Saturday, May 30, 2009

Shoaib's attempt to find nail in a haystack

The controversial journalist Salah Uddin Shoaib Chowdhury’s energy to start storm over a teapot is well-known. So, I am not too surprised to see his latest salvo against the Bangladesh government. He bewails the fact that Awami League is not the kind of “secular” party that his kind likes to see. To him, secularism ought to be modeled after European atheism. He forgets that even the western countries like the USA and UK are not fundamentalist secular either where God has no place in society. Thus, in the American dollar bill there is the logo “In God We Trust” imprinted. Every presidential speech ends with chants of “God Bless America.” Elected reps and even high-ranking government officials take their oaths of allegiance by placing their hands on the Bible. The last president Bush Jr. even claimed to have a direct hotline with God!

More interestingly, the last week's GQ magazine has exposed the hawkish use of scripture in 2003, when then-defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld forwarded secret intelligence memos to Bush that were embroidered with biblical passages. "Therefore, put on the full amour of God," a verse from Ephesians, and "Open the gates that the righteous nation may enter," from Isaiah, are among the messages that adorn reports prepared for Bush by Rumsfeld's Pentagon.

Lest we forget it is Shoaib’s mentor Richard Benkin who approves a party like the Islamic Democratic Party (IDP), which wants to introduce Shariah law “only for the Muslims” in Bangladesh. All indications are that the IDP was floated with Israeli/Jewish money. [] Are we therefore to remain nonchalant as long as the Islamist party is financed by the Zionists?

Shoaib mentions about the signing of a treaty between the Bangladesh Awami League and Khelafat Majlish on December 23, 2007 in which the two parties agreed that “No law shall be enacted contrary to the Qur'an, Sunnah and Shariah; Government Recognition to Qaumi Madrasa Certificate will be duly implemented; Laws will be enacted as follows:
“Muhammad [S] is the Last and the Greatest Messenger of Allah”; Certified Righteous Ulemas reserve the right to issue Fatwa (one who is not certified shall not have the right to issue Fatwa); Defamation or criticism of Messengers of Allah and Sahabas is punishable crime.”

Supposing that Shoaib’s statement is true, can any rational person find fault with those clauses in a country with 90% Muslim population? Bangladesh is not an atheist country and in all likelihood will never embrace fundamentalist secularism of the sort Shoaib may be proposing. As an ardent admirer of the Zionist state he knows better that the so-called secular parties in Israel have no problem tangoing with religious parties in forming government, and when it comes to justifying the illegal annexation of Palestinian land even a pork-eating atheistic Jew quotes the Bible. So why apply a different formula for Bangladesh?

It is obvious that to many anti-Muslim bigots and activists everyone can have their religion but when it comes to Muslims they can’t have theirs. If they do, they are promptly branded as “fundamentalists”, “Islamists”, “fanatics”, and even “terrorists.”
Who can forget that Shoaib was one such journalist who claimed not too long ago that the Qaomi madrasa system (with only 5,230 schools) has been breeding terrorists? A recently completed comprehensive study by the World Bank has put to rest all such exaggerated claims and vicious attacks made by paranoid secularists about the Qaomi madrasa system. The system is supported mostly by local communities, and not from foreign donations. It does not breed Talebanism and is not a recruiting platform for militants into the Armed Forces. One can only take pity at propagandists like Shoaib who after the publication of the WB report still continues to discover Jihadists within the Qur’anic madrassas, whose number he deliberately exaggerates to 69,000. He audaciously claims that by endorsing the system the current government “is set to give recognition to the breeding grounds of Jihadists as part of their strategy of gaining support from the radical Muslims in the country.” Guys like him ought to be taught that there was nothing inherently wrong with the traditional madrasa system during the Mughal period. The same madrasa that produced an Islamic luminary like Shaykh Ahmad al-Sirhindi (RA) also produced the architect of the Taj Mahal and Akbar’s most trusted and wisest of the viziers Abul Fazl. Which Bangladeshi Muslim family can deny its heritage with the madrasa system? If during the British Raj we lost that rich vibrant and nourishing heritage that was once the envy of the world, we ought to rediscover and regain it now, and not uproot it.

I am also concerned with Shoaib’s twisted logic when he concludes that the statement “no anti-Shariah law shall be enacted in Bangladesh” is equivalent to “saying that the government of Bangladesh Awami League will enact Shariah Law.” So, Bangladesh must be an Islamist state! He calls the Ba’athist Syria an Islamist state. I should have guessed! By the same token, the Ba’athist regime in Iraq must have been a greater Islamist state! With such friends of the Zionist state, it is not difficult to understand what must have excited Bush Jr. into invading Iraq. Nor are we surprised to learn what Bush Jr. had told French President Chirac, “This confrontation [with Iraq] is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people’s enemies before a New Age begins.”

Shoaib is uncomfortable about recognizing Prophet Muhammad’s (S) high status in Bangladesh. He finds the Muslim belief at odds with secular notions but has no problem accepting equivalent Jewish and Christian claims uttered by western world leaders like Sr. & Jr. Bush, Carter, Clinton and Reagan, let alone the past and present war criminals ruling the Zionist state. He may like to advise his mentors before lecturing us as to how we ought to conduct our business.

For centuries our enemies have known that if Muslims can only be made to abandon Islam that would be the day that they can have full control over us. Thus, they tried through various means and methods, and paid agents to strike at our roots. Shoaib’s crusade against the madrasa system and Islam shows that such conspiracies are still going on.

What is also troubling is that these foreign agents are reportedly financing militant groups so that through their potential anti-social activities Bangladesh could be dumped as a failed state where terrorism rules, thus justifying foreign intervention to root out terrorism. It is no accident that we find blueprints of our disquieting future in exaggerated claims of Shoaib.

Text References:

Friday, May 29, 2009

More on Zia - a dialogue with A. O. Chowdhury


In his rejoinder, Mr. Chowdhury bemoans the fact that I had used the title Major for Zia and not his higher titles that he subsequently earned. My preferred use of “Major” was only to highlight his popularity with that title, especially after reading the prepared statement from the Kalurghat Radio Station declaring independence of Bangladesh as “Major Zia” on behalf of “Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.” As far as the original text of the statement is concerned, it had nothing to do with either Lts. Oli or Shamsher Mobin Chowdhury.

I am also aware that Zia was a year senior to Shafiullah in getting to Pakistan Army. [His family is personally known to me.] Promotions of people, superseding others more senior and qualified, are nothing new in any profession; they are natural parts of our world that we live in. If one is looking for examples, tomes of books can be written with supporting evidences. For our purpose here just ponder on how Gen. Colin Powell was promoted over many of his superiors and more qualified peers to become a 4-star General in April of 1989, during the presidency of H.W. Bush. [He was a C-grade student in Geology at City College of New York (see, e.g., the TV interview with Ted Koppel soon after he was sworn in, and also his graduation speech at the Marymount University in 2006).] However, we don’t have to go to that far: why was Moeen U. Ahmed chosen over A.T.M. Zahirul Alam (who received the Sword of Honor) by the BNP government?

Bottom line is: people (in all walks of life – from political arena to corporate world) like to surround themselves with only those perceived to be less threatening to their position, more helping and cooperating in a crisis, and possessing superior leadership qualities. It is all a matter of perception, prejudice and preference, and not always correct. In choosing Moeen over Zahir, the BNP leadership did not expect 1/11, which backfired on its own face. In choosing Shafiullah over Zia, Sk. Mujib could not escape the fate of 15 August 1975 (irrespective of whether or not Zia was an accomplice to the assassination plot, as is often accused of him by many historians). Allah had different plans for them. Many such promotions within the Army happen based on reports made by several groups including the Military Intelligence. I understand that General Osmani preferred Shafiullah over Zia for a plethora of reasons. Mr. Chowdhury’s own write-up provides further credence to the fact that Zia did not like Osmani either.

Mr. Chowdhury’s statement “Mujib had little love left for Zia who had the 'audacity' to declare independence, even though on Sheikh Mujib's behalf” belies fact and is very problematic showing deplorable prejudice. He himself testifies that Sk. Mujib was the uncontested leader of Bangladesh. In spite of his many flaws, Mujib was a lionhearted individual – a fact that is known to his friends and foes alike. [I can cite dozens of citations to support my assertion here – but resist the temptation because it will open a new discussion altogether, which is outside the scope of this inquiry into Zia.] The mere suggestion of Mr. Chowdhury is preposterous, let alone insulting, to assume that Mujib felt jealous about Zia. If Mujib had felt anything ill about Zia, he easily could have retired him. It was that easy for him. That would possibly have been the end of the story.

Mr. Chowdhury finds my information on Zia’s family as to how Sk. Mujib tried to keep the family together in the post-liberation period “news” to him. I don’t expect everyone to know everything. We all have our limitations. In his own admission, however, he states that Mrs. Zia was “kept under military custody in Dhaka” during the war time. Whatever may have happened during that duration of custody, upon his return from the battlefield, Zia initially did not want to accept his wife. Mujib helped to intervene and reconciled the family.

I am also aware of where Begum Mujib was kept under military protection in Dhanmondi. Next door to hers lived a very close of friend of my father Dr. Abul Bashar whose wife (a physician by profession and mother of Drs. Lisa and Rosa Bashar – then kids) was killed on Dec. 16, 1971 when she tried to enter the premise to give the good news of Pakistan Army’s surrender. [The Pakistani soldiers guarding the house had not by then surrendered, and were still stationed on the roof-top.]

I am aware of Mr. Shamsher M. Chowdhury’s piece in the New Age. [The newspaper and its older flagship - the Weekly Holiday - have been publishing my articles for a long time on a plethora of issues.] As an Ambassador to the USA, he and I had spoken a few times in 2005. When the BNP-MP (Prime Minister’s Adviser on Parliamentary Affairs) Salauddin Q. Chowdhury’s own son Fayyaz and goons had illegally grabbed my Family-properties in Khulshi, Chittagong, evicting 16 tenant families and demolishing nine homes, he was instrumental in arranging my meeting with SaQa in the Prime Minister’s office in late April of 2005. [Although my meeting with SaQa did not sway him to withdraw from our properties, I appreciate Mr. Shamsher Chowdhury’s indulgence to help us.]

Having said that we should not be oblivious of the ex-Ambassador’s strong BNP-partisanship. In recent months, he is a trusted political adviser to Mrs. Zia. Nevertheless, in what follows, my comments to his article reviewing Bill Milam’s book are provided.

Suffice it to say that like all BNP die-hards, Mr. S. M. Chowdhury had difficulty accepting the people’s verdict in the recent election. Thus, he alludes to “a second voter’s list, without photos whose authenticity is yet to be measured.” One can only take pity with such unfounded claims. Maj. Gen. Shafiq was in charge of the voter ID. I have trust in his transparency and honesty. By any measure Dec. 2008 election was the fairest in Bangladesh’s history. People dumped the BNP-Jamat coalition in favor of the coalition forged by the AL.

