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Khaleda Zia (IPA: kʰaled̪a dʒia; born Khaleda Khanam Putul  in 1945) is a Bangladeshi politician who served as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh from 1991 to 1996, and again from 2001 to 2006. She was the first woman in the country's history and second in the Muslim majority countries (after Benazir Bhutto) to head a democratic government as prime minister. She was the First Lady of Bangladesh during the presidency of her husband Ziaur Rahman. She is the current chairperson and leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) which was founded by Rahman in the late 1970s.
Begum Zia in 2010
|9th Prime Minister of Bangladesh|
10 October 2001 – 29 October 2006
|Preceded by||Latifur Rahman (Acting)|
|Succeeded by||Iajuddin Ahmed (Acting)|
20 March 1991 – 30 March 1996
|President||Shahabuddin Ahmed (Acting)|
Abdur Rahman Biswas
|Preceded by||Kazi Zafar Ahmed|
|Succeeded by||Muhammad Habibur Rahman (Acting)|
|Leader of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party|
|Assumed office |
30 May 1984
|Preceded by||Abdus Sattar|
|Leader of the Opposition|
29 December 2008 – 9 January 2014
|Preceded by||Sheikh Hasina|
|Succeeded by||Rowshan Ershad|
23 June 1996 – 15 July 2001
|Preceded by||Sheikh Hasina|
|Succeeded by||Sheikh Hasina|
|First Lady of Bangladesh|
21 August 1977 – 30 May 1981
|Preceded by||Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib|
|Succeeded by||Rowshan Ershad|
Khaleda Khanam Putul
Dinajpur, Bengal Presidency, British India
|Political party||Bangladesh Nationalist Party (1979–present)|
|Four Party Alliance (2001–2011)|
18 Party Alliance (2011–2018)
Jatiya Oikya Front (2018-present)
Ziaur Rahman (m. 1960–1981)
|Relatives||Sayeed Iskander (Brother)|
Khurshid Jahan (Sister)
Shahrin Islam Tuhin (Nephew)
Saiful Islam Duke (Nephew)
After a military coup in 1982, led by Army Chief General H M Ershad, Zia helped lead the continuing movement for democracy until the fall of military dictator Ershad in 1990. She became prime minister following the victory of the BNP in the 1991 general election. She also served briefly in the short-lived government in 1996, when other parties had boycotted the first election. In the next round of general elections of 1996, the Awami League came to power. Her party came to power again in 2001. She has been elected to five separate parliamentary constituencies in the general elections of 1991, 1996 and 2001.
Following her government's term end in 2006, the scheduled January 2007 elections were delayed due to political violence and in-fighting, resulting in a bloodless military takeover of the caretaker government. During its interim rule, it charged Zia and her two sons with corruption.
In February 2018, Zia was jailed for five years for corruption. She was found guilty of embezzling the funds for an orphanage trust set up when she was prime minister.
Zia was born to Iskandar Majumder, a businessman, and Taiyaba Majumder as Khaleda Khanam in Dinajpur District in Bengal, British India (now in north-western Bangladesh). To her family, she is known simply as "Putul". She married Ziaur Rahman in 1960, an army officer who became the 7th President of Bangladesh in 1977. He ruled until 1981, when he was assassinated in a military coup.
When President Ziaur Rahman was killed, Justice Abdus Sattar became chairman of Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Zia the vice-chairman. When Sattar was ousted from the presidency by the military coup of 1982, Zia was elected chairperson. She thus became head of the BNP, which her husband had founded in the late 1970s. She was active in opposing what she and her supporters considered the military autocracy of Ershad during the 1980s. During the autocratic rule of Hussain Muhammad Ershad the Bangladesh Nationalist Party formed a seven-party alliance. Zia was detained more than seven times because of her protests against Ershad.
A neutral caretaker government in Bangladesh oversaw elections on 27 February 1991 that were broadly considered[according to whom?] to be free, fair and truly democratic, following eight years of a military government.
BNP won 140 seats, 11 short of a majority. As it was the only party capable of forming a government, Zia was sworn in as the country's first female prime minister on 20 March with the support of a majority of the deputies in parliament.
