Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Khaled Going Into Exile. Hasina To Follow?

It’s official. Khaleda Zia and her family are going into exile, possibly in the next few days. Zia will go to Saudi Arabia for one month to perform umrah. Where she goes after that is anybody’s guess. Chances are Zia will remain in Saudi Arabia, which has given sanctuary to such autocratic leaders like Pakistan’s Nawaz Sharif and Uganda’s Idi Amin.

It is an inglorious end for someone who was a Prime Minister just a few months ago; and now she is forced to leave in disgrace. It says a lot that no one is sad to see her go, not even her own party members. A testament, I believe, that Zia’s days were numbered to begin with.

But what about Sheik Hasina? Does she await the same fate as her bitter rival? She’s already in the United States where she has family, forced there by the caretaker government. She wanted to cut her visit short when she was charged with extortion, but the caretaker government was not keen on her returning so soon, so Hasina decided to stay till the end of the month. Whether she will be allowed to return then is another question. The caretaker government does not want her to return at all.

So there you have it: both leaders of once powerful political parties neutralized, and not a bullet was fired. And not a peep out of the people. They, too, are sick and tired of their shenanigans and corruption, and want to see something better. In a way, it is a watershed moment in Bangladesh’s history. The people are no longer willing to tolerate bad behavior. Things are getting better economically. And the people will be damned if they’re going to let politicians muck it up.