His people still love and respect him beyond words. He loved them to a fault, and they still love him in return. As long as the Padma and the Meghna flow….

BANGLADESH - Audacity of Hope


bangabandhu sheikh mujib-06Junaidul Haque

Forty years after his death, how do we remember Bangabandhu now? What does he mean to us?

What does Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman mean to the 150 million people in Bangladesh? He was the best politician we ever had. He was the selfless leader who fought his whole life for an independent country for his Bangali brothers and sisters. He achieved his goals but, tragically, he had to leave us too soon, like quite a few other third world nationalist leaders.

His people still love and respect him beyond words. He loved them to a fault, and they still love him in return. As long as the Padma and the Meghna flow, Bangabandhu will be fondly remembered by his people. His deeds will keep him immortal. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman founded independent Bangladesh after fighting for our rights for 24 long years. He…

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BANGABANDHU’S assassination on 15 August 1975 prematurely deprived Bangladesh of its founding father at a time when the process of nation building was still incomplete….

BANGLADESH - Audacity of Hope


Bangabandhu Sheikh, Bangabandhu Portrait– REHMAN SOBHAN –

BANGABANDHU’S assassination on 15 August 1975 prematurely deprived Bangladesh of its founding father at a time when the process of nation building was still incomplete. This event both destabilized and created a fissure within the nation which has not yet been bridged. This division and destabilization of the polity deflected Bangladesh from the course set by its liberation struggle which had provided the basis for the foundational principles of the Bangladesh constitution: democracy, nationalism, secularism and socialism. Since that fateful day in August, each of these foundational principles has been exposed to contestation or even outright repudiation. This assault on the very principles of our nationhood has destabilised the nation, compromised the working of our democratic institutions and thereby weakened the process of governance. It could, thus, be argued that the bullets which killed Bangabandhu were also intended to…

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“The CIA station chief in Dhaka, Philip Cherry, was actively involved in the killing of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,” US author and journalist Lawrence Lifschultz wrote in the Far Eastern Economic Review and later in his book “Bangladesh: The Unfinished Revolution.”

BANGLADESH - Audacity of Hope



“The CIA station chief in Dhaka, Philip Cherry, was actively involved in the killing of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,” US author and journalist Lawrence Lifschultz wrote in the Far Eastern Economic Review and later in his book “Bangladesh: The Unfinished Revolution.”

Lifschultz who investigated the matter for many years and interviewed many sources, both Bangladeshi and American, came to the conclusion that the American hatred for Bangladesh started way back in 1971 when the Bangladesh Liberation War almost upset Kissinger’s grand design of a “Sino-American Détente” where Pakistan was the “honest broker”.

Bangladesh Sheikh Dies During CoupLifschultz writes that during the War the Americans tried to divide the Liberation movement by cultivating some Awami League leaders like Khandaker Mushtaque Ahmed. But when that plot failed and Bangladesh became independent, soon after, America’s “Super Diplomat” National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger considered it to be…

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BANGLADESH - Audacity of Hope


artworks-000042284884-lokyvn-originalBhaskar Roy

Every August 15 observers of Bangladeshi politics are taken back to that fateful day in 1975 when a group of young army officers stormed Dhaka in a meticulously planned operation. The entire family of Sk. Mujibur Rahman, known as the founder of the nation, was gunned down. Even his son, nine year old Russell was not spared. Only two survived because they were out of the country – his elder daughter Sk.Hasina, and younger daughter Sk. Rehana.

Elsewhere in Dhaka, two ministers of Sk.Mujib’s cabinet, Khondakar Mustaque Ahmed and Taheruddin Thakur, were pacing nervously in their house on August 14 late evening. It was only after they received the news of the extermination of Sk. Mujibur Rahman and his family that they relaxed and got to work with their “friends” inside and outside the country.


Far away from Dhaka in Washington D…

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Before the brutal murder of Bangabandhu on August 15, 1975 the visit of the US secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, was quite significant.

On October 30, 1974 Kissinger made a 19-hour stopover in Bangladesh. During the visit he met Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib for a couple of hours at the “Gonobhavan.”

According to US journalist Lawrence Lifschultz, “A month after Kissinger left Dhaka the conspirators at the US Embassy became active.”

killing-of-intellectuals-ytProf Abu Sayeed in his book Bangabandhu: Facts and Documents and Lifschultz in his Bangladesh: The Unfinished Revolution writes about it elaborately.

After talking to Bangabandhu, Kissinger addressed a press conference where he described Bangabandhu “as a man of vast conception”.

When asked why he had sent the Seventh Fleet against such a man, Kissinger avoided a direct response and hurriedly left the conference room.

16book1According to Lifschultz those who were aware of Kissinger’s…

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BANGLADESH - Audacity of Hope



“The Trial of Henry Kissinger” noted journalist Christopher Hitchins, former editor of Harper’s magazine, wrote “Kissinger had received some very bad and even mocking press for his handling of the Bangladesh crisis, and it had somewhat spoiled his supposedly finest hour in China. He came to resent the Bangladeshis and their leader, and even compared (this according to his then aide Roger Morris) Mujib to Allende.”

220px-The_Trial_of_Henry_Kissinger“As soon as Kissinger became Secretary of State in 1973, he downgraded those (the US diplomats stationed in the US Consulate in Dhaka) who had signed the genocide protest in 1971,” the book says. About Kissinger’s trip to Bangladesh, Hitchins says, “In November 1974, on a brief face-saving tour of the region, Kissinger made an eight-hour stop in Bangladesh and gave a three-minute press conference in which he refused to say why he had sent the USS Enterprise into…

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BANGLADESH - Audacity of Hope


sheikh-mujib-dead1– EHSAN ABDULLAH –

It had been forty two years, there were ups and downs, good times and bad, but as a nation did we achieve any of the following dreams of our liberation, why did we fight? what was the reason? where did it start? who were the central figures? it should have been the most exciting folklore in our hearts and minds, giving shape to the collective responsibility towards the land we all share, but unfortunately the fact remains, we don’t know, we still fight about our birth, why is that? Who are we? What is our identity? 

 A man’s identity is a matter of so much importance, which we don’t comprehend. A person may born without a father, without a mother, a person may be born rich or poor, but there is one thing that every man is born with, his/her…

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The title of this piece should raise eyebrows. How could Islam be secular? Religion and secularism are generally thought to be contradictory to each other. More so with Islam, a religion which, in recent times, has been associated with so much intolerance. There is almost certainty in the minds of many that Islam is the anti-thesis of secularism.

This common belief is a result of misunderstanding secularism as godlessness. Juxtaposing this conception of secularism with Islam, which has been revealed to uphold the sovereignty of God, one naturally sees Islam and secularism at two opposite ends.

However, secularism can be understood as the neutrality of religion or tolerance, especially when it comes to State affairs. A secular State treats all its citizens equally regardless of religion, and avoids preferential treatment for a citizen from a particular religion/non-religion over other religions/non-religion.

Can Islam allow this neutrality? The answer should be a resounding “yes!”.

xislamic-education-480x330-1.jpg.pagespeed.ic.H3BMMQNr2YThe very opening verse of the Quran (the first verse of Surah Fatiha) refers to God as “the Lord (Sustainer) of all the worlds (Rabbul Al-Ameen)”. The very last Surah (Nas) begins by referring to God as “the Sustainer of men (human-kind)”, followed by “the Sovereign of men” and “the God of men”. Nowhere in the Quran is God referred to as the Lord or Sustainer of Muslims only.

The Quran even emphasises that Muhammad (Peace be upon him) was sent “as [an evidence of Our] grace towards all the worlds” (21:107). Thus, Islam is a universal religion.

These were the arguments our great leader Moulana Bhashani made to secularise the Awami League, which he founded as the Awami Muslim League.

The Holy Quran categorically states, “There shall be no coercion in matters of faith” (2:256). It also explains the plurality of beliefs as a will of God, “Unto every one of you have We appointed a [different] law and way of life (Sharia). And if God had so willed, He could surely have made you all one single community: but [He willed it otherwise] in order to test you by means of what He has vouchsafed unto you. Vie, then, with one another in doing good works! Unto God you all must return; and then He will make you truly understand all that on which you were wont to differ.” (5:48).

We also find in the Quran, “for, every community faces a direction of its own, of which He is the focal point. Vie, therefore, with one another in doing good works.” (2:148). This “unity in diversity” is frequently stressed in the Quran (e.g., in 21:92-93, 22:67-69 or in 23:52 ff.).

SURAH AL KAFIRUNIslam prohibits explicitly abusing other religions or deities that non-Muslims worship. Allah is fully mindful of the risk that the abuse of other beliefs poses to peace in society and asked the Muslims to leave the final judgement to Him alone. Thus, we find in the Quran: “And do not abuse those whom they call upon besides Allah, lest exceeding the limits they should abuse Allah out of ignorance. Thus have We made fair seeming to every people their deeds; then to their Lord shall be their return, so He will inform them of what they did” (6:108).

The same message can be found in 2:114, “Hence, who could be more wicked than those who bar the mention of God’s name from [any of] His houses of worship and strive for their ruin…?”

In his commentary on the above verses, Muhammad Asad, one of the leading modern day Islamic philosophers, says that according full respect to every religion which has belief in God as its focal point is one of the fundamental principles of Islam. This principle was clearly illustrated in the Prophet’s treatment of the deputation from Christian Nazjran (then part of Yemen) in the year 10 H. They were given free access to the Prophet’s mosque, and with his full consent celebrated their religious rites there, although their adoration of Jesus as “the son of God” and of Mary as “the mother of God” was fundamentally at variance with Islamic beliefs.

maxresdefaultNowhere is the command for tolerance as explicit as in Surah Al-Kafirun (No. 109). “O you who do not believe! I worship not what you worship, and you are not worshipping what I worship; nor am I worshipping what you worship; neither are you worshipping what I worship. Therefore, to you your religion; and to me my religion!” (109:1-6).

In fact, the defence of religious freedom is the foremost cause for which arms may and, indeed, must be taken up: “For, if God had not enabled people to defend themselves against one another, [all] monasteries and churches and synagogues and mosques – in [all of] which God’s name is abundantly extolled – would surely have been destroyed.” (22:40).

Islam permits fighting only for self-defence and to protect the oppressed: “And why should you not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)? Men, women, and children, whose cry is: ‘Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us out of Your Grace one who will protect; and raise for us out of Your Grace one who will help!’”(4: 75).

“As for such [of the unbelievers] as do not fight against you on account of [your] faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, God does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave towards them with full equity: for, verily, God loves those who act equitably. God only forbids you to turn in friendship towards such as fight against you because of [your] faith, and drive you forth from your homelands, or aid [others] in driving you forth.” (60:8-9).

If Islam grants religious rights then how can one explain the special tax (Jiziya) on non-Muslims? Commonly, Jiziya has been understood as a protection tax or extortion aimed to convert non-Muslims by humiliating them as a second class dhimmi position in a Muslim land. Unfortunately, this is a misinterpretation. Many Muslim scholars are responsible for this misinterpretation, as they have failed to note that the Quranic injunction of Jiziya is mentioned only once in Surah Al Tawbah revealed when non-Muslims declared war on Islam and against Muslims. In the same context, the Quran also asks Muslims not to befriend non-believers or take them as their protectors.

Prophet_Muhammad_Charter_of_Privileges_to_Christians_AD628Thus, Jiziya can be imposed only on the conquered until such time they accept their defeat. It is not intended to force others to accept Islam. It cannot be levied on a non-Muslim citizen living in peace. This is very clear from the Quranic injunctions contained in verses 8-9 of Surah Al Mumtahinah (No. 60), cited above, “to show them kindness and to behave towards them with full equity”. “Treating all citizens with full equity” is a fundamental principle for a civil or secular democratic state.

Muhammad Asad translates Jiziya as “exemption tax”, imposed on protected non-Muslims in lieu of their obligation to join the war (Jihad), while all able-bodied Muslims are religiously obliged to join the military. Non-Muslims are also exempted from Zakat (“purifying dues”) that Muslims must pay. Neither is Jiziya a poll tax as some critiques describe it. On the basis of clear-cut ordinances promulgated by the Prophet (a) all women, (b) males who have not yet reached full maturity, (c) old men, (d) all sick or crippled men, (e) priests and monks and (f) all non-Muslim citizens who volunteer for military service are exempted from the payment of Jizya. Furthermore, it is based on the ability to pay as implied by the expression ‘an yad’ (lit., “out of hand”) meaning “power” or “ability”.

isis5In Abu Dawud, one of the authentic compilations of Hadiths (sayings of the Prophet), it is recorded, “Beware! Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, or curtails their rights, or burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I [Prophet Muhammad] will complain against the person on the Day of Judgment”.

The Prophet emphasised in many letters to his emissaries that religious institutions should not be harmed. For example, we find in a letter addressed to his emissary to the religious leaders of Saint Catherine in Mount Sinai who has sought the protection of the Muslims:

BvGFtKPIQAEJzUZ“This is a message from Muhammad ibn Abdullah, as a covenant to those who adopt Christianity, near and far, we are with them. Verily I, the servants, the helpers, and my followers defend them, because Christians are my citizens; and by God! I hold out against anything that displeases them. No compulsion is to be on them. Neither are their judges to be removed from their jobs nor their monks from their monasteries. No one is to destroy a house of their religion, to damage it, or to carry anything from it to the Muslims’ houses. Should anyone take any of these, he would spoil God’s covenant and disobey His Prophet. Verily, they are my allies and have my secure charter against all that they hate. No one is to force them to travel or to oblige them to fight. The Muslims are to fight for them. If a female Christian is married to a Muslim, it is not to take place without her approval. She is not to be prevented from visiting her church to pray. Their churches are declared to be protected. They are neither to be prevented from repairing them nor the sacredness of their covenants. No one of the nation [Muslims] is to disobey the covenant till the Last Day [end of the world].”

9087928In a letter to his governor in Egypt, the Fourth Caliph of Islam, Ali (May God be pleased with him) wrote: “Sensitize your heart to mercy for the subjects, and to affection and kindness for them. Do not stand over them like greedy beasts who feel it is enough to devour them, for they are of two kinds; either your brother in faith or like you in Creation” (Nahju ‘l-Balagha, letter 53).

Thus, Islam does not pose any challenge to a secular State; rather it promotes a multi-faith, multi-cultural, multi-ethnic state, where all citizens are treated equally, and judged only on the basis of the degree of their good deeds.