The acting president Shahabuddin Ahmed granted Zia nearly all of the powers that were vested in the president at the time, effectively returning Bangladesh to a parliamentary system in September 1991. With a unanimous vote, the parliament passed the 12th amendment to the constitution in 1991. The BNP-led government formally restored the parliamentary system.
When the opposition boycotted the 15 February 1996 election, the BNP had a landslide victory in the sixth Jatiya Sangshad. Other major parties demanded that a neutral caretaker government be appointed to oversee the elections. The short-lived parliament hastily introduced the Caretaker Government by passing the 13th amendment to the Constitution. The parliament was dissolved to pave the way for parliamentary elections within 90 days.
The BNP formed a four-party alliance on 6 January 1999 to increase its chances to return to power in the next general elections. These included its former political foe the Jatiya Party, founded by President Ershad after he led a military government, and the Islamic parties of Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh and the Islami Oikya Jot. It encouraged protests against the ruling Awami League.
Many residents strongly criticized Zia and BNP for allying with Jamaat-e-Islami, which had opposed the independence of Bangladesh in 1971. The four-party alliance participated in the 1 October 2001 general elections, winning two-thirds of the seats in parliament and 46% of the vote (compared to the principal opposition party's 40%). Zia was sworn in as the Prime Minister of Bangladesh.
She worked on a 100-day programme to fulfill most of her election pledges to the nation. During this term, the share of domestic resources in economic development efforts grew. Bangladesh began to attract a higher level of international investment for development of the country's infrastructure, energy resources and businesses, including from the United States, Great Britain, and Japan. Restoration of law and order was an achievement during the period.
Zia promoted neighbourly relations in her foreign policy. In her "look-east policy," she worked to bolster regional cooperation in South Asia and adherence to the UN Charter of Human Rights. She negotiated settlement of international disputes, and renounced the use of force in international relations. Bangladesh began to participate in United Nations international peacekeeping efforts. In 2006, Forbes magazine featured her administration in a major story praising her achievements. Her government worked to educate young girls (nearly 70% of Bangladeshi women were illiterate) and distribute food to the poor (half of Bangladesh's 135 million people live below the poverty line). Her government promoted strong GDP growth (5%) based on economic reforms and support of an entrepreneurial culture.
When Zia became prime minister for the third time, the GDP growth rate of Bangladesh remained above 6 percent. The Bangladesh per capita national income rose to 482 dollars. Foreign exchange reserve of Bangladesh had crossed 3 billion dollars from the previous 1 billion dollars. The foreign direct investments of Bangladesh had risen to 2.5 billion dollars. The industrial sector of the GDP had exceeded 17 percent at the end of Zia's office.
End of termEdit
On 29 October 2006, Zia's term in office ended. In accordance with the constitution, a caretaker government would manage in the 90-day interim before general elections. On the eve of the last day, rioting broke out on the streets of central Dhaka due to uncertainty over who would become Chief Advisor (head of the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh). Under the constitution, the immediate past Chief Justice was to be appointed. But, Chief Justice Khondokar Mahmud Hasan (K M Hasan) declined the position. President Iajuddin Ahmed, as provided for in the constitution, assumed power as Chief Advisor on 29 October 2006. He tried to arrange elections and bring all political parties to the table during months of violence; 40 people were killed and hundreds injured in the first month after the government's resignation in November 2006.
Mukhlesur Rahman Chowdhury, the Presidential Advisor, met with Zia and Sheikh Hasina, and other political parties to try to resolve issues and schedule elections. Negotiations continued against a backdrop of political bickering, protests and polarisation that threatened the economy. Officially on 26 December 2006, all political parties joined the planned 22 January 2007 elections. The Awami League pulled out at the last minute, and in January the military intervened to back the caretaker government for a longer interim period. It held power until holding general elections in December 2008.
Caretaker government (2007—2008)Edit
On 11 January 2007, Army Chief General Moeen U Ahmed, along with a group of military officers, intervened to stage a bloodless coup and impose a state of emergency. They compelled Dr. Iajuddin Ahmed to step down as Chief Advisor of the Caretaker Government of Bangladesh. He continued as the President of Bangladesh. Elections scheduled for 22 January were postponed. The new caretaker government was led by former Bangladesh Bank governor Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed. In fighting against corruption, it filed charges against the leaders of both the major parties. Both parties had been widely accused of corruption when leading the government.