Because of people’s preference to vote along the party-line, unfortunately, not all the honest candidates were elected and some culprits like SaQa and Babu managed to get elected. [BTW: my cousin sister’s husband, an ex-MP from the BNP, lost his election bid in Chittagong in a highly contested race to a criminal from the AL.] Some irregularities were reported in some precincts. But those were more like exceptions than the norm. I remember during the post-Mujib era, when Zia ran against Osmani in the Presidential election, my father and I could not cast our votes simply because our votes had already been cast by Zia-supporters. And that happened in the early hours of the day with a very low turnout! That is how stage managed our election was during the Zia’s rule! The election of 1973 was a stark contrast to that stage-managed election of Zia.

In those days, the popularity of Sk. Mujib and his party was still very high. As rightly pointed out by Milam since that election win, Mujib’s popularity was on a downward trajectory – the ‘beginning of the end’ for Mujib. Sk. Mujib got more and more isolated by the sycophants (chamchas). Not surprisingly, when the BKSAL was formed, many chamchas including university VCs praised the initiative, and Shafiullah and Zia both joined the party. Such opportunism was quite rampant and Zia was not blameless either. Only few guys had the moral conscience to say that it was wrong and against the very principles that Mujib had fought all his life. That has been the sad saga of our unfortunate nation! As a nation, alas, we have failed to evolve into a rational, level-headed citizenry that knows the harm of chatukarita (undue praise) and what it does to their iconic leaders!

Milam has rightly pointed out the crux of current leadership crisis in Bangladesh – the hair-splitting rivalry between the two jono/gono netris. Milam blamed the ‘poisonous, zero-sum’ political culture of the major political forces in Bangladesh for creating the opportunity for a return of the military in January 2007. As noted by S.M. Chowdhury’s review, Milam detailed how this zero-sum game was played out in the fifteen-plus years of civil political rule since 1991, resulting in a violent and confrontational political culture where the only real losers were the very voters who had entrusted these very politicians with their fate. In retrospect, historians need to answer: is our people more secure today than they were in the Mujib-era? As a neutral observer, I am sad to say that the subsequent leadership has miserably failed in that most important test.

I am rather intrigued by Milam’s characterization of Zia as one who “used corruption to ensure loyalty but was incorruptible himself.” That says a lot about how corruption would increasingly become institutionalized and become the order of the day, a cancerous process which will later see scoundrels like Falu and drop-outs like Tareq to become filthy billionaires in Bangladesh. I have never known of any person in history who can escape from being condemned for buying loyalty through corruption. And yet to many robotic sycophants Zia is viewed as an angelic figure! Whom are they kidding?

Finally, Milam says that Zia’s “political legacy involved an authoritarian system of almost personal rule. While this might be justified because of ‘his success in bringing the country back from the brink’, it was liable to misuse by less scrupulous politicians.”

I doubt Milan’s evaluation of Zia is all that rosy that any blind admirer can feel comfortable about without feeling the pinch of thorns.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Comments on Dr. M.T. Hussain's write-up on Fascism


Recently I came across the above write-up by Dr. M.T. Hussain and unfortunately, found the piece to be nothing but anti-AL cyber-terrorism! He and many such partisans are like idol worshipers of their 'netas/netris' (leaders)! Nothing can be found in their pieces other than exaggerating issues. Such highly polarized views are quite insulting to our intellectual ability to think independently and draw neutral conclusions.

When the Peelkhana tragedy took place I was in Bangladesh glued to the TV to understand various points of views by various experts and analysts. I believe rather strongly that had strong-arm tactics been taken by the Armed Forces to quell the mutiny, many more people would have died. To me, saving one life is like saving humanity. I am no fan of Sk. Hasina and how she conducts her official business. But I felt that the way she had handled the matter coolly was the best way to handle the crisis under the circumstances the country found itself in the face of such a mutiny without any preparation for handling crisis of this nature. The latter Bashundhara fire accident once again highlighted the fact that the country requires a Crisis Management Group to deal with such problems.

If some admirers, chatukars (and our Bangladeshis are too good in this trade!) like Nanak and Azam call PM Hasina now as "Daughter of Peace" should we be concerned? I doubt it. Such epithets, when created undeservingly, start and end with the chatukars. It was the same chatukar bahini that flocked around Sk. Mujib when he ruled the country and okayed the formation of BKSAL. I remember how my mother was so disgusted to hear BUET VC Dr. Waheeduddin praise Sk. Mujib for that political transition (in her words: "Toder VCr moto loko jodi erokom nirlazzer moto chatukarita kore ta hole desher aar kee bhobishat! Deshta kothai jacche?").

M.T. Hussain obviously has no understanding of what Fascism is, otherwise he would not have used the word so profusely, so irresponsibly to depict the behavior of DU (?) VC and Law Minister. In failed illiberal democracies like ours, our politicians and people in authority still have not learned how to talk civil and have the morol-giri "Dekhe Nebo" attitude when they talk with disagreeing subordinates. But to qualify such verbiage with Fascism is stretching facts.

Dr. Hussain, Mia and Hamid idolize Mowlana Bhashani. They may like to read Dr. G. W. Chowdhury's book to understand what their 'great leader' Bhashani was doing in 1971. [See Dr. G.W. Chowdhury’s book - The Last Days of a United Pakistan – and the article: "Bangladesh: Why It Happened." International Affairs. (1973). 48(2): 242-249]

It is true that Rakkhi Bahini was no angel, much like how people view the RAB today. But can one deny the fact that in the post-liberation period many innocent people were killed like "bolir patha" by the hoodlums, terrorists of the Sarbahara Party and many pro-Bhashani/pro-Chinese naxalite groups? These groups' main aim was to crush the freedom fighters during the liberation war, and in the post-liberation era create a failed society with its orgy of murder and terrorism. In its fight with such terrorists, what the Rakkhi Bahini did was nothing unusual for similar forces like the FBI and the ATF in the USA. It is necessary for greater good of the society that stern actions are taken against anti-social bandits. By going after those criminals, unfortunately, the Rakkhi Bahini was much maligned by the opportunist leftists and pro-Pakistani sympathizers in Bangladesh. A very distorted view was created in the free media that the Rakkhi Bahini was better equipped than the Army. Subsequent analysis only unveiled the fact that there was not an iota of truth in all those mailicious claims. Now we know that the so-called Trotskyte Sirajul Alam Khan was actually on the CIA payroll all these years.

Dr. Hussain talks about freedom restored through the killing of Sk. Mujib in August 1975. He has no bite of conscience to say that those who murdered unarmed people like Russel, wives of Jamal and Kamal and many others were "hereos." What a perversion! How can killing of innocent human beings be a heroic act? Can he say the same thing for the killing of Gen. Zia? The problem with such bloated statement is that they only exhibit one's own Fascistic leanings and nothing else.

Dr. Hussain may like to view the link that was recently sent to me by someone - to get a glimpse of good OLD DAYS! If he is looking for Fascism in Bangladesh, these are no flattering scenes to take a peek.

Dr. M.T. Hussain says that the fascist activities of the AL in the post-1996 election led to the party's defeat in 2001. Why then he has problem accepting the simile that the fascist activities of the BNP in post-2001 had led to its defeat in the last election? And yet, he has no qualms about calling the recent election verdict as being doctored by the "US-Indo" block to put their lackeys into power. If one wants to live in a world of hallucination one can only fool oneself and no one else!

I am sure if called for, many AL partisans can show a longer list of grievances than made by the BNP die-hards.

The unfortunate fact is none of the political parties and leaders in Bangladesh have learned anything from history - why people vote for them and why they get rejected. They continue on the old path like "summoom bookmun oomyoons." As Ashis Nandy has so correctly said only with death or retirement of these netris and old netas can we rethink and see some bright light at the end of the tunnel. But retirement is out of question for the defeated Begum, and highly unlikely for the Jononetri! So Bangladesh continues to reinvent her wheel of mismanagement and extortion-based politics. That is the sad reality of our time!

More on "Flashback: Zia that I knew"

Thanks to Mr. Chowdhury for his clarifying remarks that the write-up was his own as an ex-Army officer and was based on his own recollection of those days as he saw Maj. Zia. I assumed that he had merely posted the piece from an ex-officer while protecting the identity of the author. I was mistaken. My salutation to him for being a freedom fighter. Without the sacrifice of people like him, we probably won't have seen the independence of Bangladesh. May Allah reward him.

As far as Major Rafiq is concerned, when he wrote the book "A Tale of Millions", he was not affiliated with any political party. So, I would like to believe that his original version was a non-partisan account. If the book has since gone through revisions on the content, it is possible that changes, if any, may reflect his partisanship of the time. And that would be unfortunate.

No one should contradict the fact that Maj. Ziaur Rahman had read a statement from Chittagong Radio in late March that said that he had declared independence on behalf of Sk. Mujib. I heard it myself along with many residents of Chittagong. I strongly doubt Capt. Oli's version that he or Lt. Shamsher M. Chowdhury had drafted the statement. As I maintain, many of us living in the Nasirabad-Sholoshahar area also saw a print copy of Sk. Mujib's declaration of independence the day after March 25 military crackdown in Dhaka. Why should Sk. Mujib challenge Zia on the matter of declaration from Kalurghat station when it was a fact and not rumor? Was not he the same person who had promoted Zia to become the Deputy Army Chief? Nor should we forget here that Major Zia was reluctant to accept his wife after the war had ended, but it was Sk. Mujib who as a fatherly figure convinced him to do so. It is irony of fate that Mrs. Zia would later celebrate her fake birthday on the day Mujib was murdered. She has been accused of trying to distort history. Politics truly brings the worst in our people.

As to the murder of some 1200 Bengali recruits on the night of March 25 by the Pakistan Army, neither Col. M.R. Chowdhury nor Maj. Zia can escape from being held partially responsible. They failed to warn their rank and file in advance. Unlike Maj. Rafiq, they had full trust in "brotherly love" of Pakistani folks for which blunder many innocent Bangladeshi soldiers were slaughtered.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Corrupt Magistrate in Chittagong is unfit for hearing Arms-haul case


I am really shocked to learn that Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (ACMM) of Chittagong - Mohammad Asaduzzaman Khan has been engaged in a case of national importance like the Arms-haul case. He is an utterly corrupt person who in February 2009 took bribe money (Tk. 40,000) from the advocate for a powerful land-grabbing syndicate in Chittagong to victimize innocent people. The land-grabbing syndicate is led by Jaker Hosain Chowdhury (an ex-Madrasa daptari who was a Razakar during the War of Liberation). Jaker and his crime syndicate were assisted in 2005 by a powerful BNP-MP into illegally grabbing land in Chittagong. While the BNP leader's connection with the syndicate is not clear at this time, the criminal syndicate still poses much threat to the law-abiding ordinary citizens of the Chittagong metropolis and is known for bribing corrupt judges and magistrates like Asaduzzamn Khan to buy favor from the court and magistrate's office.

