Dhaka, 15 September 2009: At last a peaceful half-day hartal by a citizens’ pressure group leaded by The National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and Port observed in protest against the government’s decision to lease out three gas blocks to international oil giants.yesterday. The committee gave the government a fresh one-month ultimatum to fulfil its five-point charter of demands by October 15 or on October 16, the committee will call a national conference to decide tougher action programmes, including hartals and siege,’ Sheikh Muhammad Shaheedullah told the rally. The five-point charter of demands includes cancellation of the model oil-gas distribution contract 2008, cancellation of the proposed lease of three offshore blocks to foreign firms, formulation of a new model production-sharing contract ensuring 100 percent public ownership, full implementation of the Phulbari agreement 2006 and punishment of those responsible for the attack on Anu Muhammad and others on September 2. The committee will continue its campaign till October 15 to garner support for the demands.
As usual the committee said that the hartal has observed successfully. Hartal is an extreme programme to pressurise the government to make bound to fulfill the demands. Has it acheived through this hartal? If not, then how will we measure successful? Yesterday I wrote that the organisers generate movement for the sack of movement, not for getting any fruitful results. It has been reflected today!
Very begining of Today at midnight, a local TV channel broadcast opinion of M M Akash, a organiser of the committee. As a economists Anu Mohammad, Secretary of the committee and M M Akash, both are very reliable and respectable personality to the country people, particularly the people who are struggling for social change. As per opinion of M M Akash, Hartal declared due to continous pressure of youth activists of the committee. He also acknowledged that they could not make popular the issues of gas exploration by foreign companies to the people till now. And he also said that the present government have two block, one block is positive to the committee and others block opposes them. Due to this reason, the government play a dual role to take decision.
Akash sir has given a very realistic analysis through his opinion, but he has failed to execute the strategy. As political context, hartal becomes an inevitable programme through series of public mobilisation and struggles. But the committee declare hartal without preparing the country people to showing it inevitable through their programme. Akash sir indicate that there is two groups in government. Yesterday I have tried to mention this. As a strategy the committee had a responsibility to strengthen the groups who are supporting them for a fruitful negotiation. Akash sir also said that if the agreement signed once, then we would have to go a long term movement. This is the reality which he expresses! The government has approved that Connoco Philips and Tallow will get the authority to explore gases from 3 fields of off-shore and they could get a great percentage to export it. In this situation, we should use our highest potential to negotiate the approval with the government while there have some strong supporters of the committee. Movement is essential, but skills of negotiation is inevitable truth for a visionary leader. All the people of movement realised it from their experiences of movement, and history also teaches it also.
The committee have declared a national convention on 15 October 2009; I think, this is a right decision! Before convening this convention, we should use our all effort to strengthen our friends within the government to create a atmosphere of discussion. If the discussion fails, then convention will decide the future action, it could be extreme level movement. We should know that gas exploration is not only a national issue; but it more global. So, be clear about strategy towards achieving cancellation of PSC Model 2008.