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I hear… of your recent saying that both the Army and the Government needed a Dictator. Only those generals who gain success can set up military dictatorships. What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship.”
– Abraham Lincoln, message to General Joseph Hooker, Army of the Potomac
May 30 is the 28th anniversary of President Ziaur Rahman’s death. It came approximately 10 years and 2 months after he gave a radio announcement, from Chittagong, declaring the Independence of Bangladesh on behalf of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, then in the custody of the Pakistani Army.
During our Independence War, he was Sector Commander over much of today’s Chittagong Division, and commander of Bangladesh Army’s ‘Z” brigade. At the end of the war, with Pakistani forces crumbling before the assault of joint Indo-Bangladeshi forces and surrendering on 16 December 1971, he was awarded the Bir Uttom.
At the onset of independence, Zia became one of the senior-most officers of the Bangladesh Army. His performance during the nine-month war and his radio announcement at the onset of the war marked him as different from his fellow officers. He was made Brigade Commander of Comilla, close to where his force had done most of the fighting during the war.
The Government brought him to Dhaka in June 1972 and made him Deputy Chief of Staff, under Major General Shafiullah, who commanded the “S” Brigade during the Independence War. It is as Deputy CoS that he moved into the 6 Shahid Moinul Road residence, where he would live the rest of his life. It is from this post that he observed the imposition of one-party dictatorship in Bangladesh when Sheikh Mujib, by a constitutional amendment, made Bangladesh a one-party state, banned all other political parties, all but four newspapers, and named himself President.
After the brutal assassination of Sheikh Mujib and most of the members of his family by a group of army officers, Zia was elevated to Chief of Staff but placed under Major General Khalilur Rahman, who was made Chief of Defense Staff. The regime, after killing Mujib’s four most-trusted political lieutenants, heroes in their own right, planned to send Zia abroad, as it sent Shafiullah. However, before that could transpire, the murderers were toppled by a counter-coup led by Brig. Khaled Musharraf, Chief of General Staff, one the most valiant leaders in our Independence War. Zia was placed under house-arrest. He was then freed by a counter-counter-coup by Col. (rt) Abu Taher, fellow Sector Commander, and leader of the banned Jatiyo Samajtrantik Dal (National Socialist Party). The counter-coup also tragically resulted in Brig. Mosharraf’s death.
Shafiullah, Zia, Mosharraf, and Taher were all awarded the Bir Uttom, the highest gallantry decoration awarded to living participants. Under normal circumstances, they should, by all right, have been able to look forward to long careers in our defense forces, promotions to command rank, and eventual retirement with the whole-hearted blessings of a grateful nation. Instead, Shafiullah was abroad, Mosharraf was dead, and Taher advoced a left-leaning revolutionary state. With the adoption of one-party statehood by the Parliament, the Awami League, until then Bangladesh’s pre-eminent political party, had also been disbanded. Zia found himself with no credible political establishment to hand over power to, a faction-ridden armed forces that was more dangerous to Bangladeshis than to foreign enemies, and an economy on the brink of collapse.
His subsequent actions, becoming Chief Martial Law Administrator, founding BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party), introducing multi-party democracy, allowing the publication of newspapers, holding parliamentary elections (in which Awami League became the largest opposition party in parliament), trying to revitalize the country’s industrial sector, and adopting a muscular foreign policy, were the attempts of an imperfect man to try and make the best of an imperfect situation. He survived eighteen coup attempts, before being killed by the nineteenth one, in his beloved Chittagong, the scene of his life’s greatest hour, where he had come to resolve inter-party factions in his young BNP. Bangladehis from all walks of life poured into his funeral prayer service, making it the single largest such gathering in Bangladesh’s history.
I cannot know, but I imagine he must have been a little tired by the end of his life. If the last thought that flashed through his mind was his young widow and the two little boys he left behind; maybe, after death, he found the peace he had been denied in life. The generation which should have together led Bangladesh, together turn old and hale and watched their children grow up in a free country as free men and women, and in the twilight of their lives accepted our accolades as Bangladesh’s greatest generation, had together torn each other apart. His would be the last life to be lost in that decade-long bloodbath, but by the sacrifice of his own life, he would bring the killing to an end; all subsequent transfers of power in our country would be bloodless, if not voluntary.
Testimony is paid to Zia, throughout the year, by Awami League leaders who slander and villify him every chance they get. They try to tear down the man who allowed them to re-form, and graciously accepted their leader’s return from exile in India. His statues are broken down, and bridges leading to his memorial in Dhaka, beside the National Parliament, are mysteriously removed under the cover of night. All debates about the fate of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, his great predecessor, inevitably contain someone viciously belittling him.
