Accountability and Distorted Truths



About two thousand BDR soldiers reported at the Headquarter in Pilkhana on Sunday. BDR jawans in uniform claimed that most of them had fled just after the mutiny broke out on Wednesday.  Photo- Adnan, DRIK News
About two thousand BDR soldiers reported at the Headquarter in Pilkhana on Sunday. BDR jawans in uniform claimed that most of them had fled just after the mutiny broke out on Wednesday. Photo- Adnan, DRIK News

There are four major charges being leveled against the government’s handling of the BDR massacre.

  1. The first one is general: The government held back the Army, who otherwise could have prevented or minimized the murders
  2. The second one is much more specific. This accuses that after the amnesty was announced, and while Nanak and Sahara Khatun were inside Pilkhana, the majority of the murders happened. From an email allegedly from an Army officer that is being widely circulated:

    • RAB arrives at Pilkhana gate at about 10am and ready to move in. Home Ministry said a stubborn “No”.
    • Troops of Mirpur Cantt and Dhaka Cantt arrives at Pilkhana by 11:30am. they seek permission to go in. Again a big “No”
    • Innocent Media people, bluffed by the BDR jawans, focus to the nation the good side or the “right cause” of rebellion BDR. they ask for BCS officers….!!!
    • Govt sends nanok and others and they enter courageously into BDR Pilkhana and safely come back and they are not held hostage.
    • At 4:30pm, army tanks are ready to go in, briefing done, again a big “No”. The army is told to go 3 km away from Pilkhana.
    • Night comes. sahara and nanok enter BDR and all lights are off. sahara visits families of army officers without nanok as seen on TV channels through BTV footage. She does not; we repeat DOES NOT meet any army officer of BDR.
    • Media people telecast live sound of firing from inside Pilkhana when sahara is inside.
    • Sahara comes out and faces the media. some channel representative asks her “Apni jokhon vitorey chilen, amra goolir shobdo shunlam, apni shunen ni?” she say “No. I did not hear any firing”. sahara did not mention anything about the 168 officers inside, nor the media asked her where were the officers.
    • THIS WAS BECAUSE AT THAT TIME BDR WAS COMPLETING THE TOTAL KILLING OF ALIVE OFFICERS AND THIER FAMILIES UNDER THE EYES OF NANOK AND MASS GRAVES WERE BEING PREPARED. Please refer to the Ntv exclusive with major Mokarram on 28th evening. He said that he heard the voice of home minister entering into the kote when BDR gunmen surrounded him.
    • IG police freely moved in because his daughter and son in law capt haider was inside. He ensured the rescue of his daughter, married 82 days earlier.
    • only police is allowed to enter pilkhana and throughout the night they find only 7 dead bodies and suggest that search could not be done due to darkness.

  3. The third charge is grave. The same email states that ambulances entered Pilkhaka and took away some killers under the guise of removing the injured. From the same email:


  4. The fourth accusation is absolutely incendiary. It charges that Sahara Khatun let the murderers go, and that under the direction of the Home Ministry, the power was cut off in the area during the night of Feb 26 so the BDRs could escape. From someone whose father is a senior retired army officer, and who has may family members in the armed services:

    Majority of them knew this was going to happen but Home Ministry allowed them to shut the light in BDR and allowed them to escape

All of these accusations were expressed in various forms when Sheikh Hasina met with Army officers on March 1. One survivor from the massacre specifically mentioned that if Sahara Khatun went to the Quarter Guard and asked about the women, then they would not have faced any abuse. In a chaotic scene, the officers accused that the killers were allowed to escape in the name of negotiations, and demanded the resignation of Mirza Azam, Nanak and Sahara Khatun

Let’s examine these charges.

1. To start with, the outcome of an Army-BDR firefight is known–the Army would have won in the long run. But at what cost? If the author of this email, and others bemoaning this fact truly believe the BDR would have fled in the face of an assault, perhaps they have forgotten that BDR is the most battle-hardened force in Bangladesh that faces regular live fire from BSF, while for most army soldiers the only gunfire they see come during exercises.

