake their heads in disbelief , keep mum and enjoy the fruits of their positions.Country and its people are a bit of a nuisance sometimes and get in the way of their seriously stupid games!

  15. Rehnuma

    Many thanks for the piece. I think the government is more responsible for failing to control the violence rather than triggering it. They should’ve explained their position about the amendment very clearly to the people, which they didn’t (don’t know if they did so out of over confidence or cynicism; neither helped, of course). However, AL offered the ‘All Party’ solution to BNP, which they didn’t accept either. The situation started to worsen from then onwards, as far as I can see.

    • a reader

      are you rehnuma ahmed, the columnist? in that case why have you stopped writing for new age or altogether? your name here is spelled with an “e”. so I am not sure but from the comments it seems that such an observation only can come from you.

      • Rehnuma

        I’m truly honoured to receive your commendation. My Full name is Rehnuma Sazzad. Would love to have an opportunity to write for New Age (who do I send commentaries to?). Thank you so very much for the encouragement.

      • afsan chy


        write to the Editor Nurul Kabir or Mir Fakhruzzaman at New Age.But before that write to Bdnews24 C/o Sonia Kristy. all good writers are welcome. thanks

      • Rehnuma

        Thank you so much once again. Sent a small piece to Bdnews 24 a couple of months ago. Got no replies and thought it wasn’t good enough. Will send them another writing then at some point. Thanks a lot for all your kind help.

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