BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir has said the new US visa policy has forced the Awami League to soften its stance towards opposition parties as it now calls for dialogue instead of conflict.
"A few days ago they [Awami League] beat and attacked our leaders and activists. Now they say they do not want conflict but want dialogue," Fakhrul said at an event in the capital on the occasion of Ziaur Rahman's 42nd death anniversary on Monday.
Encouraging party members to engage in peaceful protests, Fakhrul said, "They [Awami League] will orchestrate arson attacks and accuse our people of being responsible."
He disputed the Awami League's claim that remittances from the US have started to increase. "Most people who go to America don't send remittances, they come mainly from the Middle East," he said.
Highlighting how Ziaur Rahman was more relevant in today's context, Fakhrul said the BNP founder in 1975 had steered the country away from its "corrupt socialist economy" and towards development.
"In just one year, Ziaur Rahman transformed the country from a state of destitution to one of prosperity," he added.
Demanding the reinstatement of the caretaker government system and the dissolution of the current parliament, Fakhrul said holding a fair election was not possible if Sheikh Hasina remained in power, citing the 2014 and 2018 elections as evidence.
Also present at the event, BNP Standing Committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain said, Ziaur Rahman had three successful personalities in his life. He was successful in military life, political life and as head of state. The Awami League banned all parties. And Ziaur Rahman got the opportunity to establish multi-party democracy. That is why he is successful as a politician. So the current government is afraid of Ziaur Rahman.
BNP Standing Committee member Amir Khasru Mahmud Chowdhury said the US had sent a strong message through its visa restrictions as people around the world know Bangladesh currently lacks democracy and there are numerous cases of disappearances and human rights violations. He said two other such messages were sent to the AL, mainly by imposing sanctions on RAB and by not inviting Bangladesh to the American Democracy Summit. He said the US had unveiled the visa policy seven months before the election as they "knew of the vote-rigging of 2014 and 2018".
The policy was aimed at creating a level-playing field in Bangladesh, he said, adding, "Vote thieves should be arrested soon; we will also list them."
BNP Standing Committee member Nazrul Islam Khan said the country's economy has been destroyed due to looting and corruption by the ruling party.
Begum Selima Rahman, another BNP Standing Committee member, said that the government is still harassing the BNP with various "ghost cases".