Yes, the Army has superior heavy weapons, including tanks and helicopter gunships. But lets not forget the civilians, family members and officers still alive who were inside Pilkhana, who would have been used as human shielf. Even the author of the email is claiming most of the officers were still alive. What would have happened to them in the cross-fire if the Army attacked? What of the Army soldiers taking part in the attack?

What about the civilians outside Pilkhana? What about the BDR forces in other districts and the border, where the tensions were rising and reports of rebellion was rising? In the event of an assault, who would have prevented bloodbaths in those locations? We submit that however painful the death of the officers in Dhaka, an armed assult on Pilkhana would have been many times worse and caused a country-wide firefight.

A retired Brig gen and a former DDG of the BDR agrees. Note that this person is intimately familiar with the capability and mentality of the BDR.

Sheikh Hasina essentially reiterated the same points, and for the first time she mentioned that she had asked the Army chief how long it will take to launch an air or ground assult. By the time they had leared that the officers were dead, and decided to take the route of negotiations in order to protect the families.

2. If that is so, then why are there any officers alive at all? We are not talking about the officers who were hiding; we are talking about the officers who were confided by armed BDR personnel at quarter-guard or other locations, at least 18 of whom were released on Day 2 (see our timeline, Feb 26, 4:30 PM). The only explanation that makes sense is that most of the murders had happened in an initial burst in the beginning. Lt Col. Shams, who escaped out of the Darbar hall and was hidden by some BDR soldiers, tells us:

“It was between 10:30 am to 11:00 am and I assume most of the officers were killed during that time,” he said in the interview.

He is also the officer who described the mysterious grey pick-up entering through gate 5, bearing arms and ammunication

3. We know Red-Cross/Red-Crescent ambulances evacuated some of the injured, and those ambulences went to CMH with the injured and the dead. If the author of this email is claiming that the killers went to CMH and escaped, he has access to information that we don’t.

4. We now know this: the main lights in the Pilkhana are not on a timer; they have to be turned on manually via various main switches by an electrician. Because of the firefight, there was no electrician in Pilkhana, hence there were no lights on the streets and perimeter.

We agree that it was short-sighted of the home ministry to not arrange for flood lights. At the very least, just turning on the headlights of all the army and police vehicles would have provided some light. But to accuse a person who risked her own life to go in and bring out families of the army officers of aiding and abetting criminals is reprehensible. Perhaps before leveling such charges, they should talk to Lt. Col. Kamruzzaman, who acknowledged that his wife and children were extracted by Sahara Khatun

For the investigation committee:

Now, emotions are raging inside the serving and retired officers of the Armed forces, and Bangladesh once again stands on the brink of a precipice. So allow us to ask some of our own questions, and point out some other facts that we hope the investigatin committee will examine.

1. What were the various intelligence agencies doing? Lt. Col. Kamruzzaman is on record that the field agents of the intelligence agencies were involved in this. Even if this is not true, this indicates a massive intelligence failure, and we need to see some accountability from the people who head up these agencies

2. What happens to the corruption allegations? We hope that those will not be buried along with the dead bodies. If there is a systematic corruption, let us uproot at as well. And if there was no corrpution, then let the investigations clear the names of the deceased.

3. On March 1, 2009, the police forces of Bangladesh suddenly started receiving 100% ration, which was one of the 22 demands of the BDR. Was there any credible intelligence regarding a similar threat at the Police force? If so, from whom?

Lastly, we end this post with a call for patience from all quarters. The sad truth is, Bangladesh has lost some brave men. But this is not the first time this has happened, and every time the killers walked away free.

The Army is bringing great pressure on the prime minister. We understand their anger and outrage.

But asking for resignations from MPs and ministers, people who risked their lives to save Army officers and their families serves what purpose? Who gains by removing the people withouth whose involvement the death-toll would have been higher? (We hope we have already laid to rest the wisdom of an attack on Pilkhana). Instead, the Army should focus its energy on investigating and capturing the masterminds of this murder.

If this results in an Armed uprising and overthrow of the government, then the people who planned this massacre wins.

But we believe the worst of the crisis is over. Gen. Moeen U. Ahmed stated categorically that the Army is under the authority of the elected government, and the PM has faced off 300+ angry, emotional officers for three hours.

