Amader Shomoy Editor today wrote a signed commentary asking for military's entry into mainstream politics. Also today, a five-day international workshop on Democracy, Governance and Security Reforms began at a city hotel. Co-incidence?
This workshop is being organised by Bangladesh Institute of Strategic Studies and supported by Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, Hawaii, USA. The presence of the US Charge De Affairs, including supporters of 1/11 (Dr. Kamal and host of familiar faces) reflect the current thinking within both the Bangladesh Military and the US.
The afternoon plenary session discussed on Civil-Military Relations: Bangladesh Perspective. The paper was presented by the Brig. General ATM Amin, Director, Counter Terrorism Bureau of DGFI.
Two interesting observations:
1. The banner at the back had a big picture of Shagshad Bhaban.
2. Of the four people sitting at dias, three were from military, one from civil: Dhaka University Professor Imtiaz Ahmed of International Relations.
The 13-page key-note paper doesn't provide much to talk about: it wanted a new model of civil-military relationship "to offer better and peaceful environment to its citizens".
Dr. Imtiaz made it clear that there is no Bangladesh without democracy. Dr. Ataur doesn't want to go back to pre 1/11. No body wants. Dr. Imtiaz tabled 11-point solutions to current situation:
1. Make society free from corruption and punish big fishes.
2. Allow freedom of expression, to all: media, academia etc.
3. Introduce internal democracy
4. Political supervision of military
5. Remove ugly face of dual economy (rich-poor gap)
6. Remove women's and minority discrimination, at all levels
7. Establish Sufi-character of Bengali Islam
8. Effective and non-party civil society
9. End of familycracy and regionalism
10. End of energy crisis and
11. Public Security Council to ensure limit to abuse of power.
I have few ideas of myself about civil-military relations in Bangladesh, which I will elaborate in future. For the moment, let me tell it bluntly: oil and water do not mix. They are made of different components. Sad that Bangladesh military is oblivious to this universal fact. Also, both represent a diametrically opposite systems: open (civil) and closed (military) system. No matter how best efforts are made, these two forces will never converge.
Would welcome remarks.