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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
Jalpaiguri, 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)
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 5 years for the Zia Charitable Trust corruption case which was raised to 10 years in October. She was found guilty of embezzling the funds for the orphanage trust set up when she was serving as the prime minister.
Personal life and familyEdit
Early life and educationEdit
Khaleda Khanam "Putul" was born in 1945 in Jalpaiguri in the then undivided Dinajpur District[note 1] in Bengal Presidency, British India (now in Jalpaiguri District, India). She was the third of five children. Her father, Iskandar Majumder, a tea-businessman, was from Fulgazi in Noakhali District (now in Feni District). Her mother, Taiyaba Majumder (1920–2007), was from Chandbari (now in Uttar Dinajpur District). After the partition of India in 1947, they migrated to Dinajpur town (now in Bangladesh). Khanam first attended Dinajpur Missionary School and later completed her matriculation from Dinajpur Girls' School in 1960. In the same year, she married Ziaur Rahman, then a captain in the Pakistan Army. She then used the name "Khaleda Zia" or "Begum Khaleda Zia". Zia then studied at Dinajpur Surendranath College until 1965 when she went to West Pakistan to stay with her husband. In March 1969, they moved from Karachi to Dhaka. Following Rahman's posting, the family then moved to Sholoshohor area in Chittagong.
Zia's first son, Tarique Rahman (b. 1967), got involved into politics and went on to become the acting chairman of Bangladesh Nationalist Party. Her second son, Arafat Rahman "Koko" (b. 1969), died of a cardiac arrest in 2015. Zia's sister, Khurshid Jahan (1939–2006) served as the Minister of Women and Children Affairs during 2001–2006. Her younger brother, Sayeed Iskander (1953–2012), was also a politician who served as a Jatiya Sangsad member from the Feni-1 constituency during 2001–2006. Her second brother, Shamim Iskandar, is a retired flight engineer of Bangladesh Biman. Her second sister is Selina Islam.
On 30 May 1981, Zia's husband, the-then President of Bangladesh Ziaur Rahman, was assassinated. After his death, she got involved into politics and took charge of the vice-president position of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) - the party which was founded by Rahman. After justice Abdus Sattar was ousted from the presidency by the 1982 military coup, Zia replaced him as the chairperson of the party on 10 May 1984. Under her leadership, BNP formed a 7-party alliance in 1983 during the rule of Hussain Muhammad Ershad. She was detained more than seven times during that time.
A neutral caretaker government in Bangladesh oversaw elections on 27 February 1991 following eight years of Hussain Muhammad Ershad presidency. BNP won 140 seats - 11 short of simple majority. Zia was sworn in as the country's first female prime minister on 20 March 1991 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 an unanimous vote, the parliament passed the 12th amendment to the constitution in 1991.
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[according to whom?] 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.
After the term endEdit
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.
Post-premiership (since 2007)Edit
During the 2007—2008 caretaker governmentEdit
Former Bangladesh Bank governor Fakhruddin Ahmed became the Chief Adviser to the interim caretaker government on 12 January 2007. In March, 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. Her other son, Arafat Rahman (Coco), was arrested for corruption on 16 April. On 17 April, The Daily Star reported that Zia had agreed to go into exile with Arafat. Her family said, the Saudi Arabian government reportedly declined to allow her into the kingdom - apparently because "it was reluctant to take in an unwilling guest". Based on an appeal, on 22 April the High Court issued a ruling for the government to explain that she was not confined to her house. On 25 April, the government lifted restrictions on both Zia and Sheikh Hasina. 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 in connection with a case for not submitting service returns for Daily Dinkal Publications Limited for years. On 2 September, the government filed charges of corruption against Zia related to the awarding of contracts to Global Agro Trade Company in 2003. She was arrested on 3 September. She was detained in a makeshift prison on the parliament building premises. On the same day, Zia expelled her party Secretary General Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan and Joint Secretary General Whip Ashraf Hossain for breaching party discipline.
BNP standing committee members chose former Minister of Finance Saifur Rahman and former Minister of Water Resources Hafizuddin Ahmed to lead the party. 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 was released on bail on 11 September 2008 from her yearlong detention.
In December 2008, the caretaker government organized general elections where Zia's party lost to the Awami League and its Grand Alliance (with 13 smaller parties) which took a two-thirds majority of seats in the parliament. Sheikh Hasina became the prime minister, and her party formed government in early 2009. Zia became the opposition leader of the parliament.
Eviction from the cantonment houseEdit
Zia's family had been living in the official residence in the Dhaka Cantonment, since her husband, Ziaur Rahman, was appointed as the Deputy Chief of Staff (DCS) of the Bangladesh Army. After he became the President of Bangladesh, he kept the house as his residence. Following his assassination in 1981, the acting President Abdus Sattar, leased the house "for life" to Zia, for a nominal ৳101. When the army took over the government in 1983, Hussain Mohammad Ershad confirmed this 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 then moved to the house of her brother, Sayeed Iskandar, at the Gulshan neighborhood.
