Wednesday, October 31, 2007

War Criminals of 1971: Time to Take Action

War Criminals of 1971: Time to Take Action
Dr. Abdul Momen

October 29, 2007

It is highly misleading that Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman government pardoned all the war criminals and he did nothing during his ‘war ravaged reconstruction period’. The fact shows otherwise. In fact, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman government started prosecuting the perpetrators of 'crime against humanity' or ’war criminals’ immediately after independence and he also passed the Collaborators Act (1972) and the International Crime Act of 1973 that barred re-entry of any collaborators to Bangladesh. Sheikh Mujib promulgated the Special Tribunal Order on January 24, 1972 (PO No 8 of 1972) after 14 days of his return from Pakistani jail to try those Pakistani collaborators/ Razakers/ Al-Badrs and other stooges of the Pakistani army. Under this order he arrested 37,000 collaborators amidst of strong opposition by left-leaning journalist like Enayetullah Khan [see his write-up titled ’75 million Collaborators’ , the Holiday, 1972]. Out of them as no grievous criminal charges were filed against 26,000, therefore they were pardoned and released in a general amnesty. However, nearly 800 cases were completed and given jail sentences. Another 11,000 were in jail including Nizami, Abbas Ali Khan of the Jamat-e-Islam Party (JI), and their prosecution was at various stages of completion. In addition, those that were involved in ‘crime against humanity’ and against Bangladesh, they were denied of Bangladesh nationality and passport.

On November 4, 1972 all religion-based politics were abolished as per sections 12 and 38 of the Bangladesh Constitution of 1972.

Unfortunately, when General Ziaur Rahman, a valiant Mukti-judda emerged as a ‘strong man’ in 1975, he abrogated the Collaborators Act and released all the prisoners including those that were sentenced. For political/ personal reasons he allowed religion-based parties to operate and started reinstating and rehabilitating them. No wonder, those who were guilty of ‘crime against humanity’ and collaboration with enemy (Pakistan) state started returning from abroad especially Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and they were given Bangladesh citizenship and passport. Example, Golam Azam of the JI Party.

On those days I was working with the Bangladesh government and many individuals and their relatives that had no Bangladesh passport approached us for consideration. However, once General Zia took over, all of them were issued Bangladesh passport or ‘travel documents’ to return to Bangladesh.

It is sad that few vested quarters including Abdul Mannan Bhuiya, the ousted BNP Secretary General and current Law Advisor Barrister Moinul Hussein are misleading the public and the nation by stating that Sheikh Mujib pardoned them or shifting the responsibility by blaming why they did not prosecute them. In fact, Sheikh Mujib started the prosecution and he pardoned only those that did not have criminal cases against them. He did not pardon those (Razakers, Al-badr or Al-Shams) that had ‘criminal cases’ and those that committed ‘crime against humanity or war criminals’ such as rape, murder, and the like. Thousands of criminals were in prison during his time; however, many were absconding abroad including Golam Azam, the leader of the JI party and they were involved in anti-state activities abroad. He did not get time to complete the prosecution because of abrupt massacre.

After the massacre of Sheikh Mujib and his family plus his closed associates; Prime Minister Tajuddin Ahmed, Acting President Syed Nazrul Islam, Secretary General AHM Qamruzzaman and Home Minister Monsur Ali, the founders of independent and sovereign Bangladesh in 1975, one after another civil-military- technocratic or cantonment-based governments ruled the country basically till 1996. In 1996, when pro-people and pro-liberation government of Sheikh Hasina came to power after 21 years with marginal votes; it neither could reinstate the Collaborators Act nor could revive the original constitution of 1972. Secondly, it followed ‘judicial process and rule of law’ and therefore, it did not set up any ‘kangaroo court or special tribunal’ to prosecute the criminals. One can debate that as a weakness of the Hasina government or not.

Therefore, it failed to punish the war criminals and the culprits. But that does not justify that the criminals of ‘crime against humanity’ or war criminals should not face justice. It would be unfair if they are allowed to go free or untouched. Fortunately, now is an opportune moment to revive the clause that ‘no religion-based political party can register or contest in Bangladesh election’ and those found guilty of ‘crime against humanity’ to be fully prosecuted. Unless the criminals and murderers are fully prosecuted, you can neither establish ‘rule of law’ nor can stop political killing in Bangladesh.

More importantly, the International Crime Act of 1973 of Bangladesh is still active and Article 47, Section 3 of the Act allows trial of war criminals. Therefore, the military-backed government of Fakhruddin Ahmed that has started many essential reforms can try the war criminals and punish them provided it has the mindset and commitment. It is unfortunate that its Law Advisor is trying to guillotine the golden opportunity.

Secondly, Islami activist S. A. Hannan, a retired bureaucrat following the JI party line of argument tried to mislead the public by stating that there was ‘no genocide’ in East Pakistan in 1971.

Genocide is the deliberate and systematic destruction of an ethnic, religious or national group. While precise definition varies among genocide scholars, the legal definition of it is found in the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (CPPCG). Article 2 of the CPPCG defines genocide as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: killing members of the group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life, calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; [and] forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."[1]

In 1971 the Pakistan occupation army plus their collaborators like the Jamat-e-Islam, the Islami Chatra Sangho (currently renamed Islami Chatra Shibir) and their militant killing squads; the Al-Badr and the Al-Shams tried their utmost to apprehend and kill those that demand an ‘independent Bangladesh’. Since majority of Bengali speaking East Pakistanis (Sheikh Mujib got 167 out of 169 seats in East Pakistan) or ethnic group favored an independent Bangladesh, they waged a war with intent to destroy that ethnic group. The Pak army systematically opened fire on un-armed masses of Bengali ethnic group on the midnight of March 25th 1971 indiscriminately resulting which, as per various reports 19,000 to 25,000 Bengali ethnic people died on that dark night alone and over a period of 10 months, 3 million reportedly killed, 30 million were dislodged from their homes and 10 million had to take refuge in neighboring India due to cleansing operation, fear and repression. As per global ranking, Bangladesh genocide is second to that of Nazi genocide of Jews.

In order to cripple the whole ‘bangali nationalism and nationhood’ the Pak army in collaboration with the Jamat-e-Islam and few other such parties and their affiliates systematically and calculatedly murder the Bengali intellectuals, writers, doctors, journalists, educators and their political leadership. In addition, in order to cleanse the society of Hindu population, the Pak army and its collaborators calculatedly killed and/or uprooted them. No wonder, over 10 million East Pakistanis (out of 75 million) mostly Hindu minority took shelter in the neighboring India. When army captured me on April 20, 1971, they tested me whether I could recite ‘kolema’ (the 1st pillar of Muslim faith) and then they checked whether I had my circumcision, a symbol of being Muslim in the subcontinent. In addition, when the army forced us to lead them in their operations, they repeatedly asked two questions; find ‘Mukti’ (liberation fighter) and Hindu. If such are reported, they would immediately open their fire, weapons and mortars. Such is a testimony of cleansing of a religious group, a clear evidence of genocide.

Abdul Momen, Boston

At KSG, General Draws Fire

At KSG, General Draws Fire
Bangladeshi military chief accused of crackdown on academic freedom

Published On 10/30/2007 12:38:29 AM
Crimson Staff Writer
Source: The Harvard Crimson

The chief of the Bangladeshi military, who took part in a two-day session at the Kennedy School of Government last week, has come under fire from scholars who claim that his armed forces have been responsible for a crackdown on academic freedom at the nation’s universities.

Gen. Moeen U Ahmed, who also participated in a Kennedy School executive education course in 2002, is being criticized for crackdowns at Bangladesh’s Rajshahi University and its flagship institution, the University of Dhaka.

The crackdowns have included the arrests of at least four academics at Dhaka and eight at Rajshahi, with allegations that they have been tortured, according to The Daily Star, the largest English-language newspaper in Bangladesh.

Emran Qureshi, a fellow at the Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program, criticized the Kennedy School for closing Moeen’s visit to the public and the press.

“He should be allowed to speak, but it should have been public so that critics of their policy could have aired their thoughts,” Qureshi said in a phone interview yesterday. “It is incredibly ironic that at the very moment he speaks at Harvard University, he is presiding over an unprecedented crackdown on Bangladeshi academic institutions. It boggles the mind.”

The Kennedy School’s Ash Institute for Democratic Governance and Innovation, which hosted Ahmed, said in a statement last week that the sessions were closed to the press in order to “allow for frank, free and meaningful discussion.” An institute spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.

Moeen had meetings on governmental reform and restoring democracy in Bangladesh during his two-day stay here, the statement said.

The arrests at the Bangladesh universities were in response to protests following an August incident in which soldiers attacked a student who was blocking their view of a soccer match.

“The demonstrations taking place in Bangladesh come after eight months of repressive emergency rule, which has restricted the rights to protest and fails to respect basic due process rights,” the watchdog organization Human Rights Watch said in a report.

Bangladesh declared a state of emergency in January 2007, with Moeen deploying the armed forces to end riots in the nation’s major cities. The military-backed provisional government that has ruled Bangladesh since January will leave office in December 2008, Moeen has said.
—Staff writer Paras D. Bhayani can be reached at

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Well said, your honour

Well said, your honour
Syed Muhammad Ibrahim
Source: Daily Star
October 29, 2007

I draw the attention of readers to what former chief justice of Bangladesh Supreme Court Mostafa Kamal told The Daily Star on October 27: "Now it is being said that no war criminal exists in the country. May be after some time it would be said that the Liberation War never took place. This will mean we will be deprived of the real history."

Not only as a citizen, but also as an active or armed freedom fighter of the Bangladesh War of Liberation in 1971, I am shocked at the remarks leaders of a political party called Jamaat-e-Islami made to reporters after a meeting with the Election Commission on Thursday, October 25.

Chief Justice Mostafa Kamal expressed his suspicion that some day the detractors of the War of Liberation will deny the war itself. Justice Mostafa Kamal did not have to wait long.

At about 9.30 p.m. on Friday, October 26, in a television talk show on Ekushey TV titled Ekushey Shomoy, Mr. Shah Abdul Hannan a former secretary to the government of Bangladesh said that there was no Liberation War of Bangladesh, instead what happened in 1971 was civil war in Pakistan. Mr. Shah Abdul Hannan, in all possibility, represents a thought process of like-minded people who have decided to deny the War of Liberation by calling it civil war. Mr. Hannan is not alone. We need to answer these questions or in other words resolve this issue once and for all.

Many said, in the past, that to raise the issue of freedom fighters and non-freedom fighters is tantamount to dividing the society or opening old wounds or impeding national unity. As a freedom fighter I strongly submit that I have no intention to include among my nation such people who do not recognise the War of Liberation.

