Dhaka – Nothing is happening out of sight of the public centering the discussion over release of jailed former prime minister Khaleda Zia, also the head of opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), a senior leader of the ruling party said on Sunday.
“Everything is open secret,” Awami League general secretary Obaidul Quader told reporters when he was asked whether there was any understanding between the ruling and opposition camps over the possible release of the jailed leader.
Khaleda Zia has been in jail since February 8, 2018 after a court convicted her in a graft case and sentenced to five years in prison – a jail term which was doubled later by a High Court bench. She was sentenced to seven years in jail in yet another graft case.
Her BNP has termed the verdict “politically motivated” and initially tried to mobilize public support for street agitation to release her. There was no big agitation during the last two years that the BNP could arrange.
Now, Khaleda’s family wants her to be released at any cost since the former prime minister was shifted to a Dhaka hospital for arthritis and diabetic treatment. Her sister Selima Islam met the BNP chief last week urging the government to consider her case on humanitarian ground since she is sick.
The government has always been maintaining that the matter would be settled by the court.
Failing to mobilize street agitations to get Khaleda released, the opposition party now started a new tactic. The BNP secretary general Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir make a phone call recently to his ruling party counterpart Quader requesting him to take the issue with the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
To a question, Quader said on Sunday that he talked to the Prime Minister as per Fakhrul’s request. “The Prime Minister did not say anything about it,” said Quader, also the road, bridges and transport minister.
The minister also turned down any behind the stage negotiation between the ruling and opposition parties over the issue of Khaleda Zia’s release. Making a phone call by the secretary general of the opposition party to his counterpart in the ruling camp is not unusual. “It is part of the politics. It is a positive gesture.”
To a question on whether Khaleda Zia will be allowed parole, the ruling party leader said the BNP was yet to file any parole petition. “Let them file an application to the home ministry first. The government will act according to the law,” he said adding that the BNP must clear it whether they want Khaleda to be paroled or they would go for agitation.
The minister also made it clear that the government would not be bow to any pressure from external sources or diplomats. The BNP has long been trying through diplomatic channels. “It is not a political issue. It absolutely depends on the judiciary. The diplomats must go by the law,” he warned.
newsnextbd.com/reporting by Nazrul Islam