In March 2007, Zia's eldest son, Tareque Rahman, was arrested for corruption. Enforcing the suppression of political activity under the state of emergency, from 9 April, the government barred politicians from visiting Zia's residence. Zia's youngest son, Arafat Rahman (Coco), was arrested for corruption on 16 April.
United News Bangladesh (UNB) said in April there was speculation that Zia would relocate to Saudi Arabia. It noted her brother, Major (Retd.) Sayeed Iskandar, was trying to negotiate her exit from Bangladesh with the interim administration. The New Nation reported on 17 April that Zia had agreed to go into exile in return for the release of her youngest son. The report said the Saudi government had expressed its willingness to accept Zia and her family as royal guests.
On 19 April, Khondker Babul Chowdhury, a member of the BNP national executive committee, filed an appeal urging the court to order the government not to send Zia abroad against her wishes, and challenging her reported confinement to her house. On 22 April the High Court issued a ruling for the government to explain or prove within five days that she was not confined to her house. On 25 April, in what was viewed as a reversal, the government said that Zia's movement was not restricted and that she had not been under any pressure to leave the country. On a related issue, it dropped the ban against the return of Hasina, who had been out of the country. On 7 May, the High Court ordered the government to explain continuing restrictions on Zia.
On 17 July, the Anti Corruption Commission Bangladesh (ACC) sent notices to both Zia and Hasina, requesting that details of their assets be submitted to the commission within one week. Zia was asked to appear in court on 27 September 2007 in connection with a case for not submitting service returns for Daily Dinkal Publications Limited for years.
On 2 September 2007, the interim government filed charges of corruption against Zia related to the awarding of contracts to Global Agro Trade Company in 2003; she was arrested 3 September. Her youngest son Arafat Rahman (Coco), along with 11 others, was also detained after police filed a corruption case against them involving irregularities at Chittagong port.
A bribery case was filed against Sheikh Hasina, the head of the Awami League. She was detained separately in a special jail. On the same day, Zia expelled her party Secretary General Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan and Joint Secretary General Whip Ashraf Hossain for breaching party discipline.
After Zia was detained, BNP standing committee members chose former Finance Minister Saifur Rahman and former Water Resources minister Major (Rtd.) Hafizuddin Ahmed to lead the BNP for the time being; Zia's supporters did not recognize this. Bangladesh Election Commission subsequently invited Hafizuddin's faction, rather than Zia's, to participate in talks, effectively recognizing the former as the legitimate BNP. Zia challenged this in court, but her appeal was rejected on 10 April 2008.
Zia's youngest son Arafat Rahman was released in August 2007, and her eldest son Tareque Rahman was released on bail on 3 September 2007. Zia had been granted bail on two of her four cases by this point, but remained in jail because bail had not been granted for the other two. Her lawyers said on 4 September that they would also seek bail for the other two cases. Zia was released from jail on bail on 11 September 2008.
On 30 September, Zia was granted bail by the High Court, which ruled that the trial should be stopped on the grounds that she could not be charged under emergency laws for actions that had occurred prior to the state of emergency being imposed in January 2007.
The government appealed this decision. On 4 October 2007 the Bangladesh Supreme Court ruled that Zia should not be granted bail and that the trial could continue. In December 2008, the caretaker government organized general elections where the Awami League and its Grand Alliance (with 13 smaller parties) took a two-thirds majority of seats in the parliament. Sheikh Hasina became prime minister, and her party formed government in 2009.
Current political affairs (2012-present)Edit
After several movements in a period of severe political unrest between 2012-2014 to prevent the ruling party to hold the 10th general election in January 2014 without a neutral care taker government, Zia led BNP and its alliances boycotted the election. Violence was reported in polling day including bombing of polling centers which Zia was accused of ordering. In 2016 BNP announced its new National Standing Committee, in which she retained her position as BNP Chairperson. In May 2017, she revealed BNP's vision 2030 to gain public support for the next general elections. However the ruling Awami League government denounced Vision 2030 as an act of plagiarism of Awami League's Vision 2021 which they used in the ninth general election, and claimed most of the targets in the Visions were fulfilled by Awami League, thus declaring BNP's Vision 2030 as unoriginal. This renewed tensions between BNP and Awami League. In 2017 the police conducted a raid on Zia's house as per government orders, which BNP heavily protested and claimed the government was carrying out autocratic actions.
On 8 February 2018, Zia was sentenced to prison for five years in a corruption case for embezzlement of international funds donated to Zia Orphanage Trust, filed during the 2006–08 caretaker government. Her party claimed that the verdict was politically biased. Zia was sent to the Dhaka Central Jail after the verdict. She was not able to contest in the general election of 2018 because the constitution of Bangladesh prohibits a convicted person sentenced to over two years from participating. Her son Tarique Rahman was sentenced to life imprisonment over a deadly 2004 attack at a political rally held for Sheikh Hasina.
General Ziaur Rehman and his family lived in a large house in the Dhaka Cantonment, which was first built as the residence of the Deputy Chief of Staff (DCS) of the Bangladesh Army. When Ziaur Rahman was appointed DCS Major General, he and his family moved there. After he became President of Bangladesh, he kept the house as his residence. Following his assassination in 1981, the Acting President Justice, Abdus Sattar, leased the house "for life" to Zia, for ৳101. When the Army took over the government, Lieutenant General Hussain Mohammad Ershad, Army Chief of Bangladesh and Chief Martial Law Administrator, confirmed this arrangement in 1982. After the BNP came to power in democratic elections in 1991, it did not disturb the arrangement.
In November 2010, the Awami League government enforced existing law to reclaim the house where Zia had lived for nearly 40 years for a nominal cost. Zia moved to the house of her brother Sayeed Iskandar at Gulshan.
- Saudi Arabia: Zia made some high-profile foreign visits in the later part of 2012. Invited to Saudi Arabia in August by the royal family, she met with the Saudi crown prince and defence minister Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud to talk about bilateral ties. She tried to promote better access for Bangladeshi migrant workers to the Saudi labour market, which was in decline at the time.
- People's Republic of China: She went to People's Republic of China in October, at the invitation of the government. She met with Chinese leaders including Vice President Xi Jinping and the Communist Party of China's international affairs chief Wang Jiarui. Xi became China's Paramount Leader in 2012.
Talks in China related to trade and prospective Chinese investment in Bangladesh, particularly the issue of financing Padma Bridge. At the beginning of 2012, the World Bank, a major prospective financier, had withdrawn, accusing government ministers of graft. The BNP announced that the Chinese funding for a second Padma Bridge was confirmed during her visit.
- India: On 28 October 2012, Zia visited India to meet with President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and a number of officials including foreign minister Salman Khurshid, national security adviser Shivshankar Menon, foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai and BJP leader and leader of opposition Sushma Swaraj. Talks were scheduled to cover bilateral trade and regional security.
Zia's India visit was considered notable as BNP had been considered to have been anti-India compared to its rival Awami League. At her meeting with Prime Minister Singh, Zia said her party wanted to work with India for mutual benefit, including the fight against extremism. Indian officials announced they had come to agreement with her to pursue a common geopolitical doctrine in the greater region to discourage terrorists.
Zia claims 15 August as her birthday, which is a matter of controversy in Bangladesh politics. 15 August is the day many immediate family members of Zia's political rival, Sheikh Hasina, including her father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman were killed. As a result of the deaths, 15 August is officially declared National Mourning Day of Bangladesh. None of Zia's government issued identification documents show her birthday on 15 August. Her matriculation examination certificate lists a birth date of 9 August 1945. Her marriage certificate lists 5 September 1945. Zia's passport indicates a birth date of 19 August 1945. Kader Siddiqui, a political ally of Zia, urged her not to celebrate her birthday on 15 August. The High Court filed a petition against Zia on this issue.
Awards and honoursEdit
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The High Court granted Zia bail on Sept. 30 and ordered a halt in the court proceedings for technical reasons ... However, the government immediately appealed the decision to the Supreme court ... Bangladesh Supreme Court ordered a corruption case against former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia to go forward and denied her bail while awaiting trial in jail
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Mrs Zia's family dynasty ... is as against India as Sheikh Hasina's is for it.
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Kazi Zafar Ahmed
| Prime Minister of Bangladesh
Muhammad Habibur Rahman
| Prime Minister of Bangladesh
| Chairperson of SAARC
P V Narasimha Rao
Zafarullah Khan Jamali
| Chairperson of SAARC