‘Full implementation’ of CHT Peace Accord needs 2 more years: Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing
Acknowledging that the Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord has not been fully implemented even after 25 years of being signed, CHT Affairs Minister Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing has indicated it may take another “one to two years”.
Ushwe Sing said in a recent interview marking the silver jubilee of the CHT Peace Accord that it is ‘true’ that some of the articles contained in the peace deal are yet to be implemented, adding that most of the 72 articles have been implemented.
“A strong national committee is monitoring the rest of the articles, where former Jatiya Sangsad Chief Whip Abul Hasnat Abdullah is representing Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,” he said. “This committee is assisted by the Ministry of Hill Tracts Affairs.”
The committee is scrutinising the situation and finding out where there are obstacles. After solving these issues, they can solve the remaining problems of the accord, the minister hopes.
“Only because of the sincerity and foresight of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, our problem will be solved by parties without any interference from third parties for the first time in the world,” the minister said.
On December 2, 1997, the PCJSS, the political wing of the Shanti Bahini that had waged a decades-long, bloody insurgency against the state in the Hill Tracts, signed the peace deal with the then-Awami League government led by Sheikh Hasina to restore peace in the hills.
Taking it as a political issue, all the problems have been identified and several meetings of the National Committee held.
“We have been able to solve this long-standing problem and are able to reach a solution. I must thank the Prime Minister if I compare the situation in 1997. The area has progressed so much only because of her sincerity and compassion,” Ushwe Sing said.
Replying to a question about the issues that have proved to be stumbling blocks towards full implementation of the Treaty, the minister said there is the issue of land in particular, and also some other minor issues. “In this regard, we sat with the ministries of land and law. We did thorough analysis about all the related issues. There is still a little gap but we hope that the problem will be solved and we will move forward through fruitful discussions.”
Speaking about some recent local problems, he said, “We don’t want any unrest, but there are some unexpected incidents happening.”
Whenever any incident happens, immediate action is being taken to solve the problem. “We are discussing everything for peace and the way of discussion is open,” added the minister.
He also said that neither party wants any kind of problem.
“We want all people to live in peace according to the peace accord. We want to move forward by discussing with everyone,” the minister concludes.
The CHT Peace Accord has a preamble, four sections, and 72 articles that cover all the relevant aspects of the relationship envisioned between the two parties – i.e. the Bengali settlers and the indigenous minorities – in relation to the Chittagong Hill Tracts.
Based on citations in government documents, out of its 72 articles, 48 have been fully implemented, 15 have been partially implemented, and nine were in the process of implementation.