Sheikh Hasina, Khaleda Zia may meet without pre-conditions

September 20th, 2008 - 4:25 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Sep 20 (IANS) The battling ex-premiers of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia, have agreed to meet and talk without pre-conditions after the Eid-ul-Fitr festivities, a lawyer said. If they sit together and talk, “not only their personal differences will be resolved, but the country will also be relieved of the current political crisis”, Rafiq-ul-Haq, who has been defending both of them in law courts, was quoted as saying Saturday.

The much anticipated talk between the traditional political arch rivals is being considered by many as the most vital step forward now to re-establishing democracy in the country, since the move is expected to usher in qualitative changes in the body politic, The Daily Star newspaper observed.

“Both leaders agreed to sit together for a dialogue. Neither of them put any condition,” said Barrister Rafiq-ul Haq, who is acting as the liaison between the two former premiers.

Besides being entrusted with criminal cases by both the women leaders, Haq is also brokering the meeting on behalf of the military-backed caretaker government of Chief Advisor Fakhruddin Ahmed.

Both women have suffered imprisonment for over a year on charges that they deny and were bailed out in the last few days.

While Hasina is in the US for medical treatment and is due to return just before Eid-ul-Fitr next month, Zia was granted bail last week.

The two have been rivals for close to three decades and are known to have not spoken to each other for over a decade.

Haq said Zia was very positive about the meeting while Hasina also welcomed the move when he spoke to her on phone.

“Hasina said since she is currently outside the country, she will give a final decision after talking to her party colleagues on her return home,” he added.

If they do not sit together, Haq said, “the country might revert to the pre-1/11 situation”, a reference to the months of political turmoil that caused the cancellation of the general election and imposition of national emergency that is still in force.

Political analysts say the differences between the two most important leaders, who represent opposing political legacies, are too deep-rooted to be resolved in a meeting or two.

However, they may meet in view of the prevailing public mood and the common desire to be seen as reasonable as they approach the general election.

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