In mid-February of this year the ACMM Asaduzzaman issued an arrest warrant against four innocent individuals based on false charges brought by Jaker without any police inquiry and verification. There was absolutely no truth to the claims made by Jaker and a police inquiry would have been sufficient to find the falsity of the charges brought against four individuals and know that Jaker had deliberately falsified information to harass them. In those charges, Jaker claimed that an 82-year old person (who barely can walk), aided by his 53-year old daughter, had tried to kill him by squeezing his testicles, while his two sons-in-law kicked him. He claimed that the incident happened on busy hours of the afternoon in front of a busy road. Not surprisingly to exaggerate the gravity of the crime, the 82-year old person was shown as a 52-year old man and his daughter 38-year old.

A mere reading of those charges would have made any person with an iota of intelligence to know that those charges were absurd, absolutely false and ludicrous. But to a corrupt magistrate like Asaduzzaman bribe and not justice and fair play meant more. Thus, instead of usual procedure requiring police inquiry and report, he right away issued arrest warrant against four absolutely innocent human beings. What a mockery of justice! Apprehensive of being put behind the jail on false charges, the four accused had to appeal to the High Court in Dhaka for bail petition, leaving behind an ailing wife, mother and mother-in-law who needed round the clock medical care. Fortunately, they were granted the bail. But imagine the suffering the family had to endure!

For the fairness of the Arms-hauling case, it is necessary that the ACMM, Chittagong, Mr. Asaduzzaman Khan be removed from any duties pertaining to the case. It is also high time that our government takes stern action against Mr. Khan for his aiding and abetting criminals. No one should be above the law and when someone like Mr Khan himself becomes a party to crime and corruption it is a sad day for the health of law and order in Bangladesh. The government cannot afford to have its commitments to fight crime and corruption stained by corrupt magistrates like Asaduzzaman Khan.

Comments on entry of Armed Forces in Politics of Bangladesh


Dr. Sultan Ahmad has correctly pointed out how the armed forces have crept into the politics of Bangladesh. The DGFI's failure to forewarn about any conspiracy and then to create a culture within the country that benefits the military to extract more concessions in all sectors - from grabbing lucrative positions in civil administration of the country to floating military-appeasing parties - has not been all that beneficial to our nation.

I remember how active the DGFI was during the previous caretaker government in trying to float a new party - Jagroto Bangladesh (or whatever it wanted to name). The DGFI hosted a program in Dhaka for the expatriates in December 2007 and before that with the cooperation of the Military Attache to the NY High Commission hastily arranged some meetings in some major U.S. cities when Gen. Moeen U. Ahmed was visiting the USA. In all these events the guests included DGFI-selected expatriates that were deemed supportive.

Many observers of the Peelkhana carnage believe that the same DGFI and Military Intelligence had failed not only to warn the government of the conspiracy but also deliberately leaked out the proceedings of the meeting between the prime minister and the family members of the victims. The BDR carnage created such a commotion within the Army that within the first couple of days of the event many young officers were on the brink of taking power in a military coup. They approached some top ranking officers to get the blessing for the coup, and fortunately for our nation, one such officer approached was able to cool them down. Unfortunately, this same patriotic, non-partisan (without any party favoritism) officer who had stopped the coup from taking shape was asked to step down and forced to retire by mid-March, just few days before I was scheduled to meet him and give a talk in a seminar that he had arranged for me. One can only take pity on those decision makers in Bangladesh - as to how they transfer and retire honest good officers!

For quite some time, the armed forces of Bangladesh have been pushing for greater role in the model of Turkey and Indonesia. As any neutral analyst would testify none of those models has proven to be beneficial to those countries. In all likelihood, Bangladesh would not have a honeymoon experience either with such an experimentation. The unfortunate fact, however, is it is our corrupt politicians that have only helped the appetite of military elitists within Bangladesh through foul policies and vices. Little thought has ever been given in the last four decades to the betterment of the real people - the downtrodden masses - the Salimuddin-Kalimuddins and Rahima Bibis within our society that work in the fields and factories, pull the rickshaws and break the bricks. Thus, rather than investing more on social projects that help boost education and economy, thereby bettering the quality of life, we have been spending hard-earned foreign currency in the military sector, something that we can ill-afford on a long-term basis.

What is needed is a paradigm shift - a new and fresh way of introspection that helps our politicians and military guys to know their boundaries of acceptable engagement in the public sector. People expect them to perform their specific duties honestly, diligently and transparently. When they deliver those deliverables that would be the day we can all rejoice.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Comments on a NFB write-up "Zia that I knew"


From the link in NFB:, it is obvious that Mr. A.O. Chowdhury is not the person whose account on Zia we are reading, but that he is simply relaying information from an admirer of Ziaur Rahman (see, e.g., the statement: "Retrospect - This is a story related to me by a friend, who preferred to remain anonymous"). This kind of posting is problematic in the sense that it does not allow the reader to know who actually is the author, and therefore, whether or not, one can trust him. If the author is serious, he ought to disclose his identity and let people judge the credibility of his story. To me, the write-up appears to come from a blind supporter of the BNP who wants to salvage Zia's image on some controversial issues.

The writer's account of the 1971 Pakistani crackdown in Chittagong is somewhat difficult to believe and is at variance with the accounts provided by Major Rafiq in his "The Tale of the Millions". How did the 8th Bengal revolt and under whose leadership on the night of March 25? What happened to Zia's own family members, including wife? Note that 8th Bengal's no. 2, Maj. Zia, himself was on his way to the port for unloading arms for the Pakistan Army. Before that night, Maj. Rafiq says that both Zia and M.R. Chowdhury were opposed to take arms against the Pakistani soldiers. In his lifetime, Zia never challenged Rafiq's version of history. As a prize for their trust with the Pakistan Army, Col. M.R. Chowdhury was the first senior officer of Bangladeshi origin who was killed by the Pakistani forces in Chittagong on the night of March 25. Not only that, some 1200 Bengali new recruits were killed in Sholoshahar camp, located only a couple of miles away from my home. If either of them had a little doubt about their "trusting" Pakistani brethren many observers and analysts believe that most of those lives would have been saved.

The report also seems to be a revisionist attempt in doctoring history. It says, "Here on March 27, 1971, Zia made his famous declaration of independence at the Kalurghat Radio Station. According to Oli, he was instrumental in the making of the declaration. He even claimed to have made Zia. Shamsher told me that he drafted the final version of the declaration. So much for the controversy over the declaration of independence made by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on the night of March 25, 1971." I remember very well seeing a copy of Sk. Mujib's telegraph material on the evening of March 26. I have no clue who wrote that piece, how it was sent and to whom. It had Sk. Mujib's name printed at the bottom, giving the impression that it was sent on his behest. Thus, this material which was later to be called the declaration of independence by Sk. Mujib was seen by me and many others in Chittagong at least 24 hours before I heard Zia's short speech in broken Bengali over the radio. If the declaration was written by Shamsher M. Chowdhury, it is news to us. I don't recall the ex-U.S. Ambassador claiming such.

Only two doors next to our home "Prantik" on Zakir Hossain Road lived Bangladeshi Capt. Moslem and Punjabi Capt. Rizvi. If I am not mistaken Moslem was with the Signal corps and had shown the copy to elders in our locality. After Chittagong fell to the Pakistan Army he fled from his home (and probably joined the retreating Bangladeshi forces like Zia and many others that survived). I have, therefore, serious doubt about Oli's version and find the report to be a sly attempt to distort history.

This statement of mine should not be interpreted as belittling Zia's, Shamsher's and Oli's contribution during our liberation war. What I am cautioning against is that in our love for anyone, we need not rewrite history to undeservedly give credit to someone when it is not due. When we do that we only soil their image. Unfortunately, in a highly partisan atmosphere of ours, I see many such blind supporters who are doing disservice to our nation.

Intellectuals within our community have to rise above petty, narrow partisanship (above idol worship of their iconic figures) to be taken seriously.

[See this author's old article on the same subject:]

Friday, May 22, 2009

Comments on Crucifixion or Crucifiction and lost Messages of God

The Muslim belief is drawn from the Qur'an which says that Isa (AS) was neither killed nor crucified but that it appeared as if he had embraced one of those fates; and surely he was not killed; instead Allah took him up to heaven intact; and that before his actual death all the people of the Scriptures - meaning Jews and Christians who came before Muslims - will believe in him as Allah's messenger. (4:157-159) So, any belief contrary to this which has been put down in the Qur'an is unacceptable. Do the Jewish people who believe in the Torah believe in Jesus as Allah's messenger (4:171) today? No. So, the clear message that one can draw from the Qur'an is that Jesus has not died yet.

Now as to the question of can the messages of Allah which were relayed to His Messengers be contaminated and/or lost? In either case, the answer is Yes. It is for the people to follow or not to follow the message of Allah SWT. That freedom is with people to choose. They are also the ones who can decide to preserve or not preserve what they heard or wrote down. However, as is often the case, human beings continue to be derailed by devil for it knows better about their state, their weaknesses, than they themselves. And that is why it did not take too long for Satan to mislead people within few years of Jesus's ascension to heaven. Not only were they confused about his very identity, but also about his message and about his last days on earth. The proof is within the so-called NT (new testament) accounts - from the so-called synoptic gospel accounts, and the Gnostic gospel of John. These so-called God-inspired writers could not even agree on his genealogy. They did not agree on many things about him. The interested readers may like to read Mowlana Rahmatullah Kiranwi's "Izharul Haaq" for a list of such textual contradictions within the gospel accounts.

It is no accident that within few years of Jesus's ascension, we come across many groups of Christians with competing claims and gospels. We are told that before the Nicene convention in 325 CE there were dozens of gospels, written in various languages, with various messages, letting people believe different things. For this a reading of writings of Christian fathers in the first three centuries is enough. Most of these gospel accounts were later rejected by the early fathers of Christianity to agree on 4, which have formed the Christian Canon. By this time the overall dominance of the Pauline Christianity was almost complete within the Roman territories. The dissenters lived in territories away from direct Roman rule, e.g., to the territories in the south in Arabia Felix and Syria. We are in possession today of some of those original manuscripts written by dissenting groups that are at variance with canonical ones.

The problem with Jesus's message being contaminated or original message having lost is not unique though in human history. Many old scriptures or messages sent by Allah are lost. People could not or did not preserve such messages completely. The Jewish Bible mentions about loss of some 30 Books. What happened to those Books? How is it that the extant copies of the most original manuscripts of Christian gospels are not in the very language of Jesus? Why did they fail to preserve any in his own language? Who can deny that when a message is translated often times the words or expressions chosen are reflections of how it was interpreted by the scribe or translator? Even someone's name can be unwisely translated without retaining the very words thus creating much confusion amongst people in later times. Thus, a statement in Arabic like: Habib Siddiqui said that he was a Muslim can be translated into English - "Beloved Saint said that he ...." To a person who is reading this statement would have no definitive clue that the phrase "Beloved Saint" had come from the words "Habib Siddiqui", if the original text was not preserved.
It is there that the Qur'an remains the unique Message of Allah, in a different league from any other previous scriptures. The language in which it came still retains it as such without adding or deleting anything. Even if all the books were to disappear today by earthquake or some other disaster, the entire Qur'an is in the memory of many Muslims who can produce it the way it was preserved all these 14 centuries.

