[Front page: Amader Shomoy, December 17.]
[Tasneem Khalil, Sweden.]
As if one Pervez Musharraf is not enough. If things go as planned, the world is now set to watch another general taking over a presidential palace in South Asia, sometime in 2008. Religiously following the blueprint by his Pakistani mentor, the Bangladeshi army chief, General Moeen U Ahmed, also plans to edit the country’s constitution in order to establish total military control over the parliament and the government. And this piece of information is not from the nightmare I had last night that largely dealt with an editor who drank fifteen liters of laxative. My source, as a matter of fact, can be best described with the phrase “horse’s mouth” or the very next thing to it: mouthpiece of the military, staunchly pro-government, Bengali daily Amader Shomoy, itself.
Without further ado, a quick translation of the Amader Shomoy lead story [Monday, December 17].
Iajuddin to leave post before elections: Army chief Moeen may become the new president
Azahar Ali Sarkar: President Professor Iajuddin Ahmed may leave his post at his own will before the parliament elections. Army chief General Moeen U Ahmed may become the new president. Before taking oath as the president, General Moeen U Ahmed will step down as army chief. However, though he will leave the post of army chief, he will remain serving as the supreme commander of the military forces, as the president. On top of that, the new president will have more power. The new president will have the power to sack an elected prime minister, his/her cabinet and to dissolve the parliament. All of these are from different sources.
According to sources, from the beginning of the new year, different business groups, professional organizations and political parties will start demanding that Moeen become the president. The demand may gain even more momentum by March. In that context and in a special situation, in the interest of the country and its people, the army chief may take over presidency.
Sources also inform: politicians, businessmen and general public believe that a free and fair parliamentary election is not possible under President Iajuddin Ahmed. Because, before Fakhruddin Ahmed, as the chief adviser of the caretaker government Iajuddin Ahmed took some controversial steps. For those reasons, his acceptability as a president had suffered among the people.
On the other hand, in different seminars and meetings General Moeen has repeatedly confirmed that personally he has no such ambitious hope. Even he doesn’t know of any armed forces member who has such ambition. But to help the civil administration and to protect peace and sovereignty of the country, armed forces remain determined to carry out any greater duty. According to constitution experts, the president, due to in sight events, may take reference from the Supreme Court to appoint a temporary president following due legal procedure as stated in clause 106 of the constitution. But in this case, this has to be endorsed by majority MPs in the next parliament session.
Constitution analysts also observe, the Supreme Court has advisory authority over any crucial issue concerning the people of the state. If at any point of time, the president feels that a legal question involving such a crucial issue has come up or has the chance to come, and is so important that advise from the Supreme Court is necessary, then he can send it to the Appellate Division for consideration. This division then can advise the president and comment on this issue after proper proceedings and hearings. Based on this, the president can take the decision by himself and if needed he can even appoint a temporary president, analysts claim.
According to intelligence agencies, family and other sources, President Iazuddin Ahmed wants to resume teaching before next election. He himself doesn’t want to hold the post. He has already been requested by several reputed universities in home and abroad to teach in their institutions. Though he is more interested in running a university established by him. Aiming that he already took all preparations to run a university in Dhaka.
Now, going back to Islamabad, historians at BBC have recorded the adventures of General Pervez Musharraf, arranged in a chronological order. Money picks.
1999 October — Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif overthrown in military coup led by General Pervez Musharraf…
2000 December — Nawaz Sharif goes into exile in Saudi Arabia after being pardoned by military authorities.
2001 20 June — General Pervez Musharraf names himself president while remaining head of the army. He replaced the figurehead president, Rafiq Tarar, who vacated his position earlier in the day after the parliament that elected him was dissolved.
2002 January — Musharraf announces that elections will be held in October 2002 to end three years of military rule.
2002 August — President Musharraf grants himself sweeping new powers, including the right to dismiss an elected parliament. Opposition forces accuse Musharraf of perpetuating dictatorship.
2002 October — First general election since the 1999 military coup results in a hung parliament. Parties haggle over the make-up of a coalition. Religious parties fare better than expected.
2004 April — Parliament approves creation of military-led National Security Council. Move institutionalises role of armed forces in civilian affairs.
