Army


The current regims dirty politicking with BNP is scandalous. I wrote many months ago that the worst time of BNP was over. It is still true. The men who helped BNP come out of the worst time of its history, is Khondokar Delwar Hossain and Mr Rizvi Ahmed.

Indian cricket fans loving call cricketer Rahul Dravid as “The Wall”, apparently for his stubborn steady defiance of all kinds menacing bowling attacks. Khondokar Delwar Hossain is the ‘wall’ of present day Bangladesh politics. He has faced and is still facing an unbelievable level of torture, in the form of physical torture on his son, termination of his physician daughter’s job, almost nonstop telephone call, threats directed at him from various quarters.  Despite all these, Mr. Delwar remained defiant and held the fort in a steadfast manner. On the face of his boldness the whole hijacking plan of BNP by the turncoats like Mannan, Hafiz, Saifur, Mofazzal, ZA Khan, Jahir Swapon, Shakhawat Bokul etc faltered. I feel sorry for Goyeshwar Roy, Md Shahjahan etc. They tried but could not help resisting the temptations of the powerful military government long enough. They betrayed their party and their workers/supporters. And yet, they failed miserably in front of the wall. And now as the line is drawn, the betrayers have been identified, the job in BNP gets clearer. The Wall has done his job. If they take him out now, I am pretty sure one of the daughter-in-laws of Khaleda Zia will come and hold the mantle (You are darn right; I am indeed promoting dynastic steps here. If that is needed to keep the fledgling and badly bruised free politics of Bangladesh alive, so be it.

The crocodile tears of some major media outlet are very funny. These same newspapers will do anything to see BNP vanish from this planet. They have never hidden this agenda. And now suddenly these evil wishers of BNP suddenly became the well wishers and very concerned about the unification of BNP. Some got angered at Khondokar Delwar Hossain for his non-cooperation in this ‘unification’ process. Isn’t it strange that these media outlets will become so concerned about BNP’s unification? Will anyone believe that this media do want a stronger BNP? Isn’t this media support of the so called unification clarifies what really is intended in the name of unification?  And to be fair and truthful, whatever these media, or the election commissioners or Amnesty’s Irene Khan say, in reality there is no fraction in BNP. There are a bunch of turncoat leaders who are engaged in a failed attempt to hijack the party on behalf of the military government. The party, its activists, the grassroots and the vast support base are united. Despite what chief Election Commissioner says about better current state of Awami League, I feel this is in no better shape. While Khondokar Delwar prevented the downfall like a wall, Motia Chowdhury fought a pitched battle but apparently could not prevent the hijack of the party by the pro military RATS fraction. The acting president Zillur Rahman occasionally fumbles something to the press and makes statements like “Allah will give justice to Hasina” etc but always shy away from demanding her immediate release. It is strange that while Sheikh Hasina herself calls for an early election, AL acting president, flanked by either Amu or Tofael or Rajjak, is busier showing his complete submission to the roadmap of the election commission. If you scan recent press reports in Bangladesh, you will see BNP, its leadership and student wings demanded release of Sheikh Hasina more frequently and vigorously than AL did.    But it is imperative to say that whatever efficiently the RATS have hijacked the party, their fate is very tightly tied with the group led by Mannan Bhuiyan. If Mannan gong fails to take over BNP (It now seems that they have failed), the future of RATS becomes very uncertain. An election with RATS dominated AL (With Hasina in jail) and a boycott by BNP will be worse than the projected Jan 22 election. 1/11 came into being only to prevent that sort of election.

In the end, it is the wall who, by blocking the hijack of his party, is in fact preventing the hijack of our democracy and next five years of our governance by a very powerful quarter comprised of military Generals, newspaper editors and Foreign diplomats.  The strength of the Wall is not only the man Delwar Hossain, but hundreds of thousands of passionate grassroots activists of Awami League and BNP.

The future is not as bleak as it may seem now.

They brought the dead body all the way to Dhaka because they would not allow Khaleda Zia and her son’s to travel to Dinajpur. The DGFI led government dared subject a dead body to this much hassle in a country where the religio-social culture is to treat a deceased with utmost respect and bury ASAP with least humiliation of the body. [And those scoundrels in Prothom Alo are making a case about use of government helicopter for Khaleda’s mother!!!!] The family did not want Government helicopter, they did not want to bring the body to Dhaka either. It was DGFI plan to minimize a freedome time and prevent a meeting of Khaleda and her sons.

Then when the talk about remand came up, I expected a repeat of the treatment Sheikh Selim, the AL leader in detention received, when his mother died. Sheikh Selim was released for about 8 hours, whole of which he spent with his family, friends and political colleague at his home in Banani. All Awami League politicians including Sheikh Hasina were also there. There was no restriction on Mr. Selim from attending any ritual or anybody else from visiting him. For Mr. Selim it was a sad, unwanted but at least a tolerable good bye to his mother.

But this was not going to happen in case of Khaleda Zia and her sons. Although remand was granted for six hours, both Tareq and Coco was held in waiting in separate police stations and was allowed only one hour in their houses. Khaleda Zia could spend a little more than 2 hours. And all three could visit separately so that none could talk to each other.

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[Photo: New Age]

What major disaster could happen if they were allowed to be together during this time of this great personal loss? Would they hatch a conspiracy? How could they follow up that conspiracy from their solitary confinement in their respective prisons? Or they would have discussed legal defense strategies?
If the case against Tareq or Coco is so solid, if there were sooooooooooooo many witnesses of the extortions by Tareq or Coco, why this much fear of their defence strategies? Why torture? Our activists are very much bothered about torture against anybody but BNP leadership or Zia family. Regarding Tareq’s recent torture allegation, there was not a single word from our so-called human rights watchdogs. And the government would not say anything. Yes government and its mouthpieces spoke out. But only to prove that a picture attributed to torture on Tareq was false. So, it’s all right to torture Tareq but a fake picture will never be tolerated!!

And ‘ torture’ is the only word you would find to describe the way Khaleda family was treated yesterday in the name of humanitarian remand. This torture is another act atrocity of the current regime controlled by military chief Moeen u Ahmed and army intelligence. And believe me, no atrocity in Bangladesh (Tareq Zia is now paying for his cricket game under police protection) goes unpunished. I only have this to say to General Moeen, CA spineless Fakhruddin, home advisor Matin, DGFI brigadiers Amin and Bari and those lower rank corrupt DGFI officers. Brigedier C F Bari knows what is gonopituni when he was given a mild gonopituni by the students of university on the night of 20th August. But that 20th August Gonopituni will feel like ‘jamai ador’ when the next wave will come upon you dear General and Brigedier shahibs.

There is probably a never ending stock of vocabulary for expressing how bad were the days before January 11, 2007. Although serious challenges are being raised about that irresponsible and reckless generalization, nobody could claim that days post 1/11 are better for the media.
Compared to absolute freedom ( of journalism as well as of conspiracy) our media enjoyed before 1/11, last one year has been one of the the worst time for the media in Bangladesh. A recent New Age report chronicles the miseries of our media and media-men over the last years. The current military regime has taken control of almost all the electronic media in Bangladesh. While channel I considers itself a partner of the conspiracy and coup of 1/11, other channels have either been grabbed by crude forces or blackmailed into submission. A few days after 1/11, following the arrest of Giasuddin Mamun and AFM Selim, respectively the MD and Chairman of Channel 1, the channel was taken over by a retired major. We heard of land grabbing or even pukur churi, but this was first instance of TV channel robbery in Bangladesh history. Channel 1 employees protested in a press conference but this story was shunned by the mainstream Bangladeshi media. Veteran journalist Ataus Samad was appointed CEO of NTV when both its chairman ( Falu) and MD ( Enayetur Rahman Bappi) were arrested and the TV station was destroyed in a fire. After rebuilding the channel in an amazing fast pace, Mr Samad has recently resigned. It was learnt that lately Mr Falu was running the show from behind the bar as a result of an invisible understanding with the military intelligence agency (DGFI) that is running the country now. With an invisible finger movement Falu’s bank account transactions continued unhindered and Falu could happily run the channel by signing documents and giving phone directions from jail. Mr Ataus Samad, finding himself bypassed, resigned. In the meanwhile NTV MD Mr Bappi also got released from jail ( This was also not seen in the media). And the effect is clear. TV has suddenly become another mouth piece of the DGFI run government. Another TV outfit, RTV, also owned by the same Mr Falu, has recently been sold to another government selected business house, Bengal group. It is not a secret that the DGFI facilitated forced this transaction. There is no question that RTV now is another trumpet of the government. The only news only channel in Bangladesh, CSB, has been shut down with the stroke of a pen. No questions asked, no answers given. Rest of electronic media took the lesson and became the best buddy of the military Generals.

The new age report lists the condition of print media. While two leading newspapers boast of being the media partner of the 1/11 coup and another one is is working its ass off to become the media machine of the government, the rest of the print media are somehow held hostage by this government. Almost a dozen of media owners are now either in jail or being chased by the law enforcement agencies.

Breaking the glorious tradition of defying all intimidation, the media submitted themselves completely. Despite all these torture, they are in deep love with this government. This is classic stockholm syndrome.  You will hardly see any news item critical of this government. After five years of blanket, true-false criticism of previous government, our editors have suddenly become sold to this government. Every single day there is conscious effort of promote the government or its cronies.

If one asks the editors to resume their job of the watchdog of the nation, they will show lame excuse of DGFI phone calls or government pressure on the owner. However, there are exceptions. New Age has been critical and defiant all along. New Age is a proof that the excuses shown by our leading editors are lame. Despite all the torture on BNP as well as on the publisher, BNP’s mouth piece Daily Dinkal remained another defiant outlet. Similarly outlets like Nayadiganta, Shangbad, Jaijaidin also refrained from mindless boot-licking of the Generals.

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I’ll end my commentary today with link to two news items. Both are very unusual at current situation. First one is a commentary by Jaijaidin editor Shafik Rehman. This is one of the rare occasions where an editor directly takes jab at the de facto ruler, army chief Gen Moeen U Ahmed. Revoking the failed government plan of minus two, he proposes minus three. The three he wants to minus are three Ahmeds. Gen Moeen U ahmed, CA Fakhruddin Ahmed and President Iajudin Ahmed.

The second critique was absent in most of the media with a few exceptions. The exceptions are Shangbad and Inqilab! DU teacher leader Anwar Hossain read a scathing written criticism of current government including Generals Moeen U Ahmed. This is the harshest ever criticism ever seen in media outlets in post 1/11 Bangladesh. Read the Inqilab version here and this is the Shangbad version.

Looks like the scenerio  is changing, finally. Hope the rest of the media will come out of the stockholm syndrome soon.

Today I’ll invite readers to read today’s blog post of legendary photographer and celebrated activist Shahidul Alam. This post articulated many worries I have been stuck with last few days. Here’s how Shahidul Bhai starts…..

The newly appointed education adviser has my sympathy. He had spoken the truth. With scandals emerging about departing advisers, and accusations flying about the gross incompetence of the ‘PhD’ government, he must have felt the need to demonstrate the character of the cabinet.

Having lost the Candy Man, we now have an adviser who is candid in his remarks. “Regardless of the verdict of the court, the teachers shall be freed, ” he had said. Great news for the teachers. Sad news for justice.

But the candor of the education advisor is unlikely to inspire confidence in the government. He might equally have said, “regardless of the verdict of the court, we shall find Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia guilty,” or any other convenient outcome for the many flimsy cases against politicians, business people, students or any other member of the public. The fact that the government finds the judicial system irrelevant, while confirming people’s fears, does do away with their flicker of hope for justice. This was a lamp that needed to stay lit.

The anniversary party could have done without the media gatecrashers. The weeks leading up to the 11th January 2008, have been particularly difficult for the government. In August, it had taken violent protest by the students for the military presence in campus to be removed, but it is the fallout of the government’s heavy-handed response that they now need to deal with. Having closed the 24 hour news channel CSB  and intimidated others with barely veiled threats, ..

more …

Visit Shahidul News for rest of the post and some heart wrenching photography.

So where the buck stops? Initially some may have had an utopian belief that it was Fakhruddin Ahmed. Then someone kept thinking of Masud u Chowdhury, who led the 1/11 coup, as the concerned authority. And lately the name of Zahangir Alam, a Lt general and the Quarter Master General of Bangladesh Army is coming up as a major power broker. Despite all these speculations, Army chief, General Moeen U Ahmed has successfully managed to look like the man in control.
With the sacking of four apparently powerful advisors ( keeping Moinul apart, with two relatives in the cabinet, Geeti Ara shafiya Chy was not less powerful either) the question again came up, who makes these decisions. No doubt Fakhruddin is the puppet. He caries orders of his master. And if one looks at the steps this government is taking lately, one must see the slow materialization of the policies laid out by General Moeen in the speeches he made during early days of his rule.
So the next question is who is Moeen and does 1/11 means Moeen? Who Moeen represents? Is he the embodiment of the toiling masses of Bangladesh? Or is he simply the symbol of all powerful Bangladesh armed forces?
Common sense and a little bit knowledge of the personnel at the top leadership of Bangladesh army will lead us to believe that this “General Moeen-1/11 government-the school text book assertion of Ershad instead of Zia as the architect of SAARC” axis does not represent Bangladesh armed forces. Then, does he represent the toiling masses? Hell no. Yes, a mall part of the mass, some middles class bourgeois car owning Dhakaite and and a small group of suburb living ‘do nothing’ mediocre NRB professionals may support him . But in the big picture of Bangladesh reality, these group is minuscule.
Still 1/11 means Moeen, but this Moeen is neither the embodiment of Bangladesh Armed forces nor the dream representative of the toiling masses. This Moeen represents a very powerful quarter in Bangladesh. In fact this powerful quarter is the dreamer and facilitator of 1/11. In that context General Moeen is the embodiment of a combination of larger than life figures like Kamal Hossain, Rehman Sobhan, Mahfuz Anam, Motiur`Rahman, Debapriya Bhattachariyan, Faridur Reza Shagor or other civil society leaders AKA retired bureaucrates or Generals like Mr. Shahjahan, M A Hafiz, Gen retd Hasan mashud, Gen Shakhawat or other so called civil society leaders. These folks took a big risk by going against two major political leaders of the country and at this point to save the skin over their gluteal region, they must make Moeen the winner. So when you see or hear Moeen, make no mistake about it that it is either kamal Hossain or Monzur Elahi or Enam ahmed chowdhury or Saadat Hossain speaking. They are hiding under the facade of Moeen. Remember that these people, e.g. kamal Hossain knows quite well that they will never be able to pass the first hurdle of democracy i.e. win an elction. For them, 1/11 kind of conspiracy is the only way in. Moeen is the tool here.

   

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It is NOT Moeen stupid.

So all on sudden, at the very same hour, four very talkative advisors noticed pressing personal reasons that would make it impossible for them to continue the job of advisor. Isn’t it too coincidental to be true?
So the real truth is that they have been asked to go, possibly at gun point. Otherwise why would Moinul keep on giving long policy speech until late afternoon and why Dr (retd) Maj General ASM Motiur Rahman would deny resignation at 4 PM and agree to it at 5 PM?

Now we all know that these four have been kicked out. And we are also pretty sure that it was Army chief Gen Moeen U ahmed, who lashed the kick. But the question, can he save his leg after making the kick? The mad dog that he kicked, will definitely bite his legs. Lets see how deep the dog bite can be.

And, at the end, what is the moral of the story?

For Moinul, you got a advisor job. Be happy with your routine file work. Never ever try to talk policy and politics. You now know that that part is reserved for our full fledged General shahib.

For Geeti Ara, rememer that it is all right to occupy a country after holding the elected president at gun point. But never ever try to occupy a house by beating up an NRB professor.

For Tapan Chowdhury. A country is not a businesshouse, hey !! And never ever say government has nothing to do. They can do so much. They can lock up national leaders, they can keep remanding people for months after months and then frame up false cases. They can give birth to a big new chamcha class, they can butcher students and they can harrass/ jail Professors. They also can torture Cholesh Richhil to death.

And for MAj Gen retd ASM Motiur Rahman. Never forget the eternal importance of licking the boot of the general in power now. Who cares how many years junior he is to you. Lick the full fledged General Shahib’s boot morning and afternoon, you are good to go. ( Try to learn from boot lickers like Kamal Hossain, Mahfuz Anam et el)

Islamabad burns as news of Benazir’s assassination spreads. CNN/BBC trot out the usual tripe about “south asian curse” and a “long tradition of assassinations”. No mention of the main reasons for instability on the subcontinent.

Ayesha Siddiqa is a military analyst and author of MILITARY INC. (banned by Musharraf gov’t). Speaking on Sky News an hour after the assassination, she said “It is really time the military gets out of politics.”

Military Inc.The Bhuttos mean all manner of things to us. Zulfikar Bhutto precipitated the 1971 Bangladesh genocide when he refused to accept Mujib’s victory in 1970. I will break the leg of any politician who goes to East Pakistan, he said. Nine months
and a million deaths, Zulfikar Bhutto got his wish. He got to be PM of a new Pakistan, leaving East Pakistan to Mujib.

Later Bhutto was hanged by Zia ul Huq. But not before he finished the book “If I Am Assassinated”. Benazir took on the mantle of “Daughter of the East”. Mostly hyperbole and exaggeration in that book, but this is not the time to speak ill of the dead.

Then the return of Benazir. Her brother Murtaza was openly feuding with Benazir’s husband Asif Zardari. One day in 1997, Murtaza was killed in a Karachi gun battle for which many blame Benazir (I heard an urban legend that her mother stopped talking to her). Another brother died mysteriously in Paris. Who knows why? And now Benazir. Blood to blood.

All roads lead to the army. Not some mythical, Ramayana-Quran combo “curse”, but rumbling machines and money. Lots of money, much of it American.

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