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Jun 17, 2007 at 11:25am IST

B'desh curfew ends, Army still out

New Delhi: Curfew was lifted in Dhaka and in more than 60 other towns on Friday, but soldiers still have a visible presence on the streets of the capital. Residents hope the worst is behind them.

"It is better. Before, we could not move properly. Children could not go the school. But the situation in the country is not good. Now, we are worried because of the Army, the military," says Farzana Haque, a resident of Dhaka city.

Analysts say the Army is unlikely to cross the line fearful of losing lucrative international peacekeeping assignments. And Bangladeshis themselves are fighting to save a country that is at war with itself.

"The will of the people and the strong stance of civil society demonstrated that Bangladeshis very clearly and very firmly believe in a democratic framework," former Indian envoy to Bangladesh, Deb Mukherjee, observes.

But the political climate remains tense. Most Bangladeshis want the two Begums to stop squabbling and come together in the interest of their country. So far, there are no visible signs of that happening. But the new interim govt will have its task cut out as it looks to overhaul the Election Commission and update the voter lists.

"I'm not sure how the new council is being set up, but I do believe that three months is a fair time to recify some errors, especially the major anomalies," Sreeradha Datta, a research fellow at Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, New Delhi, says.

But Bangladesh being Bangladesh -- a country with a history of military rule, fledgling democratic insitutions and violently bitter democratic politics -- no one can really predict how will the present political drama play out. No new date has been set for the elections as yet and fears of further turmoil remain.

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