The denial of the War of Liberation is something like a child denying the fact that he was born of his mother and that his mother suffered much birth pangs during his birth. May I ask a question to Jamaat-e-Islami and Mr. Shah Abdul Hannan: "Pakistan government in 1971 used to say that the situation in East Pakistan in 1971 was an internal law and order problem. In 2007 Mr. Shah Abdul Hannan says it was a civil war. Question: Was Bangladesh born because of political struggle alone or because of the recommendations of politicians only?"

At least on five successive March 26s (that is in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, and 2006) Mr. Matiur Rahman Nizami and Mr. Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojaheed of the Jamaat-e-Islami joined the ranks of other ministers at the national memorial at Savar, because that is the independence day of Bangladesh. Why did these two the then-ministers go to Savar if they did not believe that March 26, 1971 was not the day of independence of Bangladesh!

On the contrary, if they believe the date to be the day of independence, then how can there be a civil war between two different countries (that is a country called Bangladesh and another country called Pakistan). It had to be a war between the forces loyal to Bangladesh and forces who were "occupying" Bangladesh.

Mr. Hannan and his like-minded colleagues must be made to answer, albeit in an honourable and gentlemanly way.

It is high time that we resolve this issue once and for all. No national reconciliation is possible with any segment of the people who deny the process of birth of this country. The blood shed by the millions of martyrs in 1971 will not pardon the present generation or more specifically the freedom fighters who are still living for not ensuring due recognition of the War of Liberation. In this context, I have three specific proposals.

Proposal number one is about a commission. The background to this proposal is similar to the background which necessitates the Anti-Corruption Commission in Bangladesh. There is no dearth of reports in the print or electronic media about corruption by members of the political governments between 1991 to 2006. These reports alone are not sufficient to prosecute the people. Formal efforts are needed, that is why the Anti-Corruption Commission does the investigation, charge sheeting, and prosecution.

Similarly, there is no dearth of reports about opposition to the War of Liberation and atrocities by the opponents of the war. Therefore, to formalise the investigations and prosecution in a legal manner, there must be a high powered legal entity.

The name of the commission can be something like "Fact Finding Commission 1971" or "Political and War Crimes Finding Commission 1971" or "History Commission on Liberation War 1971" or some such. Wise people can find a good name.

The terms of reference may include among other matters:

  • What role did the political parties of the then Pakistan/East Pakistan play towards materialising an independent Bangladesh during the period March 26 to December 16, 1971.

  • What support, if any, was available to the Pakistan army in 1971 during its operations in East Pakistan, from the local political parties, or local businessmen, or local citizens.

Priority is for a wide and deliberative enquiry into the entire range of crimes, but if wide ranging enquiry is not possible, then at least enquiry into the possibility of commission of war crimes by those who opposed the freedom fighters of Bangladesh, with armed actions or otherwise, must take place.

The proposed commission may be composed of three retired chief justices or justices of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, three retired freedom fighter general-officers of Bangladesh armed forces, three freedom fighters of 1971 from among general citizens, three former vice-presidents of the Supreme Court Bar and three eminent lawyers of international repute or of international human rights organisations recognised by the United Nations. The composition is also open to further thought and refinement.

Proposal number two is related to the government's decision-making process. I hope and pray that the present government will take the courageous step of addressing this issue of formally identifying the forces opposed to the Liberation War of 1971 and crimes committed by the opposition.

Should the government feel shy or diffident to touch the subject, then the government may refer the matter to the Bangladeshi/Bengali Nation through an independent referendum or referendum-cum-election. But the matter should, repeated should, be addressed. In particular I appeal to the armed forces of Bangladesh who are directly the professional descendents of freedom fighters.

Proposal number three relates to our media. In the absence of an elected parliament, the media needs to play this vital role that I am humbly suggesting. Let all the independent TV channels of Bangladesh organise discussions on the screen, to raise an awareness about war of liberation, the activities of the freedom fighters and the activities of the anti-liberation forces in 1971 so that the people of Bangladesh can take a decision.

We have paid enough price for neglecting the subject, we want to pay no more.

Maj. Gen. (retired) Syed Muhammad Ibrahim, Bir Protik, is a freelance contributor to The Daily Star.

The Infamous Interview Part-3

The Infamous Interview -2

The Infamous Interview Part 1

Monday, October 29, 2007

Shah Hannan’s impudence!

Shah Hannan’s impudence!
A.H. Jaffor Ullah

The self-professed Islamic intellectual of Bangladesh, Mr. Shah A. Hannan, is busy these days making fib of unprecedented kind. I have read many of his prevarication-laden post in various cyber forums He even received some befitting answers from secularists for making outrageous claim vis-à-vis defending Maulana Maududi’s political doctrine and Jamaat-i-Islami’s political role in the ill-fated government of Khaleda Zia during 2001-2006. I decided not to reply to his inveracity-ridden posts. However, now I am compelled to write this protest note against his recent remark vis-à-vis Bangladesh’s Liberation War, the account of which was published in today’s (October 28, 2007) issue of Dhaka’s Daily Star.

Unbeknownst to many of us who does not know that Shah Hannan peddles prevarication and ‘snake oil’ all the time to promote Jamaati doctrine, this time around the Islamic think tank guru made a faux pas while hurting the sensibilities of millions of Bangalees residing in Bangladesh and worldwide. The issue is Bangladesh’s glorious War of Independence in 1971. With the exception of Pakistani literature peddled by Pakistani Army and the government most scholars admit that Bangalees were all united to fight against the occupation force throughout the 9 months in 1971. The fight for independence that was started in March 26, 1971, ended on December 16 in the same year. There was however the Fifth Columnist allover occupied Bangladesh. They were the supporters of Jamaat, Muslim League, and the Bihari brigands to backstab the freedom fighters.

The Daily Star article entitled “There was no genocide; it was a ‘civil war.” The point of reference is the nine-month grueling period in which our Mukti Bahini (freedom fighters) fought valiantly against the occupation army of Pakistan. Why is Shah Hannan so eager now to whitewash the sins of Jamaatis, Muslim Leaguers, and Bihari Razakars all with a broad brush? There is after all a valid reason. The Jamaat is in hot water now because if the party could be labeled as the Fifth Columnist who aided Tikka-Niazi-Yahya administration during our Liberation War, they could be barred from participation in the next parliamentary election. That is precisely why one of the leading Jamaati politicians, Maulana Mujahid, proclaimed the other day that there are no war criminals in Bangladesh at this time. By making this outrageous statement, the Jamaat leader opened the proverbial Pandora’s box.

Jamaat’s is trying to create confusion amongst public mind by saying that in 1971 the Bangalees never fought a Liberation War. They now assert falsely that it was a garden variety civil war. Therefore, it “logically” follows – there would not be single war criminal because it was not a war in the true sense of the word. Now, the Islamo Fifth Columnist and Islamic thinker par excellence, Shah A. Hannan is doing his best to lend support to Jamaati concoction.

The fib-maker par excellence, Shah A. Hannan, as per daily Star report denied that genocide ever taking place in the country in 1971; therefore, and no war criminals exist now in Bangladesh. The charlatan Islamic think-tank guru was speaking on a talk show, Ekushey Shomoy, on private satellite television channel Ekushey Television on Friday (October 26, 2007). The cozener, Mr. Hannan, also expressed doubts that three million people died in the war. He had the chutzpah of supporting a Pakistani report according to which only 26,000 people or less died during the Liberation War.

Mr. Hannan is in denial as far as our glorious Liberation War is concerned. The intellectual members of the Fifth Columnists were never sent to any education camp, which should have been done a long time ago, to make them worthy son of the soil. Thus, they still suffer from delusion; the proof is in the pudding. Mr. Shah Hannan is still making his phantasmagoric statement – this time in a television program.

How many lives were lost and how many women were violated by the rogue Pakistani soldiers in the nine-month period? The true number will never be known but the figure that was accepted by scholars, genocide-tracking organizations, and media is 3 million dead and a quarter million women raped. But in the eyes of Jamaati supporters and pro-Pakistani Bangladeshis this number is far less. Prof. R.J. Rummel, who is a genocide scholar, wrote in an article, which is posted in Gendercide website writes as follows:
“The mass killings in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) in 1971 vie with the annihilation of the Soviet POWs, the holocaust against the Jews, and the genocide in Rwanda as the most concentrated act of genocide in the twentieth century. In an attempt to crush forces seeking independence for East Pakistan, the West Pakistani military regime unleashed a systematic campaign of mass murder which aimed at killing millions of Bengalis, and likely succeeded in doing so.”
This scribe is more than confident that Mr. Shah Hannan or his ilk has never read a word that Prof. Rummel’s scholarly work on Bangladesh genocide, nor has he read the article published in National Geographic or Newsweek published in the aftermath of our victory on December 16, 1971.

Another reference will be sufficed to prove that the Pakistani army went overboard to annihilate the entire Bangalee population. This reference which comes handy was published by Rounaq Jahan [“Genocide in Bangladesh,” in Samuel Totten et al., eds., Century of Genocide.] On page 298 in this book, Ms. Jahan quoted the genocide expert Dr. R.J. Rummel as follows:
“By November [1971], the rebel guerrillas ... had wrested from the army control over 25 percent of East Pakistan, a success that led the Pakistan army to seek out those especially likely to join the resistance -- young boys. Sweeps were conducted of young men who were never seen again. Bodies of youths would be found in fields, floating down rivers, or near army camps. As can be imagined, this terrorized all young men and their families within reach of the army. Most between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five began to flee from one village to another and toward India. Many of those reluctant to leave their homes were forced to flee by mothers and sisters concerned for their safety.” [Ref: Rummel, Death by Government (New Brunswick, USA: Transaction Publishers, 1994), p329.]
The purpose of this short article is not to convince people like Shah Hannan or the leaderships of Jamaat-i-Islami to take into account the scholarly work done by Prof. Rummel when they make any public statement when the topic is our freedom fight. These folks are in denial vis-à-vis Bangladesh Liberation War for so long. They do not want to believe that their one-time master, the Pakistani military, could have undertaken a plan to annihilate the entire Bangalee population who believed in Sheikh Mujib’s proclamation for full independence after what happened in the wee hours of March 26, 1971.

Mr. Shah Hannan’s prevarication to give intellectual support to Jamaati politicians is obfuscating the truth about Bangladesh’s glorious freedom fight. There are people who think that if one makes a lie and say it ten times then some gullible folks would fall for that lie thinking that there may be a truth in it. But so many books have been written on Bangladesh’s Liberation War that all the propaganda that Mr. Hannan and Jamaati politicians are making these days will go in vain.

