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Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), the main opposition political party of the current term, is busy with its struggle to ensure election under a non-partisan caretaker government, rather than preparing its election manifesto.
Talking to The Daily Star at his party office in Nayapaltan, BNP joint secretary general Ruhul Kabir Rizvi said, “Since we are amidst a struggle we have not started working on the manifesto as yet.”
However, he said, once the issue of how the 10th general election would be held is resolved, BNP policymakers would start preparing the manifesto where child rights would be given the utmost priority.
Rizvi claimed that the programmes BNP implemented during their terms 1991-1995 and 2001-2006 targeting women and children helped Bangladesh reach the related development goals for which the country received much accolade worldwide.
He referred to Pakistani economist and founder of UNDP’s Human Development Report (HDR) Dr Mahbub ul Haq’s comment that Bangladesh ranks top among the South Asian countries in terms of women employment and child nutrition.
“The action plan we took to prevent drop-outs in schools were very successful,” he said giving example of how food incentive programmes in schools helped reduce drop-outs.
He also claimed that the maternal mortality rate came down because of the initiatives and steps BNP took during its reign. “Because of reduced maternal mortality, the chance that children have a healthy life is ensured,” he said.
Rizvi said it is the responsibility of the state to ensure proper nutrition and education for children so that they grow up as good citizens with higher intellectual capabilities; and as adults can choose the right leader for the country.
“However, we need to ensure that the child grows up in such an environment that makes him/her a responsible and conscious citizen,” he added.
A child suffering from malnutrition would not experience proper mental and physical development, he noted.
Rizvi also emphasised the need for proper entertainment for children. “In welfare economy, it is the responsibility of the state to ensure that,” he said.
“Can you imagine that we do not have any toy industry in this country,” he said, adding, “We have to import most toys from countries like China. The state should ensure that inexpensive toys reach children. We need to address these issues.”
Regarding security of children, he said that abuse of children inside and outside home needs to be dealt with strongly. “It is the responsibility of state to protect everyone especially children from political violence.”
In reply to whether opposition also has a role in ensuring child security, he said it is a matter of collective social responsibility to ensure that every child, irrespective of their socio-economic background enjoys a secured and healthy childhood.