Boycotting 2014 electionEdit
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.
Imprisonment in 2018Edit
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. In October, the High Court raised her jail term to 10 years after ACC pleaded for a revision. She is imprisoned as the sole inmate at the Old Dhaka Central Jail.
- 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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- Islam, Sirajul (2012). "Zia, Begum Khaleda". In Islam, Sirajul; Ahmed, Helal (eds.). Banglapedia: National Encyclopedia of Bangladesh (Second ed.). Asiatic Society of Bangladesh.
- "#14: Begum Khaleda Zia, Prime Minister of Bangladesh". Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women in the World. 2004. Archived from the original on 14 June 2012. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
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- Dieter Nohlen; Florian Grotz; Christof Hartmann (2001). Elections in Asia: A data handbook. Volume I. p. 525. ISBN 978-0-19-924958-9.
- Alastair Lawson (4 October 2001). "Analysis: Challenges ahead for Bangladesh". BBC News.
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- "Violence Breaks out in Bangladesh's Capital Dhaka". China News and Report. Xinhua News Agency. 17 October 2006. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
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- Roy, Pinaki (28 October 2006). "Hasan 'unwilling' to be caretaker chief". The Daily Star. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
- "KM Hasan steps aside for the sake of people". The Daily Star. 29 October 2006. Retrieved 28 November 2015.
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- "Bangladesh High Court orders government to explain restrictions on ex-prime minister". International Herald Tribune. Associated Press. 8 May 2007. Archived from the original on 1 June 2008.
- "Hasina, Khaleda given 7 days for wealth report". The Daily Star. 18 July 2007. p. 1. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
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- "Dozens hurt in Bangladesh clashes". 13 November 2010. Retrieved 25 August 2019.
- "BNP's names 17 members of the policymaking Standing Committee". bdnews24.com.
- "BNP names members of its leaders' families in new committee". bdnews24.com.
- "Vision 2030: Bangladesh Nationalist Party – BNP" (PDF). Prothom Alo.
- "Bangladesh Police Raid Khaleda Zia's Office". News18.
- "Bangladesh former Prime Minister guilty of corruption". The Independent. Retrieved 14 June 2018.
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- "CPC, Bangladesh Nationalist Party to further cooperation". Xinhua. 18 October 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
- "Khaleda seeks China's help". The Daily Star. 21 October 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
- "Stalled Padma Bridge Project". Daily Sun. 20 September 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
- "Chinese help for 2nd Padma bridge assured: BNP". The New Nation. 23 October 2012. Archived from the original on 18 October 2015. Retrieved 29 October 2012 – via HighBeam Research.
- "China ready to help build 2nd Padma bridge: BNP". News Today. 23 October 2012. Archived from the original on 31 December 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
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- "India and Bangladesh Embraceable you". The Economist. 30 July 2011. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
Mrs Zia's family dynasty ... is as against India as Sheikh Hasina's is for it.
- "Khaleda Zia assures counter-terror cooperation to India". Yahoo News. Indo Asian News Service. 29 October 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
- ভারতবিরোধী কর্মকাণ্ডে বাংলাদেশের মাটি ব্যবহার করতে দেওয়া হবে না: খালেদা জিয়া [Khaleda Zia: No anti-India activity would be allowed to use the soil of Bangladesh]. BBC Bangla (in Bengali). 29 October 2012. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
- "15 August isn't Khaleda's birthday: Joy". Natun Barta. 15 August 2013. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
- "Stop celebrating August 15 birthday". The Daily Star. 24 July 2011. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
- "Ex-Bangladesh PM stretches limits of political rivalry with PM Sheikh Hasina by celebrating birthday on August 15". Yahoo News-1. 16 August 2013. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
- "Same old trend". The Daily Star. 17 August 2013. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
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- "Notice to ex-Bangladeshi PM for celebrating b'dday on August 15". Zee News. 15 August 2013. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
- "New Jersey Senate honours Khaleda". The Daily Star. 25 May 2011.
- "BNP goes gaga over US honour". 27 May 2011. p. 1. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
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- Works by or about Khaleda Zia in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Barbara Crossette (17 October 1993). "Conversations: Khaleda Zia; A Woman Leader for a Land That Defies Islamic Stereotypes". The New York Times.
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- Rakib Hasnet Suman; Hasan Jahid Tusher (14 November 2010). "I am evicted". The Daily Star.
- "খালেদা জিয়ার বাড়ী নিয়ে লড়াইয়ের ১০ বছর" [Khaleda Zia's house fighting 10 years]. Amar Desh (in Bengali). 14 November 2010. Archived from the original on 6 October 2011.
Kazi Zafar Ahmed
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