Yet, the idea of Zia remains. Our only head of state to have actively fought the Pakistanis in a field of battle, today he sleeps the well-deserved sleep of those who have fought the good fight. It remains to us to do our best in the imperfect world he left for us.
Rumi Ahmed is a blogger from United States.
Originally Published on: Onnesha.TK
The Indians are going ahead with the construction of the massive Tipaimukh barrage-this events collectively impinge on us in more than one ways but the one which directly affects our very ability to survive is the issue of water-sharing of some 53 common rivers between India and Bangladesh. By constructing Tipaimukh and other barrages, India is depriving us of life-giving waters, drastically reducing our ability to survive and therefore this is the issue needing immediate and continued public attention and the subject of this commentary. India has resumed construction of the Tipaimukh barrage on the Barack river just a kilometer north of Jakiganj in Sylhet; the construction work was stalled in March 2007 in the face of protests within and outside India. The barrage when completed in 2012 is supposed to provide 1500 megawatts of hydel power to the Indian state of Assam but in return its going to bring about a major disaster for Bangladesh, practically contributing to drying up of 350 km long Surma and 110 km long Kushiara rivers which water most of the north-eastern regions of Bangladesh. The Tipaimukh barrage is going to seriously affect not only agriculture in large portions of Bangladesh, particularly in winter, but is also going to bring about negative ecological, climatic and environmental changes of vast areas in both Bangladesh and India.
Indian government is constructing the dam without consultation with Bangladesh government, which is violation of International River Law. Three crores people of the northern and eastern parts of the country would be vulnerable seriously when the construction of the dam would be completed by 2012.
It’s not just this one Indian barrage that is a source of considerable concern and trepidation in Bangladesh; in 1976 India put into operation the Farraka Barrage which more or less destroyed the Ganges-Brahamaputra Basin, most of which lies in the deltaic plains of Bangladesh and in 1990 India also constructed a barrage along the Teesta river thereby virtually making ineffective much of the Teesta barrage project constructed down-stream in Bangladesh to support irrigation and agriculture in the north-west region of the country. What is even more worrying is that India has evolved plans to divert waters, from the north of the country to its drought-prone southern and eastern states, of some 53 river which flow from India to Bangladesh.
Bangladesh shares a common border with India in the west, north and east and with Myanmar in the southeast. These borders cut across 57 rivers which discharge through Bangladesh into the Bay of Bengal in the south. The upstream courses of these rivers traverse India, China, Nepal and Bhutan. Trans-boundary flows, which enter Bangladesh from remote catchments extending short distance to thousands of kilometers upstream, are the important source of water resources.
Bangladesh gets 7 to 8 percent of its total water from the Barak in India’s northeastern states. Millions of people are dependent on hundreds of water bodies, fed by the Barak, in the Sylhet region for fishing and agricultural activities.
Environmentalists in Bangladesh have held many talks on the adverse impact of the proposed dam. They say the dam would dry up the river and the water bodies in the downstream, leaving millions jobless and upsetting the ecological balance.
Among the trans-boundary rivers, the ones most affected by Indian barrages and their related systems of canals, reservoirs and irrigation schemes are Ganges, Brahmaputra, Meghna and Teesta. Although the Indian and Bangladeshi governments have a water sharing agreement for the Ganges, there are none for the other 53 rivers that cross the border. With the Tipaimukh barrage now underway, India seems to be going ahead with its mega-project of diverting river waters from its north to its south and east, thereby putting Bangladesh’s very survival at stake.India is taking unilateral decisions about matters which affect Bangladesh’s core interests and if these cannot be resolved bilaterally, Bangladesh must look at options of going to multilateral forums such as the UN to get its right not only recognized but also implemented. International laws dealing with water-sharing of common rivers and sources are ambiguous, unclear and contentious and so, Bangladesh ought to vigorously pursue these matters, perhaps even garner international support for a change in those laws dealing with water-sharing – this international dimension is a crucial factor affecting the management of the trans-boundary river systems. There is thus, no scope for Bangladesh to be deflected from this core issue of water-sharing notwithstanding Indian deceitful and diversionary insistence and propaganda on “terrorists and transit”.
The Indian high commissioner has admitted that a dam will be built on the proposed Tipaimukh hydropower project over the cross-boundary river Barak but said it will not harm Bangladesh. (But I don’t know how? You will put a barrage in the river and it will not affect the nature???)