If this democratically elected government can withstand the pressure to act hastily, we believe the truth will shine through. And onlt then the death of the officers will not be in vain.


J @ Shada Kalo [] writes using a pseudonym and is best known for exposing government, military, corporate foul plays through whistle-blowing investigative reports.

16 Responses to “Accountability and Distorted Truths”

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    Mohammad Iqbal

    Where is BDR Naser? one reported to have called Sahar Khatun to say he is surrendering because of PM”S Speech. How did he get our Home Minister cell phone number? He should be traced from the call list and questioned. He seems to be one of the enthusisastic rebel

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    Mahfuz Hillol

    For all pls don’t beleive Pakistani and Indian (actually to say any other nations media) media. They will always try to keep the problems between us all.

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    Ayesha Zaman

    Dear all, it seems we need to arrest or isolate immidiately suspected people, which may include govt. officials. Definitely it will be a great help for the investigations and govt. can avoid possible conspiracy.

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    It seems like the great bickering has started, who did what and who did less. The big bickering is should the army have gone in or not. I say not, and thank god for that, I also appreciate Gen. Moeen in not doing something brash. It appears to the naive many that if the army went in, that is, had the civilian government allowed, they could have solved the problem in a jiffy. I am not an expert on hostage crisis management but if force was used to solve the crisis, a greater tragedy and crisis would have ensued, which includes violent fights in and around Pilkhana (yes, sure, with the BDR ultimately succumbing) and its spillover all over the country. In fact, that is what the game plan was. The economic grievance was just an excuse to rouse up a cause among the general BDR soldiers, but the deeper reason was to cut a chasm in the armed forces so deep and so traumatic that it would destabilize the civilian government. The killing that did take place was already carried out in that manner, to create something spectacular and divisive. As things are unfolding, this appears to be very much a well-coordinated, bold and cold-blooded plan. Instead of bickering how it got stopped, and I would like to think that it was concluded by saving more lives, we should be thinking of how it got planned and started. And who are these people?

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    I do not wish to enter the fray of claim and counter-claim but I can’t stop noting the rather mischievous behavior of opposition leader Khaleda Zia. Instead of lending any help at the time of the crisis (at which time she went missing only to surface after the dust has settled), she is losing no opportunity to nitpick and find real or alleged impropriety with the government even some AL link to the event. I am not going to say on the contrary that it is BNP-Jamaat who may be involved for that would be speculation, but it would not be unfair to say that Khaleda Zia and her cohorts hope to get advantage by putting the government in a bad light. And that is what I find mischievous in the time of this grave national tragedy.

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    Chowdhury Golam Kibria

    Well, I will hold my reply until the nation comes to know from the probe committees regarding two main facts:

    1. Were all BDRs (or at least within first 5 hours of mutiny on day 1) involved in the mutiny or a few? If so, how many were they? If they were few and army had entered, would rest of the BDR fight against army or stayed aside? We have to wait for answers to these questions.

    2. Secondly, nation needs to know how many officers were killed within first 4-5 hours and afterwards. If we come to know that 30 or 40 percent or even 50 percent only were killed in the first 4-5 hours, it still justifies army action. According to a Brigadier General, moving with tanks, armored vehicles and commando paratroopers to protect family qurters, it would have been matter of less than an hour and it would have been worthwhile even saving life of 20% officers, not to mention 50%.

    So we have to wait till we know. But one thing is surprising. Accepting that the assumption of all of 90 percent of the officers were killed in the first few hours, why couldn’t Nanak/Azam/Sahara could not smell death inside Pilkhana compound. With so many deaths around, I (and general public I talked to) agree that a human being is very likely to smell death of so many deads. Could they sense it or not? Or did they hide it, then why?

    4. When DAD Tauhid came to negotiate, and if all or 90 percent officers were dead, then he knew it. Did he hide it from the PM or the PM hid it? Why was not there any clear statement about the condition of the officers? With almost all officers dead, what was the reason for granting amnesty and removing army 3 km away from pilkhana and let people be misguided and build support for BDR through hiding information about the deaths.

    6. Finally, Where is the State minister for home? Is he on leave? In such a situation, even an assitant secretary of home ministry is supposed to cancel his leave and get back to office? Where is he and what is he doing? Why didn’t a single newspaper or TV channel or even the Opposition leader Khaleda raised this question?

    All I know is that we will have to wait to know.

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    I think someone should not comment about something in a forum about which he is not fully aware of.”Empty vessel sounds much” and that is proved by the author of this writtings.He said,

    “perhaps they have forgotten that BDR is the most battle-hardened force in Bangladesh that faces regular live fire from BSF, while for most army soldiers the only gunfire they see come during exercises.”

    The author does not know that the army officers are trained to understand the troops psychology.Thats why most of them were in favour of entering Pilkhana immediately after the incident except those who fulfill some political agenda.Thats why the lead BDR in borders.He quoted Major General Salam.But we know which politics he is in practice with.Probably the author does not also know that Bangladesh army is the largest troops contributing force in UN peace-keeping mission.Such a pride for this small country is only gained by this army because the world have seen this army in the battlefield.They are also leading BDR troops in the borders and thats why BSF is afraid of them.Probably the author does’nt understand the importance of a leader in the battlefield.He feels that a battle is like a movie!The Indian forces saw our army in 1971 also when they were fighting together.Thats why they are afraid.They know that if the army does not lead and guide this troops,they can easily win over.Probably that is one of the objective of such incident.

    The author said,

    “What would have happened to them in the cross-fire if the Army attacked? What of the Army soldiers taking part in the attack?

    What about the civilians outside Pilkhana? What about the BDR forces in other districts and the border, where the tensions were rising and reports of rebellion was rising? In the event of an assault, who would have prevented bloodbaths in those locations? We submit that however painful the death of the officers in Dhaka, an armed assult on Pilkhana would have been many times worse and caused a country-wide firefight.”

    This time I must say that the author might be the son of a RAZAKAR or AL-BADAR who were afraid of fighting in 1971 and doing everything in favour of pakistan. .He wants to sacrifice lives of some military leaders who ensure the sovereignty of the nation.He does not know that he can not create a military leader all on a sudden like the political leaders.I am sure that the author is going to join our opponent if there is another liberation war.

    The author is concerned about the civilians outside the Pilkhana.The army is more concerned than the author in this regard.Thats why they were removing civilians from the streets beside Pilkhana on 25th and 26th.They announced to vacant civilians house on the next day when there was a preparatory plan for entering Pilkhana.Hearing that a huge number of BDRs were fleeing away.Some of them(around 300) were caught by RAB and Army.Seeing that the author should understand their morale strength.The persons who were killing some unarmed persons and looting,they are not suppose to have ‘morale’ which is one of the first major factor in any battle.If they have fleed away hearing the announcement only,they would have spoiled their cloths keeping their arms on ground if army would have entered with firing only few small rounds.

    About the civilians outside Pilkhana – How many civilians were killed by these two days by BDR?Probably 4 only and those rounds were fired from gates towards the streets.Army would not have fired towards outside at least.I mourn for those civilians who died without any suitable cause.They are also the son of this soil.Why BDR have killed them?

    About the tension of BDR in other districts – It was the same impact caused by our media personnel who were bluffed by BDR Jawans.Who does not know about the previlages and facilities given to BDR troops.For your information,these are much better than Army soldiers.The only thing which was at the back of their mind but they could not express is the money earned by ‘Chora-chalan’.Army officers were the main hindrance in this regard.Every year many BDRs are fired from their service and that is very large in number in recent years.Because the Army used to send the average officers earlier who used to pass time only.But in recent years(Since 2002)Army is sending career officers to save our economy.In 2003 one of the commanding officer has dismissed one-third of the total BDRs from his battalion.For this army officers are not liked by many BDRs.Because they think earning this illegal money is the “Right Cause”.The seniors of the ‘Jawans’ who joined before used to earn a lot of money.They used to earn and distribute this money as per their ranks.But these ‘Jawans’ can not do it now because of the sincere officers who work hard and spend lot of time to save this nation by sacrificing their family life.If you do have any doubt about it,you may ask it to anybody(including civil personnel)who served in BDR.In this case they could also stop passing information by stopping all sort of wire and wireless transmission for few hours.

