Army


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.

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SYED ABUL MAQSUD ARTICLE IN TODAY’S PROTHOM ALO

লিখতে বসেছিলাম এক বিষয়ে। সে লেখা সরিয়ে রাখতে হলো। নভেম্বরের প্রথম সাত দিনের ১০টি দৈনিকের ৭০টি সংখ্যা পড়ে মনে হলো, প্রসঙ্গ পাল্টানো দরকার। একটি জাতির সংবাদমাধ্যম যদি ৩৫ বছর পর ভোল পাল্টাতে পারে, রাজনৈতিক নেতারা যদি ভোল পাল্টাতে পারেন, একজন উপসম্পাদকীয় লেখকের পাঁচ মিনিটের মধ্যে প্রসঙ্গ পাল্টাতে অসুবিধা কোথায়?
খুব বড় মিলিটারি রেজিমেন্টেশনের মধ্যে ইতিহাস গায়েব করা হয় অথবা বিকৃত করা হয় এবং সত্য ধামাচাপা দেওয়া হয়। শান্তিপূর্ণ গণতান্ত্রিক পরিবেশে এবং সম্পূর্ণ বিনা প্ররোচনায় ইতিহাসকে ডাস্টবিনে ছুড়ে ফেলার দৃষ্টান্ত শুধু বাংলাদেশেই পাওয়া যাবে। কঠোর সামরিক ও রাজনৈতিক নিয়ন্ত্রিত রাষ্ট্রে সাংবাদিককে সত্য চেপে যেতে হয়। কিন্তু গায়ে পড়ে সত্য গোপন করা অতি নিন্দনীয় কাজ। আজ বাংলার রঙ্গমঞ্চে কুশীলবদের রাজনীতির অভিনয় দেখে ক্ষুধিত পাষাণ-এর পাগলা মেহের আলীর মতো বলতে ইচ্ছা হয়: ‘তফাত যাও! তফাত যাও! সব ঝুট্ হ্যায়! সব ঝুট্ হ্যায়!’ আজ বাংলাদেশে যাঁদের বয়স ৬০-এর ওপরে, তাঁদের অধিকাংশের অবস্থা পাগলা মেহের আলীর মতো।
১৯৭৫-এর নভেম্বরের প্রথম হপ্তায় অ্যাবসার্ড নাটকগুলো অভিনীত হয়েছে এখনকার ৬০ বছরের বেশি বয়স্ক মানুষদের সামনে। তাঁরা সব দেখেছেন, তাঁরা সব জানেন। এখন আর নতুন কিছু যোগ করা যাবে না।
বাঙালি স্বার্থসিদ্ধির জন্য সব সময়ই একজন নন্দ ঘোষ খোঁজে। নিজের দোষ তার ওপর চাপিয়ে দাঁত বের করে হাসতে হাসতে বাঙালি দিব্যি ঘুরে বেড়ায়। আওয়ামী লীগের নেতৃত্বে প্রতিষ্ঠিত মহাজোট সরকারের আমলে জিয়াউর রহমানকে নন্দ ঘোষের ভূমিকায় বসানো হয়েছে। অবশ্য জিয়া ও এরশাদের সময় নন্দ ঘোষ ছিলেন অন্য কেউ।

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Five Army officers have been convicted in Court Martial for attempted murder on Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, MP. They are: Major Helal, Captain Rezaul Karim, Captain Rajib, Captain Fuad, and Captain Subayel Ibne Rafique. They have each been setenced to five years of jail, stripped of their army rank, and denied any retirement benefits. They will be serving out their sentences in Dhaka Central Jail.

Bangladesh has an unfortunate tendency of either seeing such attacks go uninvestigated or using them for political gain. The investigation and trial of the attackers on Sheikh Taposh could have been an exception to this trend. Court Martial proceedings are much more restricted in nature than civilian trials, that much is understood. However, to hold the entire trial in secret, and only allow it to appear in the media once the sentence has been delivered seems to be much more restrictive than was necessary.

A Daily Star report by Julikar Ali Manik says that the five officers were charged with “Violation of Good Order and Discipline,” under section 55 of the Manual of Bangladesh Army Law. The relevant section states “Any person subject to this Act who is guilty of any act, conduct, disorder or neglect to the prejudice of good order and of military discipline shall, on conviction by court martial, be punished with rigorous imprisonment for a term which may extend to five years, or with such less punishment as is in this Act mentioned.”

Five Army officers, on their own, reach a conclusion that a Member of Parliament and a nephew of the Prime Minister is responsible for one of the worst carnages in our nation’s history. They do so by expressly going against the Prime Minister’s words, who is also their boss because she holds the defence portfolio. They disavow the investigation report compiled by the Army itself. They steal explosives and munitions and attempt to murder a Member of Parliament.