The Tipaimukh hydropower project was not like the Farakka irrigation project. A little amount of water will be diverted to produce hydroelectricity and the water will be released soon, Pinak Ranjan Chakravarty said. (So he agreed that Farakka Barrage is a problem for Bangladesh. And saying that Tipaimukh will not be like that! But how Bangladesh would beleive it? India previously said many thing abouthis Farakka Barrage. But ultimately Bangladesh is suffering from it. So how will we beleive that you are talking truth? And one barrage must put it’s adverse effect on nature. And the position of the Barrage clearly indicates that Bangladesh will offcourse suffer with this project. It will be a destructive project for Bangladesh. We must protest it now!)
Bangladesh should not be wary of the project, he told.
He said bilateral discussions have long been on-going on the project. Indian government has invited Bangladesh to see the dam site and its design, Chakravarty said. A Bangladeshi organisation, International Farakka Committee, demanded suspension of ‘construction of Tipaimukh barrage’ and rightful share of the Indian river Ganges.
The organisation called upon the United Nations to form a regional river commission involving China, Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
Government of Bangladesh and people of Bangladesh must be aware of this project from now and must have to protest. It will come as a destructive project for Bangladesh. bangladesh will become desert if the project is completed. India is using their power to complete this destructive project. They are trying to giving wrong ideas to Bangladesh as they given at the time of constructing Farakka Barrage. They are doing the same thing here. We all now that how Bangladesh is suffering because of this Farakka Project. How our Bangladesh is affected by the Farakka Barrage. We don’t want to see more destruction in bangladeshi economy and nature. We must protest. And it is the time. Bangladeshis must be aware of this from now and this is the only way to safe our beautiful country Bangladesh.
Shah Mohammed Saifuddin
Since the independence, Bangladesh Rifles, the first line of defense, have been combating smuggling, human trafficking, drug trafficking and other illegal activities along the border and have made supreme sacrifices to protect the lives and properties of the people from enemy invasion with great courage and valor. Bangladesh Rifles have earned worldwide recognition for its determination, patriotism, and professionalism when they successfully repelled a large invasion by Indian border security force at Roumari point in 2001.
Despite its performance and patriotism, the members of Bangladesh Rifles got little attention from successive governments to alleviate the problem of poor pay and benefit structures allowed for them. Nevertheless, they continued to discharge their duties with utmost sincerity and took part in all nation building activities maintaining professionalism and discipline.
On 25th Feb, 2009, the nation was shocked at the news that some BDR members had revolted and killed many officers who were on deputation from Bangladesh army to protest against poor pay and benefit structures and alleged corruption by the late Director General.
The mutineers asked the government to implement a set of demands on a priority basis to address the problems of the members of Bangladesh Rifles. Some of these demands are as follows:
- withdrawing army officers from all command posts of BDR and recruiting new officers from BCS cadres
- allowing full rationing for BDR members
- sending BDR personnel to U.N. peacekeeping missions
- revamping salary structures and promotion procedures
- allowing defense allowances for BDR members
- procuring more transportation vehicles to guard the long porous border with India and Myanmar
- increasing the quality of food and
- improving educational and medical facilities for the family members of soldiers
Because of defense strategy and lack of manpower, it will not be possible to withdraw army officers from the command posts of BDR, but the rest of the demands deserve due consideration because these are logical and should have been given to the BDR members a long time ago for they put their lives in danger to safeguard the frontiers of the country. It is, therefore, hoped that the government will take appropriate measures to remove the grievances of BDR members to stop the occurrences of similar incidents in the future.
Now, let us examine whether there are any political motivations behind this unfortunate incident that shocked the entire nation.
The revolt: actors involved, motivations and methods employed
The relationship between Awami League and the defense forces of the country has never been cordial because of latter’s security outlook that anticipates no security threat from India and considers defense expenditures needless. A few clauses of the 25 year friendship treaty that virtually eliminated Bangladesh’s sovereign right to seek assistance from other friendly nations to expand and modernize its armed forces and the subsequent step motherly attitude of the government and the formation of Rakkhi Bahini had cerated widespread resentment among the army officers. Instead of taking appropriate measures to remove the legitimate grievances of the army officers, the then government continued with their suppressive and discriminatory policies to neglect, humiliate and alienate the armed forces, which ultimately led to the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with most of his family members at the hands of a few young army officers.
Awami League has never forgotten the incident nor forgiven the armed forces for the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and left no stone unturned to avenge the incident in 1975 by creating divisions in the armed forces through various political machinations.