When Muhammad (S) came there were hardly a handful of people who had preserved the gist of the message of Jesus, let alone the uncorrupted text of his message. It was time that Allah decided to send his last messenger - Muhammad Ahmad Mustafa (S) - the best of mankind for guidance of not only Arabs, but everyone - with the Last Message - the complete message - Al Qur'an, in which is guidance for all. Whoever lives by this message is saved.

Comments on Clandestine arms trade and the trial


The disclosure by the top former Army directors puts to rest the controversy that the BNP government was directly involved in arms shipment to rebel groups. While transparency with all government activities is much desirable, such a disclosure in an open court is sometimes viewed as compromising national interest. Not surprisingly that former U.S. Vice President Cheney is so upset with the Obama Administration for releasing torture memos and photos.

As the New Nation report shows such clandestine activities are rather common and very few countries with problem neighbors or hegemonic aspirations can escape from being embarrassed from such disclosures. For decades, India had her hands full with the LTTE and the Shanti Bahini collaboration to destabilize Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, respectively. Pakistan was involved with the Taliban. During our own nation's bloody struggle for liberation in 1971, although India had not officially committed to our independence before August of that year, she was involved in not only providing training to our Muktijoddhas but sent them with arms to destabilize the Pakistan regime months earlier. It is not difficult to understand why at one time Bangladesh government may have allowed shipment of arms to the ULFA rebels.

Knowing that such engagements are often counter productive and can only cause tension with neighbors, it is important that such activities are abandoned and instead all efforts are made toward improving bilateral relationships with a problem neighbor. Bangladesh should be able to discuss her love-hate relationship with India and find out a workable formula that aims at strengthening the bond at equal footing. Realizing Bangladesh's geo-strategic location, India can ill-afford to treat Bangladesh as her new Sikkim. With an Awami League government in power, she should waste no time to revising her policies in respect to Bangladesh and desist from activities that are mutually destructive. Let wisdom and not narrow self-interest guide leaders on both sides to cement the bilateral relationship and create an atmosphere of mutual trust and prosperity for both peoples - Bangladeshis and Indians.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Comments about Prof. Abul Barakat's "Fundamentalist Economy" in Bangladesh


Thanks for sharing this old piece from Mr. Shah Abdul Halim on Prof. Abul Barakat's paper. As the analysis shows Dr. Barakat has not been thorough in his research work. He has either failed to offer supporting evidences for his claims or has exaggerated numbers for the Islamic sector of the economy. It is really sad to see the level of intellectual bankruptcy from an academic of one of the premier institutes of the country. That says a lot about one's academic preparation and the school one earned degree from.

I remember in the post-liberation period many of my class-mates opting out for an easy degree from the USSR rather than getting a hard-earned university degree from within Bangladesh. Some of these Bangladeshi students in the USSR continued their education beyond the BS/BA degrees to eventually obtain PhD degrees from schools like the Patrice Lumumba University that lack academic credibility, and are known to give 'soft' 'political' degrees to implant their brainwashed 'robots' to creep into important positions of the country that had sent them. No wonder, a classmate of mine, who was considered the worst student (with worst GPA) in my class in cadet college, was the first one amongst his batch mates to earn a PhD from one such USSR university and return home, and obviously holding now a good position in the public sector. I don't know which university did Barakat graduate from in the USSR, but if his research work is one barometer to judge his credibility, I am simply not impressed and am genuinely concerned.

Barakat's sloppy, unsubstantiated, below-standard work has only polarized our community against anything to do with Islam. Worse still, it has given ammo to people with ulterior motives to misuse implications of his work. If he had cooked up numbers deliberately, that would only prove that he is a disingenuous individual with an ulterior motive to unnecessarily create confusion and polarize people against Islam and Muslims. In another work, he falsely claimed that millions of acres of Bangladeshi land belonged to Hindus and that Muslims had grabbed such illegally. Again, he cooked up numbers to make a point around so-called victimization of Hindus. Soon that work was translated into every Indian language and distributed widely by activists of RSS/BJP/HM/Sangha Parivar, fueling much tension against Muslims in India. He was even nominated for awards in India for his 'earth-shattering discoveries', which, he wisely declined to accept.

But fact remains that he discovers 'fundamentalism' where it is absent. One wonders if he is under the payroll of some secular fundamentalist group! Unfortunately, with a secular and almost agnostic media and intellectual cadre behind him, all his sloppy works are treated like Vedic words. It is necessary that biased intellectuals like him are unmasked for their intellectual bankruptcy and catering to foreign interests that breed tension and hatred within our society.

Is India involved with the BDR Carnage?


Thanks to Barrister Munshi for sharing with us the fact that during the period of BDR carnage, a large section of Bangladesh's Army officers was in India conducting joint exercise. As to his question: - was this mere coincidence or a pre-planned exercise to divert a section of our officers and soldiers away from Dhaka in those critical days? - if India had planned the carnage by its own operatives, the answer would obviously be - No. That is, Indian government or her agency RAW made sure that the critical support to rescue the detained officers could not be met internally. Knowing that such training exercises don't happen on a short notice, one would be pushed to believing that the planning was an old one.

However, such speculations do not help us to unearth the mystery when we consider the fact that during Sk. Mujib's assassination, some of the top ranking Army officers, including (later promoted) Gen. Ershad, were in India on training. The Rakkhi Bahini chief was also overseas. Were those countries - India and UK - parties to Sk. Mujib's assassination? I doubt seriously.

As I said before, my personal analysis draws me to believe that the BDR carnage on Feb. 25 was a local event that was carried out by some rogue BDR Jawans that had problems with Army leadership inside the BDR. Some were severely disciplined before by their officers. They were the conspirators for the carnage. They, like most innocent Jawans, had a laundry list of grievances - some genuine, some misunderstanding - which apparently were ignored (or perceived as such) for quite some time by the Army officers. There is little doubt that most of those grievances had good support within the BDR Jawans, but very few knew how the matter was going to end or how the conspirating planners within the disgruntled Jawans had written the script.

It is not difficult to understand why some representatives of the BDR had approached politicians from all major parties, hoping that their concerns would be heard and acted on. It is also possible that those politicians thought that a majority of those grievances could have been dealt in an orderly and calmly manner, without resorting to violent means, if the scheduled Darbar Hall meeting had taken place with its agenda intact. Instead, what seems to have happened is that the conspirators had already decided to turn the Darbar Hall meeting into a "do or die" show. That is why they had even dug graves inside the HQ a few days earlier. In the initial hours of the rebellion, they were smart enough to exploit the cumulative anger of the BDR Jawans to rally behind them for their action. And once they had executed the bulk of their evil deeds, they tried to buy time under the name of negotiation. And in this ploy they succeeded.

But can't one find a parallel of the BDR carnage with what happened in August 15, 1971 when Faruq, Dalim, Rashid and some other disgruntled officers took the matter of settling their disputes with the ruling party through murdereous campaign? We are told that these murderers even had consulted and discussed some parts of their plan with some important individuals - who were to later become Presidents of Bangladesh. Was there any foreign conspiracy for those murders? We still don't know which country, if any, was involved with that assassination campaign!

LTTE's chief Prabhakaran's death


I could not agree more with Gopal Sengupta's comment - "The grievances of Tamils turned violent and acquired a separatist character only after decades of peaceful struggle failed." Is this any different than what is seen elsewhere with all such armed struggles around our world today - e.g., in places like Kashmir, Assam, Nagaland, Palestine, Mindanao Island (S. Philippines)? Unfortunately, in all these places, legitimate grievances and concerns of the affected groups, deemed weak, are routinely ignored, until they simmer for long enough to enflame with all their ugliness. That is how a freedom fighter in Kashmir and Palestine is viewed as a terrorist by the state authorities. Knowing their edge with killing machines, not surprisingly, the powerful state authorities have always preferred settling the scores in the battlefield, and not over round-tables. Thus, we are not surprised that the LTTE chief, the master terrorist, today is dead. But does his death stop the LTTE movement? Probably, not, unless Sri Lankan leaders make difficult compromises.

Only time would tell if the Buddhist Sri Lanka, with the death of Tamil leader, will patch up its differences with the Tamil minority thus making the country receptive of minority concerns.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Dialogue with a Hindu Bigot is impossible

After publication of my article on India-Bangladesh’s roller coaster love-hate relationship (, I got a letter from someone named A.K. Biswas (who writes his name unpunctuated as Dr.akbiswas from Mayacorp,USA). He likes to present himself as a doctor, although through his letters published in the NFB, he has repeatedly demonstrated that his knowledge of English is skimpy at best. One wonders whether he ever graduated from high school; if he did, he probably did not deserve that degree.

Biswas is a known Hindu bigot, an extremist with foul mouth, big egos, and all hatred for the Muslim people and Islam. He blames Muslims for partition of India, and sees nothing but a scoundrel in Muslim leaders like Suhrawardy who championed for a united Bengal with Hindu leaders like Sarat Bose and Kiran Sarker Roy. Obviously, he is unaware of Suhrawardy-Bose Plan for Bengal that tried to preserve the unity of Bengal. His history starts and ends with Hindu suffering, and has no room for others. Thus, he is oblivious of and totally unconcerned about the Muslim suffering.

In 1946-47 my father, studying at Calcutta University, and residing at the Baker Hostel, had to save his life from Hindu rioters by hiding inside a water tank on the roof of the hostel. Many of his fellow Muslim students were killed by Hindu mobs. Hundreds of thousand acres of precious Muslim land were lost to Hindu India after the partition of 1947. My next door neighbor – the Ispahani family - in Chittagong was one of the biggest losers in such land-grabs by the Indian government and Hindu land-grabbers. Threatened by land-grabbers, his family members and estate managers can’t even go near those properties. My father who cherished doing business in Kolkata had to settle for Chittagong after graduating from Calcutta University. In the face of India’s unfriendly policy with Muslim girls’ institutions, my mother could not complete her education in Calcutta and had to complete hers in the new province of East Pakistan. Hundreds of thousand of Muslims were killed by Hindu mobs in those nasty days of Partition when jubilation turned into massacre. And yet, to a one-eyed narrow-minded Hindu bigot like Biswas such facts on Muslim suffering meant nothing.

Bangladesh had a very bloody birth in 1971 that saw the killing of many innocent people of all religious persuasions and ethnicities. Many of my own classmates, friends and family members were killed during that liberation war. My father was taken by the Pakistan Army in the early days of April, soon after the fall of Chittagong, to be shot. Miraculously, he survived. And then to save his life, for most of the 9-month long period of our liberation struggle, he had to go into hiding. Some of our tenants were taken into prison by the Pakistani Army. My father’s business warehouse was repeated robbed, while his business suffered enormous loss. During that period of our personal tragedy and suffering, we opened our doors to anyone requiring shelter. While we ourselves were living a life of anxiety and fear, we did not hesitate to open our doors to a Hindu family (of professor Hari Shadhan Das) who lived the entire period in our house.