The truth is that Jamaatis and their ardent supporters such as Mr. Shah Hannan were the eager Fifth Columnist who was standing shoulder-to-shoulder with vile Pakistani soldier to finish off our Mukti Bahani soldiers. But that did not happen. The glorious events of our freedom fight were like the dark chapter in Shah Hannan’s life. These events torment him ad infinitum; therefore, it comes as no surprise that like a serpent he likes to strike back at our glorious history. His recent show of conceit in a private TV channel is symptomatic of a delusional mind. If he wants to live in a fool’s paradise, then it is his prerogative. However, for once he should come to terms with the truth in respect to Bangladesh’s Liberation War. This was the war in which the Pakistani army and their supporters had to face the ignominy of defeat. History books are replete with the number of casualties. Prof. Rummel and Ms. Rounaq Jahan are right after all when they wrote how many lives were lost in the hands of marauding Pakistani soldiers, al-Shams and al-Badars death squad. Mr. Shah Hannan is only trying to efface the misdeeds of his masters and fellow ideologues. I have a sentence for them - a thousand Shah Hannans and Mujahids won’t be able to dim the glory of our freedom fighters.

A.H. Jaffor Ullah, a researcher and columnist, writes from New Orleans

No war criminals in Bangladesh!!

No war criminals in Bangladesh!!
Ripan Kumar Biswas, USA

Source: News from Bangladesh
October 29 2007

What is to prevent anyone from filing cases against someone else accused of collaborating with the Pakistani Army in 1971?

Is that the blanket amnesty issued by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibar Rahman, the first president of the People¢s Republic of Bangladesh, in January, 1972 due to the pressure from Islamic countries (including the OIC), chaotic internal situation, or the necessity to encourage peace and development steps to be considered for recognition and International Aid without which Bangladesh had the Famine of 1973-74? The general amnesty was the first among many political mistakes which opened the door for rehabilitation of the war criminals of 1971.

According to his recent comment in a meeting with the Election Commission (EC) of Bangladesh on electoral reforms on October 25, 2007, there are presently no war criminals in Bangladesh and in fact anti-liberation forces were never even existed.

Ali Ahsan Mujahidi, the Secretary General of the Jamaat-e-Islami, an Islamic fundamentalist party in Bangladesh and the former social welfare minister from 2001-2006 in the last four-party alliance government, further denied his association against liberation of Bangladesh and added that late Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had declared only 195 Pakistani soldiers as war criminals in the liberation war of Bangladesh who later were pardoned and repatriated to Pakistan through Bhutto-Indira Simla pact.

In a similar remark in an interview with a Dhaka based Bengali daily newspaper on August 8, 2007, Matiur Rahman Nizami, chief of Jamaat-e-Islami and former Industrial Minister, blasted how could they be called or accused as war criminals whether none has even filed a general diary with the police against them.

Talking with this top two major identity and their association during the liberation war according to the various local or international reports, features, sources, speeches and statements of those accused of war crimes, and the finds of different probes including the People's Enquiry Commission, both of them, however, were not physically presence in the every killing-campaign proceedings, looting or raping but also were at the center-stage of the anti liberation campaign by helping and providing all necessaries to the Pakistan army with the leadership of Jamaat-e-Islami's student wing.

They and their Dhaka murderers in the Al-Badr and Al-Shams were directly involved of the killings of renowned academics, litterateurs, doctors, engineers, journalists and other eminent personalities with a view to leave the nation intellectually crippled on December 14, 2007.

There are much more evidence and allegations can be submitted including for the others senior Jamaat leaders Abdus Sobhan, Moulana Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, Abdul Kader Molla and Muhammad Kamaruzzaman who were in the delegation to the EC have been charged with war crimes. They all refused to accept that parties on the basis of religion and war criminals will be disqualified to do politics or to contest or even to cast vote in any national elections in Bangladesh. In addition, they reminded that the constitution of Bangladesh does not support the demand since Islam is the state religion and 90 percent of the populations are Muslims.

When a person or a group is involved against national, racial or religious groups to destroy their political and social institutions, culture, language, national feelings, religion, economic existence, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups, what left to mark them as criminals or war criminals? Anti liberation forces in Bangladesh were actively involved to destroy the essential foundations of Bangladesh, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves.

The world has seen genocide, but the worst genocide in the annals of history, in 1971, could not have been carried out by the Pakistani army only. Local allies of the Pakistan army helped in the attempted extermination.

According to the July 30, 1971 of the New York Times issue, the Pakistani government recruited more than 22,000 Razakars of a planned force of 35,000. Politically Razakar were composed with the fundamentalist members and supporters from the whole country by the Pakistani military and they were the predecessors of today¢s Talibans. Members of both the forces, Razakars and Talibans, were recruited, trained and inducted in the same process.

Jamaat had been constitutionally banned in Bangladesh up to 1976 since the independence of the country, until late president Ziaur Rahman, who was the chief martial law administrator at the time, reinstated it in mainstream politics despite their fundamentalist ideology. It has steadily rebuilt itself into a strong political force, and was often courted by other parties for support in elections and first came to share state power with BNP in 2001 as part of the immediate past ruling alliance.

The major political parties in the country Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), Jatioy Party (JP) or even the Awami League (AL), which is supposed to associate closely with the issues of liberation war and its spirit and aspirations of independence, freely did include, within their folds, persons with serious questionable roles in the liberation war. It is not the victory of such persons or religious based political groups rather than the failure of secular democratization when parties like AL need to sign a 5-point pact with Shaikhul Hadis Allama Azizul Haq, leader of Bangladesh Khelafat Majlish (BKH) on December 23, 2006.

No one has anything to say when election commissioner M Sakhawat Hussain suggested the Jatiya Party (Manju) delegation at the same dialog on electoral laws reforms to produce the list of convicted war criminals before demanding that they should be barred from contesting polls.

Meanwhile, a case was filed in the Federal Court of Australia on September 20, 2006 under the Genocide Conventions Act 1949 and War Crimes Act, alleged crimes of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity during 1971 by the Pakistani Armed Forces and its collaborators. This is the first time in history that someone named Raymond F Solaiman is attending a court proceeding in relation to the crimes of Genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity during 1971.

Recently, United States Senate has adopted a legislation titled "Denying Safe Havens to International and War Criminals Act of 1999". In where for the first time, it has empowered the Attorney General, among others, to transfer international criminals in custody for prosecution. The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) of US is denying admission or removing aliens who have committed torture abroad.

To further consolidate their grip on the country, the defeated forces of the 1971 liberation war are now carrying out bomb attacks across Bangladesh. They don't believe in democracy, rather they use it as a way of surviving, and propagating their views. Their main aims are the destruction of democracy and the implantation of a totalitarian state based on Shariah law.

Although the leader of Jamat-e-Islam Golam Azam¢s citizenship was revoked, the whole political scenario was changed after the assassination of Sheikh Mujibar Rahman. General Ziaur Rahman granted Golam-Azam Bangladeshi citizenship, released all the war criminals imprisoned on various criminal charges and by amending the constitution allowed them to be involved in politics. Many of them awarded and posted with high designation both nationally and internationally.

Earlier on March 27, 2007, when some freedom fighters at a tea party demanded that the war criminals be prosecuted, Chief of Army Staff Gen Moeen U Ahmed said he would bring up the issue at meetings with the government high-ups.

It's not a time to be lenient towards war criminals as the crimes like genocides and the movements against humanity that can make Bangladesh to be an orthodox Islamic republic, negating the concept of secular Bengali nationhood, which was the basis of the liberation war, are not good.
Ripan Kumar Biswas is a freelance writer based in New York
E Mail :

Sunday, October 28, 2007

It was a War of Liberation

Source: Daily Star
October 28, 2007

It was a War of Liberation not a civil war
Nation must resist all attempts to denigrate it

Only the day before yesterday Mr. Mojaheed, the Jamaat secretary-general unabashedly denied that there were any war criminals or anti-liberation forces in Bangladesh.

And lo and behold, yesterday an erstwhile secretary to the government, whose comments about 1971 make him appear to be of the same ilk as Jamaat, had the temerity to characterise the nine-month long struggle as a civil war while participating in a talk show hosted by a private TV channel! We cannot believe that the gentleman is unaware of the criteria that constitute a civil war. We resent his dubious attempt to confuse the issue after 35 years.

Ours was the culmination of a struggle for independence that took roots in 1948, manifested through the language movement and subsequent struggles against the iniquitous rule by the Pakistani military junta. 1971 was not an internecine war but a war of liberation, a resistance against an occupation army, that was participated by all and sundry, both in and outside the country. There was no divide among us; we were united as one nation after March 26 and the beginning of genocide, except of course the likes of Jamaat and its cohorts.

We cannot but feel that these comments, some of which were made with the arrogance of an unrepentant collaborator let off the hook, appear as if they have been well planned and well orchestrated to launch an assault on the very spirit of our war of independence.

These utterances have denigrated our Liberation War. We reject both the notions. We feel that there has never been an act or comment in recent times that deserved more contempt than these. We join the nation in expressing our utmost disdain.

We regret that old wounds have been reopened. In belittling 1971 the blood of the martyrs has been defiled. It is a sad story that those who had helped in the carnage in 1971 have the gumption to renew their assault on the nation. It is because they have been politically rehabilitated. Are we not to be blamed for allowing them the political space because of the very narrow partisan interest of one political party or the other?

Those that have allowed these collaborators to reestablish themselves must reexamine their position, and all those that helped the occupation forces in the mayhem in 1971 must accept their role and seek forgiveness from the nation for their misdeeds.

Giti Ara Chowdhury: The New Godfather

Courtesy of: Shada Kalo

Dr. Mahbub Islam, a Ph.D. in Economics from Boston's Northeastern University and a tenured professor at St. Francis University in Pennsylvania moved back with his wife to Bangladesh a few years ago. He taught at a local university, and invested his hard-earned dollars into a realestate development company. He also built a building in Gulshan, and rented parts of it to Giti Ara Chowdhury and her husband. She is an adviser in the current CTG, and her husband was an MP in the BNP government. Mrs. Chowdhury has another identity: she is the sister-in-law of the chief adviser.So we have the Army's chief of staff, Gen. Moeen, and the CA, Dr. Fakhruddin Ahmed, exhorting NRBs to invest in Bangladesh, while we have Mrs. Chowdhury, an adviser in the government and her husband violently attacking this university professor and trying to usurp his property.