Unfortunately, Islam nowadays has become synonymous with violence and intolerance due to the acts of some who are interpreting the Quran and Hadith in a very narrow way. Their citations from the Quran and Hadith are taken out of context. Artefacts and religious symbols (from both Islamic and pre-Islamic eras) are destroyed by this small radicalised fringe. They are using the Prophet’s destruction of idols in the Kabah to justify their attacks on the symbols of other religions, without realising that the Prophet’s act was to do with reclaiming the first house of worship to restore it to its original status after his victory over the pagan Arabs. He did not destroy any other houses of worship.

In the name of “purifying” Islam, they are killing more Muslims than non-Muslims, while Allah has decreed human life as sacred. Their purification campaign seems directed more towards Muslims than non-Muslims.

_80755905_militantsLet us reflect on the message contained “[And as for My messenger,] there is no [obligation] on him except to deliver [the message].” (5:99). “And had your Lord willed, those on earth would have believed, all of them entirely. Then will you compel the people until they become believers?” (10: 99). “But if they turn away [from you, O Prophet, know that] We have not sent you to be their keeper: you are not bound to do more than deliver the message.” (42:48).


Anis Chowdhury was Professor of Economics, University of Western Sydney, Australia and held senior positions at the United Nations in New York and Bangkok. 
JULY 20, 2016





DS-13-04-206-03ASIF KABIR

Awami League government’s efforts to counter terrorism are appreciated even by its critics.

After much scrutiny it can be confirmed that a majority of the assailants, who participated in the July 1 attack on Dhaka, were from well-to-do and educated families. They were in the age group of 20-22 and used weapons like machetes to kill the hostages. The people of Bangladesh have been acquainted with such vicious methods since Bangladesh’s Liberation War of 1971. The question worth considering, however, is why the nation is being attacked in such a manner.

All-DS-14Bangladesh has a secular government, which believes in equality, justice and progressive values. Since 1913, the Awami League government has extended its endeavours to holding trials for war criminals of the 1971 war. The current Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, has been working hard to maintain peace in South Asia. On several occasions, she has insisted on zero tolerance for militancy and terrorism and emphasised that she will strive to build a nation on the lines of secularism, equality and progressive values — much like her father, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

In the past seven years, numerous development projects have been undertaken. Work on infrastructure projects like metro rail, four-lane highways, LNG stations, nuclear and coal-powered electricity, deep sea port, modern airports and a bridge over the unpredictable Padma river is going on at a rapid pace. Once completed, these projects will benefit the nation immensely. It is worth noting that the slain Japanese victims were working for JAIKA, which is funding the metro rail project. The European victims were investors in the apparel sector — the second largest in the country in terms of exports.

8276214The government responded to the July 1 attack with a commando operation in which five militants were killed and one militant captured. It has recently made biometric SIM registration compulsory; this enabled the government to identify the assailants quickly. The assailants had planned to run away as soon as they executed their mission. They may have planned for more attacks on July 1. The main focus of the law enforcing agencies was to rescue as many hostages as possible. However, these agencies had to be very discreet because they lacked clarity on the weapons used by the assailants. Unfortunately, the attackers executed their plan before the law enforcers arrived on the scene. The para-commandos took 13 minutes to control the hostage situation.

Bangladesh’s intelligence and security forces have been working to check such activists. Last month, they unearthed a large cache of weapons in Dhaka. The country’s intelligence uncovered the identities of militants who hatched plans of carrying out an assault from Singapore. Every now and then, such missions are being thwarted by security agencies. July 1 was the first time Bangladesh faced a hostage situation. It faced this new reality valiantly. However, it would have helped if a team of experts was at hand to face such a hostage crisis — especially in view of the global situation. The Awami League government’s efforts to counter terrorism are being appreciated by its critics as well.

secularism-and-the-state-case-of-bangladeshIt is important to focus on how adolescents use the internet and social networks to develop and maintain connections. Some schools, colleges and residential educational institutions could create mindsets that lead youngsters astray. All measures should be taken to tackle such developments. Tackling this problem requires financial and technical assistance, and expert involvement. So any help from the international community will be most welcome.

PM Sheikh Hasina has emphasised that parents and the guardians should be more vigilant. The Dhaka assailants had run away from their homes more than six months ago. The common people must be alert to such activities. The need of the hour is to find the masterminds behind the attacks; the ones who directed them and provided them weapons. Security in restaurants has been tightened after the recent attack. The focus will be on places frequented by foreigners. We need a lasting solution to the problem.

bangladesh-flag1Foreigners are the main target of these kind of such terrorists because they want to ruin Bangladesh’s reputation, discourage investors and impede development. The attacks were carried out in the name of Islam. The religion, however, does not support such activities. Prophet Mohammad (SM) always respected his guests. There are a number of tales of his amicable treatment of non-Muslim guests. The victims of the attacks were guests of this country. These militants have disrespected a peaceful religion. They want publicity and spread fear. The international community should discourage their heinous motives. It should discourage publicity of such attacks. Militants want to spread further terror. Their plans should be nipped at the outset. We have to fight them ideologically and ensure that they do not influence our socio-economical development.


JULY 14, 2016






Vigilante acts of violence have killed hundreds around the world in the last few days. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf writes plainly on the dark and destructive ideology which underpins groups like ISIS and their sympathizers.

According to a good hadith related by Ahmad and al-Tabarani, the Messenger of God, may God’s peace and blessings be upon him, said, “You will never believe until you show mercy to one another.” “All of us are merciful, O Messenger of God!” his companions responded.

The Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, explained, “I’m not talking about one of you showing mercy to his friend; I’m talking about universal mercy—mercy towards everyone.”

article-2658608-1ECBF31100000578-600_634x348For those Muslims and people of other faiths who lost loved ones in the recent tragedies in Baghdad two days ago, in Bangladesh last Friday, in Istanbul the day before that, in Lebanon earlier last week, and in Yemen and Orlando last month, I am deeply saddened and can only offer my prayers, even as I am painfully aware of my state of utter helplessness at what has befallen our global community. As I write this, I learned about yet another bombing outside our beloved Prophet’s mosque in Medina, as believers were about to break their fast yesterday, unjustly killing four innocent security guards. Fortunately, due to the blessings of the place, the sound of the explosion was thought to be the boom of the cannon used to announce the time has come to break the fast, so the people in the mosque were not frightened nor panicked. The Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, said, “Whoever frightens the people of Medina has the damnation of God, the angels, and all of humanity.” Needless to say, the horror of these atrocities is compounded because they are being carried out—intentionally—in the blessed month of Ramadan.

A faith-eating plague

BANGLA ISISA plague is upon us, and it has its vectors. Like the brain-eating amoebas that have struck the warm waters of the Southern states in America, a faith-eating plague has been spreading across the global Muslim community. This insidious disease has a source, and that source must be identified, so we can begin to inoculate our communities against it.

New versions of our ancient faith have sprung up and have infected the hearts and minds of countless young people across the globe. Imam Adel Al-Kalbani, who led prayers in the Haram of Mecca for several years, has publicly stated that these youth are the bitter harvest of teachings that have emanated from pulpits throughout the Arabian Peninsula, teachings that have permeated all corners of the world, teachings that focus on hatred, exclusivity, provincialism, and xenophobia. These teachings anathematize any Muslim who does not share their simple-minded, literalist, anti-metaphysical, primitive, and impoverished form of Islam, and they reject the immense body of Islamic scholarship from the luminaries of our tradition.

The spread of this ideology

ISIS muder Yazidis.81714Due to a sophisticated network of funding, these teachings have flooded bookstores throughout the Muslim world and even in America, Europe, and Australia. For a case study of what they have spawned, we might look to Kosovo. Our “Islamic” schools are now filled with books published by this sect that lure the impressionable minds of our youth at an age when they are most susceptible to indoctrination. This sect of Islam, however, is not the sole source of our current crisis, and it would be wrong to place all blame on it alone; many of its adherents are peace-loving quietists, who want only to be left alone to practice their faith as they see fit. Their exclusivism is a necessary but not sufficient cause for the xenophobic hatred that leads to such violence. The terroristic Islamists are a hybrid of an exclusivist takfiri version of the above and the political Islamist ideology that has permeated much of the Arab and South Asian world for the last several decades. It is this marriage made in hell that must be understood in order to fully grasp the calamitous situation we find our community in. While the role that Western interventions and misadventures in the region have played in creating this quagmire should not be set aside, diminished, or denied, we should, however, keep in mind that Muslims have been invaded many times in the past yet never reacted like these fanatics. Historically, belligerent enemies often admired the nobility Muslims displayed in their strict adherence to history’s first humane rules of engagement that were laid down by the Prophet himself to insure that mercy was never completely divorced from the callousness of conflict.

ISIS-man-with-knifeWe need to clearly see the pernicious and pervasive nature of this ideological plague and how it is responsible for the chaos and terror spreading even to the city of our Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, in all its inviolability. Its most vulnerable victims are our disaffected youth who often live in desolate circumstances with little hope for their futures. Promises of paradise and easy-out strategies from the weariness of this world have enticed these suicidal youth to express their pathologies in the demonically deceptive causes of “Islamic” radicalism. The pictures they leave behind—showing the supercilious smiles on their faces, even as they hold in their hapless hands their Western-made assault rifles—are testament to the effective brainwashing taking place.

Normative voices drowned out

The damage being wrought is not only within Islam but also to Islam’s good name in the eyes of the world. These now daily occurrences of destructive, hate-filled violence are beginning to drown out the voices of normative Islam, thereby cultivating a real hatred in the hearts of those outside our communities. In the minds of many around the world, Islam, once considered a great world religion, is being reduced to an odious political ideology that threatens global security; that, in turn, is proving disastrous for minority Muslim communities, who now abide in increasingly hostile environments in secular societies.

Counter-voices of scholars and activists

ISIS ATTACKSWhat we need to counter this plague are the voices of scholars, as well as grassroots activists, who can begin to identify the real culprits behind this fanatical ideology. What we do not need are more voices that veil the problem with empty, hollow, and vacuous arguments that this militancy has little to do with religion; it has everything to do with religion: misguided, fanatical, ideological, and politicized religion. It is the religion of resentment, envy, powerlessness, and nihilism. It does, however, have nothing to do with the merciful teachings of our Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him. Unchecked, we will see this plague foment more such violence, until one day, God forbid, these hateful and vile adherents obtain a nuclear device, the use of which has already been sanctioned by their “scholars,” including one currently imprisoned in Saudi Arabia. If such a scenario unfolds, it is highly probable that the full wrath of Western powers will be unleashed upon a helpless Muslim world that would make even the horrendous Mongol invasions of the 13th century look like a stroll in the park.

“To flee from calamities is the Sunnah of Prophets”

See Video: ISIS burns alive Jordanian pilot "al-Kasasbeh"

See Video: ISIS burns alive Jordanian pilot “al-Kasasbeh”

Invariably, some will remark that a fear of Western retaliation is a sign of cowardice. For those zealots, I would recommend turning back to the Qur’an, specifically to reflect on the undeniably brave Messenger Moses, peace be upon him, who unintentionally killed an Egyptian after striking him with his powerful blow, only because he was considered an enemy, and then asked God’s forgiveness and “fled vigilantly out of fear” (28:21). This is a cautionary tale, and it behooves all of us to reflect upon it as a lesson of what not to do when oppressed, especially when we are without political authority or the means to redress our grievances. Imam al-Sahrwardi stated, “To flee from calamities is the Sunnah of Prophets.” It is best not to let our baser self, our lust for revenge, get the better of us.

A series of attacks have occured around the world during Ramadan 2016, the Muslims' holy month of fasting.

A series of attacks have occured around the world during Ramadan 2016, the Muslims’ holy month of fasting.

We would do well to acknowledge that much of what is happening in the Muslim world and to Muslim communities in the West is from what our own hands have wrought. Muslims have been in the West for a long time and have done little to educate people here about our faith; too many of us have been occupied in our wordly affairs, while some of our mosques and schools have been breeding grounds for an ideological Islamism rather than Islam. The Qur’an clearly instructs us that when faced with calamities, we ought to look first at what we may have done to bring them upon us. Introspection is a Qur’anic injunction. Until we come to terms with this Qur’anic truth, we will remain mired in the mirage of denial, always pointing fingers in every direction but at ourselves. “Verily, God does not change the conditions of a people until they change themselves” (Qur’an, 13:11).

As Ramadan comes to a close, let us pray for the oppressed and the guidance of the oppressors, for those who have been killed, and for those who lost their loved ones, and most of all, let us heed our Prophet’s call and want mercy for everyone.


JULY 12, 2016

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NEW YORK – Deadly terrorist attacks in Istanbul, Dhaka, and Baghdad demonstrate the murderous reach of the Islamic State (ISIS) in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and parts of Asia. The longer ISIS maintains its strongholds in Syria and Iraq, the longer its terrorist network will create such carnage. Yet ISIS is not especially difficult to defeat. The problem is that none of the states involved in Iraq and Syria, including the United States and its allies, has so far treated ISIS as its primary foe. It’s time they do.

ISIS has a small fighting force, which the US puts at 20,000 to 25,000 in Iraq and Syria, and another 5,000 or so in Libya. Compared to the number of active military personnel in Syria (125,000), Iraq (271,500), Saudi Arabia (233,500), Turkey (510,600), or Iran (523,000), ISIS is minuscule.

A series of attacks have occured around the world during Ramadan 2016, the Muslims' holy month of fasting.

A series of attacks have occured around the world during Ramadan 2016, the Muslims’ holy month of fasting.

Despite US President Barack Obama’s pledge in September 2014 to “degrade and ultimately destroy” ISIS, the US and its allies, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Israel (behind the scenes), have been focusing instead on toppling Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Consider a recent candid statement by Israeli Major General Herzi Halevy (quoted to me by a journalist who attended the speech where Halevy made it): “Israel does not want to see the situation in Syria end with [ISIS] defeated, the superpowers gone from the region, and [Israel] left with a Hezbollah and Iran that have greater capabilities.”

Israel opposes ISIS, but Israel’s greater concern is Assad’s Iranian backing. Assad enables Iran to support two paramilitary foes of Israel, Hezbollah and Hamas. Israel therefore prioritizes the removal of Assad over the defeat of ISIS.