But such information is irrelevant to a Hindu extremist like Biswas. A respectable dialogue with him has proven to be absurd. When one tries to open his minds to the other side of the tragic story, he resorts to name-calling, showing his gutter-self and low-upbringing. So, this time, when I received his letter I was not sure whether to reply or just ignore it. But I ended up making the wrong decision, and wrote him the following letter:

“Thanks for your comments. As you well know the division of India along ethnic and religious lines has not been an easy one for any its people. Much to the ignorance of many people, the Islamic Ulama were against partition - they were actually more secular in matters of politics than secular politicians. That is why one of the greatest Indian scholars, Mowlana A.K. Azad opposed it so vehemently. [You may like to read his interpretation of the Qur'an to see his wisdom and knowledge on Islam and world history.] Even the same Mowdudi and others within the Jamat-e-Islami who are now blamed for problems with Pakistan were no friends for independence of Pakistan. It was the secularist section within the Muslim community (esp. leadership) that opted for partition. They can't be blamed either. They were afraid of the likes of Ballav Bhai Patel and many RSS folks that were not accommodating to the Muslim minority interest. Truly, if India was full of people like Jinnah, a highly secular person (more than anyone including Gandhi and Nehru) - excuse my metaphor here - there would not be a need for a separate Pakistan. This fact is now conveniently forgotten by many Hindus.

As to the post-1971 Bangladesh, as a neutral observer of Bangladesh history (without any party favoritism), I cannot discount the impact the nation felt right from its birth -- from looting of its industrial machines by the Indian Army soon after 16 Dec., '71 to many acts that only widened our gap. Over the years, Bangladeshi people felt that India was taking a big brother-like attitude to its neighbor. Nobody likes that attitude. Living with that attitude is even more difficult. Then there were the terrible effects of the Farakka Barrage, and now Tipaimukh dam, and the daily killings of Bangladeshi farmers inside Bangladesh by BSF around the border -- none of which is making it easy for softening attitude inside Bangladesh towards India. That is why, like many neutral observers of history, I blame India for transforming Bangladeshi people's attitude from positive to a negative one in the post-liberation period towards the Indian government. Such a fair evaluation is unfortunately interpreted by many Hindus, esp. those from India, that Bangladesh is inherently hostile to India and has forgotten the contribution that India had made for its liberation. But that would be a misreading. What Bangladesh does not like is hegemony. It welcomes cooperation on an equal footing, in spite of its smallness of area, population, resources, etc.

I wish India had given much thought as to how her actions foment anger inside Bangladesh. If it cared, I am sure over the years, we could have patched our differences and become good neighbors. That attitude would help govt. to arrest anger within Bangladesh. Is India ready to reflect? How about its intellectual community? How about you? Are you willing to educate your fellow community as to what needs to be done to improve Indian image inside Bangladesh? If you do, that would be the start of a glorious future that we can all feel good about. Let's do our part to make our world a better living place!

As to your comment about how Hindus are being looked at inside Bangladesh by the Muslim majority, it is not true. They are very well placed and none have lost job for any discrimination. I have several Hindu friends that I have maintained friendship for nearly half a century from my kindergarten days. The same goes for many of our generation and later and older ones, too. Unfortunately, some RSS/BJP radicals within the Hindu community have been trying to provide an unkind, unflattering image about Bangladesh - not for the sake of truth but for polarizing one community against another. They would take some small incidents here and there and make a generalized statement to portray a negative image about Bangladesh. If those types of examples are generalized one would find that India is worse off compared to Bangladesh in its record on the minorities.

We need to stop these dividing factors - the religious extremists - on either side. They cannot work without blowing up incidents to polarize each camp. As I see it, Govt. can play an important role in this. E.g., if India wants to improve its image inside Bangladesh, it should note that controlling water of international rivers like the Ganges and Brahmaputra is illegal, killing farmers in the border territory is provocative, let alone being criminal, a domineering attitude on foreign relations and trade is unworkable in a globalized world of ours and only leads to further alienation.”

Well, we can only try to have a rational dialogue with two-legged human beings and not with some animals that are locked in the Darwin’s evolutionary path from making that quantum jump from the lower animal state.

Hoping against hope, I thought that Biswas had evolved into a human being that is capable of having an intelligent dialogue or conversation, but I was absolutely wrong. He attacked me with such a foul language and unspeakable filthy words that is only seen amongst the children of whores. Through his bastardly language once again he has disappointed me.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Comments on 1975 Coups and General Moin’s Book

Ms. Ranu Chowdhury's comments only prove that he is a BNP partisan who has serious problem with General Moin's account of the history in the post-75 era that he wrote about in his recent book. Truly, R. Chowdhury's is an insulting piece (and not an analysis) and adds little value to our understanding of the events in 1975 or around 1/11. While the writer questions every piece of information that is put forth by the young officer - then a Second Lt. - Moin, she fails to tell us why we should believe her side of the truth and not Moin's. Who was she then, how did she know what truly happened back then? Did she have first-hand info, or second or third-hand info? From whom? How reliable is such info?

I see many such BNP-diehards these days that are upset with Gen. Moin and ex-President Iajuddin simply because they failed them to satisfy their evil desires in the post-1/11 era. Mind that it was the BNP that had put them in those high positions – deservedly or undeservedly. They are the ones that put Gen. Moin over some other officers that may had a better record within the Bangladesh Military (including my classmate Lt. Gen. Zahir) - hoping all along that he could be misused when needed. The same goes for Prof. Iajuddin. When Moin failed to carry out their evil intention in the pre-1/11 era that is when he became the 'bad' guy in their dictionary. And not surprisingly, Moin is now ridiculed as a 'tiny', 'shorty' officer who was “no-body important” and “only to be seen” and “not heard” during the coup of 1975; and his account of the history as a pro-Awami League rendering! That is like illegal punching below the belt. We could have been spared of this demeaning punditry from R. Chowdhury.

R. Chowdhury mentions about learning of the 1975 coup from "the horses' mouth." Can she disclose who those horses were? Her 'analysis' also lacks common sense. She says: “Zia instructed Nawazish to protect Khaled. But the angry troops killed their prize shortly afterwards.” What does it tell us about Zia's own leadership standing amongst his subordinate officers?

She questions the rationale behind long meetings of Sk. Mujib with the Pakistani leaders: "Yet, I fail to understand why he went and engaged himself in lengthy negotiations with the Pakistanis, following his master speech on March 7, 1971?" It is really interesting and makes one wonder where the writer was back in 1971! Does she assume that the March 7 speech of Mujib was sufficient to declare Independence from Pakistan and that Mujib needed not to meet with Yahya subsequently? It is always easy to blame any leader for a decision that went wrong or unintended consequences of one's decision made at the heat of the moment. But let's face facts about what would have happened if Mujib had done so. Was Major Zia ready to defend Bangladeshis in their struggle in Mid-March of 1971? Let R. Chowdhury answer this question honestly. How about Col. M. R. Chowdhury who was stationed in Ctg. Cantt.? How about Brig. Majumdar who was also stationed in Chittagong? Were these and other high ranking Bengali officers ready to lead us in the ensuing battle against the Pakistan army?

Based on what I read from the historical accounts of other officers and Freedom Fighters and what I was told by friends of some top-ranking AL leaders from Chittagong - Abdul Hannan, Dr. Zafar and M.R. Siddiqui – I am sorry to state that there were not too many Major Rafiqs in those days. Zia and Chowdhury were absolutely against fighting against their fellow "Pakistani" brethren. [See, e.g., Major Rafiq's "The Tale of the Millions"]

If Mujib had declared independence on March 7, it would have been not only suicidal for our nation, but worse still, our nation would not have garnered outside support from the international community, which, as we know, had been critical to gaining our independence. Yahya’s extermination campaign would have been rightly interpreted an “internal” affair, not that he did not try to sell it as such even after March 25 (but with little success). At the behest of Army orders, it would have been our own Ziaur Rahman, M.R. Chowdhury and Majumdar that would have bayoneted and shelled our own guys for trying to secede from Pakistan and violating the Constitution. The on-going negotiation also proved that Mujib cared more about the lives of the ordinary people than many hothead “Nidhiram Sardars”, some of whom actually were working as pro-Chinese and Pakistani agents [See in this regard: Dr. G.W. Chowdhury’s book - The Last Days of a United Pakistan – and the article: "Bangladesh: Why It Happened." International Affairs. (1973). 48(2): 242-249]. It is now so convenient to criticize Sk. Mujib for his decision to negotiate with Yahya Khan.

The writer fails to mention that the appointment for Rezzaqul Haider Chowdhury to replace Moin as the new army chief came from the BNP leader, while the party was no longer in power, and that decision was illegal and should have come, if at all, from the President. Well, Moin was smart enough to see what was happening and understand why he was getting replaced by the same power that had put him in the first place. So, he did what he felt he should have done to counter the BNP-orchestrated coup. The rest is history today. As any keen observer of the incident would notice in the early stage of the military backed government of Dr. Fakhruddin there was no special privilege shown to Awami League and its corrupt leadership. Many guys from all walks of life were booked under various charges. Of course, there were more culprits from the BNP than there were Awami Leaguers. Given the fact that the erstwhile government was of BNP and not from AL, it is not difficult to understand the reason for such arrests.

R. Chowdhury disagrees with Moin's version of 1975 history of coups. She believes that the August coup had support within the top officers, probably including Brigadier Khaled Mosharraf, the army chief of general staff. According to her, the latter when told that the tanks that were taken out on the night of the coup did not have the ammunition for their main guns, immediately sent out a hand written note to issue shells for the cannons. And yet Khaled is mentioned as a pro-India guy and was killed in the Nov. ’75 coup. How does R. Chowdhury reconcile such anomalies?

If the reader has problem with Moin's account of history, there are dozens of books that are available on the subject today in Bangladesh – written in Bengali and English, some written based on accounts given by military officers like Shafat Jamil, Shafiullah, Faruq and others. Such would better serve our interest to get to the truth and nothing but the truth rather than a revisionist attempt by Ms. R. Chowdhury that faults anything that is at odd with her pro-BNP line, even that of a personal account of a young officer who had claimed to share his knowledge of the events honestly.

Politicians - they aren't like you and I

What’s your opinion about politicians? I personally don’t entertain good opinion about them. Why? Well, I have a null hypothesis about them: politicians are liars. They have to prove me wrong before I accept an alternative hypothesis. As far as I am concerned, they are not trustworthy. Before the election they would promise all the things you care about, but as soon as they are elected it seems that they suffer from selective amnesia. They forget all those promises. When you remind them of any particular promise, they say that either it is no longer in their priority list any more or that they are now better informed why not to fulfill it. You wonder how something could have changed so fast! Were you late in getting to the politician before the lobbyist from the opposing side approached him or her?

Politicians, to me, are more like pleaders, pimps and prostitutes. They are unethical (with rare exceptions of some honest lawyers). They have a price-tag with which they can be bought and sold. The price, of course, varies from politician to politician. Some like money, some like property, some like entertainment, some like sports, some like raw meat – you know what I mean. Lobbyists are good at telling you what goes for whom and how much.

