Settling the claim of history

001BANGLADESH is a unique country in South Asia that emerged independent through a war of liberation, an armed revolution, against the neo-colonial rule of the Pakistani politico-military establishment while most of the others had negotiated their independence from the colonial powers, in the last instance, through negotiations across the table. In the process of the liberation war, which came, again, following a series of social, political and cultural movements, the history inevitably brought in some promises for the people in the independent Bangladesh, which was articulated, and that too in the most minimal form, in the ‘Proclamation of Independence’ by the Awami League’s government-in-exile on April 10, 1971. The promises were ‘equality, human dignity and social justice’ for every citizen of the independent country — the promises without materialisation of which the independence cannot be meaningful in the lives of ordinary millions who had made enormous sacrifices in liberating the country from neo-colonial Pakistan in December 1971.
However, long 44 years into the independence of Bangladesh, the country has undoubtedly made progress in many areas, but the fundamental promises of the liberation war has not yet been materialised.  Instead of ensuring equality of citizens, pervasive inequalities of all kinds — social, political and cultural — have rather been institutionalised in the country; human dignity of the citizens particularly that of the poor millions remains out of the mainstream political discourse while ‘social justice’ remains completely elusive. What, however, remains ironic is that all the leaders of the political parties who have ruled the countries since the independence admits the failure to materialise the promises, but they blame one another for the failure. We, however, know and understand that it is the political parties of the ruling classes, and their military regimes, who have failed the people to enjoy the fruits of freedom that came through enormous sacrifices of the masses. It is, therefore, time to make the ruling class establishment accountable to the history and rekindle the forgotten promises of the liberation war, for without ensuring ‘equality, human dignity and social justice’, Bangladesh cannot settle the claim of history.

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