After the military coup of 1/11/ 2007, the political role that 1/11 military leadership, did irreparable harm to the image of the military in public minds. The latest incident of using ISPR ( MoD’s media wing) to malign the opposition leader acted as the last nail in the coffin of the credibility of the military institution as a nationally respected organization. What the ISPR did regarding the eviction of the opposition leader from her home is reprehensible beyond expression.
In a nutshell what ISPR did is
1. On the day before the eviction, started a campaign of lie that Mrs Zia is vacating her home on her own
2. On the day of eviction, while keeping journalists, family members, political leadership away from her house, kept on lying that Mrs Zia is leaving her house willingly.
3. After Mrs. Zia complained of forceful eviction in a press conference, ISPR kept on their self contradictory lies and gave a tour of the bedroom/ personal items of the opposition leader to the media. Their attempts to hide forceful rentry and breaking of doors did not escape journalists curious eyes. And the most disgraceful thing ISPR did was planting a porn magazine in opposition leader’s bedroom wardrobe, some alcoholic beverages and inviting journalists to take photos of that. This was so disgusting that even most of Government friendly columnists / news papers bothered not to talk about it.
So when 26 retired army officers belonging to BNP protests the mindless partisan use of ISPR; over 150 retired army officers convenes a press conference and reads a statement supporting the acts of ISPR and repeating all the over-used negative political talking points against the opposition party. In the press conference, the politically divisive and hateful languages of ex Army chief Lt Gen Harun Ur Rashid clearly indicates the partisan agenda of Gen Harun and the sector commander’s forum he now leads. If General Harun sincerely wanted war crimes trials, he could have kept himself out of this dirty petty partisanship and extend his hands to embrace/ motivate BNP supporters to join the war crimes trial campaign of sector commander’s forum.
As a state we have been governed by two major political parties in turn with a 9 year hiatus when the country was run by a military dictator with a 3rd political party. In addition to the political parties, several other institutions played vital roles in keeping state functional and prosper. The institutions, some very well organized- some very loose knit conglomerate- some merely a collective thought campaign, tried to maintain the check and balance and once a while played constructive /arbitrator role. If I am to name some of the vital institutions, I’ll definitely name the judiciary, the military, the organized business community, the civil society think tanks, the journalists bodies etc.
However as this decade comes to an end, it is clearly getting more evident that those institutions are losing their non partisan character. In last few years, the problem turned so dramatically acute that even military and judiciary has become meanly politicized and there is not even the willingness to keep the mask of professionalism on.
The demise of armed forces as an institution has just been mentioned. The judiciary is now led by a Chief Justice who is highly activist, politically biased towards the leader of one party and who carries a morbid hatred for the leader of the second major political party. The highest judicial body shrunk into a three judge panel. And all these judges alreday became highly controversial and may have lost public trust following many recent verdicts including their acts in sentencing a dissident editor for contempt of court charges.
Over the last few months, under the new generation leaderships, the businessmens’ apex body FBCCI, seems like locked in a campaign of how much anti -opposition party they can prove themselves. FBCCI presidents personal criticism of of the opposition leader, his body language while doing that, and their latest demand of banning oppositions’ protests tools like general strike clearly suggests that the business community has also lost it as an institution.
Our civil society under the leadership of Rehman Sobhan, Debapriya Bhattacharya or Monzur Elahi etc have already lost their credibility after their 1/11 strategy. What we see now a days mostly are citizens’ group meeting with political party backings to promote the agenda of the respective political parties.
Media’s credibility is also in the same dire straight. Support of 1/11 military coup ruined the credibility of the biggest media house. Rest of the newspaper/ TV channels are owned by businessman-politicians. Senior to junior–all journalists are very content to be their masters’ voices, as long as the paycheck is fat.
We have reached a state now where there is no guardian, no sane voice, no strong voice of conscience. There is none left to stand up and yell, STOP, enough is enough. There is no one left in the country to call a spade a spade, they will call it what their party agenda demand sit to be called. Otherwise, on what logic a sane 4 star General, ex Army Chief, sector Commanders’ forum leader would condone the acts of ISPR regarding Khaleda Zia?
Metaphorically speaking, we are now like that household where all the members of the house hold are locked in a constant bitter quarrel, the intensity of which is getting worse day by day. Even the security guards, cooks, other servants of the household have taken sides and trying their best to harm the others. The not so friendly neighbor is enjoying the infighting and hoping for a breakdown so that they can expand their backyard. And there is no murubbi/ guardian left to mediate, to calm down the infighting and tell that the house is in fire.
Like that household, we do not have any justice or any rule of law in the country now. Things are happening in the extreme erroneous way.
When a local government leader is chopped to death in broad daylight in front of national TV, Prime Minister’s personal interventions protect the killers. They roam around freely. When a man is shot dead point blank in a member of parliament’s (MP) car, with MP’s licensed gun, nothing happens. The MP happily keep on doing politics- give TV interviews- not even a case is lodged against the MP.
In that same country, when two cocktails are thrown at the residence of the chief justice, within 30 minutes, cases are lodged agaist five opposition leaders even without any investigation. Massive manhunt is launched by police to arrest those five leaders.
A bad moon is rising. On April of 1990, in small African republic Rwanda, the Hutu’s, incited by the friendly media and led by local leaders, took up matchets and started killing their Tutsi neighbors. Within a matter of weeks, 20% of the Rwndan population i.e. about 800,000 men, women, girl, boy, children, babies were chopped to death.
How far we are from that Hutu-Tutsi style conflict?