Even after knowing all the bad things I still end up casting my vote for them. Like many others, I believe that if I have not cast my vote, I have virtually failed to do my civic duty. I like to vote for the lesser of the evils, always hoping against hopes that once in a while I would be proven wrong, and that the politician I have voted for would do the things for which I have elected him or her to the political office. Well, you can’t truly blame me for hoping for the best.

The last time when I voted it was the 2008 Presidential election in the USA. The Republican Senator McCain was running against Democrat Senator Obama. McCain, to me, meant the same old thing – the Bushy stuff. Obama sounded like a fresh breath of air, offering to change the course of direction the country had taken under Bush and Cheney. It was eight long, bad years. I could not let a repeat of another term under McCain, let alone settle for eight years.

Would you believe if I were to disclose a secret – I voted for Governor Bush in the first election, the one held in 2000? You remember the hanging-Chads in Florida! Well, like many suckers, I was fooled into believing in George W. He sounded less of a politician to me compared to Vice President Gore. He sounded honest and honorable – rare characteristics with politicians these days. He spoke about the rights of the Palestinian people. Wow! That is unbelievable! Too tempting! If you had followed my writings and speeches for the past three decades, you know why I had voted for him. I wanted to believe in his promise about at least restoring some rights of these unfortunate people. But it did not take too long for me to find out that he was a hypocrite.
You see we have a definition for hypocrisy: a hypocrite lies, breaks promise and abuses trust. Bush fulfilled all those three characteristics. In my book, of all the U.S. Presidents that had ruled the USA in the last 50 years, he undoubtedly was the worst. He was the worst nightmare for all those who sought peace, justice and fairness. And you know what -- as the most powerful man on earth, he had all the right resources and relationship to do the right thing. [After all, what is the definition of a great leadership other than maximizing results (R) utilizing the resources (R) one have while exploiting relationship (R)? Remember the 3R’s.] But Bush failed miserably on all three counts. He betrayed not only his own countrymen but millions of others outside that wanted to believe in his message of compassionate conservatism. The 9/11 crisis brought the worst in him. He started behaving like Hulaku Khan, personifying evil and everything that is wrong with America.

So, the next time, when it came for me to vote in 2004, I did not vote for Bush. I voted for the loser – Senator John Kerry. In October of 2008, shortly before the November election date, I had to go out in an overseas trip. But I did not want to waste my vote. Therefore, before I took the trip, I cast my ballot in favor of Obama as an absentee voter. I remember sitting in front of the TV all night some 10,000 miles away on the election night to find out if my man had won. I was so glad to see Obama win.

It was only ten days ago that I wrote a favorable article on Obama, congratulating him for reversing Bush’s torture policy declaring that it was wrong. Obama even hinted that he would release more memos and photos on torture. But last Thursday, May 14, 2009, he all on a sudden had a change of heart. He decided against releasing any more new photos stating that such would compromise America’s national interest and make it difficult for his troops now stationed overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan. Why such a change of policy, so soon? If you recall it was the ex-speaker (Republican) Newt Gingrich who last month objected to the release of those sensitive photos, calling Obama’s decision “un-American.” And then on Sunday, May 10, former vice president Cheney showed up on TV again repeating the same message. Is it difficult to surmise that Obama has caved into the Republican pressure – the very people who authorized torture, soiling America’s prestige?

What do you expect from the politicians? We should have known that Obama is a politician and not one of us. Politicians are not ordinary citizens. They do things like politicians and not like us. That is why back in 2006 Obama campaigned for fellow Senator Joe Lieberman – the war-mongering politician – who was seeking reelection for the Senate Democratic ticket in the state of Connecticut against the pro-peace candidate Ned Lamont. [After losing that primary election, Lieberman ran as an independent candidate and got elected with the Republican support.]

In believing in Obama in 2008, we forgot 2006. So, now we are having some rude awakening moments – one after another. On Friday, May 15, 2009, Obama declared that he would reform and restart the military tribunals that he once reviled for Guantanamo Bay detainees. Worse still, this decision would jeopardize his own timetable for closing the prison by January 2010.
Thus, much like the matter with torture photos, in one swift move, Obama has not only backtracked on a major campaign promise to change the way the United States fights terrorism, but also undermined the nation’s core respect for the rule of law. Has he forgotten his own metaphor that no matter how one tries to put lipstick to a pig, it will remain a pig? The way things are, don’t be surprised if you next hear him rollback the January 2010 deadline for shutting down the Guantanamo Bay prison to a later date. Don’t be shocked either if politician Obama rolls back the withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Iraq beyond his promise date of December 31, 2011.

Obama is a politician, after all! He is not like you and I.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Some comments on the Crusades

Thanks to Mr. Rahman for sharing his highly informative article on the Crusade. As we all know, the Christian Crusade against Islam and the Muslim world never really stopped, not even when our problem first surfaced around the early 20th century with the betrayal of the Arabs against the Ottoman Turkish Empire, and the Freemasonic coup detat by the Kemalist Young Turks. That is why, when Gen. Allenby landed in Syria after the conquest of the territory, he was heard saying in front ot the grave of Sultan Salahuddin Ayyubi (R) that the Crusaders were back, and that "Today the Crusade has ended." Soon the Muslim crescent - the vast territories in what is called the Middle-East -- would be divided into a few kingdoms and sheikhdoms, Turkey itself sized to the barest minimum, and the cancerous state of Israel created displacing some 722,000 inhabitants.

In the last 60 plus years, the Muslim world has seen nothing but a repetition of that Crusading mindset from Christian dominated West and its new partner the Zionists - bent on humiliating us physically, economically, intellectually and every way. And the way things are with our people, which has become a nation of zero plus zero plus zero ...., I don't see anything good happening to our people before the major battle (which the Christians call Armageddon) takes place.

Can you now imagine how embarrassing it would be for Muslims to see a Christian Church in the land of the Prophet (S) - a country that does not have a single Christian? If symbolism is all that matters, will the Vatican allow Muslims to build a mosque there? How about in Athens? Unlike Vatican, there are some 300,000 Muslims that live in the city, most of them as citizens (not foreign workers). But there is not a single mosque in the city. A new mosque was supposed to be built there with Muslim money by last year; but that, too, did not complete yet. (See: After years of requests and pleading to the government officials, only in 1995 could the Muslims in Rome have a mosque there. And all this in a country that has nearly 1 million Muslims ( Now to ask for allowing to build a mosque in the Prophet's land shows Papal selective amnesia and arrogance! Places of worship are for people to pray, not for post-card display as symbols. When, and if, there are local Saudi Christians big enough to require a site for congregation, Muslims will have no problem allowing such a construction. But to imagine it today, with zero Saudi Christian population, it is simply silly.

But don't be surprised if the House of Saud caves into Crusadic demand. When the tiger knows that you are its supper, it has no qualms about dining mannerism.

Just three more comments on the write-up:
1. Sultan Salahuddin recaptured Jerusalem, by most reliable accounts, in 1187 and not 1186, some 88 years after the fall of the city.
2. During the first Crusade (1099) there was no Temple of Solomon standing. Muslims prayed in two mosques on the temple mount - Al-Aqsa and the Masjid of Umar (Dome of Rocks - which is shown in the post-cards). The world Jewry and Christian fundamentalists long to destroy both, esp. the al-Aqsa masjid. Knowing that it could lead to a massive war with the Muslim world, these forces often mislead the world by presenting the Dome of Rock as al-Aqsa mosque (while it is not), as part of their calculated deception. Thus, when they have demolished the Al-Aqsa (for constructing their Temple of Solomon, as part of making the way for the coming Messiah) they would show that the mosque was still intact (by showing actually the other mosque - Dome of Rock). May Allah help us from such conspiracy and the resulting calamity!
3. As everyone knows there were many guys like Ibn Warrq, Ayman Hirsi Ali, Ali Sina, Abul Kasem and Syed Kamran Mirza (actul name Dr. Khorshed A. Chowdhury of USDA) that made names for anti-Islamic polemics in the aftermath of 9/11. Nothing should therefore surprise us that a person born to a Muslim family was baptized by the pope. I am told that for every such renegade from Islam, this religion has seen at least five better ones to join in - who seem to be better equipped to carry the message.So the battle for the soul goes on. But at the end, it is not the quantity that matters, it is the quality that we should all strive for.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

President Obama Caves in to Pressure

I am disappointed to see President Obama cave into Republican pressure not to share photos of detainees and prisoners that received harsh treatments from the Bush Administration. He reasoned that the release of such photos may actually foment anti-Americanism and make it more difficult for American troops to weed out terrorism in Afghanistan.

The sad reality is his latest decision would only solidify people's worst thoughts about such torture and abusive practices of our troops and lose the support he needs - both externally and internally - to change the failed course in this country. His decision is simply deplorable and short-sighted.

Dr. Dipu Moni's upcoming trip to Burma


It is so good to see an article in the NFB by Dr. Shwe Lu Maung - whose forefathers ruled Arakan 354 years (1430-1784 CE). As a curious historian of his people, he has been able to go to the roots of the fascist ideology that now rules Burma - Myanmarism. Through his must-read books he has tremendously contributed to our understanding of the history of Arakan - the Rakhaing state of Burma. Anyone desirous of learning about the problematic history of tension between the two groups - Muslim Rohingya and Buddhist Rakhaine - would find his two books as gold mines of information.

I wish this article or a shorter version of Dr. Maung had appeared in some English Daily to prepare Dr. Dipu Moni before she embarks her trip to Burma.

The military regime that has ruled Burma for the last several decades can best be described as ruthless murderers who exploit race and religion to prolong their rule inside the country. They are racists and bigots. Through their genocidal campaigns against the minority races - from Karens to Rohingyas - they have shown that modern Myanmar has no room for non-Burman people. No wonder that we still have tens of thousands of Rohingya refugees inside Bangladesh. More than a million others are now settled in the Middle East, Pakistan, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan and some western countries. The Burmese government won't take them under the pretext that they are children of Chittagonians brought during the British Era (post-1824). However, as correctly put by Dr. Maung, which also confirms my own research into the troubled history of Arakan, the Rohingyas have settled in Arakan from at least ca. 1430 CE when the exiled king was put into the throne by the Muslim Sultan of Bengal with some 50,000 soldiers sent under the leadership of Generals Wali Khan and (later) Sandhi Khan. Most of those soldiers later married into the local community and settled, and became the protectors of the Arakan kingdom, a tradition that was held until the collapse of the kingdom in 1784 when Burman king Bodaw Paya annexed the territory in a genocidal campaign. That annexation led to the exodus of more than a hundred thousand people - Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists alike - to the nearby British-held territories.

As to the ancestral root of the Rohingya people, it should be pointed out that beside the settlement of Muslim soldiers in Arakan during king Narameikhla's time in the early 15th century CE, there were also Muslim settlements of Arab and Persian merchants and sailors in the coast of Arakan, similar to those in the nearby Chittagong territory, from the 9th century (CE) onward. Many Muslim saints also settled in the territory whose influence could be felt through the shrines and mosques that dotted the sea-coast of Arakan. But more importantly, the territory of Arakan much like vast Bengal delta, was lived by the non-Aryan kala people (dark-skinned) thousands of years before the (fair-skinned) Tibeto-Mongolian people (the ancestors of today's Rakhaine people) moved into the territory in the 10th century (CE). It was these indigenous, first-settlers to the Arakan that over the next thousand years mixed with the other races, including the Muslim settlers and converts, which gradually led to the formation of the Rohingya people. Suffice it to say that the history of today's Bangladeshi people is not much different either, especially for those living in the coastal territories from Chittagong to the Sundarbans.
Unfortunately, when xenophobia rules - all such essential history of the indigenous people is forgotten leading to their pogroms and sufferings.

