Violence and misinformation or rumors are two major obstacles in the path of economic development under the leadership of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. International allies should stand by Bangladesh to deal with this crisis. These comments were made by the speakers in a webinar titled ‘Violence and Misinformation: Barriers to Economic Prosperity in Bangladesh’.
Speakers credited the government’s 15 consecutive years of progress, citing major infrastructural developments (mega projects) such as the Padma Bridge, Karnaphuli Tunnel and Metrorail.
Councilman, freedom fighter and prominent writer presided over the webinar discussion. Nurun Nabi. Professor Abdur Chowdhury, Professor ABM Nasir, security analyst Chris Blackburn, political analyst Seth Oldmixon and senior researcher Dr. Mazharul Islam Rana.
The speakers mentioned Bangladesh’s significant progress in expanding the social safety net by providing social services including stipends to freedom fighters, the elderly and the disabled to lift millions of people out of poverty. Apart from this, they also claimed that Bangladesh can achieve more progress if the opposition party led by BNP-Jamaat does not create anarchy and violence.
According to them, BNP-Jamaat organized an anti-government rally in Dhaka on October 28, the day Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated South Asia’s first under-river tunnel, resorted to violence, killed a policeman, torched several buses and ambulances at hospitals, and attacked the Chief Justice’s house. and injured several journalists.
Referring to the demands of the opposition parties for a caretaker government in Bangladesh, the speakers asked the question, why did they demand something unconstitutional? They mentioned the constitution and said that the election should be held under the supervision of the Election Commission.
Taking part in the discussion, Professor Abdur Chowdhury said, ‘Goldman Sachs and Chase’ has identified Bangladesh as one of the five emerging economies in the world. It is an amazing progress from a war-torn country in 1971 to this stage. Bangladesh is on track to become an upper middle income country by 2031. Bangladesh is working with skilled labor force from its vast human resources. He advocated economic and political stability in Bangladesh, especially foreign investment in continuous and diversified sectors.
Chris Blackburn, citing a recent poll by the International Republican Institute (IRI), said that despite all the current economic issues, Sheikh Hasina has a 70 percent approval rating. Recently, the French President said that France would support the third installment in Bangladesh because of Bangladesh’s continued support in its strong fight against religious fundamentalism.
Blackburn also pointed out that the Jamaat-BNP led monopoly of misinformation is affecting the economy of Bangladesh. Therefore, both European and American partners should come forward to fight the spread of misinformation against Bangladesh.
Dr. Mazharul Islam sheds light on the impact of misinformation and disinformation in Bangladesh and how it can affect socio-political instability.
He feels that the resolution passed on September 14, 2023 in the EU Parliament on the rights case and the October 28 press briefing notes from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the BNP violence in Bangladesh on October 31 are the product of misinformation.
After the BNP-Jamaat coalition came to power in 2001, he cited the example of continuous violence and said that the years 2001 to 2006 were the most violent period in the country’s history. From 2013 to 2016, violence by BNP-Jamaat activists and radical Islamists continued and recurred, targeting pro-liberation activists, law enforcement agencies, religious and ethnic minorities, and progressive bloggers.
He said that since the BNP-Jamaat nationwide agitation program started on October 28, 2023, similar violence has resurfaced.
Seth Oldmixon, citing a Dhaka University study, warned that violent extremists are active in using social media to incite violence in Bangladesh.