ISIS ATTACKSFor the US, steered by neoconservatives, the war in Syria is a continuation of the plan for global US hegemony launched by Defense Secretary Richard Cheney and Under Secretary Paul Wolfowitz at the Cold War’s end. In 1991, Wolfowitz told US General Wesley Clark:

“But one thing we did learn [from the Persian Gulf War] is that we can use our military in the region – in the Middle East – and the Soviets won’t stop us. And we’ve got about 5 or 10 years to clean up those old Soviet regimes – Syria, Iran (sic), Iraq – before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.”

The multiple US wars in the Middle East – Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and others – have sought to remove the Soviet Union, and then Russia, from the scene and to give the US hegemonic sway. These efforts have failed miserably.

isis5For Saudi Arabia, as for Israel, the main goal is to oust Assad in order to weaken Iran. Syria is part of the extensive proxy war between Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia that plays out in the battlefields of Syria and Yemen and in bitter Shia-Sunni confrontations in Bahrain and other divided countries in the region (including Saudi Arabia itself).

For Turkey, the overthrow of Assad would bolster its regional standing. Yet Turkey now faces three foes on its southern border: Assad, ISIS, and nationalist Kurds. ISIS has so far taken a back seat to Turkey’s concerns about Assad and the Kurds. But ISIS-directed terrorist attacks in Turkey may be changing that.

isis759Russia and Iran, too, have pursued their own regional interests, including through proxy wars and support for paramilitary operations. Yet both have signaled their readiness to cooperate with the US to defeat ISIS, and perhaps to solve other problems as well. The US has so far spurned these offers, because of its focus on toppling Assad.

The US foreign-policy establishment blames Russian President Vladimir Putin for defending Assad, while Russia blames the US for trying to overthrow him. These complaints might seem symmetrical, but they’re not. The attempt by the US and its allies to overthrow Assad violates the UN Charter, while Russia’s support of Assad is consistent with Syria’s right of self-defense under that charter. Yes, Assad is a despot, but the UN Charter does not give license to any country to choose which despots to depose.

obama_isis_war_460The persistence of ISIS underscores three strategic flaws in US foreign policy, along with a fatal tactical flaw.

First, the neocon quest for US hegemony through regime change is not only bloody-minded arrogance; it is classic imperial overreach. It has failed everywhere the US has tried it. Syria and Libya are the latest examples.

Second, the CIA has long armed and trained Sunni jihadists through covert operations funded by Saudi Arabia. In turn, these jihadists gave birth to ISIS, which is a direct, if unanticipated, consequence of the policies pursued by the CIA and its Saudi partners.

Third, the US perception of Iran and Russia as implacable foes of America is in many ways outdated and a self-fulfilling prophecy. A rapprochement with both countries is possible.

isisFourth, on the tactical side, the US attempt to fight a two-front war against both Assad and ISIS has failed. Whenever Assad has been weakened, Sunni jihadists, including ISIS and al-Nusra Front, have filled the vacuum.

Assad and his Iraqi counterparts can defeat ISIS if the US, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Iran provide air cover and logistical support. Yes, Assad would remain in power; yes, Russia would retain an ally in Syria; and yes, Iran would have influence there. Terrorist attacks would no doubt continue, perhaps even in the name of ISIS for a while; but the group would be denied its base of operations in Syria and Iraq.

ISISSuch an outcome would not only end ISIS on the ground in the Middle East; it could lay the groundwork for reducing regional tensions more generally. The US and Russia could begin to reverse their recent new cold war through shared efforts to stamp out jihadist terrorism. (A pledge that NATO will not offer admission to Ukraine or escalate missile defenses in Eastern Europe would also help.)

There’s more. A cooperative approach to defeating ISIS would give Saudi Arabia and Turkey reason and opportunity to find a newmodus vivendi with Iran. Israel’s security could be enhanced by bringing Iran into a cooperative economic and geopolitical relationship with the West, in turn enhancing the chances for a long-overdue two-state settlement with Palestine.

The rise of ISIS is a symptom of the shortcomings of current Western – particularly US – strategy. The West can defeat ISIS. The question is whether the US will undertake the strategic reassessment needed to accomplish that end.


JULY 05, 2016
Jeffrey D. Sachs, Professor of Sustainable Development, Professor of Health Policy and Management, and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, is also Director of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network






The third installment of Henry Kissinger’s memoirs, The White House Years, is perhaps the most revealing about USA involvement in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war. Starting with the outbreak of the war, Kissinger details a blow-by-blow account of the initial confusion the crisis caused in the White House, and the bureaucratic stalemate that resulted with the USA State Department. Kissinger also gives an evocative account of the roles played by the superpowers.

One of the most persistent criticisms levelled at Kissinger was that he sacrificed morality in American foreign policy on the altar of pragmatism. He viewed foreign policy as essentially amoral. As a student of international relations he believed that a nation has no friends, only interests.

He once said: “We must give up the illusion that foreign policy can choose between morality and pragmatism.” Answering the criticism levelled against him, he argued: “America cannot be true to itself unless it upholds humane values and the dignity of the individual. But equally, it cannot realise its values unless it is secure. No nation has a monopoly on justice or virtue, and none has the capacity to enforce its own conceptions globally.” There was no doubt in Kissinger’s mind that American principles were not shared by the rest of the world. More so during the Indo-Pak crisis of 1971.

51ub0+UANRL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Crises always start with confusion, the Indo-Pak crisis had more than its share, writes Kissinger in the third instalment of his White House Years. He reveals the initial fumbling by the American government over its proposed reaction to the rapidly escalating conflict.

With China supporting Pakistan and the Soviets backing India, the US indecision was further compounded by the fact that Kissinger and the State Department, headed by William Rogers, were always at variance with each other. The result was a bureaucratic stalemate in which White House and the State Department officials competed with each other as separate entities. Kissinger feared that the Indo-Pakistan conflict “would turn into a dress rehearsal for the Middle East” later that year.
The US overtures to Mrs Gandhi, the then prime minister, were frostily rebuffed. “We can’t afford to listen to advice that weakens us,” she told the American Ambassador Keating. Neither country, according to Kissinger, wanted a UN Security Council meeting on the conflict. In the Security Council, India, claims Kissinger, would have escaped condemnation only by the Soviet veto. Pakistan, on the other hand, feared a Security Council discussion because it would involve criticism of the repression in East Pakistan.

High stakes were therefore involved. I told Nixon that the India-Pakistan conflict would turn into a dress rehearsal for the Middle East in the spring.

In the following pages, Kissinger deals with the US decision to cut off aid to India, the US resolution in the Security Council calling for a ceasefire, and withdrawal of Indian forces, the attacks in the American media against the US administration’s stance on the conflict and the inevitability of an Indian victory.”Once again,” concludes Kissinger, “events in the sub-continent overtook us.”

On November 22, I reported to Nixon: The Pakistanis today claim in radio broadcasts that India “without a formal declaration of war, has launched in all-out offensive against East Pakistan.” … The Indians claim that these reports are “absolutely false.” … At this point, we have no independent evidence but it seems apparent that there had been a major incident.

20130921_BKP001_2Crises always start as confusion, this one more than most. The Pakistani Ambassador had no information; Secretary Rogers, who had no better sources than I, could only note the conflicting reports. Nixon was raring to carry out his threat, reiterated since May, that he would terminate aid to India. To head off domestic criticism he wanted to announce this as a cut-off of aid to both belligerents, knowing that aid to Pakistan was already being dried up.

I recommended that he delay a decision until after a Washington Special Action Group (Wsag) meeting called for the afternoon. I was sceptical even of announcing of cut-off for Pakistan if turned out that India was the aggressor. It was just too cynical; it might be misunderstood in Peking. Nixon was for whatever course that would hurt India more.

President_Nixon_meets_withI had no doubt that we were now witnessing the beginning of an India-Pakistan war and that India had started it. Despite popular myths, large military units do not fight by accident; some command sets them into motion. No amount of obfuscation could offset the improbability that 70,000 Pakistani soldiers engaged in a guerrilla war would attack 200,000 Indian troops, or that the Pakistani air force of twelve planes in East Pakistan would have taken on the 200 Indian planes ranged against it.

There was no pretense of legality. There was no doubt in my mind-a view held even more strongly by Nixon-that India had escalated its demands continually and deliberately to prevent a settlement. To be sure, Pakistani repression in East Bengal had been brutal and shortsighted; and millions of refugees had imposed enormous strain on the Indian economy. But what had caused the war, in Nixon’s view and mine, went beyond the refugee problem; it was India’s determination to use the crisis to establish its pre-eminence on the subcontinent.

Mrs Gandhi informed the Indian Parliament the Indian troops had acted in their right of self-defence. Future decisions to cross the border would be left to the “man on the spot.” – a group of commanders eager to demonstrate their prowess.

But our paramount concern transcended the subcontinent. The Soviet Union could have restrained India; it chose not to. It had, in fact, actively encouraged war by signing the Friendship Treaty, giving diplomatic support to India’s maximum demands, airlifting military supplies, and pledging to veto inconvenient resolutions in the UN Security Council. The Soviets encouraged India to exploit Pakistan’s travail in part to deliver a blow to our system of alliances, in even greater measure to demonstrate Chinese impotence.

03182016_16_MUKTIJUDDHOSince it was a common concern about Soviet power that had driven Peking and Washington together, a demonstration of American irrelevance would severely strain our precarious new relationship with China. Had we followed the advice of our critics-massive public dissociation from Pakistan and confrontation with it in its moment of desperation – we would have been operating precisely as the US-Soviet condominium so dreaded by Peking; this almost surely would have undone our China initiative.

I heard occasional comments in the inter agency meetings implying that we were obsessed with preserving the trip to China. But as I said to Nixon, “These people don’t recognize that without a China trip we wouldn’t have had a Moscow trip.”

635910420340443868-XXX-DANIEL-ELLSBERG-MOV-1417American Allies: Nor were we defending only abstract principles of international conduct. The victim of the attack was an ally- however reluctant many were to admit it-to which we had made several explicit promises concerning precisely this contingency. Clear treaty commitments reinforced by other undertakings dated back to 1959. One could debate the wisdom of these undertakings (and much of our bureaucracy was so eager to forget about them that for a time it proved next to impossible even for the White House to extract copies of the 1962 communications), but we could not ignore them.

To do so would have disheartened allies like Iran and Turkey, which sympathized with Pakistan; had the same commitment from us, and looked to our reaction as a token of American steadiness in potential crises affecting them. High stakes were therefore involved. On December 5, I told Nixon that the India-Pakistan conflict would turn into a dress rehearsal for the Middle East in the spring. I made the same point to John Connally before and after the December 6 NSC meeting.

wholevillain-nixon-with-indira-november04-1971There was no question of “saving” East Pakistan. Both Nixon and I had recognized for months that its independence was inevitable; war was not necessary to accomplish it. We strove to preserve West Pakistan as an independent state, since we judged India’s real aim was to encompass its disintegration. We sought to prevent a demonstration that Soviet arms and diplomatic support were inevitably decisive in crises.

On December 4, I told Nixon that precisely because we were retreating from Vietnam we could not permit the impression to be created that all issues could be settled by naked force.

justice_abu_sayeed_chowdhuryThough it was now too late to prevent war, we still had an opportunity-through the intensity of our reaction-to make the Soviets pause before they undertook another adventure somewhere else. As I told Nixon on December 5, we had to be, come sufficiently threatening to discourage similar moves by Soviet friends in other areas, especially the Middle East.

And if we acted with enough daring, we might stop the Indian onslaught before it engulfed and shattered West Pakistan. It was nearly impossible to implement this strategy because our departments operated on different premises.

28TH_BANGLADESH_2754334gThey were afraid of antagonizing India; they saw that Pakistan was bound to lose the war whatever we did; they knew our course was unpopular in the Congress and the media. And Nixon, while he understood the strategic stakes, could not bring himself to impose the discipline required to implement the operational details.

Kissinger and the State Department, headed by William Rogers, were always at cross-purposes. Kissinger’s relations with Rogers had deteriorated to the point that they exacerbated their policy differences and endangered coherent policy. The result was a bureaucratic stalemate in which White House and State Department representatives dealt with each other as competing sovereign entities, not members of the same team.

31warRussians Warned: At the first Wsag meeting after the war began, on November 22, the State Department argued that we did not have enough facts to make any decision. It recommended that we press Pakistan for further political concessions. Though the war was a clear violation of the UN Charter, the Department was ambivalent about going to the UN; determined not to clash with India, it saw merit in going to the UN not in order to invoke Charter provisions against armed attack but only to wash our hands of the entire affair.

I asked-I fear none too patiently-what sense there was in rewarding India for its aggression by pressing for new concessions from Pakistan. Was it unreasonable to ask India to wait for four weeks to see how the transfer to civilian authority would come out? As for going to the UN, I asked State to prepare a scenario by the opening of business the next day. That same evening the President sent me an instruction that strong cables cautioning against war be sent to New Delhi, Moscow, and Islamabad. Nixon wanted Moscow, in particular, to be warned about its supply of arms to India.

Even Keating, who strongly supported the Indian point of view… found himself obliged to admit in an understatement that Singh was “less than completely frank with me with regard to Indian military personnel inside East Pakistan.

The military outcome was becoming obvious. Pakistan told us that two Indian brigades were operating inside East Pakistan. On November 23, Nixon received a letter from Yahya describing Indian military dispositions as in effect a noose around the government forces in East Pakistan that was being tightened through large and unprovoked attacks. Assuring Nixon of his desire to avoid war even at this late stage, Yahya appealed for Nixon’s “personal initiative at the present juncture” which “could still prove decisive in averting a catastrophe.”

&NCS_modified=20131124074822&MaxW=640&imageVersion=default&AR-131129843On the same day – November 23 – we received a letter from Mrs Gandhi, inexplicably dated November 18. Speaking as if addressing a partner in a joint enterprise, Mrs Gandhi gave herself high marks for restraint, which she ascribed to faith that justice would prevail and which had been “sustained by the discussion I had with you.” While Indian units were roaming over a neighbouring country, Mrs Gandhi advised against convening the Security Council, arguing that “such a move would obstruct the path of the solutions which we jointly seek.”

_57359640_mascarenhas_genocide464It was an interesting doctrine of international law that recourse to the United Nations might obstruct the solution of a military conflict. And the implication that, now that India had attacked its neighbour, we were seeking “joint solutions” did little to calm the Presidential temper. Mrs Gandhi appealed to Nixon to use his “great courage” to inspire a solution and expressed the hope for better relations between the United States and India.