It is good to see that Foreign Minister Dr. Dipu Moni herself is representing the Bangladesh Government in its talk with the Myanmar Government. Aside from talking about land border and maritime boundary issues plus trade and commerce, she should not omit discussing the Rohingya issue. It is vital for the regional security. As a fascist regime, the Myanmar regime can only survive through policies that are drawn from the pages of Hitler and Mussolini's history. Pushing the border is one excuse to show her muscle. The Arakan state, with a mixed population of mostly Muslim Rohingya and Buddhist Rakhaine, has been a buffer territory stopping Burma's westward move of territorial expansion. If the demography is altered so that the Rohingyas are almost extinct in Arakan, such a protection may not be tenable on a long run. Bangladesh loses more from not bringing the Rohingya issue to the table of discussion with the Myanmar regime. Dr. Dipu Moni should advise the regime to allow equal citizenship for all the Rohingya people, both living inside as people without any human rights and outside as exiles. The regime ought to be told that a just and equitable solution to the Rohingay people's basic rights, including honorable return to their ancestral homes, is in their best interest. Good behaviors would beget good returns in terms of favorable trade and commerce relationship with Bangladesh, which the regime craves for.

Bangladesh re-elected to the UN-HRC

It is really a great victory for Bangladesh to be re-elected to the prestigious UN-HRC body. From the vote counts, it seems that it even surpassed our wishful dreams, garnering some 171 votes, next only to Belgium and Norway, and even surpassing the USA. Kudos for such an outcome in secret balloting.

Bangladesh as a council member to the UN-HRC can play a very important role in easing suffering of many displaced people around the world - from the Rohingyas of Burma to the Darfur refugees, let alone the displaced Palestinians. Let's hope that over the next four years our world would be a better place to share than the past decades have shown.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

India-Bangladesh Relationship - thoughts on strategic cooperation and not servitude

Mr. Shah M. Saifuddin has raised some issues around Bangladesh's emergence as a new nation-state and her problematic relationship with the big neighbor India and what strategic options, if any, our nation may still flex. Because of the importance of the issues raised, I think this article deserves closer scrutiny from our readers.

I have been away from Bangladesh too long to be able to contribute satisfactorily in this debate. Nonetheless, let me make some honest observations:

1. In the post-liberation era, I don’t recall hearing about the so-called 7-point agreement that the exiled Tajuddin Government signed with the Indian government. If I am not mistaken, that treaty did not have any relevance after Bangladesh got its independence, and especially so, after Sk. Mujib took the mantle of leadership upon his return. So, while one may argue what might have been the intention of Indian government back in 1971, they don’t and should not be treated as a serious matter.
2. Can we truly blame India for the failure of Pakistan to stay united? If India, or for that matter her intelligence unit, RAW, tried to see dismemberment of Pakistan along ethnic lines, it is to the rulers of Pakistan that the blame should squarely fall upon. It is they who made it impossible for East Pakistan to remain united under the Punjabi-dominated Pakistan. Can anyone really guarantee that if the power was transferred to Sk. Mujib in 1971, as per people’s wish in the national election of 1970, Bangladesh would have emerged as a new nation? I doubt it seriously. I know that much has been made of this issue, with some suggesting that Mujib would have led the country step by step in that direction towards a full independence, probably much in agreement with 1940 Pakistan Resolution. They cite Mujib’s remarks, including those pertaining to authenticity of the Agartala Conspiracy, in the post-liberation era to support their views. I have difficulty believing in such claims, even of Sk. Mujib. He may truly have bluffed under the new circumstance. Allah knows the best! One must recall though that the conspiracy case was found to be a hoax during the Ayyub era and accordingly was withdrawn by the military government in Pakistan. Some suggest that Awami League was on the payroll of RAW to dismember Pakistan, which I also find difficult to believe. This statement of mine should not however be construed as suggesting that RAW did not want to see a divided Pakistan, or that it was a mere observer. What I am trying to say is that it was Pakistani Government that created an environment in which Bengali speaking people living in the eastern wing started feeling increasingly detached from and betrayed by its western (mostly Urdu-speaking) brothers. It was that sense of betrayal, backed up by data of economic depravation and disparity, plus a charismatic leadership in Sk. Mujib, that rallied the Bengali nation behind AL. Then there was the 1970 natural disaster in which our people saw how badly Pakistan treated its eastern wing. All these factors contributed to AL’s sweeping victory in the 1970 election. With Yahya Khan’s ill-advised policy to kill innocent civilians in East Pakistan, one of the final nails in the coffin of Pakistan was struck. Had those guys been smart enough they should have transferred power to Sk. Mujib and see how he runs the country. And if he had failed, they could have intervened militarily to protect the security of the nation (much like what Turkish Army does routinely), which could have saved Pakistan from breaking up into two.
3. I believe that without India’s material help, Bangladesh’s liberation would not have materialized, not that soon anyway. And this I believe, in spite of overwhelming support within our populace for the cause. If India refused to arm our liberation forces, or denied supply or distribution thereof, it would have been almost impossible to achieve independence unless, of course, by sheer goodwill or some miracle Pakistan’s rulers decided to let us secede. Being surrounded in all but the southern side by India, any armed resistance against the Pakistani forces would have required India’s assistance. If India had opposed our liberation, it would have been virtually impossible for us to achieve our independence.
4. We are told that the BLF (later called Mujib Bahini) was formed by the RAW. I remember seeing their fighters fight in Chittagong. One of them actually lived in our home for few months before embracing martyrdom in Chittagong in front of the City College on Nov. 1, 1971 during a gun battle. Then another two BLF guys took shelter in our home. I understand that the group was created to act as a secondary force to safeguard Bangladesh’s independence from its adversaries. Interestingly, this group’s founding members are still alive, except Sk. Moni. I wish they would one day fill the gap in our understanding as to what was truly intended of them and how Serajul Alam Khan later moved to the CIA camp. [I remember meeting the latter in 1973 in his Ganokantha office and conducted a nearly 20-minute interview. In retrospect, I wish I had asked him about BLF.] One thing is worth mentioning here that when the 1975 coup took place, neither could BLF or whatever was left of its old guards, nor the RAW could do anything. This again shows the value of local events, and not outside factors, in determining our destiny as a nation.
5. Rather than finger pointing others, it is high time that we take responsibility, at least the bulk of it, for our own problems. At the end, it is our guys who matter most. Others can be enablers but not the movers of our destiny. If our people did not aspire for independence in 1971, no RAW planning and Indian desire would have made it possible. India simply acted as an enabling force to our cause. In that process, her forces also fought alongside our liberation forces and died for our freedom.
6. I see that Mr. Saifuddin has tried to read between the lines of Mujib-Indira 25-year Pact of Cooperation. Without implying any connotation, let me share the fact that during Mujib rule, Bhashani and some other politicians, esp. pro-Pakistani elements and anti-AL forces tried to suggest how the treaty was a threat to our sovereignty. I did not find anything stating that Bangladesh’s independence or sovereignty had been compromised by the said treaty. Even after reading the piece below, esp. those few supposedly harmful articles 4-10, I fail to agree with the interpretation drawn by Mr. Saifuddin. If I am a making a treaty with my neighbor, I probably would have repeated the same principles, which does not create any tension with my neighbor. And when it is a powerful one, as shown in the tables below, the sooner the better. It is not only foolish but suicidal in acting like a Nidhiram Sardar! If and when Bangladesh becomes self-reliant and is powerful enough to be taken seriously by its neighbor only then can it expect to dictate terms to its weaker neighbors. That is International Relations 101. In the meantime, what is needed is: knowing its weakness how can Bangladesh extract most from her bilateral agreement with her neighbor. Should we be concerned any more about that pact? I am not sure if that treaty is valid any longer after some 38 years.
7. As far as the suggestions on strategic imperatives are concerned, let me again caution that it would be very foolish of concluding any treaty with any party right now in which India may see undermining her own sovereignty. As we found out that even the USA could not save Pakistan when it mattered most to the latter in 1971. As Leslie Gelb has shown in this latest book – Power Rules – our world is viewed by geo-strategists more like a pyramid now where the USA sits on the apex, and India with China, Japan, Russia, UK, France, Germany and (barely) Brazil are at the second tier layer as regional hegemonic powers. Guess where Bangladesh is? It is at the sixth layer with other bottom dwellers or problem states. The only layer below is that made of the NGOs, and other non-state actors. I don’t mind having friendship with countries like China, but to rely on it to save us would be foolish. We don’t even share a border with this country. More importantly, China now does more business with not only India but also with Burma – our other rogue neighbor to the east. She is communist in name only but underneath a very capital centric society. Should there be a crisis, her leaders know the value of money and would value her business with India more important than with us. These are the hard facts that we have to come to terms with before getting too excited on angering India. Any strategy that overlooks the reality of our time would be dangerous for Bangladesh.


Christian Extremists Within the U.S. Military - Myth or Reality?

When President George W. Bush called his war on terrorism a “crusade,” very few Muslims doubted his evil intention. In the face of strong condemnation at home and abroad, he quickly backtracked his comment. But that apology was not sufficient to allay Muslim-fear or suspicion, which within days of invasion of Afghanistan was bolstered by offensive graffiti written on dropped bombs and missiles. In the name of providing food to starving Afghans, American forces dropped canned ham, which is haram for Muslim consumption. Then came the Iraqi invasion with its willful orgy of massacre, destruction and detention -- displaying once again American Armed Forces’ colossal religious intolerance, which led to the creation of extremists like Zarqawi. If such activities were not enough in adding salt to the injury, Bush Administration’s tacit approval of the iniquitous activities of some evangelizing Christian groups who wanted to proselytize Muslims left few doubting about the new Crusade against Islam. Samaritan’s Purse, e.g., was no friend of Muslims; it had advocated invasion of Muslim countries. Its leader Franklin Graham has a reputation for bigotry for holding very hostile views about Islam. And yet he, like his dad Billy, was very close to both the Bush (Sr. and Jr.) Administrations! Through his hobnobbing with Graham, George W. was not fooling anyone except himself!

Evangelization with a barrel of a gun that is pointed towards the enemy is nothing new for Graham and his ilk. During the first Gulf War, in spite of an unambiguous agreement between the Saudi and American governments that no proselytizing would be allowed inside the Kingdom, Graham sent thirty thousand copies of the (so-called) New Testament in the Arabic language to American soldiers for distribution among the Saudis. He said, “I think we need to do all we can to use [the US military] presence to share with the people of that region the faith that our nation was built on.” In the spring of 1991, when the Kurds were duped into believing in Sr. Bush’s false promise for self-rule if they had rebelled against the Ba’athist regime, which eventually led to the slaughter of many, Graham said, “What a time to preach the gospel to these people! America is number one with them right now. They’re eager to listen to anything we have to say!” His activities during the Bosnian crisis were similarly ignoble, and very insulting and repugnant to the raped Muslim victims of Christian militancy.