Read the rest from here:

সবকিছু চুরি হয়ে গেছে

সবকিছু চুরি হয়ে গেছে, কেবল স্বত্বাটি ডাকাতি হওয়ার বাকি
সূত্র: প্রথম প্রকাশ সচলায়তনে

লেখার কোন ভূমিকা দেবার প্রয়োজন বোধ করছিনা। আজ মন বড়ই বিক্ষিপ্ত। সারা রাত গাছের পাতারা ঘর ছেড়েছে, আর আমি ঘরে বসে অন্তর্জালে ছুটে বেড়িয়েছি আর দেখেছি ১৯৭১ এর ভিডিওগুলি। ঘরে-বাইরে আজ নিস্তরঙ্গ প্রকৃতি, কিন্তু আমার হৃদয় যোগ্যতর হয়েও পরাজয়ের ক্ষোভে উত্তাল। আমার সব প্রাপ্তি, সব গৌরব আজ অসার হওয়ার পথে। মুক্তিযুদ্ধ আমি দেখিনি। মুক্তিযুদ্ধ আমার প্রজন্মের কেউই দেখেনি। মুক্তিযোদ্ধাদের আজ আর দেখা যায় না-- স্বাধীন দেশে আজ পরাজিত হায়েনারা ক্রুর হাসি দেয়-- বলে একাত্তরে কোন যুদ্ধাপরাধী ছিলনা। হায়েনার হাসিতে আমার ঘুম টুটে যায়, আমি অস্বস্তি অনুভব করি। মুক্তিযুদ্ধের সবচেয়ে বড় বেনিফিসিয়ারি হিসেবে যে মাটির বুকে দাঁড়িয়ে হাসতে হাসতে মুক্ত বাতাস দিয়ে বুক ভরাতাম, সে বাতাস আজ বিষাক্ত মনে হচ্ছে।

মুক্তিযুদ্ধের ফসল আমার মত আর যারা উপভোগ করছি তাদের অনেকের কাছেই মুক্তিযুদ্ধ হয়তো ততটা উচ্চ কোন বিষয় নয়, যতটা আমার বাবা-চাচাদের কাছে। আমাদের অনেকের কাছে মুক্তিযুদ্ধ সেই অর্থে অর্থবহ হয়ে ওঠেনা। কিন্তু একটি বার ভেবে দেখুন, মুক্তিযুদ্ধে একজন মা তার চোখের সামনে হায়েনার বেয়নেটের আঘাতে হারিছিলেন তার শিশু সন্তান-- মনে করুন আপনিই ছিলেন সেই শিশুটি; একজন মতিউরের কথা ভাবুন যিনি দেশের কথা ভেবেই প্রিয়তমাকে ছেড়ে উড়াল দিয়েছিলেন মৃত্যুনীল আকাশে; ভেবে দেখুন বিশ্ববদ্যালয়ের মাঠে সারি করে যে ছাত্রদের গুলি করে মারা হয়েছিল, তাঁদের কেউ হতে পারতেন আপনার বাবা, বড় ভাই, কিংবা আপনজন.. নাহ্ আর ভাবতে পারিনা...

আজ সেই দোসরদের কমান্ডাররা বলে মুক্তিযুদ্ধের সময় নাকি কোন যুদ্ধাপরাধী ছিলনা। আর তাই শুনে আমাদের দেশপ্রেমিক রাজনৈতিক দল, দেশপ্রেমিক সুশীল সমাজ, দেশপ্রেমিক সব বাহিনী চুপচাপ বসে আছে। শির আজ আমাদের নতশির। আমাদের সবকিছুই আজ চুরি হয়ে গেছে শুধু স্বত্বাটি বাকি। দিনে দিনে এভাবেই ঝরাপাতার মত মলিন হয়ে হারিয়ে যাবে মুক্তিযুদ্ধের স্বার্থকতা, মুক্তিযুদ্ধের গর্বগাঁথা। হায়েনারা বংশবিস্তার করবে ব্যাকটেরিয়ার মত। তারপর একসময় বলবে ধর ওদের যারা বুকে মুক্তিযুদ্ধ ধারন করে।

Saturday, October 27, 2007

জামাতী যুদ্ধাপরাধীদের বিচার

যুদ্ধাপরাধী রাজাকার জামাতীদের বিচার হয়নি বলে তারা যে বিচারের উর্ধ্বে নয় তা প্রমাণের এতোটা উপযুক্ত সময় আগে কখনও আসেনি। গতকাল রাজাকার মুজাহিদ যে বক্তব্য রেখেছেন তার পেছনে যে প্রতিক্রিয়াশীল শক্তির প্রচ্ছন্ন পৃষ্ঠপোষকতা আছে তা আংগুল দিয়ে দেখাবার কোন প্রয়োজন নেই। দেশ স্বাধীন হওয়ার ৩৬ বছর পর রাজাকার-আলবদর যুদ্ধাপরাধী তাদের ছানাপোনাদের আচরণ এখন নেক বেশী উদ্ধত। এতে হতাশ হলেও অবাক হওয়ার কিছু নেই। অন্তত: মুজাহিদ যে খোলা চ্যালেঞ্জ দিয়ে দিলেন তার দাঁত ভাংগা জবাব দেয়ার সময় এসেছে।

তিরিশ লাখ লোক প্রাণ দিল আর তার বিনিময়ে রাজাকার-জামাতীরা ইসলামের পসরা সেজে জাতীয়তাবাদীদের ঘাড়ে শাখামৃগের মতো আরোহন করে দেশরক্ষার মায়াকান্না দিয়ে যাচ্ছে। কখনও একবারও শুনবেন না এদের মুখ থেকে যে ভুল সিদ্ধান্ত নিয়েছিল এরা। জামাতীরা যখন এদেশের মা-বোনকে পাকিস্তানী হানাদার বাহিনীর পায়ে ইয়ানত হিসেবে তুলে দিয়ে দেশসেবা করেছিল। নৃশংসভাবে হত্যা করেছিল নিরপরাধ মানুষদের। কোন অনুশোচনা নেই এই পশুপোষ্যদের মুখে। কি ভয়াবহ নির্বিকার অনুভূতি। কি নির্লজ্জতা।

জিয়ার সামরিক সরকার বৈধতার সন্ধানে ইসলামী জাতীয়তাবাদী থিওরী প্রবর্তন করার সুবাদে সকল নিমকহারাম যুদ্ধাপরাধী রাজাকাররা হয়ে গেল দেশপ্রেমী জাতীয়তাবাদী । পূনর্বাসিত হলো তারা। তারা কোন জনমে কোন অপরাধ করেছিল না কি? ইতিহাস বিকৃতির উৎসব চলছে। মুক্তিযুদ্ধের প্রান্তিকীকরণ চলছে। হালকা করে দিতে চায় মুক্তিযুদ্ধের সংগ্রামী ইতিহাস। তাই, এসব রাজাকারদের ব্যাধির নিরাময় করার দরকার। দরকার আরেকটি মুক্তিযুদ্ধের। সকল নিমকহারাম রাজাকার ও তাদের পোষ্যদের নিপাত না হওয়া পর্যন্ত চলুক আরেকটি যুদ্ধ। শুরু হোক তাদের মুখোশ খুলে দিয়ে তাদের আসল চেহারা তুলে ধরার। বিচারের এই দাবীকে প্রাতিষ্ঠানিক রুপ দিতে আজকের সচেতন প্রজন্ম যে অনেক বেশী প্রস্তুত তা আমাদের সবার মনে জন্ম দিচ্ছে নতুন প্রত্যয় ও প্রত্যাশা।

বর্তমান তত্বাবধায়ক সরকার বিএনপি-জামাত মোর্চার এক্সটেনশন তার প্রমান চোখের সামনেই আছে। ফখরুদ্দীন আহমেদ নিজে স্বাধীনতার পরও বহু বছর পাকিস্তানী সরকারের চাকরি করেছেন। মঈন আহমদে নিজে সেখানকার গ্র্যাজুয়েট। তাদের বায়োডাটাতে তা জলজল করে জ্বলছে। মঈনুল হোসেন তো নিজে জামাতীদের ব্যাপারে অন্ধ। আরেক উপদেস্টা জেনারেল মতিন তাদের সপক্ষে ক'দিন আগে সাফাই গেয়ে গেলেন। সামরিক গোয়েন্দা প্রতিষ্ঠানের অন্যতম হর্তাকর্তা ক'দিন আগ পর্যন্ত ছিলেন যুদ্ধাপরাধী গোলাম আযমের ছেলে। আর এখন যারা আছেন তাদের সাথেও জামাতীদের দহরম মহরম আছে বলে পত্র পত্রিকায় রিপোর্ট প্রকাশিত হয়েছে।

সরকার যখন দূর্নীতির গান দিয়ে রাজনীতিবিদ শিকার শুরু করলো তাতে কিন্তু জামাতীদের পশমও ধরা হয়নি। চুনোপুটি দু'একজনকে শ্রীঘরে ঢুকালেও আমীররা সযতনে আছেন। চট্রগ্রামের কুখ্যাত জামাত নেতা শাহজাহান চৌধুরী কয়েক মিনিটের জন্য ফস্কে যায়, যখন অন্যদের জন্য দূর্নীতি দমন কমিশনে দুয়ার গোড়ায় যৌথ বাহিনী অধীর আগ্রহে অপেক্ষা করতে পেরেছে। জামাতের সাথে সন্ত্রাসীদের সংযোগ নিয়ে প্রামাণ্য তথ্য থাকলেও সরকার নির্বিকার। বিষয়টা বেশ স্পস্ট। ১/১১ ঘটল যখন সামরিক বাহিনী দেখল তাদের জাতীয়তাবাদী-জামাতী শিবির মুমূর্ষ অবস্থায় আছে। জামাতীদের হাত ধরে তাই নতুন জাতীয়তাবাদীরা পূনর্জন্ম লাভ করবে, ক্ষমতার দুধ ভাত খাবে। তাই, দুধ দিয়ে জামাতী সাপদের পোষা হচ্ছে।