2004 December — President Musharraf says he will stay on as head of the army having previously promised to relinquish the role.
So here, we have a general: present and future. One eventful evening he and his army takes over a corruption engulfed South Asian country in a bloodless coup. It comes amidst a rising fear of rampant Islamist militancy and is backed by international actors and supported by a section of the “civil society.” The general appoints a former World Bank member to head a cabinet hand-picked by the military HQ. Attempts to exile one former prime minister to Saudi Arabia and another to US follow. The army employs a formula to remove two top leaders — icons of bitter rivalry — from the political scene. The military-led interim government promises elections next October. Preparations taken for the establishment of a “National Security Council.” Key national institutions are taken over by former army officers, militarized. The military is set to facilitate the formation a new political party led by a section of the “civil society.” To reap benefits of the vacuum created, major Islamist parties gear up to become the main opposition in the country.
And you are thinking, I am talking about Pervez Musharraf. I am talking about General Moeen U Ahmed and the undeclared martial law in Bangladesh. Well, if you are still eager for a “Pakistan link,” General Moeen is indeed a graduate of PAF Public School, Sargodha — a military school in Pakistan. Did two generals read the same history book? Hmm… good question.
Not surprising, at all, given what he told BBC in April.
Bangladesh’s army chief says the country should not go back to being run by an “elective democracy.” He said democracy in Bangladesh had so far led to corruption, rights violations and criminalisation threatening the state’s survival.
Not surprising, given the advocacy by the general — presiding over a darbar of other pro-Jamaat-e-Islam/Islamist generals — for “a new brand of democracy.”
I reckon Bangladesh will have to construct its own brand of democracy, recognising its social, historical and cultural conditions, with religion being one of several components of its national identity.
Not surprising, given the blessing for the junta from the “leader of the free world.”
US President George W Bush has lauded a drive in Bangladesh against corruption and terrorism as the country’s army-backed interim government prepares to hold a general election late next year.
Not surprising, given the fact that in 11 months Bangladesh has already turned into a hellhole.
And if that is not enough, I will take the burden of issuing a prophecy on what the future holds for Bangladesh. Well, not really, because Brad Adams — Asia Director of Human Rights Watch — has already done that, written a preview. As a matter of fact, that was written on October 10, 2003.
Pervez Musharraf’s four-year rule in Pakistan has led to serious human rights abuses, Human Rights Watch charged today in a letter to the Pakistani president. On the fourth anniversary of the military coup that brought General Musharraf to power, Human Rights Watch called on him to immediately return the country to constitutional rule.
Human Rights Watch pointed out in its letter that military agencies have frequently tortured and harassed political opponents, critical journalists, and former government officials. The past four years have also seen a rise in activity by extremist religious groups and an increase in sectarian killings in Pakistan, in part due to the Musharraf government’s policy of marginalizing mainstream opposition political groups. Opposition legislators have told Human Rights Watch they have been beaten, harassed and subjected to blackmail for opposing Musharraf’s policies.
“In Pakistan, the judiciary has been emasculated, political parties rendered powerless, and extremist and sectarian religious parties strengthened under Musharraf’s rule,” said Brad Adams, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia Division. “General Musharraf should transfer power to a legitimate government now.”
The growing influence of extremist religious elements has impinged on the rights of women and religious minorities. Laws regarding rape and honor killings still discriminate against women. The number of blasphemy cases registered has risen while discrimination and persecution on grounds of religion persist.
We all need to take a pause… and think… do we really want to see another junta strangling democracy and people’s struggle in yet another country, watch helplessly when yet another military monster feasts on people’s blood. How many Asma Jahangirs will be kicked behind the bars while Motiur Rahman Nizamis will roam around free? Can we handle one more Pervez Musharraf or Than Shew? If not… then… an abortion is of absolute urgency, in Bangladesh.
As I am writing this, Bangladesh celebrated its Victory Day, on December 16. Someone left a comment in a blog.
Bengalis are fortunate to get liberation from this brutal army, we are not *sigh* — A Pakistani. December 16, 2007.
Are we really… liberated from the brutal army?
Tasneem Khalil [http://www.tasneemkhalil.com] is the Consulting Editor, E-Bangladesh.