 

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Today, the Obama Administration formally announced that they will be detaining people, through Presidential decree, even after they have been acquitted by American courts.

Somewhere, Moeen U Ahmed is shaking his head and cussing out Dr. Kamal Hossain.

On reading the special editorialwritten by Matiur Rahman, Prothom Alo editor, the day his masterMoeen U. Ahmed retired as Army Chief, a number of questions came up. Actually, what came up first was disgust at the incredible level of smugness that was on display as Matiur Rahman pretended that the change of government that took place on January 11, 2007 did not happen with his direct knowledge and collusion. But eventually, on a second and third reading, some questions did come up.

The intial point that struck me was the sheer disregard of journalistic ethos that Mr. Rahman puts on display here. If any of us bloggers had written this piece, our inboxes would be flooded by now with demands that we either back up what we wrote as facts or admit that they are baseless innuendo. I do not see why the standard should be any different for the editor of Bangladesh’s most widely-circulated Bangla newspaper. In his article, Matiur Rahman states:

  • After last year’s election, a powerful portion of the Army wanted Moeen’s tenure as Army Chief extended by another year.
  • Presumably the same part of the Army wanted Moeen to become either Defense Minister or the “Joint Chief of Staff.”
  • After the Pilkhana massacre, Army officers openly criticized Moeen, inside and outside the Army, for not being able to save the lives of his men.
  • The Government would still like to reward Moeen.
  • Diplomatic sources say that Moeen may be made the Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York.

Let us take these points one by one. After Moeen toppled the caretaker government in 2007 and promoted himself to General, he spent a great deal of time and energy putting his men in as many key army positions as he could, and sending army officers who refused to countenance his authority into forced retirement. Thus, it is probably not a surprise that Moeen still has a constituency left in the Army, even though, ideally, the entire Army should be his constituency.

That there were ever any suggestions of Moeen being made Defense Minister or Joint Chief of Staff is quiet sensational news. If Motiur Rahman knew about this previously but did not inform us, his readers, he has done us a great disservice. As far as I know, Bangladesh has never had a Defense Minister, with the Prime Minister not being able to trust anyone else (unwisely, in my opinion) with this portfolio. For a very brief period of time, Khandoqar Mushtaq’s government did set up a Combined Chief of Staff, but that was more to keep Maj. Gen. Ziaur Rahman, as Army Chief, from having any real power, than anything else. Moeen has already permanently distorted our defense establishment by promoting himself to General rank, giving nations around the world one more reason to titter at us behind our back. Appointing the same man to one of the posts described above would have been a momentous step; one we deserved to hear about ahead of time.

The Pilkhana massacre laid bare the full extent of the damage that Moeen had done to the very institution he was supposed to protect and safeguard: the Bangladesh Army. Barely two years after he had stormed into Bongobhaban, the Presidential Palace, and forced President Iajuddin Ahmed to retire as Chief Advisor, a democratic government barely two months old could scarcely trust him to again lead an operation in the heart of Dhaka. And so it was they fifty-plus of our officers were tortured and killed, while the government sat and dithered before, first allowing enough armour units to enter Dhaka, and then letting them approach Pilkhana. Moeen has undone the work of thousands of honest and dedicated officers who obeyed the constitutional dictate that our armed forces stay subservient to the civilian government, through his coup in 2007 and the torture he inflicted on a broad swathe of politicians from all across the political spectrum the next two years. Going forward, it will take years to mend the damage he has wrought.

Therefore, we do not see how Matiur Rahman can now claim that Army officers have criticized and blamed Moeen for the loss of lives in Pilkhana. Why was Matiur Rahman silent when the government instituted an Army-probe into this massacre under the same person who was blamed for letting it happen? How could such a probe have any credibility with members of our armed forces, let alone the general public?

Even after making these incredible allegations, Matiur Rahman then turns around and claims that even after the Pilkhana massacre, the government would like to still reward Moeen. The question begs to be asked, what is the government rewarding Moeen for? Providing the incompetent leadership that allowed so many of his men to be killed? Indirectly causing the mutiny – by green-lighting the BDR into Operation DalBhaat? Or, as Matiur Rahman hints near the end, because of the election held in 29 December, 2008? Do we really want to become a nation that remains in thrall to its Army Chief for allowing elections to go through?

And do we really want our United Nations representative to be a wannabe military strongman? Asif Ali Zardari and Pervez Musharraf made a far more explicit pact after the Pakistani election. But even Musharraf did not have the gumption of trying to claim diplomatic immunity and representing our country in the world stage.

