The Bangladeshi Nonchalant Generals and their Deathly Gallows.
By Sajjad Jahir
Only a little more than two years ago, on the 15th of June 2005 to be precise, General Moeen U. Ahmed became the Bangladesh Chief of Army Staff. Who knew then this general was waiting in the wings to become an ambitious power monger? Who could visualize then he would follow the same path of his guru Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, who successfully cut the two non-theocratic parties to sizes thus empowering the mulladom? What a historical parallel is being unfolded in Bangladesh by the Pakistani army brass's Bangladeshi junior partners! Without Benazir Bhutto, Nawaz Sharif their political parties are nothing short of a boat without a captain. General Moeen knew that at this juncture Hasina less Awami League would be an impotent entity. Similarly a cornered Khaleda Zia will result in simple disintegration of the party.
General Moeen had the audacity to scold whole Bangladehi nation for not paying enough "respect" to the founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. He was pointing fingers to the civilian segment of the society. He conveniently forgot that it was the Bangladeshi military that brutally killed Sheikh Mujib, his close relatives, which includes pregnant women and children. The General did not bother to recollect that it was two vile generals, namely, Ziaur Rahman and H.M. Ershad, who very systematically followed a master plan to erase the memory of Sheikh Mujib from the collective psyche of the Bangladeshi people.
General Moeen U. Ahmed blamed the civilian politicians for all the wrong doings that occurred during the last few decades of Bangladesh's existence. His selective memory failed to accommodate one important piece of information. That is, out of the last 36 years since Bangladesh's emergence as a sovereign country, close to 27 years the nation was ruled by Bangladesh army either directly or indirectly. The General can not deny that the outcome of the October 2001 general election brought enough joy to many of the powerful army brass in the Cantonment. Will it be too much of a speculation if someone says, the BNP victory was many generals' wishful thinking?
It is sad to see General Moeen U. Ahmed is showing enough signs of lack of integrity in his public persona. Never had he attempted any degree of self-criticism. May be, self-criticism is not in their lexicon. While he was constantly finger pointing to the corruption epidemic in political circle, never for a single moment he ever uttered any word indicating corruption within the army barracks. It is an open secret, like any social ill, corruption does exist in cantonment in a big way. It is conceivable that many big cheeses in the retired army community became tycoons overnight through illegitimate means. Like any "money grabbing" agency in Bangladesh, Defense Purchasing is an area where corruption has been quite rampant. Can General Moeen deny that?
The military backed current Bangladesh caretaker government's recent drama of prosecuting Sheikh Hasina is the last straw that broke the camel's back. It was an open secret that General Ershad is one of the most corrupt rulers of the country. He remained untouchable to this day. Ironically, a few days before the so-called historical 1/11, this general was indicted by the former regime. Strangely enough, today he remains a free man.
When mullah and military commingle, they make a deadly cocktail. Pakistan is a good example. Ziaul Huq made the country a precursor of a Talibanistic nation. In Bangladesh 's case, Ziaur Rahman and H.M. Ershad started the process of Islamization of once secular nationalist country. When ex-DGFI Chief General Matin says he does not have clue if Jamaatis were corrupt, it gives us enough headache.
The Generals are leading the nation to a deathly gallows, it seems.