বাংলাদেশের সবচেয়ে বড়ো ট্রাজেডী হচ্ছে রাজাকার জামাতীদের পূনর্বাসন। আর ইতিহাস সাক্ষী এটা হয়েছে পঁচাত্তরের পট পরিবর্তনের পর, তার আগে নয়। ১৯৭৫ আগে মুজাহিদ, কামরুজ্জামান, সাঈদী আর গোলাম আযম কোথায় থাকতেন? সামরিক সরকারগুলো তাদের রাজনৈতিক বৈধতার জন্য বারবার মৌলবাদ জামাতীদেরকে ব্যবহার করেছে। এখনও যদি ব্যবহার করে তাহলে অবাক হওয়ার কিছু নেই। সেনাবাহিনীতে জামাতীদের ক্রমবর্ধমান প্রভাব-প্রতিপত্তি দেশের স্বাধীনতা ও সংহতির জন্য বিশাল হুমকি। তাই, বর্তমান সময়েও জামাতের মুজাহিদরা আশংকায় বাস করে না। তাদের দূর্নীতি কারও চোখে পড়ে না। তাদের দলেও কোন সংস্কারের দরকার হয় না। কারণ, খুবই স্পস্ট। তারা এসব দুনিয়াবী দাবী ও ম্যান্ডেটের উর্ধ্বে বাস করে। তাদের এনজিওগুলোর কোন তদন্ত হয় না। জেএমবি'র সাথে ইসলামী ব্যাংকের লেনদেনের সম্পর্ক থাকলেও সেই তদন্ত ধামাচাপা পড়ে থাকে। দশ ট্রাক অস্ত্র পাচারের মামলাও চাপা পড়ে থাকে। অসংখ্য প্রামাণ্য তথ্য দিয়ে এই লেখার পাতা ভরে দেয়া যাবে। তবে অন্ধজনে আলো দেয়ার চেস্টা বৃথা। মুক্তিযুদ্ধ, স্বাধীনতা,দেশপ্রেম, সার্বভৌমত্ব- এসব প্রত্যয়গুলো গোষ্ঠীগত স্বার্থে সংরক্ষিত। জামাতী যুদ্ধাপরাধীদের বিচার আর মৌলবাদী অপশক্তিকে নিশ্চিহ্ন না করা পর্যন্ত তাদের উদ্ধত আচরণ সহ্য করতে হবে। আর যদি তাদের এই আচরণ অসহ্য মনে হয়, তাহলে আরেকটি যুদ্ধে নামতে হবে যাতে এসব যুদ্ধাপরাধীদেরকে ঝেঁটিয়ে চিরতরের জন্য বাংলার মাটি থেকে বিদায় করা যায়।

Friday, October 26, 2007

Jamaat is Innocent!!

Jamaat's no war criminal claim trashed

Dhaka, Oct 26 ( – Campaigners against war crimes and communalism Friday rubbished Jamaat-e-Islami's claim that there were no war criminals and anti-liberation forces in the country.

They said such claims amounted to sedition since the constitution clearly spelled out provisions for trying war criminal.

The leaders of Ekatturer Ghatak Dalal Nirmul Committee and South Asian People's Conference against Fundamentalism and Communalism in a joint statement accused Mujahid of giving "false, motivated and provocative statement dishonouring the history and spirit of the independence war".

The statement demanded a special tribunal to try war criminals and a ban on politics based on religion.

Jamaat secretary general Ali Ahsan Mohammed Mujahid made the claim Thursday at a meeting with the Election Commission. In a post-meeting briefing, Mujahid repeated his statement.

The Awami League and its allies and various social organisations recently asked the Election Commission through the media not to allow any war criminal or communal group in the next elections.

The AL is expected to formally raise the issue before the commission during a meeting with the top polls office slated for Nov 4.

"Apart from war crime Mujahid committed treason" by giving such a statement, the statement said.

"We think Mujahid's statement was not only audacious but it also amounted to a vile attack on the history and spirit of the liberation war and the existence of Bangladesh," it continued.

"It is well documented that 30 lakh people were killed and more than two lakh women raped during the independence war. The leaders and workers of Jamaat-e-Islami, Muslim League and Nezame Islami collaborated with the Pakistani occupation forces in 1971."

"The proofs of their war crimes are recorded in the pages of the Dainik Sangram, the mouthpiece of Jamaat-e-Islami," the statement said.

"Alongside collaborating with the Pakistani forces in genocide and torture, Jamaat also killed freedom fighters and intellectuals by forming Razakar, Al Badr and Al Shams as part of the party initiative."

The signatories to the statement included Prof Kabir Chowdhury, women rights leader Hena Das, Justice KM Sobhan, Advocate Gaziul Haque, Kalim Sharafi, Prof Ajoy Roy, Major Gen (retd) CR Dutta, journalist Kamal Lohani, Prof Hasan Azizul Huq, Qayyum Chowdhury, Syed Shamsul Huq, Rabiul Hussain, Ferdousi Priyobhasini and Abul Barak Alvi.

War crime charges

War crime charges in focus before Bangladesh polls
Fri Oct 26, 2007
By Anis Ahmed

DHAKA (Reuters) - Decades-old allegations of support for Pakistan in its 1971 battle to maintain control of Bangladesh and complicity in war crimes in that conflict are taking on a new life ahead of elections planned for next year.

In line with the "roadmap" of the country's army-backed interim government for the polls expected around the end of 2008, the Election Commission has been talking with major political parties on reform plans that include registration of parties.

The Awami League -- one of Bangladesh's main parties which led the then East Pakistan to independence through the nine-month 1971 war -- has asked the commission not to register any party that sided with or supported the Pakistani army against Bengali nationalists.

Many Bangladeshis charge Jamaat-e-Islami, the country's biggest religion-based political party, with opposing independence from Pakistan in 1971 and complicity with the Pakistani army in killings, rape and other alleged atrocities.

However, since independence Jamaat has steadily rebuilt itself into a strong political force, and was often courted by other parties for support in elections.

Jamaat always denied war crime charges, and on Thursday Jamaat secretary-general Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid said: "Bangladesh has never had any anti-independence elements nor any war criminals."

Mujahid, a minister in the government of former prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia, also told reporters after a meeting with the election commissioners that the "demand for not registering any party on religious grounds is illegal and unacceptable".

The Awami League -- the political vehicle of former prime minister Sheikh Hasina -- and its allies want a ban on parties like Jamaat from the coming election.

Acting Awami League chief Zillur Rahman, reacting to Mujahid's comments, said the "whole nation knows what their (Jamaat's) role was during the war, in which three million people were killed and thousands of women lost their chastity."

"The (election commission) must ban them ... should it want to hold a truly free and fair election, and keep the spirit of independence alive."

Jamaat was a key ally in the government of Khaleda, who ended her five-year term in October last year.

The Awami Leage and other critics have also claimed Jamaat harboured Islamist militants linked to a wave of bombings in Bangladesh in late 2005 which killed dozens of people and wounded hundreds, accusations it has denied.

Hasina and Khaleda are currently in jail, awaiting trial for alleged corruption, charges they say are unfounded and politically motivated.

(Additional reporting by Ruma Paul)

Jamat denies its role in 1971

Fundamentalist Jamaat denies its role in 1971. Watch this video (Bangla) that shows how Jamaati war criminals collaborated with Pakistani army in mass killing in 1971:

Daily Star reports:
Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh yesterday said they did not work against the Liberation War in 1971 and claimed that there is no war criminal in the country.

"In fact anti-liberation forces never even existed," Jamaat Secretary General Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid told reporters coming out of the talks with the Election Commission (EC) on electoral reforms.

According to newspaper reports, speeches and statements of those accused of war crimes, and the finds of different probes including the People's Enquiry Commission, Mujahid, who was president of East Pakistan Islami Chhatra Shangha and chief of the infamous Al Badr Bahini back in 1971, helped the occupying Pakistan army carry out massacre, looting and rape.

Only two days before the war ended, he led the killings of renowned academics, litterateurs, doctors, engineers, journalists and other eminent personalities with a view to leave the nation intellectually crippled.

Senior Jamaat leaders Abdus Sobhan, Moulana Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, Abdul Kader Molla and Muhammad Kamaruzzaman who were in the delegation to the EC yesterday have been charged with war crimes.

Jamaat Amir Matiur Rahman Nizami was the president of Islami Chhatra Shangha (Islamic Students' Organisation) in 1971. Al-Badr Bahini was set up under his direct supervision. He became the commander-in-chief of the paramilitary force designed to eliminate the freedom fighters, reads the report of the People's Enquiry Commission, a body formed in 1993 with eminent citizens to investigate into the activities of the war criminals and the collaborators.

Since the independence Jamaat had been constitutionally banned in Bangladesh till 1976.

Asked about the growing demand for declaring the anti-liberation forces and war criminals disqualified from contesting the national elections, the Jamaat secretary general yesterday said, "The constitution does not support the demand since Islam is the state religion and 90 percent of the population are Muslims. Besides, there is no war criminal in the country now."

Referring to the charges against them, Mujahid said, "These are all false and ill-motivated." He said after the Liberation War the then government had identified 195 people as war criminals and all of them were members of the Pakistan army.

Asked what role his party played during the war, he evaded a direct answer and instead asked the journalists to find it out. "No-one should give a distorted picture of the past," observed Mujahid, also a former minister.

Jamaat, which was in the last government as part of the BNP-led four-party alliance, participated in the electoral reform talks amid different political parties calling for the EC not to allow any religion-based political party to register with it.

In response to the call, Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) ATM Shamsul Huda last month said though the war criminals should have been tried immediately after independence, successive governments did not move to bring them to trial.

Earlier on March 27, when some freedom fighters at a tea party demanded that the war criminals be prosecuted, Chief of Army Staff Gen Moeen U Ahmed said he would bring up the issue at meetings with the government high-ups.


During the talks at the EC Secretariat conference room, Jamaat said due to slow pace of the voter roll preparation the commission might not be able to implement its electoral roadmap that aims to hold the long-stalled parliamentary polls by December next year.

It placed a five-point recommendation including the one for having the voter list prepared by June through increased involvement of the armed forces, teachers, and imams of local mosques.

It suggested bringing about a democratic climate by allaying fear among the political parties.

People want the election to be held as early as possible. The sooner the polls, the better it is for the nation, argued the Jamaat leaders.

In reply, the EC assured them that they would take measures to speed up enumeration and a voter list with photographs would be ready in time.

In its written proposals, Jamaat suggested that the EC raise the election expenditure ceiling for a candidate to Tk 25 lakh from present Tk 5 lakh.

"The election expenses are a major obstacle to honest candidates and political parties," the Jamaat secretary general noted adding that the current expenditure limit is silly.

The CEC said the EC wants to see the elections free from influence of money. "We have come up with the proposal for reducing the length of electioneering since it will bring down the expenditure," he said.

Jamaat also proposed setting the ceilings on donation to the political parties at Tk 10 lakh for an individual and Tk 50 lakh for an institution.

According to the EC proposals, no individual would be allowed to contribute more than Tk 5 lakh in cash or assets or service to a single registered political party while the amount will be no more than Tk 25 lakh for a contributing institution or a business entity.