She did not vouch safe what solution she was aiming for or what better relations between India and the United States would consist of. But it was clear she did not want to be called to defend and justify India’s policy before the world community at the UN.

Chinese Connection: The Wsag meeting of November 23, shed no light on the direction in which American influence-now requested by both sides – could be brought to bear. The State Department had no objection to the cables to Moscow and Islamabad urging restraint (in the latter case, no one considered it odd to ask the victim of a military attack to show restraint).

FILE_3AE6D4-E67C08-D40371-C6036A-27BE8D-1B0C2AIt was the cable to New Delhi that was giving trouble. Under Secretary of State Irwin recommended delaying until we had “independent” confirmation of an Indian attack. “We can play this charade only so long,” I replied.

Nor was State ready to cut off military aid to India, as Nixon demanded. Its representatives questioned whether a cut-off was consistent with our efforts to restrain Mrs Gandhi and doubted its effectiveness. This was exactly the opposite of what had been alleged for months with respect to Pakistan! And after months of demonstrating enormous ingenuity in drying up the Pakistani pipeline, they seemed totally at a loss on how to accomplish it with India, pleading the difficulty of tracing equipment already licensed.

It also turned out that ending economic aid to both sides would hurt Pakistan more than India. I pointed out what should have been axiomatic: that it made no sense to refrain from cutting off military equipment to the attacking country when we had already done so to the victim.

gorra-600-640x480November 23 was also the day of my first secret meeting with the Chinese in New York. Huang Hua was now Permanent Representative of the People’s Republic of China to the United Nations. Peking had agreed that we could use Huang Hua in New York as a contact on UN matters or for emergency messages; the rest of our business was to be conducted through Paris as heretofore.

I thought it important to keep Peking meticulously informed of our moves; at a minimum, the Chinese leaders had to understand that we were not in collusion with the Soviet Union. Peking needed to appreciate our determination to resist expansionism as well as the limits on our practical possibilities in this case.

Huang Hua and I met at a secret location in New York City in the East Thirties, a seedy little apartment in an old brownstone that the CIA had used as a safe house. One requirement was that it have no doorman and few other occupants. Otherwise we would be tempting fate if too many sharp-eyed New Yorkers could see three Chinese diplomats wearing Mao suits walk into a building, to be followed by Henry Kissinger. (Later we moved our meeting place to an equally seedy if slightly more pretentious establishment in the East Seventies.)

Bangladesh-genocideAt this point I could do little more than brief Huang Hua on the military situation. I showed him the draft resolution we would submit to the Security Council if the issue were taken up there indicating we had not made a final decision. Huang Hua emphasized that China would support Pakistan in the Security Council, but would follow Pakistan’s lead as to whether to take the issue there.

Bureaucratic Infighting: On November 24, Mrs Gandhi acknowledged for the first time that Indian troops had crossed the Pakistani border. They had done so only once, she said, on November 21. And, she informed the Indian Parliament, Indian troops had acted in their right of self-defence. Future decisions to cross the border would be left to the “man on the spot”-a group of commanders eager to demonstrate their prowess.

1971 india pak war picturesIn the face of all this evidence, the Wsag meeting on November 24 marked time as we awaited the responses to our demarches in New Delhi, Islamabad, and Moscow. I asked the departments whether there was any doubt that Indian regular forces had invaded East Pakistan. Most agreed, but -in spite of Mrs Gandhi’s admission-the State Department representative still regarded the evidence as inconclusive. The operational advice offered was, again, to press Pakistan for further political concessions.

If there was a “tilt” in the US Government at this stage, objectively it was on the side of India. Bureaucratic paralysis had the practical effect of cooperating with the delaying action that India was conducting on the diplomatic front.

At noon on November 24, Nixon met Rogers and Kissinger in the Oval office. The meeting ended inconclusively with Nixon afterward fretting to Kissinger about how to deal with Rogers.

Pakistan did not want a Security Council discussion  because it feared that it might broaden into a general criticism of the repression in East Bengal.

How-Soviet-Union-threatened-USUK-and-China-to-protect-IndiaThe outcome was that everyone went his own merry way. The State Department had publicized its view by having its spokesman declare at a press briefing that the United States had no evidence to charge India with aggression. When the Pakistani Ambassador protested to the Secretary, Rogers reiterated that we had “no independent information to confirm or deny” Indian complicity in armed attack.

Rogers explained that Washington did not want to be in a position to take sides as to the truth of conflicting reports. Of course, the location of the battle line deep inside Pakistani territory would have given us a pretty good clue as to who was probably doing the attacking.

Bureaucratic infighting caused a third day to pass without any serious US reaction. I have pointed out in previous chapters that crises can be managed only if they are overpowered early. Once they gain momentum the commitments of the parties tend to drive them out of control.

A stern warning to India on the first day, coupled with a plausible threat of an aid cut-off brutally implemented, might possibly have given Mrs Gandhi pause before she escalated. (It would, of course, have been even better to do so before the attack.) Doubts about who had attacked were largely spurious. Guerrilla forces do not operate tanks and airplanes across hundreds of miles of territory.

Plaintive appeals for restraint only revealed our hesitation; they may have spurred Indian military action instead of restraining it.

No Progress: Ambassador Keating’s experience with Swaran Singh on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, revealed that India was implacable. In a stormy reply to our plea for restraint, Singh complained that there had been no political progress since Mrs Gandhi’s visit.

He did not tell us how it could have been made, since his Prime Minister had never deigned to react to our proposals and did not communicate with us until November 23, forty-eight hours earlier. He said that if Pakistan unilaterally withdrew its troops, this would create a new situation, but he refused to tell us whether India would follow suit. It was Pakistan that threatened India, said Singh, not the other way around.

genocide_1971When Keating referred to Indian troops on Pakistani territory, Singh blithely replied this did not tally with facts as he knew them. Even Keating, who strongly supported the Indian point of view, lobbied for it in Congress, and frequently castigated both Nixon and me privately, found himself obliged to admit in an understatement that Singh was “less than completely frank with me with regard to Indian military personnel inside East Pakistan”.

On November 25, too, we learned reliably that Mrs Gandhi had told colleagues that India would continue its attacks and escalate them. Her commanders were as good as her word. On November 26, new Indian attacks were launched in the Jessore area. The Soviet Union blocked a Japanese feeler to call a Security Council meeting. Ambassador Beam was told that the Soviet Union would support an end to military operations only if there were a political solution satisfactory to India.

03182016_16_MUKTIJUDDHONixon phoned British Prime Minister Heath to tell him of his fear that Indian objectives might well go beyond East Pakistan. He received general expressions of agreement but a clear indication that Britain would stay aloof.

Diplomatic Failures

On November 26, Farland managed to see Yahya, who accepted Farland’s suggestion that he request the UN to send observers to the Pakistani side of the line. He would also ask the UN to take over the refugee facilities in East Pakistan and would consider allowing Bengali oppositionists to meet with the still imprisoned Mujib.

US_Aircraft_CarrierIn New Delhi Keating saw Mrs Gandhi in the context of a visit by Senators Frank Church and William Saxbe. Her line had hardened even further. She repeated the complaint that there had been no political progress since her talks with Nixon. The issue in any event was no longer East Pakistan but India’s national security in the face of unstable neighbours, she said.

Playing to the end the role of a peace-loving moderate overwhelmed by events, Mrs Gandhi said that she was barely able to resist tremendous domestic pressure for even more drastic action -though it was not obvious what more India might do to harass, injure, and invade her neighbour.

Presidential Letters: Nixon’s instinct, again, was to reply to Mrs Gandhi with a cut-off of aid. I urged him to wait for the next Indian move. We would be better off reacting when the provocation was unambiguous and the facts uncontestable. The State Department came forward with the idea of Presidential letters to Yahya, Mrs Gandhi, and Kosygin, again urging troop withdrawals, though without any indication that there was a penalty for refusing us.

Though Presidential letters had grown so frequent as to debase the currency. I went along because they could do no damage and could provide a platform later for stronger action.

The President’s letter to Mrs Gandhi informed her of Yahya’s willingness to permit UN observers on the Pakistani side of the border and reminded her of Pakistan’s standing offer of unilateral withdrawal. Noting her admission that Indian forces were engaged on Pakistani territory, the letter stressed that “the American people would not understand if Indian actions led to broad scale hostilities.”

indira_kissingerThe message to Kosygin called once again for Soviet cooperation in promoting a peaceful resolution to the crisis and urged the Soviet Union to press New Delhi on troop withdrawals. It was a futile gesture. The Soviet definition of an acceptable solution was identical with India’s.

The letter to Yahya sought to discourage him from seeking to relieve the pressure on beleaguered East Pakistan by attacking India from the West, where the bulk of the Pakistani army was located. Even though such a move was also doomed to failure, desperate leaders might feel it required by their honour.

We were concerned that a Pakistani attack in the West would merely supply the final pretext for India to complete the disintegration of all of Pakistan. The Nixon letter listed our various futile efforts to urge restraint on India; nevertheless, it warned against expansion of the war. Yahya received Farland on November 27. He was desperate and cooperative. He offered to ask the United Nations immediately to furnish observers for the Pakistani side of the border to guarantee Pakistan’s defensive intent.

74659_467919387026_593107026_6083970_2829587_nHe offered to permit Farland to meet with Mujib’s lawyer. (As the war escalated Yahya later withdrew his offer.) And he reaffirmed his willingness for contacts with members of the provisional Bangladesh Government in Calcutta and “they will not find me unresponsive.”

The winning side in a war is rarely eager for negotiations; the longer the battle lasts, the better will be its bargaining position. The only restraint is the fear that if it overplays its hand it will trigger outside forces that might deprive it of the fruits of its victory. Mrs Gandhi at the end of November was riding the waves of success, and the actions of neither the United States nor China gave her much reason for caution.

The Nixon Administration was being pressed to turn on Pakistan; China at the end of its Cultural Revolution proved to be militarily unprepared and had just surmounted a domestic crisis involving the loyalty of its military.

Meanwhile, the State Department spokesman surfaced with a comment that showed how hard his colleagues found it to follow the White House strategy or to break with three decades of sentimental attachment to India. A former US Ambassador to Pakistan, Benjamin H. Oehlert, Jr, had written a letter to the New York Times, published on November 3, to the effect that the United States had commitments to come to Pakistan’s aid “even with our arms and men, if she should be attacked by any other country”.

pak-appeals-truceThe State Department spokesman replied to a question on November 26 that there were no such secret commitments binding the United States to come to Pakistan’s aid. If enough emphasis were placed on the phrase “arms and men” and if a sharp lawyer were permitted to define the meaning of “binding”, this statement was at the very edge of truth. It also happened to be exactly the wrong signal if we sought to restrain an Indian assault on an allied country.

Futile Efforts: Mrs Gandhi was unavailable to receive the President’s letter. She had decided to visit the troops near the border. She blasted the superpowers (meaning the United States) for having the nerve to complain “because we have taken action to defend our borders”. This speech was little likely to turn the thoughts of the military commanders, who now had discretion to cross the frontier, toward peace.

Pakistan-army-surrender-dhaka-cantonmentThat same day Indian Defence Minister Jagjivan Ram disclosed to a cheering crowd at a political rally in Calcutta that Indian forces had been authorized to advance into Pakistan to “silence” Pakistani artillery. At the same rally a speaker declared, “India will break Pakistan to pieces.” And an Indian colonel told a reporter on November 28 what part of the US Government was still unwilling to acknowledge-that “our troops went in because the Mukti Bahini called for help.”

Keating finally caught up with Mrs Gandhi on November 29 and was received with another frosty recital of India’s complaints. Yahya’s problems, she pointed out not inaccurately, were self-created and “we are not in a position to make this easier for him.” She could not continue to tell her people to wait and added ominously, “I can’t hold it.” When Keating tried to raise the issue of border incursions into Pakistan, Mrs Gandhi cut him off: “We can’t afford to listen to advice which weakens us.”

Rising Pressures

bangladesh-war_660_092313032832This moved matters back to the Wsag, which on November 29 debated inconclusively whether India had made a decision to attack before or after the Nixon-Gandhi talks. The issue was as irrelevant as the answer was self-evident. Clearly, Mrs Gandhi had planned it well in advance and used her trip not as a means to seek a solution but as a smoke-screen for her actions.

There was no way by which the Indian deployment could have been completed in the ten-day period between Mrs Gandhi’s return and the first cross-border operations. The Wsag had at last reconciled itself to the fact that the President meant to cut off some aid to India, but the State Department fought a dogged rearguard action to keep the reduction to a minimum and the directive sufficiently vague to permit the maximum administrative discretion.

Matters reached such a point of confusion concerning what categories of arms we might cut off that I said, “We have contracts without licenses and licenses without contracts,” asking which we were to terminate. It transpired that what was favoured was a refusal to grant new licenses-undoubtedly on the theory that this decision could always be reversed after the war when passions had cooled.

I should have known from the case with which inter agency agreement was obtained that the amounts involved were small (around $17 million). The first step, a ban on new licenses for military equipment for India, was announced by State on December 1.

UN’s Impotence: On November 29, I informed Peking via the Paris channel of all our overtures to other countries and their responses.

acceleratedmedia_300_250By November 30 Mrs Gandhi raised pressures another notch. Speaking to her Parliament, she sarcastically welcomed the call for troop withdrawals but “the troops that should be withdrawn straight away are the Pakistani troops in Bangladesh.” She threw cold water on any negotiations with Pakistan on the ground that only the elected representatives of Bangladesh could decide its future and that in her view they would not settle for anything less than “liberation”. Thus, there was nothing to negotiate with Pakistan other than its dismemberment.

So the Wsag met again on December 1 to discuss whether, over a week after the start of hostilities, the time had come for a UN Security Council meeting and what additional steps could be taken to implement an arms cutoff to India. There was surprising international unanimity not to go to the Security Council. India did not want a Security Council meeting because hypocrisy could not be stretched even in that body to avoid the admission that an invasion of a sovereign member of the UN had taken place.

It would be able to escape condemnation only by the promised Soviet veto. Pakistan did not want a Security Council discussion because it feared that it might broaden into a general criticism of the repression in East Bengal; also, it wanted to keep the spotlight on its invitation that UN observers be stationed on the Pakistani side of the border-a proposal that had already been formally submitted to the UN secretary-general.