The comments of LGRD minister after the BDR mutiny is a testament to the fact that his party still holds grudges against the army for the death of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and other four prominent leaders of Awami League in 1975 at the hands of a section of army officers. He said, “If the trial of Bangabandhu and four national leaders killing cases were held in time and the offender were brought into justice, the Pilkhana tragedy was not take place” (Feb, 28, 2009, The Daily Star). Does it not show the deep resentment of the current government against the army for the incidents in 1975?
After the political change in 1/11, the military backed government had thrown many Awami League leaders into jail for their alleged involvement in financial scandal and abuse of power, which, many believe, has caused further deterioration in the relationship between the armed forces and Awami League. After the elections, Awami League’s virulent verbal attack on the army for its role in 1/11 is a testament to the fact that they wanted to weaken the army so that the latter could never repeat a 1/11 like situation to bring about political changes in the country.
India has its own agenda to diminish our defense capability because it needs a subservient military in Bangladesh to easily establish total domination on 4096 km Indo-Bangla border and use our defense and intelligence resources to its advantage to quell ongoing insurgencies in its North East region. India’s abortive misadventure inside Bangladesh territory in 2001 forced them to reorganize their security policy vis a vis Bangladesh and emphasize the need to search for new avenues to play larger role in the matters related to defense of Bangladesh and neutralize Chinese influence on our defense forces. But this could only be accomplished through active cooperation from a friendly government in Bangladesh to create tension within our defense forces to break their morale and make it imperative for Bangladesh to seek Indian help in reorganizing the defense system.
So, the BDR mutiny may be the case of a teamwork between a foreign external intelligence agency and some political elements within the country to set the stage for the departure of the army officers from Bangladesh Rifles to weaken it and to tarnish the image of the army before the whole nation to break their morale.
The assertion that some local political elements and India are working together to weaken the security systems of Bangladesh may be true because the government’s quick decision to grant general amnesty to all rebellious members of Bangladesh Rifles without assessing the ground reality and to not allow any military action to quell the rebellion, which gave the mutineers enough time to put forth a set of demands and flee in groups from the BDR headquarters seems to be a preplanned strategy to instigate a rebellion, break the chain of command, kill large number of officers, and to ensure safe exit for the mutineers.
If the local and foreign conspirators who planned, directed, and implemented the rebellion are not identified and the rebellious members of BDR who broke the chain command are not brought to justice such occurrences of rebellion may be repeated in other security forces to destabilize the entire nation and create a situation for external powers to intervene in the name of peacekeeping.
Findings of the army report
The army formed its own 20 member probe committee on 2nd March, led by Lt. General Jahangir Alam Chowdhury, to investigate into the gruesome murder of army officers by the rebels at BDR headquarters on 25th Feb, 2009 and this probe committee acted separately from the committee formed by the government to investigate into the same matter. After investigating for more than two months, the committee has made the summary of their report public for the sake of transparency of their work. The army report published in various newspapers identified the following reasons for the BDR mutiny:
- Wrong impression about the facilities of the army
- Lack of transparency in establishing and running BDR shops
- Delay in payment of duty allowances for the 2008 national elections
- Misunderstanding about lease and contracts of different works in the BDR headquarters
- Wrong impression about the BDR’s director general Shakil Ahmed, and his wife Nazneen Shakil and Dhaka sector commander Mujibul Haque’s alleged in irregularities
- Delay made by the Home and Finance ministries in resolving BDR problems
The army report on BDR mutiny did not find any convincing evidence of any direct or indirect militant links simply because of the fact that the extremists did not have the elaborate network and manpower to plan and execute a mission deep inside the military establishment of Bangladesh with a pinpoint accuracy to kill almost 15% officers of Bangladesh army within the space of 24 hours as the previous democratically elected government had already dismantled the countrywide terror network of JMB, the most powerful extremist group in the country and executed its top masterminds as part of continuous effort to fight terrorists for which Bangladesh has partnered with international community and received high praise from across the world.
Criticism of the army report
In investigating such a complex and dangerous incident that paralyzed the entire defense system of the country, the investigators should have proper authority to contact, interrogate, and collect information from people who had direct or indirect contacts with the rebels before and after the mutiny to explore local and external linkages. They also should have followed a similar structured method described below to accomplish the investigation process:
- Identifying and defining the scope of the problem
- Setting and determining the scope of the investigation objectives
- Assembling adequate manpower with appropriate skills and experience to form a committee
- Identifying target population for interrogation/questioning
- Verifying and confirming collected information for accuracy
- Submitting the findings and recommendations to the government
But the military investigators had to narrow down their scope of investigation to exclude exploring the possibility of political and external connections because of lack of proper government authorizations to contact and interrogate certain people. Many believe, the restrictions on the investigators may have been imposed to protect the local and external conspirators who had teamed up to play havoc with the defense system of the country.
