2.3.09

The Mutiny.

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Condolences for all the civilian and military deaths as a result of the recent revolt by the BDR in Dhaka, Bangladesh. I have been following it vaguely through the TOI reports, desensitized to the fact that this sort of thing was a common occurrence in the 1970's to the early 1980's, after which better training, induction of professionalism and 'esprit de corp', better recruitment, pay, and general conditions erased such things for the better part of 28 years until now.......so I am truly sad and sorry.

I salute the stead fast and professional manner of the current government, under Shiekh Hasina, in dealing with this crisis. Indeed it would have been foolish to have given the orders for the army to slog it out with the BDR, in that particular locale and hinterland, smack in the middle of the City of Dhaka.

The government should institute national investigations as to who carried this dastardly act out, through the appointment of a reputable team of judges from the Bangladesh judiciary given ample time, money, and backed by a team of dedicated investigators to look at the matter and find out who planned and initiated it, and for what purpose?

Was this the work of just disgruntled elements within the BDR working alone (or is that a mere cover story)? Or elements within the armed forces? The intelligence agencies? Opposition political entities? Islamic tendencies, or foreign entities...........and so on.

The victims of the dead deserve this as does the nation. Plus it will be a national carthasis, if such a national investigation is held which gives out frequent preliminary progress reports. That such an investigation is open and transparent. In addition it reaffirms the mechanisms of government, which can openly investigate its national problems and deliver JUSTICE. Justice in the sense of answering the who, how, why, what , when.......followed by prosecution of the relevant people.

In the above sense I am against outside foreign investigative entities being given center stage in what is purely an internal Bangladeshi matter. Bangladesh must be allowed to investigate her own national problems by herself. There is absolutely NO GUARANTEE, that foreign investigative entities with very little knowldge of the dynamics of Bangladeshi politics and other such cultural facts will be able to fully investigate the matter properly and objectively.

It is normal and rational that Bangladesh investigates this affair by herself.

On a separate note why are the military stationed in the middle of the cityof Dhaka. Lets move them out to more "Niribili Zaga", gradually. This was a legacy of the British Raj, and later the Pakistan military governments to control the "Bengaalis", but that hostile scenario no longer exists. If you observe great strong democracies, most of their military are stationed in more remote areas of their respective countries. Washington DC, or New York don't have huge military cantonments smack in the middle of these great cities, or London or............

In relation to the prosecution of war criminals, one hopes the whole process is carried through quickly and that the entire business of the new governments brief and energy is not taken up with pursuing this one matter, important and overdue as it is. That the prosecution process starts from the top down, with Yahya Khan, Tikka Khan "Butcher of Bengal" as he was known even in Pakistan, General Niazi.......right down to their Bengali collaborators....long over due. Cambodia has just started the same process.

BUT do remember there are other issues of government no less important, some of which, in relation to external issues I have mentioned, and that too much time should not be wasted over such matters as war crime trials....which can continue within their own speed, pace, and direction.

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A new name for the BDR, yes OK, something Bengali as that was what the Liberation War was about partly, protecting the Bengali language........so, "Bangla Bonduk Bahini" "Shaukti Bonduk Bahini" .........something a little bit more Mughlai....."Sephahi Fauj" "Ansar-i-Fauj".....a name that gives the jawans a historical sense, and a sense of pride which is rooted exclusively in Bengali history, pre-colonial times before the evil British empire came and plundered and looted the "The Pearl of India".

In fact why don't we do that for all the services across the board; the army, airforce, navy, intelligence.

Besides name changing which in itself superficial I think the Bangladesh government has to do hell of a lot more to exorcise the problems of the past within this organisation.

Is the BDR essentially an arm of the military? or a totally separate entity? If the government wants the BDR to be an arm of the military then lets assimilate them into the army fully, and give them the status and privileges of the regular army. Nepal has an army of 150,000 unofficially and Sri Lanka 100,000. With Bangladesh's economic size and population, the country can well afford easily, an army of 200,000 if the budget is efficiently managed....only 1.5% is spent on defence, one of the lowest in the world. The Northern Light Infantry in Pakistan was assimilated into the regular Pakistani army after Kargil.

Alternatively, the BDR, can operate essentially as a separate security force from the military, under the command of the Bangladesh Police, or directly reporting to the Interior Ministry.

What you don't want is a mishmash of interlocking commands where essentially a police force is commanded by military officers. Also if I recall what happened last week was not the first instance of BDR personnel killing their commanding officer, I recall some 20 years ago, I heard news that BDR personnel had killed their commanding officer who had discovered their smuggling operation on the border and he personally tried to stop it..........I can't provide any specific citation.....but I am sure this sort of thing in a smaller scale has happened before.

This is not of course an excuse for what happened last week.

Name changing of the BDR might be important pscychologically to start on a clean slate, but I think what is more important is a fundamental reorganisation of the BDR, and who it is ultimately commanded by. Also perhaps we need to think of moving the BDR out of central Dhaka into more remote areas, where they are not so enmeshed in the politics of Bangladesh.

As to the rest of the security I have so much to say about Bangladesh's security structure, but I will leave this for another day.