Feud between leading ladies could threaten Bangladesh's apparel industry

Feud between leading ladies could threaten Bangladesh's apparel industry

NEW DELHI - A decades-long vendetta between two leading political figures could spiral out of control and threaten Bangladesh's fragile democracy. If law and order break down, the country's textile industry may grind to a halt, sending shockwaves through the global apparel market.

Since 1991, the South Asian country has been ruled by two powerful female political figures engaged in a fierce struggle for power.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina leads the Bangladesh Awami League, which helped realise the country's independence from Pakistan and formed the first government with the assistance of its neighbour India. Because of this history, Awami League is seen as pro-India and socialist.

Former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party is a centre-right political party that taps deeply-rooted anti-Indian sentiment.

The recent escalation in the political battle between Hasina and Zia began on Feb. 25, when a special anti-corruption court issued an arrest warrant for the opposition leader over her alleged involvement in siphoning funds from a charitable trust. It was reported that Zia was ordered to present herself at the court on that date, but refused to appear, citing fears for her own safety. If found guilty, she could be given a life sentence. Such a development would certainly spark furious street protests.

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