The party demanded that the commission simplify the political parties' registration by scrapping all criteria proposed to that end. It wants the EC to allow every party to register and then place them under observation during the next national election to see if they qualify for registration.

The Jamaat leaders said registration of a political party should be cancelled if it fails to obtain at least two percent of the total votes cast in the polls.

They also opposed elections to upazila parishad before the parliamentary polls.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Gen Moeen at Mysterious Harvard Seminar

General Moeen's Mysterious Harvard Seminar

When Bangladeshi news media reported that the Bangladesh's first four star general Gen. Moeen U. Ahmed would deliver a seminar at the prestigious Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government (KSG), we the Bangladeshi Diaspora were delighted. We were reported that the Harvard University invited our "strongman" to deliver a historic speech on crisis management of democracy that would be a model for nations to adopt. We echoed with General's emotions that it would bring prestige to Bangladesh military and would build up our much needed image abroad. It would be historic event as the Harvard's 1st woman President Drew Gilpin Faust in her inaugural speech on October 12, 2007 launched many special initiatives for Asia and we were pleased that our General would lead the President's Asian initiatives.

We were proud and happy at the news and therefore, we called the President's Office to thank her. Unfortunately her office appeared to have no knowledge of our General's scheduled talk. Being frustrated, we contacted other offices of The John F. Kennedy School of Government basically to get an invitation to listen to his historic speech. But to our dismay, we were told that the Bangladeshi general had no public forum or there was no scheduled talk at the university. We were further told that he might have been privately invited by a lecturer of the university for his class. The university administration had no knowledge of it.

Rumors spread quickly. Bangladeshi Diaspora of Boston reported that Professor Sumantra Bose of the Harvard University belonging to West Bengal had requested another well liked Bengali educationist, Dr. Gowher Rizvi, Director of the Harvard's Ash Center of Governance and Innovation to sponsor a public forum for the Bangladeshi General. Few months ago, he arranged a seminar for Professor Rehman Sobhan of Bangladesh. However, when we searched the Ash Center's program events, we did not find any public seminar with General Moeen Ahmed. Instead we find that there was a seminar on "Muslims in America" on October 17th. Our frustration prompted us to call the Center. They politely stated that no Bangladeshi general is their guest speaker at this time. We also inquired at The John F. Kennedy School of Government but of no avail. The mystery intensified.

We were simply stunned at it. Our hopes and expectations got a jolt. How a set program could be so illusive? Following our national leaders especially our Law Advisor Moinul Hossain we immediately thought that there must be a "conspiracy" to undermine Bangladesh and Islam. We speculated it could be The RAW of India might be behind it!! Others quipped that the Bangladesh Embassy officials belonging to BNP-AL might have foiled his scheduled talk at the KSG. To justify our hunch we concocted arguments. When General Moeen arrived in Boston he was neither been accompanied by the Bangladesh Ambassador, nor the PR, nor the Consul General. Secondly, we thought since former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's son Sajeeb Wazed Joy is a student at the Kennedy School, he might have foiled it. However, his classmates reported that they were very busy with Mid-term exams. Third, the AL and the BNP supporters might have arranged a massive protest owing to which the Harvard University cancelled it. But fact of the matter is, there was no protest, no demonstrations. Interestingly, the local AL Vice President Abul Kalam Azad received General Moeen at the airport. More importantly, we learned that in the 300 plus years history of the Harvard University they never ever withdrew any invitation once it was issued even against all odds and protests. Does it mean that the General's much celebrated trip was a "hoax" or a total lie?

We don't know who tried to foil our General's program or malign our General. Recently, three stories became public about Gen. Moeen. First one pertaining to his receiving loans of Tk. 99 lakh from the Trust Bank that is recorded in the bank's audit statement submitted to the government, the Bangladesh Bank and the Security Exchange. Second, the re-appointment of his elder brother at the Trust Bank of which he is the ex-officio Chairperson and Director thus violating the government regulation that no two family members could be appointed as Directors of the same bank. Third, his brother-in-law grabbed properties of a few people in Maulvibazar by misusing his power. Are these true or manipulated? It is charged that Bangladesh officials that we trust often do manipulate things to meet the wishes of their boss, the rich and the

As per reports, he was invited by a Harvard lecturer who is rumored to be appointed as a Consultant in Bangladesh. The said lecturer is an authority on election reform and US congressional issues. He also takes classes of freshmen lawmakers. It is reported that our General would attend one of his classes along with his students. Each teacher in American universities or colleges routinely invites guest speakers in his/her classes and Gen. Moeen might have got such an invitation. Who knows?

We also checked the KSG bulletin boards. The 2-days that our general would be around Harvard, the KSG will be hosting nearly 7 public seminars and none on issues relating to South Asia or Bangladesh. They had an event on Bangladesh on October 13, the Eid day--- a public lecture of Nobel Laureate Dr. Muhammad Yunus.

Apparently General Moeen did not arrange any meeting with any leader of Massachusetts or of the U. S. Other than Congressman Crowley of New York, he has no appointments either with any U. S. Senators or US Congressmen/women, or with senior State Department officials. Nor there is any especial meeting with the Pentagon or with senior US Army officers as per media reports. He is visiting the U. S. at a time when nine U.S. lawmakers have placed a bill to allow tax-free imports from developing countries including Bangladesh and his courtesy meetings with the US lawmakers could help passing of such bill. However, he refrained from such lobbying. Then question is; why he made such a long trip to US when his each minute is so precious and crucial?

He had a "secret public appearance" for nearly 50 minutes at a location in Holbrook a tiny town, away from Boston on October 21. The guests were instructed to maintain utmost secrecy of the event. The reason for such secrecy is reportedly due to their fear that if Bangladeshi Diaspora knows about the event, they would stage protest demonstrations as they did in Florida.

It was a private dinner party arranged by one Mr. Shaheen Khan, a convenience store owner and more importantly, Mr. Khan is a friend of General's younger brother that lives in Florida. Reportedly this was arranged to thank the General as Mr. Khan's uncle, Nurul Islam, a sacked Secretary to Begum Khaleda Zia has been reinstated. Other than family members, nearly 25/30 local people were invited at the dinner and everybody had to finish their eating before Gen. Moeen enters the venue at 9:15 PM. Private security was arranged by Mr. Khan. However, TV cameramen and selected journalists were invited at the event.

It is an irony that General Moeen, the man who started jihad against corruption and corrupt people was welcomed at the dinner party by none other than a businessman who made his fortunate through bankruptcy and defrauding creditors. He was a real estate developer in 1980s and he collected millions of dollars from thousands of people including many Bangladeshis with the promise to double/triple their investments. Unfortunately, once funds were collected, he
declared bankruptcy and his Ivy Inc. was closed down. For nearly 12 years, he stayed away from public eyes. However, in recent days, he emerged and is currently a leader of the Bangladesh Islamic Society of New England. General Moeen might not know that the man who welcomed him and solicited his help for investment in Bangladesh once defrauded his customers, his bank, and his one time well wishers. Local TV and print media covered it widely when even his lawyer was jailed for fraud.

It is rumored that General's mission to the U. S. is to meet Sheikh Hasina's family members. He visited Florida where his only son, his younger brother and also Hasina's daughter live. At Harvard, it is rumored that he wanted to meet Sajeeb Wazed Joy. It is rumored that instead of a private meeting Joy suggested an open meeting. The General, therefore, have reportedly invited all the four Bangladeshi students of The John F. Kennedy School of Government to have luncheon with him on October 23, the day of his departure to China. It is believed that after this meeting, he would decide as to how to deal with Sheikh Hasina, the leader of the AL party now under detention. It may be mentioned that as per media reports, Joy met Indian Foreign Minister during his trip to New York few weeks ago and that might prompted General Moeen to have a face-to-face dialogue with Joy. General Moeen while answering a question at the Holbrook private dinner jokingly stated that there could be many changes in the next 14 months - a king can die, even a hoarse can fly (something impossible). Now who knows what is next.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Jago Bangladesh

Suddenly an obscured Jago Bangladesh is coming to the limelight. The army chief General Moeen U. Ahmed attended a dinner party and reception sponsored by this self-proclaimed non-political group during his stop over at London last week. It reminisces Notun Bangla under General Ershad, at least the name holds the emblem. Jago Bangladesh websites have been inaugurated in the USA, Europe and the Middle East by the Expatriates. Suddenly, a Jago Bangladesh is blaming traditional party politics for failed democracies without acknowledging the fact that the both Army Generals Zia and Ershad pioneered autocracy and polluted democracy. Can Bangladesh afford another army bred regime in the name of democracy? Watch General Moeen's address at Jago Bangladesh:

Sing for Hope

Nobel Laureate Dr. Mohammed Yunus along with his daughter Monica Yunus appeared in a concert organized by Sing for Hope in New York's Time Square on October 12th to collect money for poor girl children in Bangladesh. Monica is the Co-director of Sing for Hope. It is a unique initiative started by opera singers with a desire to use their music for social change, Sing for Hope supports artists who create events that benefit humanitarian causes. Our motto is “Uniting Artists, Uniting Communities.” Watch this news coverage by NTV News in Bangla:

Monday, October 22, 2007

Can a Truth Commission help Bangladesh?

Can a Truth Commission help Bangladesh?

SYLHET, October 22, 2007
Source: UPI Asia Online

Column: Humanity or Humor?
An ordinary citizen of Bangladesh, frustrated after a long job search in the public and private sectors, decided to establish a small factory to make cotton using cut pieces of fabric from garment factories. The man needed only a few things: a place for the factory, one or more cotton making machines, and an electricity supply to power the factory.

Having fulfilled the first two criteria, he went to the local office of the Power Development Board to apply for an electric connection. The engineer in charge asked for 75,000 taka (around US$1,000) for the approval of the electric connection. Officially the factory owner should have paid the government around 30,000 taka (about US$440) for the whole project.

Business begins with bribes -- this is an unavoidable fact to common businessmen in Bangladesh. Now the military-backed government is talking about establishing a Truth Commission in the country. The idea is to allow some kind of amnesty for the businessmen, according to Barrister Mainul Hosein, the government's Law and Information Adviser. Over the last few weeks this issue has been the hottest topic around.

At a recent meeting with the press Hosein reportedly said, "It is necessary to overcome the economic crisis through reconciliation with businessmen." He explained the idea of forming a commission where businessmen would confess their misdeeds as a means of dealing with major corruption charges, short of bringing them to trial. However, under questioning from reporters the adviser backed down, saying the law would not stipulate that the commission was only for businessmen.