Even though the army report did not find any convincing links of politicians and external powers to this sad episode that shook the entire defense system of the country, the involvement of some elements within the government and some foreign intelligence agencies should not be ruled out because, as per the report, the government imposed restrictions on investigators to limit their power to collect necessary evidence, verify obtained information, and confirm information sources to identify, investigate, establish and confirm involvement of political and foreign elements in the mindless killing of the officers at the BDR headquarters.
The events in the BDR headquarters were meticulously planned by some powerful quarters to use BDR against army to kill as many officers as possible to leave no able hands to lead this force in order to achieve the goals of destroying the border defense system of the country, avenging the incident in Roumari in 2001, proving BDR as an indisciplined force to create a situation to make it imperative to reorganize it with the help of a certain neighbor and creating a permanent mistrust and suspicion between the two forces entrusted with the responsibilities of protecting national security..
The political connections to the incident are visible from a series of events, including a section of politicians and media launched a vituperative attack on the army for its role in the events on and after 1/11 to instigate anti army sentiment across the country; the government did not order 350 RAB personnel, who reached the gate of BDR headquarters at 10:10 am, for an action against the mutineers, who were yet to be organized and set up heavy arms at the gates of the headquarters; the government ordered the 46th brigade of Bangladesh army, who reached the gates of the BDR headquarters at 10:50 am, to go out of sight from the headquarters which gave the rebels enough time to organize themselves to kill and torture more people in the BDR complex; the mutineers were given a chance to contact the media to propagate unfounded accusations against Bangladesh army; and a list was prepared in advance to torture and kill the wives of the army officers.
Even though the army report attributed the failure of Juba League’s president Jahangir Kabir Nanak and general secretary Mirza Azam in the negotiation with the rebels to surrender arms and release the hostages to lack of professionalism, the thing that is still bugging a lot of people is the reason why the prime minister chose these two fellows who had no prior experience in crisis management and had a criminal record of killing 11 Innocent civilians by setting fire to a double decker bus near Sheraton hotel in 2004. Let me quote the passage from the report published in a newspaper( The New Nation, Jun, 3, 2007), where one of the top Awami League leaders, Mr. Sheikh Selim, disclosed the cold blooded murder of innocent civilians by Nanak and Azam:
“He also disclosed that AL’s front organisation Juba League’s president Jahangir Kabir Nanak and general secretary Mirza Azam were involved in killing 11 people by setting fire to a double-decker BRTC bus near Dhaka Sheraton Hotel in 2004. Both Nanak and Azam held a meeting at Juba League office in the evening on that day and made a plan to commit the arson. “I protested the incident to our party chief and told her the politics cannot be done in such a way,” the investigators said quoted Selim as saying.”
Although the investigators were able to confirm the involvement of a local Awami League leader, Torab Ali, in the mutiny, they, however, were unable to establish a link between him and his partners in the political circle due to absence of government authorizations to contact and question the top ruling party leaders. This, many believe, may have been done to conceal the political connections to the mutiny and the subsequent murder of scores of brilliant army officers.
It is astounding that the military investigators did not even try to explore external connections to the mutiny because such an impeccable operation to carryout large scale killings of army officers was not the work of a bunch of youngsters, but rather the work of a professional organization who had inside information to plan and execute such a flawless military mission at the heart of the nation’s defense establishment to take out all the intended targets and ensure safe exit for all those who took part in it.
There is a growing fear of Indian involvement in the BDR revolt and the mass killing of the army officers at the BDR headquarters because of the comments of Mr. Pranab Mukharjee who said, “I had to go out of my way to issue a stern warning to those trying to destabilise the Sheikh Hasina government in Bangladesh that if they continued with their attempts, then India would not sit idle.” (OUTLOOK india.com, Mar, 16, 2009) , which is another way of saying that India would have approved a direct military intervention if developments in Bangladesh had gone against their strategic interest.
The same report also said, “New Delhi had conveyed it was willing to take counter-measures in Dhaka, direct intervention included.” Now the question is why did the Indian minister issue such a warning to Bangladesh? Did he not believe the people and the security forces of Bangladesh are capable enough to protect their own prime minister? Or did he want to conceal India’s own involvement in the mutiny through intimidation? Whatever the case may be, India’s over enthusiasm in our internal affairs has raised some serious suspicions about its intentions with regard to our national security.
The order to put Indian air force on a stand by mode (Samachar.com, mar, 2, 2009) and deploy para commandos from Agra to West Bengal (The Times of India, Mar, 4, 2009) to deal with emergency situations can also be construed as Indian attempts to interfere in our internal affairs using the tensions created after the mutiny, and if we combine this with the comments of Mr. Pranab Mukharjee then a strategic scenario emerges where Bangladesh is being destabilized with the intent to force herself into a long term bilateral security arrangements to pave the way for India to play greater roles in the matters of Bangladesh’s security and defense. And the proof of it can be found in a report in The Telegraph, a Calcutta based newspaper, where India offered to send a peace mission to give security to the Calcutta-Dhaka-Calcutta Moitree express and termed it as the first international bilateral peace mission by India after its peace mission in Sri-Lanka (The Telegraph, Feb, 27, 2009).
Another report from the same newspaper that said “Details of the talks were not immediately available but the US has been keen that India plays a stabilising role in the South Asian region. It is in this context that the Indian effort to send a peace mission, not only for the security of the train service between Dhaka and Calcutta, but also in a larger context, preferably on an appeal from Dhaka, will be internationally acceptable to Washington.”(The Telegraph, Feb, 28, 2009) is detrimental to our national security because it proves, in light of recently concluded Indo-U.S. Strategic agreement, there is ample international support for India to play larger role in South Asia, in general, and Bangladesh, in particular. This is what many have been saying for a while that the bilateral task force, military exercise between Bangladesh and Indian armed forces and the revolt by the BDR members are all part of a grand design to make the security forces of Bangladesh subservient to the strategic and political interests of India and Awami League.
External linkages to the BDR revolt can also be found by the seizure of various fire arms, equipment and other military gadgets at the BDR headquarters that are not used by any security agencies in the country (The Daily Star, Mar, 3, 2009). Experts believe such sophisticated military gadgets were supplied by external sources to perform the killings of the army officers in the BDR headquarters complex.
With the growing suspicion of involvement of some elements within the government in the well orchestrated revolt at BDR headquarters firstly, to rid BDR of army officers for the purpose of weakening our border security and secondly, to kill the brightest army officers with an ultimate plan to destroy our defense system, the government is feeling the heat from both the army and the people of the country.
Sensing the impending danger of being exposed, a certain quarter has revived the old arms smuggling case and is frantically trying to associate the opposition parties, the intelligence agencies, and even Pakistan and its external spy agency, ISI, with ULFA to convince the public of the existence of a nexus among the nationalistic forces and defense establishment of the country, Pakistan and United Liberation Front of Assam with a sole purpose of falsely accuse them of sponsoring terrorism and masterminding the carnage at the BDR headquarters. In order to make their case more convincing and deal a heavy blow to our national defense, they even dragged China, the largest arms supplier and trusted defense partner of Bangladesh, into this complex scenario.
Gruesome murder of the army officers, prompt announcement of general amnesty by the prime minister without properly understanding the ground reality, unabated media propaganda to humiliate the army, reluctance of the government to order for a military action against the rebels, decision to send Jahangir Kabir Nanak and Mirza Azam, who have criminal records of killing 11 innocent civilians, as negotiators, stern warning by Indian minister Pranab Mukherjee of military intervention against Bangladesh, and the subsequent deployment of Indian troops along the border suggest the involvement of powerful local and external elements in the BDR revolt to accomplish a diabolical plan to inflict enormous damage upon the defense system of Bangladesh.
The army investigators should have done an exhaustive investigation into the possibility of involvement of political and foreign elements in the BDR revolt to expose the real conspirators for the sake of our national security, but unfortunately the army report made no attempts to do so probably because it had no mandate to explore political and foreign connections, or the Indian threat of military intervention might have forced them to confine their investigation to only a small area just to identify the BDR jawans who were involved in the killings of the officers and bring charges against them.
Lastly, the defense forces of the country should know that similar attempts to incite rebellions in other security forces will be attempted in future if the real culprits are not exposed and punished with iron fist.
* * * * *
Shah Mohammed Saifuddin is a contributor to News From Bangladesh and is founder of Bangladesh Strategic and Development Forum
Dr. Chowdhury Sajjadul Karim
I was still a student of physics department of Dhaka University when I saw Dr. M.A. Wazed Miah, a lively young scientist at the Atomic Energy Centre, Dhaka. I was using the mainframe computer facility of the Centre, the only one in the then Pakistan. The place had already left its footprints firmly on many laboratories in many countries. The achievements were made possible by the dedication of the scientists of the centre. In those days these finest and highly trained gentlemen believed in sharing of knowledge and making output excel though group endeavors.
Dr. Wazed Miah was an important member of the select group. It appeared that he was possibly restless, looking for new opportunities for advancement of science and technology, to make science more meaningful to societal development. I remember having seen him for the last time as a senior colleague at Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission in February, 1999, the last day of his career with the organization. Even at that point of parting with his workplace of 36 years, not even an iota of his enthusiasm had withered. This is the finest example of dedication and unflinching commitment to a cause.
In a developing country science and scientists are considered by some as redundant and unreal in the context of development. He once told me, “In a developing country, where resources are scarce, it’s only science and technology that can help maximize the benefits to the nation”. All the prolific years of his life were dedicated to the task of glorifying science and the men behind it.
I had the opportunity to work closely with him for a number of years towards the end of his career at the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission. This engagement was related primarily to the introduction of nuclear power. He was persuasive. I remember him calling on International Atomic Energy Agency director general Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei in Vienna in 1998. He emphasized the country’s commitment to peaceful uses of atomic energy and urged the agency to send a high-level delegation to Bangladesh to help assess the needs for fast-track implementation of the project. His request was entertained and following deliberations in Dhaka a time-bound action plan was drawn up delineating the time lines for various activities to be undertaken by the two sides. A year on, a training course was financed by the agency, which was possibly the largest of its kind conducted in any of its member states. Without the persuasive request it would have taken years to arrange such an event. Such examples of his way of getting difficult tasks done efficiently and quickly galore.
Dr. Wazed Miah had the sharpest of minds. He could often recount exactly how he had written his comments on a matter even after many years. This is a glaring evidence of application, merit and sound logic that went behind his decisions. Many tend to forget even in a matter of days or months simply because a particular decision was made in the past without sound logic and analysis and commitment. These were alien to him. He dismissed anything done by a scientist unless it had impeccable and sound rationale. He believed firmly in this, and indeed it formed the basis of whatever he did in science.
He was a great believer in our combined capacity and potentials of the country. He had confidence in the role of science in development and in international collaboration in materializing that goal. But it is the responsibility of the scientists to choose appropriate programme that suit our needs. The cardinal objective should be found in a facilitating synergy between science and development, he once asserted. He found a lot of opportunities to tap nuclear science, be it in solving the problems of energy supply, or health care, or industries. Such perceptions made him look for new fronts and avenues. His vision was to have a future society based on scientific knowledge.
Dr. Wazed Miah wrote as many as seven text books, six of which have already been published. The seventh I hear was at the final stages of his editorial attention when he expired. I bear the testimony to the great efforts level that went into these tasks. The books were exhaustive to cater to the pedagogical needs of undergraduate or graduate students.
His logic was clear—the students in a developing country cannot afford to buy multiple text books for a subject. A student should buy the second text book only if he needs to learn beyond the curriculum. These text books were, therefore, written in such a way that they were more or less in-depth. I saw him editing one or two manuscripts. He read and reread each sentence, each paragraph, made editorial corrections, usually with pencil, eraser or even razor blades. The painstaking job went on and on until he was satisfied that the text was acceptable. His passion and patience for excellence were almost insatiable when it came to writing and editing. It is not that he had all the time in the world and easy tasks to do. Such problems were solved by putting in long hours day in and day out.
Dr Wazed Miah set different standards for his colleagues and knew exactly what could be expected of each of them. Any deviation, unless justifiable on solid grounds, would mean a glare or two and in most cases one such episode was enough. I once took longer than expected to do something, or perhaps the job was not to his liking, I don’t remember correctly. The famous glare he gave me was so scaring that I decided to be out of his sight for some days. I requested one of my very good friends to carry my files to him. The respite was brief, though, as I had to visit him in the hospital where he was receiving treatment for heart ailment. He waved other visitors out of his room, gave me a smile and said, “C.S. Karim (that’s how he used to address me), how long can you keep on running away? Take these files, I have signed them already.” He hardly took more than a day to sign anything that landed on his desk. And files and papers always came back with comments, usually making one to ponder, “How could I miss this, or make such a silly mistake?”