    The author said,

    “We know Red-Cross/Red-Crescent ambulances evacuated some of the injured, and those ambulences went to CMH with the injured and the dead.If the author of this email is claiming that the killers went to CMH and escaped, he has access to information that we don’t.”

    Dear Author,Do you know that some injured were taken to some civil hospitals also?Still there are few.You may check Holy Family Hospital.Again those went to CMH did not go by helicopter that they can not get down anywhere they want.Your last sentence is correct…… do not have access to many information and you do not know many things known by everybody.You are fond of writting without knowing fully and correctly.

    The author quoted Lt Col Shams who is now admitted in CMH for psychiatric reason because only his statement did not tally with others who also escaped from the same place.

    The author said,

    “What happens to the corruption allegations? We hope that those will not be buried along with the dead bodies.”

    I am sure that the author is not semi-literate like BDR Jawans who said it in front of media.But again he must be relative to some brutal RAZAKAR who can use such sentence(“those will not be buried along with the dead bodies”) about those brave soldiers who served the country throughout their life.

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    One can always be ridiculously optimistic and fabricate a bunch of coincidences.

    First of all, turning on the lights/getting a electrician is no big deal at all. It’s bizzarre that the author even makes an arguement with this point.

    The author mentions that “We know Red-Cross/Red-Crescent ambulances evacuated some of the injured, and those ambulences went to CMH with the injured and the dead. If the author of this email is claiming that the killers went to CMH and escaped, he has access to information that we don’t.”

    Hello, wake up, who says they went all the way to
    CMH in the first place?

    The home minister and sahara obviously had to “act” in one or two life saving/heroic scenes, and pretend to be rescuers since they knew questions would be hurled at them later on. The risked absoultey nothing, as the army officer mentioned, she denied hearing any gun shots while being in the premises. This was broadcasted on TV. These fake ministers and politicians risked nothing. Majority of findings point to their involvement.

    The author should opt for fairy tale writing or join the dirty politics to make his point.

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    Dear friends.
    Many of you know do not know about various rescue Operation.You know Bd army out of battle field for longer period. But army is very much havituated with this type of operation due to UN missions are as such. Moreover there are various rescue operation in commando tactics which could be very much fruitful.for example on 25 feb about 500 commandos were ready to enter in disguise putting on bdr dress.But they did not get permission.You know all bdr soldiers were not active suporter of that masacare. our media itself is a crisis, they were not responsible enough for their dids.At last i condemn author for his unethical word.

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    It’s great to see people asking tough questions. The current situation, with the media utterly confused and gleefully pumping contradictory reports into the air waves, aptly manifests that the current leaders of Bangladesh, not excluding the opposition, are still living in the old days when they could shape and contain public opinion at the cost a few phone calls to the then media and news paper barons.
    Alas, they are utterly clueless and have demonstrably failed to adapt to the age of YouTube, facebook, twitter, bloggers and e-vigilantes. Information is now available more readily to the populace than it is to their rulers, and hence the necessity to clampdown on YouTube.
    Anyone with a few living neurons active in their brain can summarize the recordings of the heated meeting between Hasina and the army corps, posted on YouTube, into a short list of critical questions that Hasina quite clearly avoided in that meeting.

    * Who were behind the rallies and demonstrations that were organized around new market, in support of the BDR, while loud gunfire sounds could be heard within the BDR HQ, with hardly anyone having a clue what was happening inside? Were these demonstrations not clearly a set up?

    * Why did Sahar and Nanok not inquire about the well being of the army officers before they got out of the HQ?

    * Why was general amnesty issued, before even making an effort to objectively ascertain the safety of the army officers inside?

    * Why is it that police had free access to the HQ whilst, RAB and the Army laid outside with thier arms folded?

    * Why couldn’t a Comando unit be sent in, disguised as police/civillian.

    * Where did the 10000 odd BDR personnel vanish to in a matter of a few hours?

