As I conclude my series on the consortium government, I’d like to let my readers know that what I’ve been writing (7 parts, this included) was a mere scratch of the tip of the iceberg. That, since the more I delved, the more intrigued I became, I have decided to continue my research, and will probably write about some of the themes later, in these pages, after having examined them in greater detail.
At a more general level, I have argued that terming Fakhruddin’s regime as a “military-installed caretaker government,” which, when it had been coined, had helped to unmask the character of the regime, had helped to expose its repeated objectives of “strengthening Bangladesh’s democratic order” (Fakhruddin) http://tinyurl.com/39pheg as being rhetorical moves concealing ulterior motives, but however, that, a critical look, aided by hindsight, leads me to believe that one needs to further our analysis, that forces which were then identified as being supporters of the regime, i.e., shusheel shomaj, and western diplomats, were intrinsic to the regime, formed its constitutive elements. Continue reading “CONCLUDING PART Military-installed caretaker govt, or a 'consortium' govt?”
Yesterday, I had ended with the words, “there is still hope.”
But, of course, hoping doesn’t mean that one daydreams, or fantasises. Or, becomes cynical when things don’t turn out the way one had wished.
“Pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will” — words attributed to Antonio Gramsci, the Italian Marxist, imprisoned by Mussolini. To see the world as it really is, underpinned by the will that humans have the courage to change it. One thus needs to dispassionately examine what occurred later. But before doing so, let me turn to the cat- out-of-the-bag story.
The ‘minus two plan’ was officially confirmed by the World Bank South Asia vice-president Praful C. Patel. While visiting Dhaka, at the end of 2007, he said, “What [had] looked possible before, like the minus-two approach, does not seem possible today, because the two ladies have [a] very strong and powerful power base.” Continue reading “Part VI Military-installed caretaker govt, or a 'consortium' govt?”
Dr. Muhammad Yunus, proud recipient of The Nobel Peace Prize, 2006, which was awarded jointly to Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank, which he founded, “for their efforts to create economic and social development from below.”
I had written earlier in this series that now, when I look back, it seems that the policy planners of the consortium government had almost arithmetically calculated that a ‘political vacuum’ resulting from minus-ing the two leaders, from dismantling the organisational structure of the two major political parties — would create the enabling conditions for redrawing the terrain of politics in Bangladesh (divorcing it further from the issue of national sovereignty) in a manner so as to serve, and further perpetuate, the interests represented by the western power bloc. Continue reading “Part V Military-installed caretaker govt, or a 'consortium' govt?”
But let me return to the central question: is it reasonable to claim that western governments were directly involved in the consortium project? That they were, as I argue, not only one of the constitutive elements, but the leading one?
Some may reply that the presence of the Coffee Group (generally known as the “Tuesday Club”), the frenzied activity of its members prior to the consortium coup, and after — settles the matter. That, the evidence of their activities is well-documented in both print and electronic media, that it is considerably strong, and that convictions on the basis of far less circumstantial evidence have been awarded by courts of law, ones that enjoy credibility.
A WikiLeaks leaked cable dated January 11, 2007 (Subject: Diplomats Coordinate Strategy On Bangladesh, Reference ID: 07DHAKA53), signed by Patricia Butenis, then US ambassador to Bangladesh, describes the Tuesday Club thus to her superiors in Washington, Continue reading “Part IV Military-installed caretaker govt, or a 'consortium' govt?”
Speaking on the basis of information available in the public domain, I think it would be fair to say that the intellectual understanding, the political framework, effectivity and inspiration of the shusheel shomaj was largely dependent on western diplomats and donors — characterising it thus, helps us to analyse subsequent events. However, by saying this, I do not mean to imply that the shusheel shomaj, one of the constitutive elements of the consortium government was a homogeneous group; what I do mean is that no fracture lines within the shomaj were markedly visible, nor do subsequent events indicate that this group had a set of allies and enemies distinct to that of western diplomats and donors.
This, however, is not equally applicable in the case of the military leadership (and the Directorate of General Forces Intelligence, DGFI, military intelligence agency). What strikes one most when examining the manner in which the consortium project manifested itself in the national arena, is that the civil-military power equation which was reached at, and maintained in Bangladesh during the last two decades of parliamentary politics (http://tinyurl.com/7ynnn6f), was the concerted attempt made by the military leadership and DGFI’s seniors, post-consortium coup, to tilt the equation in favor of the military. Continue reading “Part II Military-installed caretaker govt, or a 'consortium' govt?”
As I’d explained in my column published on February 13, 2012, I’d disappeared from these pages to work on three manuscripts intended for Boi Mela 2012. While they missed the bus — more work needs to be done for them to see the light of day — but what did make it to the Mela is a collection edited by Udisa Islam, for which I’d written the foreword. Bikkhobh Shonkolon: Joruri Obosthay Bisshobiddaloy 2007 (Dhaka: Shrabon, 2012) is an archival collection, in print, of the student protests which broke out in August 2007, when army personnel stationed in an army camp on Dhaka University grounds beat up university students who were watching a football match. Dubbed a “trivial incident” (tuccho ghotona) by the then chief of general staff Sina Ibn Jamali, student protests mushroomed, enveloping other public university campuses, and college campuses as well. Protests spilled out on to the streets of Dhaka and other major cities, expressing growing popular discontentment and resentment at the military-installed caretaker government’s rule. The so-called “trivial incident” proved to be a resounding nail in the caretaker government’s coffin. Continue reading “Part I Military-installed caretaker govt, or a 'consortium' govt?”