Such heinous behaviors – seen only amongst despised animals like the hyenas and vultures - have disgusted and offended many conscientious, pious Christians. But these Christian missionary extremists are not perturbed by such sentiments of their fellow Christians and have never shied away from exploiting religion -- taking the message of their lord to the bombed out, orphaned, starved, disarmed people whose territories have been devastated by the citadels of Christian power. As a mater of fact, they are at the both ends of the war – before and after. It was by design that Franklin Graham gave the prayer at President George W. Bush's inauguration and was invited to give the Good Friday prayer at the Pentagon.

Many concerned Muslims have long known about the Christian missionary agenda for “the 10/40 window,” which includes most territories of the Muslim world in North Africa, the Middle East, and Central, South and Southeast Asia -- lying between 10 degrees and 40 degrees north latitude. Thus, it was not difficult to understand why Graham’s evangelizing group and other missionary zealots had been trying to evangelize Iraq and Afghanistan so aggressively. Because of the sensitive nature of evangelization in war-devastated places like Afghanistan (with no Christian population) and Iraq (with approximately 96% Muslim population), many experts warned the Bush Administration against allowing such missionary activities. And yet, the Bush Administration decided not to interfere with such activities. By January 2005, the International Bible Society had already sent 10,000 booklets (and was preparing to send another 40,000 copies by May of 2005) for distribution amongst the Iraqis suggesting that Christ had brought peace to Iraq. With the active involvement of the U.S. military, copies of the Bible in the Dari and Pushto were sent to Afghanistan for distribution amongst the Afghans. Even the foreign Muslim workers working for the Occupation forces did not escape from such proselytism. Swahili language Bibles were sent to Iraq to evangelize the Ugandan workers employed by the U.S. military.

Could all such evangelization efforts happen in a war zone without the approval of the Occupation forces? No. Worse still, proselytism is not limited to civilian missionary zealots like Graham. It is actively nurtured within the U.S. Military by a very powerful segment that sees battlefields as their personal mission field to go and harvest souls. Invasion and occupation provide the necessary backdrop for such activities. A recently released video-tape “Inside Story” by Al-Jazeera puts to rest all doubts about whether or not the U.S. military encourages proselytism in war-devastated countries ( In that, video-taped a year ago, correspondent James Bays shows the U.S. service members in Bagram Base discussing proselytizing in Afghanistan with Lieutenant-Colonel Hensley, the top military chaplain in Afghanistan. They discussed about “hunting people for Jesus.” Lt. Col. Hensley is heard saying that the US soldiers in Afghanistan have a mission basically to carry out the work of God. And then he declares that the U.S. military is now the “new Israel” (to quote: “We are the new Israel”). A closer look also revealed that Hensley was wearing a T-shirt showing his affiliation with a fundamentalist group called Chapel NeXt, and at the background there was also a Christian cross inscribed over a map of Afghanistan.

These are very disturbing images about the U.S. military. It shows that the American military, in essence, has become the recruiting and breeding ground for the soldiers for Christ. A significant number are religious zealots who join the military simply to kill and die for the Christ. Others are indoctrinated by fundamentalist military chaplains. The latter are assiduously changing the secular military to a Christian chauvinist fighting force. And this change did not happen overnight.
According to Jeff Sharlet, contributing editor for Harper’s Magazine and author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, from the time of President Reagan Chaplain Corps in the U.S. military has become predominantly Christian fundamentalist, comprising of about 80 percent fundamentalist chaplains today. These Christian chaplains are reshaping American soldiers’ mindset – the way they perceive their military duty and the way they fight. They are the Christian Zarqawis of the U.S. military. It was, therefore, not surprising to learn that Lt. Col. Bob Young (stationed now at Kandahar Air Base) had given a PowerPoint presentation to the Afghan leaders, which can only be described as insulting to the Afghan people. In this, he boasts that if Afghanistan wants to achieve democracy she has to choose Jesus (and not Allah), following America’s model. These extremist Christians within the U.S. Armed Forces are obviously behaving like “government paid missionaries” crossing the line between church and state.” And yet, the Pentagon has not reprimanded such officers.
We also learn that these Christian evangelist chaplains are enticing violence by brain-washing their soldiers (e.g., intoxicating their mind with religious hatred) to commit horrendous crimes, which are nothing short of terrorism and war crimes. Sharlet cites a brave and courageous Staff Sergeant Jeffery Humphrey who told him about a murderous campaign that was conducted in Samarra, Iraq on an Easter day: “A chaplain brought around a copy of Mel Gibson’s anti-Semitic film Passion of the Christ, which they then put on constant play throughout the day. When they came under attack, the … Army Special Forces to whom he was assigned, had their Iraqi translator, an Iraqi American Christian, paint in giant red Arabic letters on the side of a Bradley fighting vehicle the words “Jesus killed Mohammed.” Then, while they put the translator on the roof with a bullhorn, shouting in Arabic, “Jesus killed Mohammed,” and then … training American guns on anybody who responded, the Bradley fighting vehicle rolled out into the city of Samarra and drawing fire everywhere it went, leading the Special Forces to conclude that every single Iraqi who took offense at these words, “Jesus killed Mohammed,” was part of the enemy and therefore needed to be destroyed.”
And it seems that the U.S. military rewards men responsible for committing such war crimes. Lieutenant John DeGiulio, the man who drove that Bradley, is now Captain John DeGiulio, promoted since. In his conversation with Sharlet, DeGiulio boasted that he destroyed everything he saw on one whole block, blowing up every single thing, and that he was able to do this, because “God was on his side” and because he had been spiritually armored by watching Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ. He was thankful to his chaplain for preparing him for that kind of “spiritual battle” on the streets of Iraq.
Is there a connection between how a soldier acts in a war zone with his/her teachings? Absolutely! How else can we explain the wanton destruction and defilement of mosques by American soldiers? How about desecration of the Qur’an? How about the cold-blooded murder of worshippers in mosques in Fallujah? How about almost daily killings of innocent civilians by the U.S. forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan? To these soldiers and officers pushing the button or pulling the trigger, the non-Christian victims simply don’t count. After 9/11, like President Bush, they have started seeing America’s conflicts as what they described as “spiritual war” - between good and evil, where America is on the side of good. As already noted above, the fundamentalist chaplains are doing their part to indoctrinate every soldier. The goal of the Officers’ Christian Fellowship (OCF), an organization consisting of over 15,000 officers and operating on hundreds of U.S. military installations worldwide, is to “create a spiritually transformed U.S. military, with Ambassadors for Christ in uniform, empowered by the Holy Spirit.” This group is growing at three percent a year.
The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) is at the forefront of its battle to curb the poisonous influence of Christian evangelists – who are nothing but religious extremists -- within the U.S. military. It has documented cases of undue pressure that are being put on the military recruits to join Christian fundamentalist groups. MRFF’s six-month long investigation has revealed a well planned and coordinated effort within the U.S. Military by organizations such as Campus Crusade for Christ’s Military Ministry to “Evangelize and Disciple All Enlisted Members of the US Military” and to “Utilize Ministry at each basic training center and beyond.” If that was not enough to be alarmed, consider Campus Crusade’s plan for the nation. In the October 2005 issue of the organization’s “Life and Leadership” newsletter, Maj. Gen. Bob Dees, U.S. Army (ret.), Executive Director of the Campus Crusade, said: “We must pursue our particular means for transforming the nation -- through the military. And the military may well be the most influential way to affect that spiritual superstructure. Militaries exercise, generally speaking, the most intensive and purposeful indoctrination program of citizens...”
According to Mikey Weinstein, founder of MRFF, some 75 senior Pentagon officials, who advocated for invasion of Iraq, including the Secretary of the Army Pete Geren, are pushing the mission of an extreme right-wing fundamentalist Christian organization called the Christian Embassy. The matter was brought to the attention of Secretary Gates who failed to take any action against them. As a matter of fact most of them have since been promoted.
Since 9/11, we have been fed myths about al-Qaeda’s goals to kill non-Muslims and establish an Islamic Caliphate in the world, let alone force Islam upon the dhimmis. Little attention has been paid to America’s own brand of al-Qaeda that has been growing at an alarming rate, and more ominously, within its own military. With all the lethal weapons at their disposal, these soldiers for the Christ – the Christian Zarqawis -- within the U.S. military are more dangerous than anything we can imagine. And what is more frightening is that, as MRFF has documented, they’re so dominant within the military that they have become, in some ways, the mainstream rather than the fringe. Al Jazeera video cannot be explained away as an isolated, out of context incident. Here, unlike OBL’s shadow organization, we are not dealing with myths but hard facts about U.S. military’s own transformation into a fighting force that embraces an extreme version of Christian fundamentalism. Sadly, we have not yet seen any effort within the Pentagon to curb the influence of this cancerous entity.
For years, the U.S. government has complained about the presence of religious extremists within armed forces of South Asian countries. Through its failure to check religious militancy in its own backyard, the U.S. government has only substantiated its deplorable hypocrisy.

If the Obama Administration is serious about change from Bush’s reckless policy of tying Christian fundamentalism with national interest, resulting in a world disorder (let alone spiraling America’s economic recession) to an equitable policy towards a more cohesive world order, it must renounce its own brand of al-Qaeda growing within the Armed Forces. It ought to know that when its military goes into another country with a killing machine in one hand and a Bible in the other, such a behavior is arrogant and stupid. It can only create resentment and repercussion, and produce the likes of Zarqawi among the victims. But more importantly, such images fit directly into Al-Qaeda's meme that Americans are engaged in a new Crusade to destroy Islam. As a global power, can America afford to be seen as a neo-Crusading power of our time?

Even during the Bosnian Crisis, the U.S. and Allied Forces were accused of distributing and dropping canned food containing pork amongst Muslims.
Christian Science Monitor, April 17, 2003.
Graham explained his motive: "By helping refugee families... we'll be earning the right to preach Christ to these families and their Muslim neighbors."
For a shorter version of the video, see:
“Crusade for a Christian Military”: Are US Forces Trying to Convert Afghans to Christianity? – Democracy Now, Amy Goodman:
One can see the impact of Christian zealots within the U.S. Armed Forces even during the time of President Clinton when bombs were dropped with offensive graffiti.
“Crusade for a Christian Military”, op. cit.
On May 18, 2003 a US soldier was removed from Iraq after using a copy of the Qur'an as a target in a shooting practice, riddling the Muslim holy book with bullets. [Islam Online, May 30, 2003]
In November 2004, the killing of nearly 40 unarmed Iraqis inside a mosque in the northern city of Fallujah by a US marine battalion prompted widespread international condemnation. [Islam Online, May 30, 2008]
As cited by Chris Rodda in
See, e.g., Kamran Pasha’s excellent article around this theme: