Image by: Quddus Alam, DRIK News.
By all means, after General Zia and General Ershad, General Moeen U Ahmed (MUA), the previous chief of Army, could be the third Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA) of Bangladesh. He started homework of a would-be CMLA much earlier than 1/11 and beyond public visual by intensifying inherent weakness of discordant partners of democracy to bring politics to stalemate. Our politicians nonchalantly responded to his lure and were naively gravitating towards the democracy-trap. Suddenly intellectual’s chorus started getting louder and unambiguous praising and prescribing the ‘silver bullet’ that would fix our entire national ailment.
Since 1/11 General Moeen had been, in fact, leapfrogging towards the power center with confidence and started reassuring public of continuation of unfinished missions of his two predecessors; to eradicate corruption and to strengthen democracy. Also about a decade or so could be the duration of his dynasty before the public anathema could bring it to a costly end. Serajul Alam Khan (SAK, the enigmatic spiritual guru of JSD), Dr. Zillur Rahman Khan (ZRK, Rosebush Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin, USA – a JSD ideologue and political scientist), ASM Abdur Rab (the fairytale hero of our liberation struggle and now after three and half decades reduced to a moral hazard of our politics); all these veteran architects of previous two successful power grabbing of martial law regimes might have already completed design work of the future government having sanitized political façade with frills of organic democracy. Organic democracy is the brainchild of SAK and ZRK which, in nutshell, is an ambiguous theory of quota based representation of professions and vocations. They have graciously included peasants to military as defined stakeholders in democratic governance without defining the mechanism of demographic mobilization of these groups, electoral process to so called bicameral parliament and construction of layers of a harmonized and representative government body. Their earlier experiments contradicted sharply with their political doctrine and instead of a broad based democracy, they have always been instrumental of our military regimes. The presence of ZRK at the podium with MUA on Independence Day military parade in 2007 sent ominous signal to the nation of imminent emergence of third military regime in partnership with nexus of loyalist politicians, civil society elites and military.
But this time the remarkable exception was the role of USA, the usual kingmaker of anti – democracy undertakings in the third world. USA cowered back from her initial position and slowly realigned with people’s aspiration – a free and fair election. This unprecedented shift of US policy for Bangladesh compounded with other factors, compelled calculative MUA to take an about turn from the threshold of Banga Bhaban. The stumbling roadblock in the forefront of our power-hungry army was the chance of loosing their most lucrative mercantile venture – UN peace keeping mission. It could be in jeopardy if MUA would push further aspiration of uniform and become third martial law kingpin. Public sentiment initially swayed favorably to his war against corruption, but soon turned hostile when his real intention caught in public radar – war against democratic politics and sinister scheme of perpetuation of martial law. Sensing danger, like a shrewd skipper, MUA jumped overboard the sinking boat leaving behind his political backers and associates of conspiracies in disarray. He soon surrendered to emerging enormous momentum of democracy and tried in vain to be a turncoat by portraying himself as the true purveyor of democracy. On his last day as the commander of Army, fear for uncertain future compelled him to bow to the fact and to mumble that history would evaluate his role.
Certainly his place is already decided in our history. Unfortunately the verdict of history will ruthlessly haunt him till his end as a flip flop manipulator; our military will also remain ever unforgiving towards him as he is the first General who conceded defeat to the public and politicians in the war of power.