Zia pledges fight against terror, corruption

December 14th, 2008 - 12:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Dec 14 (IANS) In her party’s poll manifesto for the Dec 29 elections, Bangladesh’s two-term prime minister Khaleda Zia has pledged to fight terrorism and graft and to introduce parliamentary reforms. The poll manifesto of her Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), unveiled Saturday, also promises to abolish the repressive Special Powers Act, enacted during the regime of Bangladesh’s founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, but operated and even misused by all successive governments, The Daily Star said.

Zia heads a four-party alliance of Islamists and combines with them the ‘nationalist’ political platform.

“We will resist all attempts to label Bangladesh as a communal and fundamentalist state,” said Zia who took power when the world was struck by 9/11 and during her five-year regime religious extremists grew in strength.

She banned some of the outfits after an international outcry and brought their leaders to book for specific crimes.

Zia, who ruled Bangladesh twice (1991-96 and 2001-06), promised to contain price hike of essentials, restore law and order and allow the judiciary “full independence”, The Daily Star said.

It wants to make parliament “centre of politics”, making all representatives release their wealth accounts within 30 days of oath-taking.

She read out the 36-point polls charter in the presence of party colleagues, diplomats and eminent citizens.

Speaker and deputy speaker will resign their party posts. The deputy speaker will be nominated from the opposition.

Standing committees will be formed by the second session of parliament. Chairmen of the committees will be picked from the opposition bench as well.

“No party or alliance will be allowed to boycott parliament sessions. They can, however, stage walkouts on specific issues,” said the BNP chief, adding that they will pursue a policy of bilateral discussions in parliament to resolve the issues of public interest.

“None will be allowed to make offensive comments on late national leaders, and be absent in parliament for 30 days at a stretch.”

The manifesto promises to introduce health insurance for the poor people. Besides providing allowances for those unemployed, her government will take up a project to ensure that at least one from each family gets a permanent job.

Establishing a participatory parliament, working towards a responsible political climate, forging effective ties between the state and social forces, and building a competent and neutral administration are among the pledges made in the BNP manifesto.

Referring to the caretaker government system, she said: “We will make some changes after detailed discussions in parliament in the interest of a free and fair election every five years.”

The party also undertook to develop the private sector, promote balanced trade, draw up a national energy policy and expand the communications network.

It will make efforts to build an underground rail system or elevated monorail in the capital to ease traffic congestion.

The administration will be decentralised to be accessible to those at the grassroots level, said Zia.

Observing that the country’s image has been tarnished due to excessive publicity of corruption, she said they will “make the anti-corruption commission independent”.

An advisory committee will be formed within the first 100 days to work out ways to make the education system more functional and pro-people.

“We’ll eliminate illiteracy within five years, and take steps so no child remains out of school.”

She said a national energy policy will be formulated on recommendations of a high-powered committee. Besides, her government will make every effort for optimum use of the country’s oil and gas, keeping the national interest intact.

She also spoke of plans to set up a nuclear power plant for electricity generation and a deep sea port.

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