No government official has, so far, clarified the idea of the Truth Commission beyond the barrister's remarks. The tight-lipped attitude of the government toward its talkative adviser suggests that the government itself is in the dark as to the purpose and function of such a body.

It may be too early to talk about this particular commission, as the government has not yet disclosed its structure or function. Yet it is necessary to assess the credibility of the institutions that implement the rule of law in the country, as well as the professionals and public servants involved in such institutions.

The role of the police, so far, has been to allow corrupt segments of society to compete with each other in the race of corruption, by themselves practicing corruption. In return for bribes, they allow offenders to commit crimes one after another; they work as musclemen for corrupt rich and influential groups to exploit and harass the common people, who are poor and helpless.

On one hand, the civil servants and professionals involved in implementing and upholding the laws of the land lost the public trust decades ago. The country's prosecution system is not only faulty and lacking skilled professionals, but also partisan by nature -- the judges, as part of a dysfunctional and lame judiciary, are incompetent to determine justice for its victims. Verdicts are products purchased by the rich in the courts, while the poor are destined to suffer for years for the crime of seeking justice.

On the other hand, the habit of misrule has established a culture of hiding the truth and distorting facts. People do not feel free to speak out for fear of harassment or abuse at the hands of public servants and even professionals who should protect them. This culture has resulted in a forced silence -- a social numbness all around.

The situation requires a monitoring authority, such as an ombudsman, to investigate the behavior of public servants and punish them automatically when misdeeds are discovered. The existing departmental procedures for holding such people accountable have completely failed to address the problems.

Common citizens of Bangladesh do not know who speaks the truth within the nation's legal institutions. Nobody knows who will benefit from the proposed Truth Commission. What will be the criteria for granting amnesty? What sort of solution will this commission bring to the nation's problems?

If the government creates a Truth Commission for the business community, then why not one also for the public servants and bureaucrats who create the problems for the businessmen and the citizens of all segments of society, who swim in a sea of corruption?

The nation has recently demonstrated its unique style of combating corruption by detaining a handful of people and putting them on trial. Meanwhile, hundreds of real champions of corruption remain protected by their loyalty to the armed forces. They are free to do what they will with their successful businesses and political positions.

The government has utterly failed to prove its credibility to the people or the media over the past ten months. Now it is planning to spend public money to set up another misguided and confused institution. Does anyone really think a Truth Commission can solve the prevailing problems in Bangladesh?
(Rater Zonaki is the pseudonym of a human rights defender living in Sylhet in Bangladesh who has been working on human rights issues in the country for more than a decade and who was a journalist in Bangladesh in the 1990s.)

DGFI & Bangladesh Politics

(We've selected this excerpt from an electronic discussion group to enlighten our readers about how military intelligence in Bangladesh is subverting political process to breed a new political landscape. We're not endorsing its contents and speculations. We think the readers need to look through all the facts on the basis of the realities from the past and present)
Directorate General of Forces Intelligence, an invisible Government and Breeding Spot of Fabrication of False Cases against targeted Politicians And Businessmen With The Object to De-popularize the Secular Democratic political Institution The Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) is an intelligence unit of Bangladesh Arm forces is headed by one Maj. General Golam Mohammad with his two closest associates (i) Brig. General Fazlul Bari (ii) Brig. General Amin having head quarter in Dhaka Cantonment. It has countrywide network based on all cantonments in Bangladesh.

This DGFI started to play various political games during the regimes of Lt. Gen. Ziaur Rahman (1975-1981) and Lt. Gen Hossain Mohammad Ershad (1981-1990). Both the generals in politics, ignoring all army service rules, from their office of chief of army staff formed political parties Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jatiyo Party (JP). Both of them adopted the same method to form their political parties. They used DGFI to call the leaders of various political parties, proposed to join king’s political parties or to suffer inhuman torture, prolong detention, false cases under special power act etc. If they join to king party there was reward of minister, important portfolio of government, profitable industries and business with the government Bank money etc. Many political leaders could not stand to their own political values but to surrender to the evil design of politics of the Generals. That is the main reason why and how the generals have made the politicians corrupt and the policies have become difficult for real politicians with real political values of serving the nation with dedications.

The new-rich politicians of king political parties created by those two generals Zia and Ershad were pioneer of rigging election and declaration of false result in favor of them by pouring their black money in to election conduct process rights from preparation of voter list, vote casting and publishing election result through huge bribing of election conducting government officials. In this way those two generals in politics acquired two third majorities in the parliament to ratify all illegal acts under Martial law regulation and ordinances. Now it has become a convention even for the real political leaders to depend upon money besides popular votes to win the election. Such prevailing situation in Bangladesh has been compelling many medium grade politicians to earn money in order to win the election. Here lies the main reason of political corruption. But it is astonishing to see that although the election conducting government officials are principal beneficiaries of electioneering corruption have been remaining untouched because of their continuation of all time power. The powerless politicians after losing their power under unconstitutional care taker government are the main victim without having opportunity of taking shelter in the Govt. tutored court.

The present DGFI has adopted more aggressive attitude under Army led care taker government than the previous martial law government. The people perception is DGFI is mainly guided by i) Brig. Gen. Bari and ii) Brig. amin. These two officers are closely linked with Jamat-E-Islami politics and it top brass Motiur Rahman Nizami. Their target is to promote Jamat to–power in next election at least through a coalition government.

(Read the Washington Post's article A New Hub for Terrorism: to see the documented linkage between Jamaat and the current DGFI). "What makes future prospects in Bangladesh especially alarming is that the Jamaat and its allies appear to be penetrating the higher ranks of the armed forces. Among many examples, informed journalists in Dhaka attribute Jamaat sympathies to Maj. Gen. Mohammed Aminul Karim, recently appointed as military secretary to President Iajuddin Ahmed, and to Brig. Gen. A.T.M. Amin, director of the Armed Forces Intelligence anti-terrorism bureau".)

With that target in view they are manipulating this government to prolong in power so that during this gap two popular parties Awami League and BNP can be broken in absence of its two party chief. In absence of those two party chiefs neither of the factions of those two parties will be able to form government independently with absolute majority in the next election. Such situation will bring favor to Jamat to form government and Bangladesh will turn in to Islamic state like Pakistan. During the last alliance government Jamat was a vital partner. Their involvement with fundamental militant activities is well known to national and international communities through mass media. But so far no Jamat leader has yet been arrested on militant charges reportedly under the direct shelter of Brig. Gen. Bari and Brig Gen. Amin. These two Brigadier’s General pose them in their private and official dialogue they are making the policies of the government in association with law adviser Mr. Moinul Hossain, Anti Corruption Commission Chairman Lt. Gen.(rtd) Hasan Mashud Chowdhury.

The DGFI in the name of so called Anti Corruption Drive slogan is arresting any of their targeted persons tightening their eyes, bringing to DGFI torture cell, throwing them naked in to ice cold black hole for hours together, next putting them in to hot chamber and electric shock center, interrogating alternately through couple of nights taking their written statements which is authorized by the tutored magistrate court to use it as confessional statement against themselves and their other political leaders to fabricate false cases with the charge of corruption. As per criminal Procedure code an arrested person must have to be produced before the nearest court within 24 hours after arrest. But DGFI is caring little to the binding of the law. They are picking a person in dead hour of nights with tights eyes taking him to unknown destination to their torture cell, detaining for couple of days without showing official arrest to avoid binding of law. This simply reign of terror has been prevailing in Bangladesh since 11 January 2007 like Sadam’s Iraq.

Law adviser Moinul Hossain is framing new laws and Anti Corruption Commission chairman Lt. Gen(rtd). Hasan Mashud Chowdhory is framing distorted or false cases to justify the notorious activities of DGFI. From past record it is known that Brig. Gen. Bari was Director of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) while Mr. Anwarul Iqbal, the present adviser of the care taker government was the Director General of RAB. They were the initiator of extra judicial mass killing. ACC chairman Lt. Gen (rtd). Hasan Mashud Chowdhury, as chief of staff of Army, also initiated extra judicial mass killing in the name of OPERATION CLEAN HEART. Mr. Mainul Hossain, the law adviser was also involved in several murders on the issues of ownership of the Daily Ittefaq with his younger brother Anwar Hossain Manju. It is a shared misfortune for the people of Bangladesh that the main those policy makers of the care taker government has little sense of humanity for their own goal and own egos.

Sheikh Hasina, the president of AL, a most popular political personality, a legendary honest prime minister of Bangladesh the people have ever seen is glaring example of victim of false cases and detention in jail after obtaining bail from the high court.

To save Bangladesh from such regime of terror, DGFI activities must have to be limited within arm forces only, immediate withdrawal of emergency rule, opening all political activities, releasing all political person to let them face trial on bail, holding election within very short time if necessary with supreme court directed updated voter list and hand over power to the people representatives. Those suggestions are the necessity of time to establish secular democracy and protection of Human Rights in Bangladesh.

Dynastic Voyage

Dynastic Voyage
by Hendrik Hertzberg

Source: The New Yorker
October 29, 2007

Generations Shortly after Hillary Rodham Clinton declared her candidacy for President last winter, Roger Cohen, writing in the International Herald Tribune, declared that “a delicate problem confronts her that few people are talking about: almost two decades of dynastic domination of American politics.” Well, they’re talking about it now. “Forty per cent of Americans have never lived when there wasn’t a Bush or a Clinton in the White House,” a recent Associated Press story, by Nancy Benac, begins. “Talk of Bush-Clinton fatigue is increasingly cropping up in the national political debate,” Benac goes on. “If Hillary Clinton were to be elected and reëlected, the nation could go twenty-eight years in a row with the same two families governing the country. Add the elder Bush’s terms as Vice-President, and that would be thirty-six years straight with a Bush or Clinton in the White House.” And a cover story in the Economist a couple of weeks ago, while noting that a woman President “would undoubtedly be a good thing for the country,” adds, ominously, “But there is a downside: dynasty.”

Ruling families are not supposed to be a big part of the picture in our democratic republic, whose very Constitution states firmly, “No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States.” Even so, we’ve dabbled in dynasties from the beginning, when the Lee family, of Virginia, got to work spawning two signers of the Declaration of Independence, three governors, two senators, nine members of Congress, and four Confederate generals, including Robert E. (The Lees’ Washington, Randolph, and Harrison in-laws won some elections, too.) The New Jersey Frelinghuysens are well into their third century of political droit du seigneur, from Frederick (born 1753), a delegate to the Continental Congress and later a United States senator, through Rodney (born 1946), a current member of the House of Representatives.

