Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Zero Tolerance policy against some of the deep rooted vices in this country has been hailed by the governments, intelligence agencies and media all over the world.
Zero tolerance applies to administrative corruption, militancy, cross-border terrorism and anti-state activities among many others. Her first pronouncement of ‘zero tolerance’ came in the wake of sprouting of various religious fanatic groups and their armed attacks on innocent people of the country.
The armed militant groups declared war against the state, state principles, democracy and democratic institutes, religious establishments, religious minority groups and members of law enforcement agencies. As these groups began to gain strength with foreign help, they started to carry out violent attacks on local and foreign nationals that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of people.
When they launched attack on a Gulshan restaurant and killed over a dozen foreigners (RMG buyers) and some local diners, Sheikh Hasina said enough is enough. She declared her famous ‘zero tolerance’ against such brutality and instructed the state machinery to go all out to crush and eliminate the militants. Fully trained and armed law enforcers began a praiseworthy operation to flush out the rats from their holes and disable them for good.
The militants used to cross the borders with our neighbor India and take refuse in various shelters near the borders. The issue was also taken up by India and they also launched a mopping up strategy to arrest Bangladeshi militants. The joint operation paid off and soon we saw many front ranking militant leaders either got killed or arrested.
Sheikh Hasina also uprooted anti-India insurgents who have been using Bangladesh soil to carry out offensives against Indian border patrols at various points. The Indian government appreciated her role in almost annihilating decades old insurgency that caused much bloodshed.
In a recent report, The Economic Times wrote, “Ethnic militancy has dropped in the northeast since 2009, after Sheikh Hasina came to power and ordered a tough crackdown on all northeastern guerrillas and ISI-backed Islamist militants who were operating from Bangladesh during the BNP-Jamaat regime (2001-06). The pro-talks faction of the ULFA and the Daimary faction of the NDFB are on the table because their leaders were nabbed and handed over to India on Hasina’s explicit orders.”
In praise of Sheikh Hasina’s zero tolerance policy, The Economic Times further wrote, “It is not easy for India to fight a two-front war against both Pakistan and China; it is also not easy to face a two-front insurgency. Hasina’s zero tolerance against terror and her determination not to allow her soil to be used by the ‘enemies of India’ is as crucial to contain, if not defeat, the insurgencies in northeast as it is to crush Islamist militancy in her own country.
“Since ISI remains the chief patron of all these radical armed groups, denial of operational space to Pakistani intelligence in Bangladesh remains a strategic imperative for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as ‘kicking Pakistan out of the East’ was for Indira Gandhi in 1971.”
Sheikh Hasina very pertinently realized that Bangladesh has to improve its relations with the immediate giant of a neighbor India for security and trade and commerce development for the mutual benefit of the two countries. Accordingly she took up a fresh foreign relations policy with regard to India. Soon the dividends started to come paving the way for bigger and better benefits. Some wrong concepts about Bangladesh started to disappear from the minds of the politicians and general people of India. In this regard, a “CSDS-Hindu survey had shown in one of its public attitude surveys that Bangladesh is now the country Indians trusts most – more than our traditional friend, Russia. This is clearly a post-Hasina phenomenon. That her father and Bangladesh founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s autobiography has now been translated in eight Indian languages, including Assamese, is evidence of the friendly feeling at the popular level.”
With regard to the recently held national election and win of Sheikh Hasina, The Economic Times wrote the following: “The West, specially the US, is making much noise over pre-poll violence in Bangladesh. But if Trump can overrule the CIA and come to the rescue of Saudi crown prince Salman after the horrific murder of dissident Jamal Khashoggi, India is well within its rights to rejoice in the event of a poll victory of a leader who has given Bangladesh phenomenal economic and human development, besides obliging India on her key concerns.”
The above observations by a reputable media house like The Economic Times are worth mulling over.
Zero tolerance policy against administrative corruption is an area that needs the attention of the PM next. It is being said that we lose about 2% growth of our GDP to corruption. It is indeed a big number and we must address it without further delay.
Already the zero tolerance policy against drugs is paying off. The yaba and heroin traders are being hauled up on a daily basis and many yaba traders have lost life in police encounters when they attacked with lethal arms. Many safe transit routes have been sealed off for ever. Once the godfathers will be caught we believe influx of drugs will drop down remarkably.
The cancerous growth of individual and institutional corruption has to be contained. Corruption such as over-invoicing, under-invoicing, enhancement of project budget, useless foreign tours, recruitment of incompetent staff, leaking of question papers, rampant bribing at land offices, railway, ports, passport offices and various other government and semi-government offices must be brought down to the minimal level. Unbridled corruption is putting the country on the list of one of the front ranking corrupt countries of the world.
Sheikh Hasina has declared war against drugs, militancy and corrupt practices and if her hands are strengthened, she will be able to contain this monster and ensure our journey to a developed country.
Shahnoor Wahid is Advisory Editor, Bangladesh Post