Time to Look Forward for All Parties in Bahrain

The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry report on the troubles in the Kingdom of Bahrain during February and March this year is out, having been released a fortnight ago. It was for the first time in history that a country’s government brought in international experts to spend months in the country, bore all expenses, allowed them to have full access to people and locations without any hindrance, and asked them to file an impartial report.

The report is now in the public domain and while experts and partisans continue to debate it and apportion blame to the parties involved as well the experts committee which prepared the report, the welcome result of its publication has been that the government has been quick to appoint another panel to implement the recommendations made by the report. Indeed the government is determined to do so in order to put the unsavoury memories and consequences of the two months of trouble behind the nation’s history.

So far so good. Bahrain was indeed an oasis of calm and harmony and good living and peace and freedom and everything praiseworthy where people of all races, communities, nations, religions and sects – whether Sunnis or Shias, expatriates or citizens, Indians or Pakistanis, Filipinos or Britons, Muslims or Hindus – lived happily. No one has seen Dilmun of the classic era which Bahrain was called in the classical age but by accounts it was as glorious as then, minus the greenery of course.

And then suddenly this island nation was jolted not only in terms of popular perception but also in terms of its trade and economy, sense of safety and security, and everyone – more especially the expatriates – spoke about it and harked back to the days before the troubles.

It appeared that the inquiry report and the attendant determination of the government to implement all the suggested reforms and recommendations would set the ball rolling for the resurgence of the Kingdom economy and social life and amity. But one has lately discovered that this is easier said than done; some elements in society are still hell bent on following the path of destruction and brow-beating.

Thus, while there has been barely perceptible respite from the rounds of low-key incidents of insurgency in the countryside and villages even after the submission of the report which is not altogether pro-government, there have quite a few high-profile incidents which may have far-reaching effect on achieving a semblance of normalcy in the Kingdom. Thus, first there was a blast in a parked vehicle outside the British Embassy involving an unknown device and then there were sectarian clashes in the island of Muharraq. Just days ago a man was found lying unconscious in a car with a Kalashnikov and some bullets by his side and another bullet was found in the toilet of a prime shopping mall.

And as if these scaring tactics were not enough, a number of opposition groups led by Al Wefaq, which is the largest, have decided not to join the committee set up by the government to implement the recommendations made by the inquiry panel in order to take the nation forward.

One wonders if rejection is the way out of the logjam to which the nation’s economy and future has become hostage. It was one thing for Al Wefaq and its cohorts to reject discussions on certain issues [which again was an unjustifiable tactics] before the international inquiry was ordered. But now that its results are out and recommendations made, it makes no sense to hinder the path to normalcy and refuse to join the mainstream for the benefit and progress of the nation, its economy, its people and the expatriates living here.

The Kingdom has already suffered enough. It is time to look forward and turn the face against all the ugly episodes of the past.