Debate sparking over the party’s future

Faruque Ahmed

A fresh debate is growing as to what future lies ahead for Jamat-e-Islam in the country’s political system. It came to the fore in the wake of Jamaat’s assistant secretary general Barrister Abdur Razzak’s resignation from the party.
It has sparked the debate because never before such a major political dissent happened in the highly regimented party to allow people to take an inner view of the party politics.
Living in London for the past two years Barrister Razzak sent his resignation to party Ameer Mr Mokhbul Ahmed last week raising two main issues as reasons behind his stunning decision.
He said he had waited long to see that the party leadership will pay heed to his repeated demand for reform within the party and on top of it the party has failed to seek apology to the nation for its role against the Liberation War in 1971.
Earlier Barrister Razzak left the country in haste two years back abandoning his role as the chief defence counsel of top Jammat leaders facing trials for war crimes during the country’s WAr of Independence. Some of them were then hanged and some others were executed after he left the country.
It is not clear why he left so abruptly, however speculation was there that the government was trying to put him behind bar and he left the country to avoid any such action if it were true.
Meanwhile another Jamaat leader and former Shibir president Mujibur Rahman Manju has also publicly raised the voice of dissent against the party leadership echoing almost similar accusations against the party leaders.
Both Mr Razzak and Manju are quite right when they were bringing pressure from within the party forum to its leaderships for charting out a new way of politics for the party to bring it out of the past.
Barrister Razzak was held in high esteem in the party but in his word his every effort was ignored regarding the question of seeking apology and reform. Jamaat is passing a hard time after being banned from elections and outdoor politics when senior party leaders were put to gallows one after another.
Party leaders and workers are aimless now and suffering from total demoralization. It is clear Jamaat has lost too much on war crime issue to hold political ground and there no alternative to reform and rewind.
Political observers watching the development are almost unanimous to believe that Jamaat must shun its past to make anew way or break. Perhaps it should take a break first to take a new way to reorganize the party open to new ideas and realities.
It must be less dogmatic and more practical. Perhaps Mr Shah Abdul Hannan—who is regarded here by many as the party’s de facto spiritual leader— is right when he reportedly said the party must retire from direct politics for some time to work nationally as a welfare platform to work for good governance and do good to common people.
In this connection many may recall that Hamas made its debut in Palestine at first as a charitable organization to slowly become an effective political platform of the people. It is running Gaza and organizing resistance to Israeli occupation.
Some also point fingers at Hizbullah in Lebanon or Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. They are more social movement but equally providing political leadership to the people.
Many similarly refer to the return of the Islamists to Tunisian and Turkish politics through social movement without using islamic agenda for politics. Bangladesh however can’t take them as precedents and should chart out its own way.
Jamaat in Bangladesh politics has talked much as a fundamentalist political party earning displeasure from a bigger section of the public when people are more akin to liberal ideals. Islam is not however opposed to modern life, it depends on how a party will present its vision to the nation.
Awami League leaders said they are watching the debate and new moves if any from within Jamaat to respond to the growing debate. Many believe the party leaders may take time to assess the situation. Meanwhile the government move to ban Jamaat as a political party is in progress.
Party insiders said Barrister Razzak’s call for seeking apology makes sense, Jamaat must seek pardon for opposing the independence of the country and helping Pakistani occupation army in carrying out brutalities against the innocent people. Jamaat can’t avoid the responsibility of its historic fault.
But many also hold the view that there is no guarantee that the apology will clear the party of its war crimes guilt and rather may make future politics equally difficult based on such formal apology.
The secularists political parties will not find Jamaat innocent from war crime guilt to keep it away from politics. With a strong support base, the party will remain a challenge to the secularists.
Many party leaders therefore say Jamaat should take a break and wait for change in the country’s political environment. It may be a decade or more decades. Any political debacle in the ruling party politics may open its way again to national politics.
Observers feel Awami League knows it well and therefore will not leave any opportunity to uproot it from politics. Along with BNP, Jamaat is no less a target in the ruling patry’s agenda of destroying the opposition.
But modern political history is full of surprises. In Germany the ultra-right alternative for Deutschland (AfD) is now the second biggest party in Parliament with 94 MPs beating back the social democrats as the third biggest party in Angela Markel’s coalition. AfD entered the political fray only five years back having distant ideological link with the Nazi past.
Similarly in Austria the ultra-rights are part of the coalition elected in September 2017 after seven decades of the end of World War-2.
What Jamaat will do with Barrister Razzak’s plea for reform is their internal matter. What the ruling party is likely to do is to keep politics open to all denying the opposition of their political space. It should not create any political vacuum that may allow unwanted political forces to make their comeback once again.

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