Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG), an independent, non-governmental organisation that works on deadly conflicts, published a report on Wednesday (June 13, 2012) which spelt out a number of issues of concern involving Bangladesh Army. The report forecasts ‘risks stemming from’ the army and labelled the force as an ‘unstable and hostile military’.
The ICG is generally recognised as an independent and non-partisan source of analysis and advice for governments, and intergovernmental bodies like the United Nations, European Union and World Bank, on the prevention and resolution of deadly conflict.
The report also forecasts the prospect of election-related violence, which actually does not require any mastery to predict against the backdrop of the confrontational nature of politics in Bangladesh these days. However, what made me curious is the later part. The government has two challenges even if there is no possibility at all of any violence: a) how to thwart any possible bid of violence in the army; and more importantly b) Sending out message to the international public (and bodies as well) that the military here is stable, disciplined and maintaining its chain of command.
I would like to quote some parts from the executive summary of the report:
“Meanwhile, the military is visibly restive. On 19 January, it announced it had foiled a coup by mid-level and retired officers who sought to install an Islamist government. This followed an assassination attempt on an AL member of parliament in October 2009 by mid-level officers seething over the deaths of 57 officers in a mutiny by their subordinate paramilitary border guards the previous February. Large-scale dismissals, forced retirements, deepening politicisation and a heavy-handed approach to curb dissent and root out militants have created an unstable and undisciplined force. While a top-level coup is unlikely, the prospect of mid-level officers resorting to violence to express their suppressed anger is increasingly high.
Should the situation deteriorate to the point that the army again decides to intervene, it is unlikely to be content to prop up civilian caretakers and map a course to fresh elections as it did in 2007. This time the generals could be expected to have more staying power, not to mention less reluctance to carry out “minus two” – their previous plan to remove Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia from politics.”
Although the report predicts that any ‘worst-case scenario’ is remote, possible discussions in the public sphere worldwide would be dominated by the word ‘unstable’.