Of course, if Moeen ever leaves Bangladesh, we can rest assured he will never return again. His underling Brig. Fazlul Bari had the right idea when he decided he liked America too much. One can confidently expect Moeen to follow suit; he has already made his liking for the balmy climate of Florida well-known. Perhaps, once they are united there, advance accommodations could be arranged for Gen. Masud as well.

Fighting the rearguard battle to justify his own support for the overthrow of the CTG in 2007, Matiur Rahman claims that the new regime had “massive support” from the people. Yet, in the very next sentence, he is forced to acknowledge that Awami League only supported this move initially, until the true nature of the regime that followed became clear and Sheikh Hasina was herself thrown into jail after she spoke out against military intervention, through DGFI, in politics. BNP, of course, never supported the regime. Then how does Matiur Rahman find broad support for a regime which is not supported by BNP and AL, which together represent about 260 of the 300 seats in both the current as well as the former parliament?

The job of a newspaper editor is different from that of a gossip columnist. It is really different from that of a sycophant. Unfortunately, Mr. Matiur Rahman seems unclear about both these distinctions. The activities of our last regime left behind enough tar to cover most of its proponents and supporters. With this piece, Matiur Rahman just slapped some more tar firmly on his face.

Nation under a State of Emergency (SOE).

An election of the supreme governing body of the business community (FBCCI) takes place among great fanfare. Two main groups contest the election. One is lead by Vegetable oil tycoon Rouf Chowdhury and the other one is garments businessman Anisul Haq. One is “pro government” and the other is “More pro-Government”. Senior government officials as well as election commissioners visit the polling and pose for the camera in a smiling face.

Same week. Same country. Same city.

Another professional body election is scheduled to take place. This time it is the leading lawyers’ organization, the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA). Government sends decree ordering SCBA to postpone the election. The reason? It is unlawful and breach of SOE regulations to hold any election under SOE.
Some unruly lawyers protest and vow to hold the election as scheduled defying the order of the civilian faced military government.
The military government cracks down. Alas! Not in Pakistani style. But in typical Dhakai DGFI style. The current SCBA president ( Who already is in DGFI payroll), two government reps including Attorney general and law advisor, and one of the two leading contenders, the pro AL lawyer’s presidential candidate ( and not so surprisingly missing the Pro BNP candidate) meet with the head of DGFI in the Gulshan office of DGFI. At the end of the meeting, several meek faces come out of the DGFI building and declare victory but also announce that the election is postponed until end of April. While general lawyers belonging to both the contesting group take these meek faces to serious task, the current SCBA president, Barrister Amirul Islam declares that lawyer’s association has nothing to do with national politics and its goal is only to focus on ensuring the well being of members of this profession.

This twin act election drama may shed light to an event of near future. The December 2008 national election. By the above standard, in that election

1. Only friends can do elections. Those who are not that friendly, will not be allowed to do election.
2. if some politician wants to do any ‘ketchal’ ( Insubordination) with all powerful DGFI, very quickly they will be seen coming out a Gulshan residence in a meek face and become the most faithful servant of DGFI.

And the ultimate moral of the story is that it is the military intelligence (DGFI) which is running the country, the catfish faced Fakhruddin is only a trumpeter.

Then (During 80s military rule), we had one senior journalist turned street sweeper: Anwar Zahid. Now we have at least three, Mahfuz Anam, Motiur Rahmna and Naimul Islam Khan. 

Then (during 80s) we had one national clown AKA domesticated opposition leader: ASM Abdur Rab. Now we have at least a dozen. They include Dr Kamal Hossain, Abdul Mannan Bhuiyan, Tofael Ahmed, Amir Hossain Amu, Saifur Rahman, Abdur Razzak, Hasanul Haq Inu etc.  

Then the areas sorrounding Dhaka University and Shaheed miner were forbidden zones for ruling and military establishment.  The memory of Ershad’s half naked PM was very fresh. Now, when the military chief goes to Ekushey BioMela, Dhaka University Students wait in line to buy his autographed book.

Then we had strong voices of dissent in Shafik Rehman, Naimul Islam Khan, Minar Mahmud, Mojammel Babu. Now we have Nurul kabir, Farhad Mozhar, Shameran Abed.  

Then we had a poet General’s poetry getting undue prominent coverage in west Bengal’s Ananda Bazaar potrika. Now we have another Shantiniketoni General getting unusually big horses from his taller counter part.  

Then all the good government business deals used to go to all those who had a bracketed “retd” thing.  Now all the good government business deals are going to all those who has a bracketed “retd” thing. 

Then Jamaat was doing politics, unhindered. Now, Jamaat is doing politics, unhindered.

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