The Soviet Union was not eager to be forced to invoke its veto; Huang Hua had told me that China would back whatever Pakistan wanted. Within our government the State Department was not eager to go to the Security Council because it feared the “tilt” of White House instructions.

nixon-kissinger-ledeI was reluctant because I was loath to take on the domestic brawl that our instructions would evoke. It was a sad commentary on the state of the United Nations when a full-scale invasion of a major country was treated by victim, ally, aggressor, and other great powers as too dangerous to bring to the formal attention of the world body pledged by its Charter to help preserve the peace.

The War Spreads

On December 2 Pakistani Ambassador Raza delivered a letter from Yahya to President Nixon invoking Article I of the 1959 bilateral agreement between the United States and Pakistan as the basis for US aid to Pakistan. The American obligation to Pakistan was thus formally raised.

The State Department was eloquent in arguing that no binding obligation existed; it regularly put out its view at public briefings. It pointed out that Article I spoke only of “appropriate action” subject to our constitutional processes; it did not specify what action should be taken. The Department also claimed that the obligation was qualified by its context, the 1958 Middle East “Eisenhower Doctrine” resolution, which it was argued, intended to exclude an India-Pakistan war. State simply ignored all other communications between our government and Pakistan.

We had to act with determination to save larger interests and relationships. We were playing a weak hand, but one must never compound weakness by timidity.

nixon-kissinger-1The image of a great nation conducting itself like a shyster looking for legalistic loopholes was not likely to inspire other allies who had signed treaties with us or relied on our expressions in the belief that the words meant approximately what they said. The treaty with Pakistan was identical to several other bilateral and multilateral agreements – all of which our pronouncements seemed to cast into doubt.

And it had been buttressed in the case of Pakistan by many additional assurances of support. The fact was that over the decades of our relationship with Pakistan, there had grown up a complex body of communications by the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, going beyond the 1959 pact, some verbal, some in writing, whose plain import was that the United States would come to Pakistan’s assistance if she was attacked by India. To be sure, their purpose had been to evade Pakistani requests for arms after the Indian attack on Goa of December 1961 and the India-Pakistan war of 1965.

23sld4Assurances of future US support were the substitute for immediate material aid. But, if anything, this made matters worse. It, made it appear as if the United States avoided supplying weapons to an ally first by promising later support if the threat materialised and then by welshing on its promises by super-clever legal exegesis.

I am not suggesting that we should have blindly set our policy solely because of what our predecessors had said. The decisions of a great power will be shaped by the requirements of the national interest as perceived at the moment of decision, not only by abstract legal obligations whether vague or precise.

No country can be expected to run grave risks if its interests and obligations have come to be at total variance with each other. But equally a nation that systematically ignores its pledges assumes a heavy burden; its diplomacy will lose the flexibility that comes from a reputation for reliability; it can no longer satisfy immediate pleas from allies by promises of future action. Pakistan, moreover, was an ally of other allies – Iran, Turkey – and a friend of Saudi Arabia and Jordan, then isolated in a still largely radical Middle East.

IndiraAnd it was a friend of China and in close touch with a Peking that was gingerly feeling its way toward a new relationship with us based on the hope that we could maintain the global equilibrium. A reputation for unreliability was not something we could afford.

Nixon was ensconced in Key Biscayne; we talked frequently. He had no intention of becoming militarily involved, but he was determined that something be done. He ordered that the remaining licences for Indian arms be terminated. He wanted a complete cutoff of economic aid (this I knew would never happen, given the biases of our bureaucracy).

He wanted a State Department statement castigating Indian intransigence. “If they don’t want to, Ziegler will do it from Florida, and it will be a blast.” I transmitted these instructions to an unenthusiastic Rogers, who began trying to figure out ways to make the announcement so late in the day that the scope of press coverage would be reduced.

A New front: Once more events in the subcontinent overtook us. Yahya had at last been cornered by his subtly implacable opponent in New Delhi. Throughout the crisis, long periods of paralyzing inactivity by Yahya had been succeeded by sudden spasms as he sought to adjust to his predicament-usually too late. For 11 days he had stood by while Indian forces pressed deeper and deeper into East Pakistan, in effect dismembering his country.

For his main forces to remain inactive on the borders of West Pakistan would amount to abdication; yet to respond would be to fall into the Indian trap and provide a pretext for an all-out onslaught on East and eventually West Pakistan. Yahya chose what he considered the path of honour. On December 3 he launched his army into an attack in the West that he must have known was suicidal. In simple-minded soldierly fashion he decided, as I told Nixon, that if Pakistan would be destroyed or dismembered it should go down fighting.

ff_nuclearwar_brezhnevThe war having spread, official American reaction was again stymied by repeated arguments between Kissinger and Rogers. Kissinger finally acquiesced and let the Department slide off the condemnation of India that Nixon had ordered. On December 3 it was announced that remaining licenses for arms to India would be cancelled.

By now Nixon was in high gear. As always, his attitude was woven of many strands. He wanted to preserve his China initiative, and he understood that “even-handedness” would play into India’s hands. He wanted to deflect blame for what was happening from himself. He dreaded conflict with Rogers. But he was insistent on taking a strong line at the Security Council. His initiatives came cascading into my office, specific in indicating directions, less so in defining the methods.

In this atmosphere the Wsag assembled on December 3 to chart a course. It was a meeting memorialised in transcripts that were leaked to the columnist Jack Anderson. Out of context these sounded as if the White House were hell-bent on pursuing its own biases, but they can only be understood against the background of the several preceding months of frustrating and furious resistance by the bureacuracy to the President’s explicit decisions. “I’ve been catching unshirled hell every half-hour from the President who says we’re not tough enough,” I commented in what I thought was the privacy of the Situation Room. “He really doesn’t believe we’re carrying out his wishes. He wants to tilt toward Pakistan and he believes that every briefing or statement is going the other way.” That was of course a plain statement of the facts.

Conciliatory in tone, it took the traditional stance of the side whose military operations are going favourably – it stalled.

23sld3My sarcasm did nothing to affect departmental proclivities. When I transmitted the President’s instruction to cut off economic aid to India, State suggested a similar step toward Pakistan-in spite of the President’s view that India was the guilty party for its bellicosity.

This provoked me in exasperation into another “tilt” statement: “It’s hard to tilt toward Pakistan, as the President wishes, if every time we take some action in relation in India we have to do the same thing for Pakistan. Just hold this informally until I get to the President.”

The difference of opinion between Kissinger and Rogers left State Department officials in an extremely uncomfortable position. Kissinger recounted the bureaucratic battles not to aportion blame but to illuminate the public record, which is incomprehensible without them.

47China Factor: The issue hinged on the geopolitical perspective of the White House as against the regional perspective of the State Department, and on the relative weight to be given to China and India in the conduct of our foreign policy. The White House viewed the conflict as a ruthless power play by which India, encouraged by the Soviets, used the ineptitude of the Pakistani Government and the fragility of the Pakistani political structure to force a solution of the East Pakistan crisis by military means when a political alternative seemed clearly available.

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi 's interview with Ramesh ChandraWhether our officials liked, it or not, Pakistan was an ally to which we had treaty commitments backed up by private assurances; its fate would thus affect the attitudes of several key countries that had rested their security on American promises, it would be watched carefully by China. And those countries in the Middle East eager to settle the issue by force could easily be tempted to adopt military means.

And if its policy in the sub-continent succeeded too easily, the Soviet Union might resort to comparable tactics in other volatile areas-as indeed it later did when Watergate had sapped Executive authority. The dismemberment of Pakistan by military force and its eventual destruction without any American reaction thus would have profound international repercussions.

UN Resolution

4The opposing view was that we were needlessly sacrificing the friendship of India, that nothing could be done to save East Pakistan, and that it would, in any event, be undesirable to do so. We were taking the “Chinese position”, Rogers complained. We were acting impetuously. We ran a needless risk of involving ourselves militarily. India was a country of huge potential that we needed as a friend.

But Nixon and I were not being impetuous. We were convinced that India’s nonalignment derived not from affection for the United States but from its perception of its national interest; these calculations were likely to reassert themselves as soon as the immediate crisis was over. The issue, to us, was the assault on international order implicit in Soviet-Indian collusion.

7editkhush1I told the Wsag on December 4 that “everyone knows we will end up with Indian occupation of East Pakistan.” But we had to act with determination to save larger interests and relationships. We were playing a weak hand, but one must never compound weakness by timidity. “I admit it’s not a brilliant position,” I said to Nixon on December 5, “but if we collapse now the Soviets won’t respect us for it; the Chinese will despise us and the other countries will draw their own conclusions.”

Once the war had spread to the West, moreover, at issue was not the method for establishing Bangladesh but the survival of Pakistan itself. India’s military power was vastly superior to Pakistan’s, partly the result of the six-year American embargo on arms sales to both sides, which hurt mainly Pakistan. Because of India’s access to Soviet arms and a large arms industry of its own, India was bound to crush Pakistan’s armed forces.

indo-pakistani_war_1971_iafThe State Department’s legal advisers might find a way to demonstrate that we had no binding obligation to Pakistan, but the geopolitical impact would be no less serious for it. Our minimum aim had to be to demonstrate that we would not compound our weakness by fatuousness. We had to act in a manner that would give pause to potential Soviet adventures elsewhere, especially in the Middle East, where Egypt’s President had now proclaimed 1972 as another year of decision.

The USA was playing a big bluff because it had no cards to speak of. On December 9 Kissinger appealed to his Wsag colleagues to “speak with the same voice” and to stop putting out conflicting stories.

90097492It was impossible to keep the government united and not easy to get it to act with any coherence. Most of December 4 was expended in getting the State Department to agree to a speech by George Bush challenging India’s resort to arms and supporting a Security Council resolution calling for both a cease-fire and withdrawal of forces (that is, Indian).

Bush introduced a resolution along these lines on December 4. The Security Council supported our position, with 11 members favouring our resolution. But it failed of adoption because it was vetoed by the Soviet Union. (Britain and France abstained- another example of the tendency of our West European allies to let us carry the burden of global security alone.) With the Security Council stalemated by the Soviet veto we took the case to the General Assembly under the Uniting for Peace resolution.

We prevailed in that body by a vote of 104 to 11 on December 7. Our position was opposed only by the Soviet bloc and India.

Natwar_2530900fAlthough the USA Government had the support of the world community, the usual votaries of public opinion in America castigated the White House as if it stood irrationally against the decent opinion of mankind.

All the while, the Soviet Union was buying time for India to complete its military operations. Tass issued a blistering statement on December 5 supporting India without reservation and opposing any ceasefire unless accompanied by a political settlement based on the “lawful rights*’ of the people of East Pakistan. When Nixon learned of this he decided to bring pressure on Moscow. Dobrynin, as in most crises, was out of town. His charge, Vorontsov, had authority only to receive and transmit messages, not to negotiate.

On December 5, I told Vorontsov that we were at a watershed. Moscow’s encouragement of Indian aggression was inconsistent with improvement in US-Soviet relations. Vorontsov was soothing. The crisis would be over in a week; it need have no impact on US-Soviet relations. If the Soviet Union continued on its present course. I snapped, it would not be over in a week, whatever happened on the subcontinent.

bangabandhu-indira-gandhi3-wbBangladesh Recognized: On December 6, Mrs Gandhi officially recognized the independence of Bangladesh. While this had been implicit in her policy all along, her declaration had the effect of closing off all remaining possibility of political accommodation.

The State Department at last announced the cut-off of economic aid to India that Nixon had ordered four days earlier (but it was carried out so half-heartedly that it had little impact).

Personality clashes between Kissinger and Rogers persisted. In these circumstances, more and more of their policy was pulled into the White House, where Nixon and Kissinger could control it.

On the evening of December 6, at eleven, we received a Soviet reply to my conversation with Vorontsov of the day before. Conciliatory in tone, it took the traditional stance of the side whose military operations are going favourably – it stalled. The Soviets denied that what happened on the subcontinent represented a watershed.

In more elegant form it followed Tass line of calling for a political solution in East Pakistan as a pre-condition for a cease-fire. And the Soviet definition of a political solution was identical with India’s: immediate independence. Clearly, Moscow wanted the war to continue.

Nixon responded by ordering, on my recommendation, a slow-down in economic negotiations with Moscow. This was easier said than done. By now enough departments had developed a vested interest in East-West trade to seek to protect their turf if only by inertia in carrying out orders.

This resistance was led by Secretary of Commerce Stans, who reflected the passionate view of many businessmen that profits should not be sacrificed to politics. On top of it, Stans-surely an ardent anti-Communist-fancied that he had established a good personal relationship with Soviet leaders which he was most reluctant to jeopardize for arcane diplomatic manoeuvres thousands of miles away.

Ominous Portents: On December 7, Yahya informed us that East Pakistan was disintegrating. For us the day began with a Washington Post editorial sharply attacking Administration policy on the subcontinent, calling the aid cut-off of India ”puzzling,” “purely punitive,” and its reasons “laughable.”

The Post came to this conclusion on the very day on which all further doubt was dispelled that the issue had gone far beyond self-determination for East Pakistan.

bangladesh-liberation-war-1971A report reached us from a source whose reliability we had never had any reason to doubt and which I do not question today, to the effect that Prime Minister Gandhi was determined to reduce even West Pakistan to impotence: She had indicated that India would not accept any General Assembly call for a ceasefire until Bangladesh was “liberated”; after that, Indian forces would  proceed with the “liberation” of the southern part of Azad Kashmir -the Pakistani part of Kashmir-and continue fighting until the Pakistani army and air force were wiped out. In other words, West Pakistan was to be dismembered and rendered defenceless. Mrs Gandhi also told colleagues that if the Chinese “rattled the sword,” the Soviets had promised to take appropriate counteraction. Other intelligence indicated that this meant diversionary military action against China in Sinkiang. Pakistan – West Pakistan – could not possibly survive such a combination of pressures, and a Sino-Soviet war was not excluded.

‘Anti-Indian’: Against this background I gave a press briefing that became highly controversial later. I did so because Rogers had prohibited State Department personnel from undertaking public briefings, because massive leaks sought to undermine what the President had repeatedly ordered, and because we needed to state a coherent case for our position.

genocide-02I sought to set out our reasoning, warn India while giving it assurances of basic goodwill, and try to convey to the Soviets that matters were getting serious. I denied that the Administration was “anti-Indian.” I emphasized that we had not condoned the Pakistani repression in East Bengal in March 1971; military aid had been cut off and major efforts had been made to promote political accommodation between the Pakistani Government and Bangladesh officials in Calcutta. Nevertheless, in our view India was responsible for the war.

India, I pointed out, “either . . . could have given us a timetable or one could have waited for the return to civilian rule which was only three weeks away, to see whether that would bring about a change in the situation. …” We had concluded that “military action was taken, in our view, without adequate cause.” India had spurned or ignored our overtures. I warned the Soviet Union that it had an obligation to act as a force for restraint, for “the attempt to achieve unilateral advantage sooner or later will lead to an escalation of tensions which must jeopardize the prospects of relaxation.” I believed then, and still do, that this represented an accurate statement of the record.

George Bush, on instructions, went a step farther at the UN, labelling India the aggressor. The resolution we supported in the General Assembly, calling for ceasefire and withdrawal of forces, won overwhelming support, passing, as I have pointed out, by 104 lo 11.

Bangladesh : Shaikh Mujibur Rahaman returns to his homeland on being released from the jail in Pakistan. January, 1972.

Bangladesh : Shaikh Mujibur Rahaman returns to his homeland on being released from the jail in Pakistan. January, 1972.

But neither our briefings nor the overwhelming expression of world opinion softened media or Congressional criticism. The New York Times ridiculed my argument that a political accommodation with Yahya had been attainable. The Washington Post continued to expresses its “serious reservations about Mr Nixon’s pro-Pakistan policy”.

To us the issue was now to prevent the dismemberment of West Pakistan. I told the Wsag on December 8:

Let’s now turn to the key issue. If India turns on West Pakistan, takes Azad Kashmir and smashes the Pak air and tank forces, a number of things seem inevitable. Should we, in full conscience, allow the liberation of the same disintegrating forces in West Pakistan as in the East? Baluchistan and other comparable issues are bound to come to the fore, as Mrs Gandhi indicated to the President and as she told a Columbia University seminar in New York, I understand. Pakistan would be left defenseless and V/est Pakistan would be turned into a vassal state.


*These reports of Indian deliberations – among the most important reasons for our policy – were published by Jack Anderson, but without apparent understanding of their significance. Â© Henry A. Kissinger-Extracts from a forthcoming hook entitled White House Years, to be published shortly by Weidenfeld & Nicolson and Michael Joseph in the U.K. 

 FEBRUARY 19, 2014






“The Trial of Henry Kissinger” noted journalist Christopher Hitchins, former editor of Harper’s magazine, wrote “Kissinger had received some very bad and even mocking press for his handling of the Bangladesh crisis, and it had somewhat spoiled his supposedly finest hour in China. He came to resent the Bangladeshis and their leader, and even compared (this according to his then aide Roger Morris) Mujib to Allende.”

220px-The_Trial_of_Henry_Kissinger“As soon as Kissinger became Secretary of State in 1973, he downgraded those (the US diplomats stationed in the US Consulate in Dhaka) who had signed the genocide protest in 1971,” the book says. About Kissinger’s trip to Bangladesh, Hitchins says, “In November 1974, on a brief face-saving tour of the region, Kissinger made an eight-hour stop in Bangladesh and gave a three-minute press conference in which he refused to say why he had sent the USS Enterprise into the Bay of Bengal three years before.”

bangladesh-sheikh-dies-during-coupallENDE“Within a few weeks of his departure, we now know, a faction at the US embassy in Dacca began covertly meeting with a group of Bangladeshi officers who were planning a coup against Mujib. On 14 (15) August 1975, Mujib and forty members of his family were murdered in a military takeover. His closest former political associates were bayoneted to death in their prison cells a few months after that,” the book says.


AUGUST 15, 2015






Before the brutal murder of Bangabandhu on August 15, 1975 the visit of the US secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, was quite significant.

On October 30, 1974 Kissinger made a 19-hour stopover in Bangladesh. During the visit he met Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib for a couple of hours at the “Gonobhavan.”

According to US journalist Lawrence Lifschultz, “A month after Kissinger left Dhaka the conspirators at the US Embassy became active.”

killing-of-intellectuals-ytProf Abu Sayeed in his book Bangabandhu: Facts and Documents and Lifschultz in his Bangladesh: The Unfinished Revolution writes about it elaborately.

After talking to Bangabandhu, Kissinger addressed a press conference where he described Bangabandhu “as a man of vast conception”.

When asked why he had sent the Seventh Fleet against such a man, Kissinger avoided a direct response and hurriedly left the conference room.

16book1According to Lifschultz those who were aware of Kissinger’s plans at that time felt that Kissinger’s comments were a form of ridicule.

Besides, when Bangabandhu went to New York to attend the UN session the Bangladesh Mission could not find a schedule for Bangabandhu with the US president, although that is the norm for first-time visiting heads of government.

Later when Bangabandhu decided to visit Washington D C on his own the Americans hurriedly arranged a 15-minute appointment with the president. But the atmosphere was very cold.

kissinger-and-mujibHowever, Kissinger met Bangabandhu at New York where he was photographed with Bangabandhu.

Apart from the US visit a number of other incidents also preceded Bangabandhu’s killings. In June 1974 Pakistan’s Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto visited Bangladesh and the media publicized the killings and barbarism of the Pak army in 1971 extensively.

Later, on May 1, 1975 Vietnam was liberated. Bangladesh’s quick recognition of the socialist country from where the US had fled left a deep impression on the Americans.

Besides, the visit of Khondoker Mushtaque Ahmed to Iran that year was also significant.


AUGUST 15, 2015






As the top appeals court upheld the death sentence of the linchpin of killings of intellectuals during the Liberation War, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, the wait for the copy of the full verdict on his appeal against death sentence has begun.

As the top appeals court upheld the death sentence of the linchpin of killings of intellectuals during the Liberation War, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid, the wait for the copy of the full verdict on his appeal against death sentence has begun.
The Bangladesh flag is a symbol of what Bangladeshis treasure; it represents the values we cherish beyond measure. Our flag flies high for freedom, bravery, the courage to fight, and sacrifice of one’s life for a just cause. The Bangladesh flag is an icon representing the Bangladeshi way. Our hearts swell with emotion when we see it ripple and sway.

We should honour our freedom fighters, our millions killed intentionally and with premeditation. and remember the sacrifices they made in duty towards Bangladesh. The Greek philosopher Thucydides once said, “The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it.”

This holds true to their cause of deep love and patriotism for creating our motherland.

In writing this piece, I bear the year 1971 clearly in my mind with distinct mental discernment. My heart aches and tears well up in my eyes. During our Independence War of 1971, I was a college student and witnessed many barbaric incidents committed by the Pakistani Army, Jamaat-e-Islami, its student wing Islami Chhatra Sangha (ICS), and their death squads Al-Badr and Al-Shams (auxiliary forces of the barbarous Pakistani Army).

U.S.-supported Pak Army's Bangladesh Genocide 1971The most dangerous of them are those criminals belonging to Jamaat, Islami Chhatra Sangha, and Shibir. Was 1971 not enough, to show us just how far they’ll go? Will we acquiesce to terrorists, these devils, and the lowest of the low?

We have to fight these culprits. While our pundits chatter and discuss, we must use our might to eradicate these aggressive and violent criminals. Loving hearts do not understand that those belonging to Jamaat-e-Islami want it all. No talk nor love will change their minds. Only defeat will be their downfall.

Sunday-Times-Genocide-BangladeshThe top concern for Al-Badr and Al-Shams forces was annihilating anything and everyone that was considered a threat to the Jamaat-e-Islamis during our glorious Liberation War. These evil forces carried out mass killings, genocide, and arrests simply to send a message and keep Bangladesh-loving people stifled. Many were sent to nearby extermination camps where all of them were brutally killed.

Our countrymen suffered horrific crimes at their bloodstained hands, more so than any people or nation ever has in all of history. It cannot be understated. This is a fact of which most of the young generation of our country are ignorant.

1971_2The supreme sacrifices of our patriots brought Bangladesh into being and happiness in our hearts. I can remember here what French Novelist Marcel Proust once said :“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”

As we know, “In Islam, creating social discord or disorder, breach of peace, rioting, bloodshed, pillage or plunder, and killing of innocent persons anywhere in the world are all considered most inhuman crimes.”

The great lie propagated by Jamaat-e-Islamis is not difficult to notice. The violence, degradation and denigration, mass murder, genocide, assault, intimidation and other disgraceful acts perpetrated by them, ordered and encouraged by their leaders, proves that it is the most dangerous cult on the planet and by far the biggest menace to “civilised society”.

During those most difficult times Al-Badr concentration camps were not very far from our residence, Kishoreganj Town (now Kishoreganj District), where I was situated during my college days. Duk-bunglow (now the District Council Building), the Pakistan army’s local headquarters, was also the same distance from our house. As an eye-witness, I set forth a brief record of a few past incidents of certain atrocious cruelty.


Professor Mahtabuddin, who taught Political Science at Gurudayal College, Kishoreganj at the time, was the Jamaat-e-Islami Chief of the then Kishoreganj Sub-Division (now district). I observed him countless times encouraging Al-Badr to kill innocents. Daily, he used to visit the Al-Badr concentration camp situated at the Bunglow of the then Kishoreganj Railway Station Master (after forcibly driving away the station-master and his family from their allotted quarter), to boost them up and kill more in the name of religion. Innumerable people were thus slaughtered. Al-Badr and Al-Shams outfits throughout Kishoreganj District were under his direct operational command.

One afternoon, sometime in August 1971, an innocent boy was caught by Al-Badr. He was inhumanely tortured on the main road in broad daylight near the Kishoreganj Railway station. He was bayoneted as he groaned and bled profusely. He was then tied with strong ropes behind a Rickshaw with his legs pointing skyward.

They committed all these atrocities while pronouncing “Naraye takbir, Allahuakbar.”

mujahidHe was forced to say “ Pakistan Zindabad,” but he never did so. Rather, he repeatedly said “Joy Bangla” and “Joy Bangabandhu.” A microphone was installed to the Rickshaw and then campaigns were made parading the poor dying boy throughout the town, signaling the same dire consequences would befall the Mukti Bahini and their supporters.

It created a tremendous panic throughout the town. Professor Mahtab came, saw him, and with a great smile, applauded his accomplices asking them to make all-out efforts to catch similar people and encouraged them to eliminate the so-called enemies of their beloved Pakistan with equal brutality. The boy then died a martyr’s death for the cause of this motherland. His body was refused for burial and allowed to be eaten by vultures, jackals, and dogs.


I shall now narrate another ghastly incident. One afternoon in 1971 (possibly in September), I was passing through the main road from Kishoreganj Railway Station to Newtown area. Upon reaching the front of the house of Advocate Emdad Mia, I found that some members of Al-Badr were pronouncing “Naraye takbir, Allahuakbar” over a boy who they had beaten and had then made to forcibly lie down on the grass. They slaughtered that boy with a big knife as one usually does to sacrifice cows on Eid-ul-Azha. The two pieces of his body were then thrown into the marshland beside the road for the vultures, jackals, and dogs.

Bloody Birth of Bangladesh- The Worst Genocide! 2011-03-05 22_51_20_312Shootings

The river Narasunda is nearby our house in Kishoreganj. During the months of August right up to early December 1971, I saw how many youths were inhumanely tortured and taken blind-folded near the banks of the river. They were brutally bayoneted and shot with the pronunciation of “Naraye takbir, Allahuakbar.” Afterwards, they kicked them into the Narasunda River. They permitted no dead bodies for burial.


These ‘sub-humans’ were also directly involved in rape, arson, and looting and burning of houses of innumerable people. I saw how they helped supply our honourable women-folk to the local army headquarters at Kishoreganj for their sexual enjoyment.

MARCH+25+1971Concentration camp

On the morning of December 17, 1971 (Kishoreganj Town was liberated that morning), I entered the concentration camp of Al-Badr along with my friends and found ourselves ankle-deep in thick human blood. One can easily imagine the extent of torture enacted upon unarmed innocent human-beings. These unfortunate souls could never return to their parents.

The ICT-2 in its verdict on Jamaat leader Muhammad Kamaruzzaman’s case, observed that Al-Badr was an “action section” and “armed wing” of Jamaat, and was formed mainly with the workers of Islami Chhatra Sangha, the student wing of ill-famed Jamaat-e-Islami.

252334_252714554856652_1499927387_nA tribunal verdict had earlier also termed Al-Badr a fascist armed wing that carried out dreadful criminal activities in violation of customary international laws during the Liberation War in 1971.

Shamoli Nasrin Chowdhury in her testimony in the International Crimes Tribunal has aptly said : “Those who killed my innocent husband for his love for the country, made my children bereaved of their father, and killed the intellectuals, my prayer to the tribunal is that I want capital punishment for them: the Al-Badr high command.”

We shall attain success when we are able to give the highest punishment to the war criminals and their kingpins. We saw the daredevil criminality of Jamaat-e-Islami in 2013 and early 2015, which left our citizens’ lives frightfully insecure. We should keep in our minds that all Jamaat and Shibir followers are recidivists. Compared to other rotten political leaders, each and every Jamaati and Shibir kingpins are hawks and criminals. Ghulam Azam was the pivot of many crimes, and all the atrocities revolved round him during our War of Liberation.

156867_479764759939_1301124_nThe killing of a large number of people indiscriminately by the Jamaati and ICS gangsters in 1971 still haunt us like a spectre. Their act of inflicting a great wound has not freed us from illness or injury even after 44 years because of the high degree of their offences.

Firm and ruthless action is needed against these war criminals. Indeed these men of terror have struck. The government must strike back harder. There are times when democracy needs to be saved through pitiless action against those who perpetrate violence and killing in the name of democracy/religion. Just think of the precedent these culprits set and the terrible consequences that might follow unless and until these criminals acts are nipped in the bud.

BANGLADESH_(F)_0717_-_Tribunali_guerraThe need for cutting-off the flow of money to terrorist organisations like Jamaat and Shibir is now very imperative. Money is the facilitator of their terrorism. Parliament must enact robust laws targeting to stop inflow of this money. These criminals are moneyed-people. Poor people will be lured into terrorist groups with funding under the cloak of religion.

Jamaat and their accomplices and counsels, both at home and abroad, always make faulty arguments and conceal the truth of their role in 1971 and after. When the German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche said “The most perfidious way of harming a cause consists of defending it deliberately with faulty arguments,” I am in total agreement in the context of JI and their various wings.

There are no words to describe our outrage at the tales of horror and genocide of our people in 1971. These tales are a testament to the harrowing experiences of the family members of victims.

ICT_2_1_3Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” We can’t remain silent on this for it matters most to us. We must say, “We have not come here to cry but to demand death by hanging.”

The government should take a hard look at this. But it has to be swift, it has to be real. The government should not depress us. During their heydays, these inhuman beings ruled the roost.

Ancient Greek playwright Sophocles said, “All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil.” These griffins never expressed any remorse nor repaired the evil deeds they committed.

All their activities, even in today’s time, are a serious threat to security. There is a pressing demand for outlawing the criminal organisations Jamaat-e-Islami and Shibir. But we strongly believe that only banning them would not suffice to stop militancy and their killing-sprees. Law-enforcement agencies must descend on them with brutal force. Arrest them immediately. As the saying goes:”Actions speak louder than words.” They should not be spared from the hangman’s noose.

Jamaat-e-Islami and its people do not like the truth told about them. Whenever the truth is told, they riot, kill, burn, destroy, threaten, and intimidate people without mercy. They look like Muslims but in fact, they are anti-Islamic, anti-Muslim, and the bitter enemies of humanity. They are thieves, liars, mass killers, looters, and rapists. They committed these heinous crimes during our liberation war under the name of Islam.

I firmly believe that everything I have written here about them is sheer truth. It is more than obvious that they are not a religious party. It seems that they don’t mind using any methods to achieve their aims. They are human-beings only in appearance. These griffins wish to make Bangladesh a place of public execution once more. They must be brought to justice wherever and whenever found. We must repeatedly expose their masked faces in the hardest language so that the people in general, especially the young, understand their guileful characters. Enough is enough. Their poisonous claws must be severed before they grow further.

Only two war criminals were hanged for their cold-blooded savagery unleashed upon the Bengalis during the Liberation War. We want capital punishment for all the war criminals.

Joy Bangla. Joy Bangabandhu. Long live Bangladesh. Down with the war criminals.

In closing, I state emphatically certain inspired words: “Friends, Bangladeshis, countrymen, lend us your ears; We come to bury the war criminals, not to praise them.”


JUNE 16, 2015





quaid-e-azam-muhammad-ali-jinnah SM SHAHRUKH

Pakistan is anything but Pure..

On Wikipedia, it says: “The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign country … with a population exceeding 180 million people.

Located at the crossroads of the strategically important regions of South Asia, Central Asia, and Western Asia, [it] is bordered by India to the east, Afghanistan to the west and north, Iran to the south-west, and China in the far north-east.

rawalpindi3“The name Pakistan literally means ‘Land of the Pure’ in Urdu and Persian. It was coined in 1933 as Pakstan by Choudhry Rahmat Ali, using it as an acronym, referring to the names of the five northern regions of the British Raj: Punjab, Afghania Province, Kashmir, Sindh, and Balochistan.”

Of course, at the time of its birth, Pakistan had an eastern wing called East Bengal, later East Pakistan, now independent Bangladesh. Notice that no mention was made of Bengal in the naming of the new country.

MARCH+25+1971Bengal, which boasted a bigger population (56% of the whole of Pakistan), was totally overlooked. The land of the pure had anything but purity; the nation consisted of Punjabis, Sindhis, Pathans, Balochis, Mohajirs (immigrants from India), as well as the rebellious Bengalis.

The Punjabis had the loudest voice, the ever-dominating Aryan voice of the sub-continent, but were resented by the others. The resentment has carried on to the present. The Punjabis, with their Aryan blood and fairer skin, looked down upon the others for centuries.

Sunday-Times-Genocide-BangladeshThe concept of Pakistan or a Muslim entity in the sub-continent came to poet Iqbal who, disillusioned by the Congress party and then the internal squabbling within the Indian Muslim League, approached Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Iqbal believed “that only Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a political leader capable of preserving this (Muslim) unity and fulfilling the League’s objectives on Muslim political empowerment.”

Little did he know that Jinnah was a British stooge; maybe he had known but decided that the need for a Jinnah was a more important factor. Iqbal’s dream and Jinnah’s persistence caused the birth of Pakistan. The British also grabbed the opportunity to apply their favourite “divide and rule” policy.

Iqbal, a Bolshevik sympathiser, was termed a “murtad” by the mollahs for his poems.

Pakistani Shiite Muslims gather beside coffins of community members in Quetta on September 21, 2011, after their killing by gunmen. Gunmen shot dead 26 Pakistani Shiite Muslim pilgrims travelling to Iran on September 20, the deadliest attack on the minority community in Pakistan for more than a year, officials said. In a brutal assault, gunmen ordered pilgrims off their bus, lined them up and assassinated them in a hail of gunfire in Mastung, a district 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of Quetta, the capital of the southwest Baluchistan province. AFP PHOTO/BANARAS KHAN (Photo credit should read BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistani Shiite Muslims gather beside coffins of community members in Quetta on September 21, 2011, after their killing by gunmen. Gunmen shot dead 26 Pakistani Shiite Muslim pilgrims travelling to Iran on September 20, the deadliest attack on the minority community in Pakistan for more than a year, officials said. In a brutal assault, gunmen ordered pilgrims off their bus, lined them up and assassinated them in a hail of gunfire in Mastung, a district 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of Quetta, the capital of the southwest Baluchistan province. AFP PHOTO/BANARAS KHAN (Photo credit should read BANARAS KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

A murtad is a Muslim who has lost his faith. Jinnah, a suave anglophile, was more comfortable living in Bombay; his agnosticism was not hidden too well. Irony present from the very inception of the land of the pure.

Pakistan is a land of contradictions and a failed state to boot.

Having annexed the eastern wing of Bengal in the name of Islam, they exploited them dry using the money they made from jute, grown in the east, to build a modern western wing.

The west held almost all military installations, and the infrastructure there was something the Bangalis could only dream of. They even tried to deprive the east of her language.

When the east became uncontrollable and demanded, at first, autonomy, and then all-out independence, they clamped down and ran a pogrom rarely seen in the history of the world.

GENOCIDE 71On March 25, 1971, the Pakistani army was unleashed on Dhaka and the rest of the landmass: The mayhem was complete, with millions killed in a vendetta of ridding Muslims of the influence of Hindu India, with Hindus killed or purged and hundreds of thousands of women raped mercilessly, irrespective of the deities to whom they bowed their heads — an available woman is a woman irrespective of race, creed, or religion and the “Muslim flag of Pakistan” stood in all earnest, not always to salute.

The Pakistan of today has become a place resembling hell rather than purity. Their sectarian violence is causing bloodshed every day. There is no tolerance for differing views or other religions. Freedom of speech can only be exercised at one’s own peril.

A man with any semblance of a conscience and living in Pakistan is the most depressed person on Earth, boasting melancholia as his shadow.

Pakistan_Surrender_1971_WarThe Talebs bomb people before sitting down to talk matters with them. The use of drugs is rampant.

It is not unusual today that the current state of Pakistan wants to deny the genocide it perpetrated in 1971. They have the Hamoodur Rahman Commission Report that claims 26,000 people were killed.

The commission was to report of the misconduct, if any, of the army and it recommended courts-martial for many, a verdict which Bhutto hid to keep the army in check.

Some people living in Bangladesh with still love for the “good old days” (some CSPs included) who are as yet effectual in Bangladesh are often seen tooting this horn, albeit ostensibly, as if the Pakis were not all that bad.

The establishment of the known war-time villains in the political field and theme being welcomed in the political scene have also gone a long way in the current Pakistani mindset.

These collaborators have built up a huge economic empire and have been planting seeds within the administration for decades — we have even hanged a war criminal who used to be a minister a decade ago.

Pity to the land that has killed many of its heroes to keep the old suit-wearing fogies and war criminals living in glory.

For those of the new generation who have been born after 1971 or were force-fed history that is apocryphal at best, I would request to find the article written by Pakistani journalist Anthony Mascarenhas in the June 13 issue of UK’s The Sunday Times.

pakistan-terrorist.-jpgBBC commented on the article: “On 13 June 1971, an article in the UK’s Sunday Times exposed the brutality of Pakistan’s suppression of the Bangladeshi uprising. It forced the reporter’s family into hiding and changed history.”

I would also request that people read about the massacre at Chuknagar: The details are available in books by Muntasir Mamun and more recently from the book written by Salil Tripathi.

The land of the pure is disintegrating fast and will add a chapter to the revised edition of Dante’s Inferno.

Let us all be thankful to the martyrs of 1971 for saving the Bangalis from this descent into hell and work to keep Bangladesh firmly rooted in its ideals of pluralism.

So, if Pakistan is spewing venom about Bangladesh, so be it. The smart people know what had happened, and Donald Trump supporters don’t yet rule the world … thankfully.


DECEMBER 19, 2015







One year on, the ruling Bangladesh Nationalist Party finds itself in the midst of growing criticism and resentment over the manner in which it has handled issues on several fronts.

THE manner in which the four-party combine headed by Prime Minister Khaleda Zia began its tenure in Bangladesh last year was startling. It had won a more-than two-thirds parliamentary majority, crushing the hopes of the secular and liberal democrats. The Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) alliance, consisting of the Jamaat-e-Islami, the Islamic Oikya Jote and a faction of the Jatiya Party, emerged victorious in the wake of the terrorist attack on the United States on September 11, 2001.

BNP-Jamaat joint move to save Bangladesh war criminalsAs the alliance — a blend of religious nationalists, militant fundamentalists and subdued communists — is set to complete one year in power on October 10, the process of stock-taking is on. Elaborate plans are under way to hold country-wide rallies and demonstrations through the year. But there are people who feel that the electoral arithmetic was not the sole reason for the humiliating defeat of the Awami League in the elections. They see a plan that was “largely backed” by foreign interests, behind the defeat. Even non-partisan individuals and groups who had been critical of the Sheikh Hasina government feel that although their `support’ to the Khaleda Zia regime was “justified”, they should not endorse the “misdeeds” of the government.

hindu-women-raped-by-muslims-bangladeshAnd signs of the people’s new mind-set are already visible. The large-scale persecution of members of the minority community and the opposition that followed last year’s election are no longer an issue. It has been overshadowed by the situation arising from a sharp deterioration in the law and order situation. Powerful newspapers, which had been highly critical of the Awami League regime, are warning the BNP-Jamaat coalition of a popular backlash. The 11-party Left democratic alliance, which is bitter about the performance of the Khaleda Zia government, is in favour of a “third alternative force”. “The crimes committed so far by the BNP-Jamaat coalition have already surpassed those committed by the last Awami League government during its full five year tenure,” a senior alliance leader said.

bangalihinduAccording to a report brought out by Transparency International, Bangladesh tops the list of countries where corruption is rampant. In a mid-term review meeting that was held in Dhaka recently, representatives of countries that are major donors of aid to Bangladesh expressed unhappiness over the government’s failure to separate the powers of the judiciary from those of the executive. They said that the government should pay more attention to issues of governance on a priority basis. In their opinion, “the situation has worsened to such an extent that the people, both poor and rich, feel increasingly insecure”. They pointed out that cases of murder, abduction, repression of women and children and extortion, allegedly committed by pro-government activists, were on the rise, adding that in such a situation developmental measures would prove futile. However, the donors praised the government for some of its economic reform measures, which included the closure of the giant Adamjee Jute Mills, the constitution of the Revenue and Expenditure Review Commission and the latest decision to form an independent Human Rights Commission.

KHALEDA NIZAMIEven as the BNP-Jamaat government completes its first year in office, there is mounting concern about its ability to conduct governance in a transparent manner. The growing nexus between crime and politics, increasing violations of human rights, extra-judicial killings and repression and torture of political opponents have become routine. In April 2002, the first major corruption scandal came to light and based on this the Danish government withdrew a grant of $45 million to the Ministry of Shipping. Since then a number of cases such as the aviation fuel scandal, the textbook scandal, the alleged involvement of a member of the Cabinet in a gold smuggling case and so on have hit the headlines.

The “Wheatgate Scam”, as the English newspaper, The Daily Star called it, involved the “procurement” at a cost of one billion taka of 100,000 tonnes of wheat, supposedly from local farmers as part of the government’s scheme to provide support and subsidy to poor farmers at a time when there was no production of wheat in the country. Although the government, following the media revelation on the scandal, formed a couple of committees, so far, the reports of neither of them has been made public, nor any “political patronisers” punished. According to Sheikh Hasina, the ruling alliance has terrorised its political opponents in order to “destroy the Awami League, which nourishes the secular pro-liberation spirit”.

bnpjeiterrorDuring a march by the Awami League in Dhaka on August 30 in protest against an attack on a convoy of vehicles that accompanied party chief and former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Even if Hasina’s observations seem to be politically motivated, many people think that the ominous culture of intolerance and vengeance might pose a fresh threat to the country’s democracy. Indiscriminate arrest of political opponents, framing of cases one after another, extra-judicial detention and torture and raiding the houses of Opposition leaders, allegedly without warrants, have discredited the government. Citing specific examples, Amnesty International issued a number of statements criticising the government for instances of extra-judicial detention, torture and violation of human rights. The High Court, in a unique step, ordered the release of some detainees right from the court premises because they had not been released from custody despite being granted bail. Recently, a former Minister, Dr. Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, was released from jail after seven months of detention as the High Court granted him bail in a total of seven cases, including one that involved the charge of treason.

Meanwhile, a United Nations Development Programme report has come down heavily on the country’s criminal justice system. The report refers to absence of protection to human rights despite constitutional directives and highlights the misuse of constitutional provisions such as those for preventive detention and arrest without warrant. It points to the illegal use of the provision of “safe custody” and the existence of an anti-poor bail granting system as examples of weakness of the country’s legal framework when it comes to the protection of human rights.

BNP JAMAAT ATROCITYAn overwhelming majority of the country’s Bar Council members as well as Opposition politicians and civil society leaders have expressed the opinion that the government is making the country a “police state”. They have alleged that the proceedings in the sensitive Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Murder Case were still hanging fire in the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court because of the government’s “dirty game”. Independent media reports suggest that during the past 11 months, the government has freed at least 38,000 under-trials claiming that the cases against them, which were framed during the period of the Awami League government, were ” politically motivated”. Following a “review”, more than 300 cases have been withdrawn. Corruption charges that had been framed against several BNP leaders were also withdrawn. Referring to the recent unprecedented cordoning off of the central Shaheed Minar by the police and the paramilitary, a popular daily said in its editorial : “We do not think that BNP has lost public support sufficiently for it to adopt anti-democratic measures to continue its rule. But its frequent and unnecessary use of police gives the impression that it prefers to rely more on the brute force of the state rather than the support of the people, which we think they still have, if not to the same extent as when it got elected.”

2005-10-13__point01Prime Minister Khaleda Zia has held her political opponents responsible for the deteriorating law and order situation. She blamed the Opposition for the growing unrest on college campuses. “The Opposition is trying to destabilise the government,” said Maulana Matiur Rahman Nizami, Agriculture Minister and Ameer of the Jamaat. But as reports prepared by two leading voluntary organisations revealed, 2,460 people have been murdered over the past nine months, a significant number of them for political reasons. At least 720 women, including 113 children, were raped, as a result of which 131 have died. Some 384 women were gang-raped and two women were raped by policemen. A report of the Bureau of Human Rights, Bangladesh stated that a total of 4,776 people were killed in different incidents during the period. Ninety-one journalists were tortured and 72 were threatened. Besides, 126 cases of police repression were reported, resulting in the death of 24 persons in custody. During the period at least 1,148 incidents of terrorism, 1,754 incidents of robbery, 81 incidents of abduction, 524 cases of theft and 216 instances of mass beating and lynching were reported. According to the report of `Adhikar’, another leading non-governmental organisation, a total of 1,647 incidents involving child victims, 310 cases involving acid-throw victims and 88 incidents of killings in border violence have occurred over the past nine months. In the 1,647 instances of crimes against children that were recorded, 472 children had been raped and 353 were murdered. Ninety-eight children had committed suicide. In various incidents of attacks on journalists, three have been killed, 95 injured, 12 arrested, three abducted and 34 assaulted.

jhalkathi BDThe abrupt closure of Ekushe TV (ETV), the country’s first private channel, by the government after its licence was declared illegal by the court and the subsequent expulsion of British journalist and ETV managing director Simon Dring from the country, have put the government’s intentions under question. Simon, who covered the widespread genocide that took place during the country’s war of liberation in 1971, was first expelled from Bangladesh by Pakistani authorities.

On the economic front, despite a 32 per cent increase in foreign direct investment inflows into South Asia in general, FDI in Bangladesh plunged from $280 million in 2000 to $70 million last year, a fall of 72 per cent. Politically, the alliance government is not facing any immediate threats in the form of organised mass agitations. The threat, if any, will come from the Awami League, but the party does not seem to be in a hurry. “Let the people see how they [the government] treat them,” a top Awami League leader remarked. But certainly the Awami League is benefiting from the growing popular resentment against the parties in power. Nevertheless, its performance as an Opposition party and some of its actions, particularly in the latter phase of its tenure, continue to be controversial.

MATIA CHOWDHURYBut the biggest threat that the ruling coalition faces is the massive downslide in its credibility. The recent hike in the prices of essential commodities has alienated a major section of the fixed income groups. The attitude of the Khaleda Zia regime towards the concept of a secular nationhood, the country’s culture and heritage and its attempts at distorting the history of the country’s war of liberation have endeared it to votaries of the “Two Nation Theory”.

cover07Moreover, the quick “Jamaatisation” of the BNP has become a cause of worry for the moderates within the party. Most political observers agree that over the past one year, the net dividend was perhaps bagged by the Jamaat-e-Islami. Although it holds only two portfolios in the government, it is widely believed that the Jamaat, which had opposed Bangladesh’s independence from Pakistan, has penetrated successfully the country’s key institutions and organisations. The fundamentalist party, which lacks a popular base but has a strong cadre base, has been allegedly instrumental in shaping key government policies. The splinter fanatic groups within the government who are opposed to “the axis of U.S., Israel and India,” had thrown a united challenge to the government led by Sheikh Hasina. But they could not harness the support required to unseat the government. Secular opinion within the country feels that the `undercurrent of fanaticism’ is more harmful than it appears to be.

jamaat7As far as its relationship with India is concerned, over the past one year, progress on issues such as trade, especially the export of natural gas, travel, border management and so on has been slow. So far, the BNP-Jamaat combine has not taken any initiative to amend the Ganga waters sharing treaty, although it was an election pledge. Although, some of the senior members of the coalition speak in favour of scrapping the much-acclaimed Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Treaty, observers believe that will not happen. On the issue of the export of gas, despite “pressures” from institutions such as the Asian Development Bank, most people believe that the government would take time to take a decision on the matter because it is under pressure from opponents.

khaleda_nijami2The Bush administration is continuing its support to the government despite the fact that the State Department had found some “terrorist links” in Bangladesh. However, the government is under pressure from the U.S. Ambassador to Bangladesh, Mary Ann Peters, to allow a private container terminal port to be set up in the estuary of the Chittagong port as proposed by an American company, SSA. But the project, which was approved in 1998, is under fire. The “undiplomatic” utterances of the U.S. Ambassador regarding the container port and gas export issues have been criticised by leaders spearheading the movement to “Save the Chittagong port” and “Protect the national wealth”.

BNP-khaleda-hasina-8-300x202While the U.S. State Department’s Country Report on Bangladesh implied the presence in the country of some notorious Islamic terror outfits, Ambassador Peters is satisfied with the situation. She has termed the country a “moderate Islamic country” — a perception that came under attack from several quarters because Bangladesh has been the “People’s Republic” ever since independence. While the Awami League, the Left parties and the country’s civil society leaders are worried about the “presence of the militant outfits” in the country, the government denies any such presence.


Volume 19 – Issue 21
OCTOBER 12 – 25, 2002
frontlinE LOGO



pakistan-flag1Nadeem Qadir

The recent report on a Pakistani diplomat quickly leaving Dhaka after being caught by intelligence for having links with Jamaat_e-Islami, Hizbut tahir and Ansarullah Bangladesh has only confirmed how Islamabad is involved in the ongoing terrorism activities led by BNP-Jamaat.

The actions are clear that these fire bombers are well trained or had undergone training by those returning from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The target – road-rail communication / economy / electricity facility and education – the major success areas of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League-led government. It is also a target of Pakistan possibly as it never wants to see a successful and prosperous Bangladesh. If it was otherwise, why this Pakistani diplomat would be involved in anti-Bangladesh activities.

mazhar-khanAccording to media reports, Mazhar Khan, attaché in the Pakistan high commission’s consular section, had set up a wide network producing and distributing fake Indian currency. Quoting intelligence report, the newspapers said Mazhar in collaboration with some other Pakistani high commission officials used to channel this money earned through the currency scam to Jamaat-e-Islami , banned Hizbut Tahrir and Ansarullah Bangla Team.

He left Dhaka quietly after the Bangladesh foreign ministry asked for his withdrawal on the basis of intelligence report.

A huge amount of Indian currency was seized from a Pakistani Airlines flight in Dhaka on the basis of this diplomat’s information.

It also highlights that BNP-Jamaat, always bitter foes of India and now trying to woo Indian support, will always remain allies of Pakistan and give the soil of Bangladesh for use in anti-Indian activities, including terrorism. New Delhi must seriously take note of that and take its own action.

jamaatThe ulterior motive also of this campaign that Islamabad is quietly abetting is how to overturn the war crimes trial of Jamaat and few BNP leaders. Pakistan has been very kind to Jamaat and BNP always.

Mazhar’s name came out after questioning Bangladeshi named Mujibur Rahman. Most Bangladeshis linked to Mazhar were involved in various militant organizations in Bangladesh. The money was channeled to Jamaat and others were terror acts.

Can a Pakistan, a failed state, like to see a flourishing Bangladesh it wanted to crush by boots and guns. They had s shameful departure on December 16, 1971, but returned with force after the 1975 killing of Bangabandhu.

Mazhar was also detained but was freed on diplomatic immunity after another of his colleagues intervened.

It is time Bangladeshis in general and the government rose upto tackling Pakistani activities here and also dealing with a tough hand with Islamabad’s lackeys working o destroy Bangladesh.


FEBRUARY 04, 2015





AP03071901589-620x462Saleemul Huq

As countries are preparing for the next set of negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in France in December this year, there are many other meetings between countries taking place to identify areas of collaboration, either bilaterally or in smaller groups or in coalitions-of-the-willing.

NorthIndiaClimateKoppenThe Government of Bangladesh has already taken the lead in initiating South-South and Triangular collaboration on development finance by hosting a meeting of developing countries in Dhaka recently, which included a session dedicated to climate finance.

The Bangladesh Bank has also been a global leader in initiating Green Banking and its Governor was awarded the Green Banker of the year award recently.

Other examples of Bangladesh sharing its knowledge and expertise on tackling climate change include a recent visit by a delegation from Nepal organised by the NGO Practical Action to exchange experience and knowledge on tackling climate change with Bangladeshi counterparts.

image-1Another example is a one day seminar on Bangladesh-German collaboration to tackle climate change held at the United Nations University in Bonn, Germany in June, with the Bangladesh Counsellor in attendance, to showcase the climate change related activites between researchers, government agencies, banks and NGOs in Germany and Bangladesh, respectively.

The examples cited above are just a few of the many activities that are already taking place on both South-South as well as South-North knowledge exchange and cooperation to tackle climate change. However, these activities remain somewhat disconnected.

originalI would argue that it is perhaps now time for Bangladesh to integrate these different initiatives – each of which is good in its own right – into a more cohesive and comprehensive Programme on International Collaboration to Tackle Climate Change, under the leadership of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), involving all the Bangladesh missions in other countries, both in developing as well as developed countries. Of course other ministries, such as the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) as well as the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and the Bangladesh Bank as well as parliamentarians, NGOs, universities, private sector and the media can all play a role but the leadership should be with MOFA. It should be treated as a new dimension of Bangladesh’s diplomatic strategy of offering collaboration with all countries, both South and North, to tackle the global problem of climate change.

flood10-8-3Finally, it is important to point out that such a programme would not replace the need to continue engagement at the UNFCCC talks to try to get a global agreement in Paris in December, but rather recognises that regardless of the outcome of the Paris talks, the actual reality of climate change will remain with us for decades to come. Collaboration with other countries on sharing knowledge and experience in practical ways to tackle the problem will also remain an important part of Bangladesh’s foreign policy for many years to come.


The writer is Director, International Centre for Climate Change and Development at the Independent University, Bangladesh.
JULY 01, 2015

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Posted in CHALLENGES, CLIMATE - Global Warming Challenge, CURRENT ISSUES, DEFENCE & SECURITY, Poverty, REFLECTION - Refreshing our Memories, SOCIO-ECONOMY -- Inequality, Poverty, Distribution & Poverty | Leave a comment



thediplomat_2015-07-30_14-29-35-386x231– SAJEEB WAZED –

In late June, Bangladesh announced it would partner with Indian IT giant Infosys to build Bangladesh’s largest technology park, a complex that will employ as many as 60,000 information technology professionals.

ict_2Sited about 25 miles north of Bangladesh’s capital, Dhaka, the new technology park attract Bangladeshi and foreign entrepreneurs seeking to tap the country’s youthful, digitally savvy workforce. Bangladesh’s ambition: to become a world leader in graphic design and web and mobile app development.

The sprawling tech park is only the latest example of Bangladesh trying to provide an expansive employment base for its citizens, lure foreign capital and make Bangladesh an IT powerhouse.

This push is coming from above, by forward-looking government policies, and from below, by a startup culture centered in Dhaka, where incubators, co-working spaces, and entrepreneurial conferences are expanding.

Startup Weekend, a yearly global event at which entrepreneurs are challenged to launch startups in 54 hours, has taken hold in Bangladesh. At Startup Weekend 2013, a Bangladeshi graduate of the London School of Economics founded Dugdugi, Bangladesh’s only legal streaming music service.

Noting a general lack of knowledge and appreciation for data-driven decision-making in their home country, four young Dhaka businessmen walked away from careers in banking, technology and other fields in 2013 to found LightCastle Partners, which offers business analytics solutions to Bangladesh businesses.

downloadBangladesh’s burgeoning startup scene is getting noticed. Silicon Valley venture capital firm 500 Startups invested in Chaldal.com, an online grocery store founded by a Bangladeshi who graduated from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Chaldal.com delivers daily necessities to time-pressed consumers in Dhaka.

A country of 165 million people, Bangladesh has 100 million mobile subscribers with 50,000 new subscribers joining every day. The more than 29 million mobile internet users are changing the way citizens are going about their daily lives, with e-commerce experiencing 50 percent growth in each recent year.

Digitization of government services and expansion of Bangladesh’s IT economy was a core principle of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s election in 2009 and re-election last year. As part of her 2014 election campaign, the prime minister launched “Digital Bangladesh Vision 2021,” a plan to fully digitize Bangladesh by 2021.

The recently launched BanglaGovNet project is a dedicated, secure network connecting dozens of government ministries and hundreds of government directorates with regions around the country via a high-speed fiber optic system. The network will deliver government services to citizens’ doorsteps, increasing transparency and efficiency and reducing corruption.

ict_in_bangladesh_agriculture_image1The rural poor in Bangladesh have been forced to travel long distances to receive the simplest of government services and information, losing wages in the process. To remedy this, the government created the Access to Information online program, which brings government services to its citizens. They can access government sites, see public exam results, read online textbooks and take advantage of a range of services from home.

The government will also partner with the Better than Cash Alliance, a United Nations-based program supported by several governments, including the U.S., and major financial companies, such as Visa. The Better than Cash Alliance accelerates the transition from cash to digital payments. It will enable the government of Bangladesh to digitize all forms of social welfare payments to its citizens and allow them to pay digitally for government services.

Bangladesh’s digital breakout is already improving the lives of its people. In late June, the World Bank said that Bangladesh – long classified as a “low-income” country – has improved to become a lower middle-income country, a testament to the government’s efforts to create jobs and lure investment.

Indeed, foreign investment in Bangladesh’s capital markets doubled last year, compared to 2013, with American investors leading the way with more than 60 percent of the surge, according to a Bangladesh Bank report.

All of this is why P.K. Agarwal, former chief technology officer for the state of California and CEO of TiE Global, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship, said Bangladesh is the “next economic giant” and has a government that “gets IT.”


Sajeeb Wazed is the chief information technology adviser to the government of Bangladesh and the son of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
JULY 30, 2015