To Dr Wazed Miah, the man behind scientific pursuit was the most important pre-requisite to any success. He told me about the importance of understand the divergence of opinions of society about the scientists if we want to change the perception. Only then scientists will have better chance of finding their due places in the society. We should do our bit before expecting a reciprocal action. The research and development programmes have to be made responsive to national needs and priorities. “Reach out and find out where your effort levels are needed most,” he would say.
He headed professional associations and outlets where one of his main goals was to sensitize a wide spectrum of society to the need to understand the impact science and technology could have on the national life.
Probably he was not fully satisfied with what was possible to attain. The unfinished task has to be taken forward; the responsibility lies with today’s scientists.
I don’t know of any instance in Bangladesh where a scientist has been honoured, even in a small way. The exception to this is the naming of a road on Dr. Kudrat-e-Khuda. Can we, even for a change, make an exception? Can we do something that would not only pay tribute to this outstanding scientist, but also serve as an inspirational icon for the next generations of scientists.
On Saturday, the 9th May of 2009, came the final moments of the life of a visionary scientist—Dr. Wazed Miah., a scientist with outstanding qualities, dedication and versatility. We will mourn and brood, no doubt. At the same time it is time to take a vow to finish his dreams. The torch is passed on to the new generation of scientists to march ahead with the same dream, with a resolve to finish the task begun with great vigor and traversed only a part of the road that lies ahead.
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Dr. Chowdhury Sajjadul Karim, popularly known as Dr. C.S. Karim, is a former Chairman of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission and was an advisor of the de facto 11 January, 2007 undemocratic government of Bangladesh.
One of the most dangerous provocations of international terrorism is the attempt to cover it with “religious banners”. Terrorism has no religious or ethnic nature. Its practice and ideology, based on defying fundamental human values, human life being the first among them, are equally alien to all world confessions, nations, and cultures. Terrorism feeds on political, social and economic problems, which have grown more acute – particularly regarding the preservation of the cultural and civilisation diversity of the modern world – as the result of globalisation and corresponding imbalances in world development.
This understanding underlies Russia’s consistent course towards combating terrorism and its ideology by way of uniting the efforts of states and state institutions with the possibilities of civil society, including religious institutions and organisations.
In this connection, let me remind you that Russia is a unique example of peaceful coexistence and cooperation among more than 160 nationalities. There are 23 thousand religious organisations in our country, representing nearly 50 confessions. Respect to other people’s faith, lifestyle, customs and traditions have created conditions for civilian peace and helped ensure stability. Along with other traditional confessions in Russia, Islam has been making its contribution into efforts towards preventing extremism and intolerance and maintaining an atmosphere of tolerance.
Today, furthering the mutually respectful and constructive communication among different confessions is one of the unconditional priorities of Russia’s policy. The inter-religious dialogue is going on very actively within the country, including the Inter-Religion Council of Russia, which unites leaders of the main traditional confessions. We support all international initiatives aimed at promoting inter-religious concord. The Strategic Vision Group “Russia – Islamic World” and the World Social Forum “Dialogue of Civilisations” have been created upon our initiative, and we keep promoting the idea of establishing the Consultative Council of Religions under the auspices of the UN.
We firmly and decisively condemn terrorism in all its forms. Like many countries, Russia has suffered from terrorism. However, in fighting it, Russia has gained a successful experience of complex anti-terrorism efforts that combine military and law enforcement measures with informational, educational, and socio-economic work. Our tangible achievement is the significant reduction of the terrorist threat in Russia, including the North Caucasus, in which international terrorism had been pumping significant funds and efforts.
Russia is among the leading members of global anti-terrorism cooperation that mostly goes in the format of the UN, which has the central coordinating role in this area, and in regional structures. We have also created an efficient bilateral mechanism of anti-terrorism cooperation with more than 30 states, including Islamic ones. These mechanisms are intended for solving practical tasks in the sphere of anti-terrorism.
We also advocate the active improvement of international anti-terrorism instruments. So far, 13 international anti-terrorism conventions have been signed under the auspice of the UN, but those efforts must be continued. Our obvious reserve is the strengthening of the international contractual basis to combat the use of latest technologies, including the Internet, for terrorist purposes. Russia, among others, has stepped forward with relevant initiatives in this area.
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The content above has been delivered by Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov, in response to a question asked by Aftab Hussain, Islamabad, Pakistan. The question was: What is Russia’s official policy about terrorism? Does Russia also see terrorism as an Islamic phenomenon, as it is being perceived by the West?