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Friday, March 1, 2024

Bangladesh heading towards chaos and uncertainty

Before Awami League under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina came to power in 2009, Islamists were seen holding rallies on the streets of Dhaka waving weapons, burning American and Indian flags and chanting the “Allahu Akbar” slogan. During the past fourteen years, Sheikh Hasina has been committedly confronting Islamists and jihadists thus forcing Islamists on the run. But, despite his disastrous retreat from Afghanistan and pushing the country to the mercy of Taliban mullahs, it seems US President Joe Biden did not learn any lesson. He is now repeating the same blunder in Bangladesh by extending patronization to Islamist forces in Bangladesh, especially Jamaat-e-Islami and their ideological partner Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP).

As Bangladesh is expected to hold its next general election in January 2024, Islamist forces, including Jamaat-e-Islami and BNP are making frantic bids in returning to power with the help of Western governments, particularly the Biden administration. As a result of desperate pursuing and lobbying of these Islamists, the Biden administration is in the process of imposing sanctions on a large number of ruling party leaders as well as members of civil and military administration using Global Magnitsky Act on allegations of corruption and money-laundering.

Such actions will directly benefit those Islamist forces in the country as it can be used as an excuse of attaining bigger support from the locals. It may be mentioned here that in December 2021, the US Department of Treasury had imposed sanctions on a number of officers of Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) the elite force of Bangladesh Police that combats terrorism and militancy.

During his recent visit to Bangladesh, Donald Lu, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs in the State Department said, Washington was considering imposing more sanctions on RAB in December 2022, but such actions were not taken as RAB has already shown significant progress in fighting terrorism and militancy and it has not shown signs of violating human rights. What Donald Lu did not say is his government’s ongoing plan of bringing a large number of Bangladesh nationals under fresher sanctions using Global Magnitsky Act on allegations of corruption and money-laundering.

Meanwhile, Islamist in Bangladesh are seeking Washington, London and other Western capital’s blessings and direct intervention into Bangladesh’s next general election. They demand holding the election under an un-elected “caretaker government” or “government of national consensus”, comprising individuals of their choice. They even are openly giving instigation to the members of Bangladesh Armed Forces in staging a coup to unseat Sheikh Hasina from power. Meaning, a deep-rooted Islamist conspiracy is continuing against Bangladesh and the ruling Awami League.

It may be recalled here that in 2013, few months away from the 2014 general elections, while pro-Caliphate Hefazat-e-Islam had gathered hundreds and thousands of madrassa teachers and students, including dozens of individuals who had fought in Afghanistan against Soviet Union and Palestine against Israel as “mujahedeen” had also joined these gatherings thus demanding enforcement of caliphate in Bangladesh with HeI chief as “Ameer” of the caliphate. Bangladesh Nationalist Party and Jamaat-e-Islami had openly declared solidarity with Hefazat’s dangerous bids.

Subsequently, in 2014, Islamists carried out systematic bombings and arson attacks on religious minorities, singling out the minority Hindu community, for the “crimes” of voting for Awami League. While Hefazat was demanding turning Bangladesh into a Caliphate, BNP and Jamaat demanded the appointment of a “caretaker government” system to oversee elections – a practice Bangladesh’s Jatiya Sangshad (National Parliament) had abolished.

Violence continued unabated, while dozens of Hindu homes and temples came under arson and bombing attacks. Hindu religious scriptures were burned to ashes while deities were demolished by the members of BNP, Jamaat, Hefazat and their Islamist cohorts. Hindu girls and women were raped by these Islamist thugs thus establishing a total reign of terror on Hindus in Bangladesh.

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Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury
Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury is an internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, writer, research-scholar, counterterrorism specialist and editor of Weekly Blitz. Follow him on Twitter @Salah_Shoaib

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