In response to the opposition leader’s controversial appeal to the army to intervene in politics, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has asked the armed forces to resist any act against Constitution and democracy.
The Prime Minister’s statement on Thursday came four days after Khaleda Zia, who was Prime Minister twice, asked the armed forces not to remain “a silent spectator” when the nation was in serious turmoil, and hoped the armed forces would “play its role in due time”.
The alliance of Ms. Khaleda Zia’s BNP and the Jamaat-e-Islami recently launched a “one-point oust government campaign” demanding restoration of the neutral caretaker system, scrapped by a constitutional amendment, to oversee the next Parliament elections. Over 60 people have been killed and homes and places of worship of the Hindu community attacked and destroyed in the violence in recent weeks.
Ms. Hasina told army officers at the Dhaka cantonment that “in the past, a vested quarter had used the armed forces to hinder democracy” and asked them “to ensure that no undemocratic force can come to power using the armed forces”.
The chiefs of the three services also spoke.
Ms. Khaleda Zia has taken flak from many quarters for her remarks, termed as a “direct instigation” to the armed forces to step into politics. The government is considering legal steps against Ms. Khaleda Zia, according to Home Minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir.
Ms. Hasina urged the opposition leader to “stop annoying the people of Bangladesh” and advised her to “go there [Pakistan], where you will be happy”.
Foreign Minister Dipu Moni criticised Ms. Khaleda Zia’s January 30 article in the Washington Times in which she called upon the U.S. and other western nations to come forward to “save democracy”.
In the backdrop of the escalating violence and political stand-off, the High Court on Wednesday asked why Ms. Hasina and Ms. Khaleda Zia be not ordered to start a dialogue to ensure a free and fair national election.