    * Why was the power cut off, when there was a clear risk of losing the perpetrators.

    * Why was the army barred from launching operation “rebel hunt” for another 24hrs, allegedly to give the perpetrators a chance to surrender. Or was it a ploy to make sure that the perpetrators could flee past the border in that period?

    In conclusion, I must add that the author of this piece is merely a simpleton or perhaps more cynically put, a government shill, peddling the official explanation.

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    Some ppl answered here dat DAD Tauhid was a member of Jamat according to Indian media and they have also claimed dat Indian intelligence was also aware of this incident (According to CNN-IBN). If so why they didnt warn BD Govt. Why so called anandabazar didnot claim it earlier dat Tauhid was a member of Jamat. How Indian media like NDTV declared dat BDR DG along with 11 officer were killed at 12 pm in 25 feb when our Govt and media didnot know this…how..???? How the indians know too much bout dat..???? ” SHORISHAR MODDHE VOOT” ?????????

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    The BDR massacre is another sad chapter in our blood drenched history.

    The biggest failure was the intelligence failure. In any modern army this could have been easily averted. Its foolish to imagine scenarios and possible responses after it had already happened. Had Pilkhana been out of Dhaka we might have tried something that we usually see successful on movies only. Reality is a game of probability. On top the criminals’ killing phase must have occurred at the early hours of the mayhem before anyone including the army had any time to conceive the magnitude of the matter and react. The whole nation was kept in the darkness about the casualties before the melodrama came to an end after 36 grueling hours.

    I think the whole thing was intelligently handled. Otherwise there would have been more bloodshed.

    This evil act was a well-planned, organised and premeditated act of sabotage intended to make the country unstable. What is scary that this happened as soon as probes opened on mysterious illegal weapons haul in Chittagong and other terrorist attacks by JMB which has Taliban trained killers imported after training in Afghanistan, and total wipe out of anti-independent political parties in the recent national elections.

    I am sure FBI and Interpol have more sensitive information on this matter.

    The internet has tons of garbage floating in the cyberspace. Any cybersmart person know how easy it is to exploit this medium by posting faked pictures, audios and videoclips. In Bangladesh it can easily be used to sway public opinion of the common people taking advantage of their innocence.

    I have heard the audios and I think both the army and PM handled the matter brilliantly if they are at all authentic. The officers were in a state of shock due to the carnage and naturally confronted the PM with a volley of legitimate questions that she answered keeping her head cool. Her encounter with the officers could happen only because of democracy. Otherwise everything would have been covered up.

    I am sure the facts will soon come out and the plotters should be severely punished.

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    M Siqque

    @ someone says:
    March 4, 2009 at 1:47 pm

    You make excellent points.

    I have noticed the blog sphere discussing Bangladesh politics is full of propagandist types.

    Personally I favor the Army to take power in Bangladesh. Until the current cadre of corrupt and incompetent leaders die out, the country has zero hope except for the military to come back.

    The country progressed tremendously when these God damned criminal leaders were in jail and their evil spawns in exile. Some in the military may be financial terrorists like the politicians, but at least they keep it to a manageable limit.

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    Raisul Islam

    Democracy is the only way out.It has been a bumpy ride for the US too but no other system superior to it has ever been accepted by the people worldwide.

    The Fakruddin government was a total failure.As usual it did not even last long enough. They realised that further grip on unconstitutional power would have resulted in mass uprising against spineless Fakruddin, his brother-in-law and other opportunists.

    It achieved a big zero and had been brought down to its knees by internal and external pressure. Bangladeshis rejected them outright by electing a government through a landslide victory for them.

    We are getting to know corrupt practices of the fascist junta through the courtesy of a parliament.I am sure many more scoundrels and dacoits will be exposed.

    Army’s grab of power has brought Pakistan to the verge of disintegration and Thailand is facing the deplorable effect of army’s meddling in politics for a long time. Now it doesn’t have the courage to take over and face the wrath of a US under a democratic president, house of representatives and a senate under democratic control. It tried but found out that support from abroad is dwindling and no civilised nation would ever create another Mosharraf, Shah, Mobuto or Marcos to steal billions from the state coffers.

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