The Top Brass is Shattered in Bangladesh: Aftermath of a Retired General’s Interview

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Lieutenant General (retired) Chowdhury Hasan Sarwardy (left) and General Aziz Ahmed, the Chief of Army Staff (right)

 

by Taj Hashmi     20 July 2020

Although neither the puppet and illegitimate government of Sheikh Hasina nor the pro-Indian Deep State, which has been running Bangladesh for the last twelve years, gathered enough courage to broadcast or publish the transcript of the video interview of Lt General (ret) Chowdhury Hasan Sarwardy with a US-based journalist, Kanak Sarwar, on 14th July, yet the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) department of the armed forces has come up with a ridiculously funny statement on the 20th calling the interview “discomforting” and “embarrassing”.

Although I have no support or sympathy for the generals who issued this statement, yet I could visualize the sweat of fear and nervousness on their forehead, although they run the show in air-conditioned comfort! I could possibly also visualize their jerking knees, yet I have to be generous enough to congratulate General Aziz Ahmed, the Army Chief, for his “honesty” which has reflected on the ISPR Statement! I’m, however, cocksure the only words reflecting some truth that appear on the statement were drafted in a state of nervousness and fear of losing out their ill-gotten power and privileges! The words I refer to are “discomforting” and “embarrassing”. Sure, General Sarwardy’s bold and candid interview rocked the entire edifice of the Hasina Administration, and the fountainhead of power, the military administration in the country. I have no doubts whatsoever that General Aziz and his men are going through a very “discomforting” and “embarrassing” time!

By now, so many social media outlets have telecast General Sarwardy’s video interview, and so many people, including myself, have published their commentaries on it in various media outlets. The key points of the interview are that, a) It’s Army Chief Aziz Ahmed, not the unelected Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is at the helm of the statecraft; b) the armed forces monitor and intercept telephones and SMS of Bangladeshis, and not even the PM and her ministers/advisers are exempted in this regard; c) Indian intelligence agency RAW dictates the civil and military administrations, so much so that its prior approval is needed to appoint ministers, generals, and senior bureaucrats, and RAW determines the outcome of the national elections in Bangladesh; and d) the armed forces run 147 big, medium, and small business enterprises in the country, including banks and heavy industries. Registering his concern for the future of the country, General Sarwardy also reveals that almost everyone in the civil and military administration is thoroughly corrupt.

When I first saw the ISPR rejoinder I thought General Aziz Ahmed and his colleagues must have convincingly rebutted all the allegations about generals being corrupt, politicians and the armed forces being not only subservient to India, but actually being helpless or willing servants of their Indian masters not being able to take any decision about the overall security situation, civil and military administration, and foreign policy of the country. Alas! I was wrong! Nothing like that has come out in public in the ISPR statement!

The defensive ISPR Statement, far from being a rebuttal of the most sensitive allegations made by the forcibly retired and humiliated General Sarwardy, is a bundle of unprofessionally prepared lies and defamatory allegations against the retired general’s personal character and integrity. The so-called rebuttal by General Aziz’s men is mostly about General Sarwardy’s liaisons with women, divorcing his first wife “without permission from the authorities”, and last but not least, a sweeping, undocumented, uncalled for, and obnoxious comment about the character of his second wife, portrayed as a “controversial woman”!

The summary of the ISPR Statement is as follows:

He [Sarwardy] got into in [sic] illicit relationships with more than one woman when he was the commandant of the NDC after being promoted to Lt Gen. He took many girls with him when he travelled abroad for different courses at the NDC. When the authorities noticed photos of his indecent behaviour and hanging out through different media, the authorities felt embarrassed and he was advised in different ways.

Sarwardy divorced his first wife without permission from the authorities on Aug 16, 2018 while on leave preparatory to retirement and married his second wife wearing military mess kits, which is a breach of army law, on Nov 21, 2018 without permission from the authorities. But he stayed unethically in the same home with his second wife before the marriage from Nov 4, 2018. With his current wife, a media personality, he even celebrated Pahela Baishakh, spent holidays in Sajek Resort and Khagrachhari, and travelled to and stayed in India, Thailand, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland at different times before the marriage. Photos of his activities were criticised [sic] in the military and civil society [sic] as well as on social media. Besides these, the person he has married is known as a controversial woman.

The Statement is simply an unbelievably amazing and “amusing” in the negative sense of the expression piece of paper! The lame-duck assertion by the ISPR, which reads like an investigating police sub-inspectors report on a local petty criminal having multiple extra-marital affairs, who divorced his first wife (without his boss’s “permission”, which is a ridiculously funny allegation though), and married a “controversial woman” (one isn’t sure what it is)! What a shame! What a disgrace General Aziz Ahmed! You could have taken some tips from your once convicted murderer younger brother Joseph (who got clemency from the puppet President Abdul Hamid of the entity called Bangladesh, which was once an independent country up to December 2008) to prepare a better defence argument to hide your umpteen numbers of crimes against humanity and the nation of Bangladesh. I know it was a difficult task on your part (and on part of all your colleagues and cronies in uniform who serve their boss in New Delhi), yet you could have at least tried to assert that: a) you guys don’t serve Modiji but Hasina Apa; b)  not you and your men but Hasina Apa runs the show in Bangladesh; c) you have never come across the expression “RAW” in your entire life, and d) you or your colleagues never ever tap or intercept Hasina Apa’s phone or SMS messages.

I, however, understand General Aziz Ahmed’s and his team members’ or comrades-in-crime’s predicament. They have possibly become totally numb and incapable of lying about things General Sarwardy has bluntly and boldly has placed on the table. They are too nervous to lie anymore and are possibly looking at Modiji for some advice to salvage them from this predicament. But alas! Modiji has his own problem the China-Syndrome or Sinophobia!

The writer holds a PhD in Modern South Asian History, a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society, author of several books, including Global Jihad and America (SAGE 2014), and Retired Professor of Security Studies at the APCSS, Honolulu.

 

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Dr. Taj Hashmi is a Research Associate at the York Centre for Asian Research at York University, Toronto, and Retired Professor of Security Studies at the APCSS, Honolulu, Hawaii. He was born in 1948 in Assam, India, and was raised in Bangladesh. He holds a Ph.D. in modern South Asian History from the University of Western Australia, and a Masters and BA (Hons) in Islamic History & Culture from Dhaka University. He did his post-doctoral research at the Centre for International Studies (CIS), Oxford, and Monash University (Australia). Since 1987, he is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society (FRAS). He is a reviewer of manuscripts for several publishers, including Oxford, Sage, and Routledge. He has authored scores of academic papers, and more than a couple of hundred popular essays and newspaper articles/op-eds on various aspects of history, politics, society, politics, culture, Islam, terrorism, counter terrorism and security issues in South Asia, Middle East, the Asia-Pacific, and North America. He is a regular commentator on current world affairs on the BBC, Voice of America, and some other media outlets.- His major publications include Global Jihad and America (SAGE, 2014); Women and Islam in Bangladesh (Palgrave-Macmillan 2000); Islam, Muslims, and the Modern State (co-ed) (Palgrave-Macmillan, 1994); Pakistan as a Peasant Utopia (Westview Press, 1992); and Colonial Bengal (in Bengali) (Papyrus, Kolkata 1985). His Global Jihad has been translated into Hindi and Marathi. His Women and Islam was a best-seller in Asian Studies and was awarded the Justice Ibrahim Gold Medal by the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh. He is working on his next book, A Historical Sociology of Bangladesh. His immediate past assignment was at Austin Peay State University at Clarksville, Tennessee, where he taught Criminal Justice & Security Studies (2011-2018). Prior to that, he was Professor of Security Studies at the US Department of Defense, College of Security Studies at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) in Honolulu, Hawaii (2007-2011). He started his teaching career in 1972 as a lecturer in History at Chittagong University, and after a year joined Dhaka University (Bangladesh) and taught Islamic History & Culture (1973-1981) before moving to Australia for his Ph.D. Afterwards he taught History (South Asia and Middle East) at the National University of Singapore (1989-1998) before joining Independent University, Bangladesh (IUB) as Dean of Liberal Arts & Sciences (1998-2002). Then he joined the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver (Canada) as a Visiting Professor in Asian Studies for two years (2003-2005), and worked as an adjunct professor of History for a year at Simon Fraser University in Canada (2005-2006). Tel: (1) 647 447 2609. Email: tjhashmi@gmail.com and hashmit@apsu.edu