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Monday, January 24, 2011

Peace, the prime need in CHT

Courtesy: Daily Sun, Dhaka, 23 Jan 2011


Peace, the prime need in CHT

After 13 years of the formal signing of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord in December 1997, peace in the region still remains illusory. The chronology of events during this long period amply substantiates it. The latest incidents of gun fight between two tribal groups are just the continuation of blood-letting rivalries that have been going on intermittently without any sign of immediate end. According to a daily sun report, the fights between the Parbatya Chottogram Jana Sanghati Samity (PCJSS) and the United Peoples Democratic Front (UPDF) in two upazilas under the Rangamati Hill District on Friday left at least six people killed and 15 others injured. Establishment of supremacy over the region is reportedly the immediate cause of the conflicts.

The scale of bitterness in the relationship between these two groups and their contention over hegemony can be measured from the fact that, according to reports, at least 300 people were killed and around 900 others injured since the signing of the treaty. Differences of opinion are there about the number of casualties but there is no denial of the reality that the clashes have already caused huge loss of lives and properties and, more importantly, pushed the prospect of peace and tranquillity there to uncertainty.

Political differences on the question of the peace treaty are the underlying causes of the apparently irreconcilable enmity. While PCJSS favours the treaty and continues parleying with the government for its implementation, UPDF sees it as a betrayal of their cause. This sharp difference led to the formation of UPDF, which ultimately took up arms, experts say, to resist the implementation of the treaty.

We are highly concerned about the trends of events there. Bangladesh now stands at a crossroads with a bright prospect of raising itself to the middle-income status. Peace and political stability is the prime need of the time to translate this possibility into reality. The bloody conflicts in the hilly region will only frustrate such efforts with serious implication on the life and economy of the people living there.

The hill districts have immense potential for forestry, tea gardening and fruit and vegetable cultivation as well as tourism. Natural resources there are still lying unexplored. Infrastructural development, education and health facilities, and investment in agriculture and industries could not be taken up due to the ongoing unrest in the area over more than three decades. The contending groups should seriously think over what they want to gain from such bloody conflicts. They must try to resolve whatever controversies they have through peaceful negotiations. Such peaceful settlement of the disputes will unite the whole people and mobilise them behind development pursuits and help restore a tranquil atmosphere so badly needed for the development of the life and economy of the people there and the country as a whole. The government and all other stakeholders must strive hard to end hostilities in the hill districts.

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