If anything, the dynastic dynamic has picked up speed in the past half century or so. It reached a perfect storm in 1962, when Massachusetts voters filled the Senate seat vacated by John F. Kennedy, grandson of Congressman and Mayor John F. Fitzgerald and son of Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy, when he was elected President—the very seat that, in 1952, J.F.K. had wrested from Senator Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., who was a great-great-great-grandson of Senator George Cabot, a grandson of the Senate titan Henry Cabot Lodge, and a son of George Cabot Lodge, who, though himself a poet, married a Frelinghuysen. (Are you following this?) The 1962 Democratic nominee for senator was, of course, Edward Moore Kennedy, then thirty years old. His Republican opponent was—wait for it—another George Cabot Lodge, this one a son of Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., and a great-great-great-great-grandson of, etc. Nor was that all. There was a third-party “peace” candidate, too, a professor of European history at Harvard: H. Stuart Hughes, grandson of Charles Evans Hughes, Governor of New York, Chief Justice of the United States, and 1916 Republican Presidential nominee. During a primary debate, Kennedy’s opponent for the Democratic nomination told him that if his name were just Edward Moore his candidacy would be a joke. A real zinger, but it might have been even zingier if its deliverer, Eddie McCormack, had not been the nephew of John W. McCormack, Speaker of the United States House of Representatives.

Teddy won. But even if one of the others had prevailed the result would have illustrated the point, which is that a country with such a plenitude of political patriarchies—not only Kennedys, Lodges, Hugheses, and McCormacks but also Bayhs, Browns, Cuomos, Daleys, Dodds, Longs, La Follettes, Romneys, Tafts, and Udalls (to say nothing of Bushes and Clintons)—cannot claim immunity from the apparently universal temptation to tug the forelock. On Capitol Hill, at the moment, there are five senators whose dads were senators before them; in the House, the legacy cases begin, but do not end, with the Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, whose father was a congressman (and mayor of Baltimore).

At the Presidential level, the Bushes 41 and 43 were preceded by the Adamses 2 and 6, the Harrisons 9 and 23, and, of course, the Roosevelts 26 and 32. The younger members of the first three pairs on this list—sons in the first two cases, a grandson in the third—all had the dubious distinction of winning the Presidency while being defeated at the polls, which suggests a certain thinning of the blood. The Roosevelts were more distantly related; Theodore was Franklin’s fifth cousin, as (once removed) was his wife, Eleanor—a spiritual and political auntie of Hillary Clinton. Which brings us to the women, who, in this country and elsewhere, have generally come to power as a result of family ties.

In most cases, the tie has been broken by death. In South Asia, which seems to lead the world in female national leaders, violent death is invariably a factor. In Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, a total of four female heads of state have come to power in the wake of male relatives’ assassination; in India, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru’s daughter, was herself assassinated, as was her son and successor, Rajiv. (Her daughter-in-law, Sonia, now heads the ruling Congress Party.) Burma’s imprisoned opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is the daughter of the assassinated independence leader Aung San. And the father of Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan’s two-time and perhaps future Prime Minister, was a Prime Minister whose life ended at the gallows; her return to Karachi last week was marked by a suicide-bomber attack that claimed more than a hundred lives.

In the United States, the widow-of and daughter-of pattern has been gentler. Of the two hundred and forty-four women who have served in the House and the Senate, forty-six succeeded their husbands and twelve their fathers. The wife-of, as distinct from widow-of, method of conferring power has been a relatively minor theme, found mostly in the nether parts of the country—one thinks of Governors Ma Ferguson, of Texas, and, especially, Lurleen Wallace, of Alabama, through whom George ruled when term limits forced him out of the state house.

Senator Clinton is different, obviously. She is indisputably a wife-of, but it was she, not he, whom Life selected as an icon of their generation when she graduated from college. It was she, not he, who, as a young lawyer, got the coveted job with the House Watergate investigation. She would have gone far, maybe even this far, without him. However much she benefits from the dynasty factor, though, the Economist is right: there’s a downside. The downside’s name is Bush. If, as the voters in 2000 wished, Al Gore, son of Senator Albert Gore, Sr., had been granted the White House, things might be a bit easier—not just for Hillary Clinton but also for her main Democratic rival, Senator Barack Obama. George W. Bush has been as poor an advertisement for “inexperience” as for dynasticism. It’s not fair, of course. Bush’s failure to learn much of anything for the past six years suggests a deficit of character, not of experience; his unwillingness to employ his father’s skills and advice on behalf of the nation shows a disrespectful disregard for a dynast’s biggest advantage. He has given both freshness and family a bad name.

Defining the Army

Bangladesh is at the critical juncture of redefining the role of military in civil and political affairs. The current military backed Caretaker Government is increasingly involving itself to institutionalize army's role in civil affairs. A national security council for Bangladesh is going to be formed to formalize military's presence in civil and political affairs. The infamous Rapid Action Battalion mostly comprised of military personnel has already taken over critical police role. National Defence University has been proposed to take over higher education. Corporate economy has already taken over by military welfare associations. This increasing trend of militarization is taking dangerous turn for Bangladesh. Army's increased role in civil affairs is becoming a dangerous trend that threatens the stability of democracy and equitable social growth. Read this critical article from Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa who provides insights from the Pakistan's case:
The Pakistan army continues to be a crossbreed between the Indonesian and the Turkish models. It is systematically trying to expand its role and justify its presence. Whether it will manage to do this at all depends on the resilience of civil society and political institutions

Author Shuja Nawaz, a former IMF and IAEA official, recently offered some glimpses into his forthcoming book, “Crossed Swords” on the Pakistan Army in a talk at the Johns Hopkins University. One of the issues raised by him pertains to defining the nature of the army.

According to Nawaz, Pakistan’s army is more like the Indonesian army rather than the Turkish army. He further contended that the difference from the Turkish model relates to the different political roles of the two armies. The Pakistani army is not as well-entrenched in politics and is not seen as part of the liberation or state-creation movement as its Turkish counterpart. Defining the nature of the army is important because therein lie the necessary clues as to how to deal with such a powerful institution.

Nawaz is absolutely right in stating the basic historical difference between the Pakistani and Turkish armies. While the former is a bureaucratic institution inherited from the colonial past, the latter played an essential role in building the new Turkish Republic from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire. Kamal Ataturk played a critical role in building the new Turkey that fundamentally defines the relationship between the Turkish military, state and society. While the majority of Turkish people might have problems with the ideological bearings of the state, their relations with the military are less tense than in Pakistan or a number of other countries.

Pakistan’s armed forces are a bureaucratic institution and a reminder of the colonial legacy in more than one way. The military and civil bureaucracies of South Asia are colonial institutions created by the colonists to establish their control on the indigenous people. These institutions were trained to support a grand national strategy made thousands of miles away in London and this allegiance was transferred to their respective states after the partition of India in 1947.

Then onwards, officers, soldiers and civilian bureaucrats assisted the civilian leadership in solving the teething problems of these newborn states. In Pakistan’s case, the role expanded due to a number of factors, including the ambition of the state bureaucracy to dominate politics and governance, the authoritarian nature of the ruling elite, and the relative weakness of political forces.

But let’s not get too deep into a historical discussion. It is sufficient to remember that the army’s relationship with state and society is quite different. This historical relationship is also the basis of the latent resistance of civil society against the military or accepting the organisation as a neutral arbiter.

Nawaz equates the Pakistan army with the Indonesian military. One assumes that this similarity is based on an assessment of the behaviour or style of the two forces rather than their origins. Looking at the birth of the two institutions, one cannot but notice the difference. The Indonesian armed forces have also grown out from a revolutionary force, which then expanded its role due to the dependence of political forces and the larger civil society on the military to help build the new nation. The Indonesian military’s role in nation-building is what allowed it to expand its influence into politics, governance, and the economy.

And this is what Nawaz is referring to when he equates the two armies. Despite their different backgrounds, the two armies have expanded their roles, established themselves politically and engaged in economic exploitation as part of the ruling oligarchy. In both cases, the military elite joined hands with other members of the civilian ruling elite to exploit national resources and to strengthen their control of the state.

President Suharto’s rule was extremely predatory during which he shared the spoils with senior members of the officer cadre with some trickle-down to the junior officers as well. The civil-military divide in these two countries, hence, is both vertical and horizontal. There are occasions when it is about the divide between civil and military and at other times it is about the ruling elite versus the common people.

Such exploitation can only be sustained effectively through soft and hard coercion. People will resist exploitation by the military as is evident in Pakistan and Indonesia. Up until 9/11, the civil society supported by multinational aid donors had begun to question the Indonesian military’s authoritarian and predatory role.

It could be argued that resistance against the army’s exploitation has been relatively less in Turkey. Although the Turkish military used coercive methods to protect its utter lack of transparency, the military as an institution has far greater acceptance in the society than in the other two cases. Such acceptability has helped the military carve out a role in politics: the Turkish military has a constitutional role and is represented in the Parliament as well.

This is probably the difference that Nawaz has tried to point out in his forthcoming book. According to the author, Pakistan’s military does not have a political role like its Turkish counterpart. But then why do the roles have to be similar? The Pakistani military has systematically struggled to create an acceptable role for itself by bringing about legal and constitutional provisions. These refer to the National Security Council Ordinance in combination with article 58(2)b of the Constitution. Although this particular article is not army-specific, the understanding is that it is meant to strengthen the defence sector’s position vis-à-vis other political actors. Such provisions are being used to break into the political system so that the people accept that the military will have a role in politics and governance.

Creating a role is not an easy task. It also involves preparing the civil society to accept the role, often done through the media which, in Pakistan’s case, has been used effectively to propagate the significance of the armed forces and its image as the only credible national institution. Such image building is essential in expanding the military’s role in state and society and also in deepening its political significance. So it would be unfair to suggest that Pakistan’s military does not have a political role. It has always had one. The only issue is that of society’s acceptance. In this respect, there is a difference between the Pakistani and Turkish armed forces or even the Indonesian and Pakistani military.

A military that does not have a role in nation-building or state-creation faces problems in getting its multiple roles accepted by the civil society. There is always the issue of legitimacy that results in conflict. Additionally, the exploitation factor dilutes the possibility of such a military gaining greater legitimacy. Moreover, defining this military as an institution representative of the middle class doesn’t solve the problem of the lack of legitimacy at all.

In short, the Pakistan army continues to be a crossbreed between the Indonesian and the Turkish models. It is systematically trying to expand its role and justify its presence. Whether it will manage to do this at all depends on the resilience of civil society and political institutions.
The writer is an Islamabad-based independent defence analyst and author of the book, Military Inc: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy