The BBC interview of Sheikh Hasina was another bleak eye opener. Let me go straight to the points that mattered:
1. When asked about the demands of Hefazat-e-Islam, especially the demand to introduce the death penalty for blasphemy, Sheikh Hasina directly said that "we don't have any plan to implement it." Asked whether she rejected the demands, she answered tactically that no question arose of accepting or rejecting them. The laws were already in place. To a casual observer like me it sounded like an aristocratic mode of passive dismissal, as if such demands were not worthy of her status. How dare they question her wisdom?
2. Literally understanding the fact that she had already gone too far, she tried to appease (the Hefazat supportive 5 million viewers?) by saying that she would look up the demands of the Hefazat-e-Islami and see which were worthy or reasonable. and which were not. Again that tone of snub nosed aristocratic stubbornness. Where would her government be without her?
3. The clever reporter again questioned the wise prime minister, "You say its a secular country; a secular tradition; but the bloggers have been arrested. Is it because the Islamists called for a protest?" Rightfully taken aback, the Prime Minister gathered about her wits and retorted with a, "No, no, not that." Then she went on to defend the prevalent law saying that the arrested bloggers had written unlawful content. The reporter, an extremely clever one, went in for the kill when he said, "But you didn't arrest them; the government didn't arrest them for the last few months; this action came only after the Islamists started declaring for a protest." (Extremely tricky question!) But no, nothing could faze the PM who retorted with another no and said that a committee had been formed; the committee took time in identifying the ones responsible; the law took its own course of action and took its own time. This led to the present action and it was in no way (how preposterous!) linked with the 'Islamists' protests.
4. Sensing that she was getting uncomfortable the reporter then tracked back and stated that Bangladesh was moving away from its secular tradition. Sensing the familiar breathing space the PM took the opportunity to proudly state the fact that her govt. amended the constitution and her party was the champion of secularism.
5. Going back to security issues the reporter picked up on the sensitive issue of the recent excessive police action to control demonstrations of Jamaat-e-Islami in the light of the Sayedee verdict, which the BBC reporter said had claimed more than 80 lives in the past two to three months, citing the concern of the human rights organizations in this regard. As a representative of the people she actually managed to pull it off with a straight face. She reiterated the statements of her Home Minister as she parroted the role of the police in defending the people, saying, "Security forces are law enforcing agencies, they have to protect people and people's property. You know many police officers were killed" That moment the reporter asked increduously, "But most have been killed by police firing (Oh yeah!)" And the PM retorted," If police are under attack, what will they do?" (Yeah, like kids and old men were out to kill policemen.)
6. The last part was predictably about the war crimes trial, where Sheikh Hasina smoothly used emotional smart talk to belittle the questions on the fairness and international standards of the war crimes trials. In reply to the reporter's questions on the lack of international standards and the unrest stemming in Bangladesh from this unfairness, she replied with total confidence that the trials were of absolute international standards, saying, "We have the right to appeal!" (Big deal). She said that her government could not help it if the defendants were all from the opposition. Refuting the reporters insistence that the tribunals had divided the nation, she was adamant in stating that the opposition to the (unfairness in the) tribunals was from a small segment of the people. They were insignificant for now.
7. On the economic toil of the unrest, when the reporter asked about the impact it may bring about on lowering the previously steady GDP, she replied with an evidently classic case of hollow confidence, "Don't worry, we have everything under control." Sick.
What can I say? I hope we had a Prime Minister who talked less and worked more for the people. I say that because although we have a Parliament, the majority of the Awami League and the uncouthness of its leaders in shooing away the opposition have rendered it a puppet show only Hasina controls. However, her adamant attitude, uncompromising stance and refusal to listen to the will of millions have only brought about misery upon the denizens of the country. A misery with no end in sight.
You can see the video here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22060402