Shuttle and excessive diplomacy of western world especially the ‘Tuesday Group’s activities deteriorated 2006-2007 political situation in Bangladesh. Additionally, it was possible to declare the State of Emergency by Army Chief Lt. General Moeen U. Ahmed with the help of Military Secretary to the President (MSP) Major General Aminul Katim using the letter of UN Resident coordinator in Dhaka Renata Lok Dessallien, which has been also considered as external intervention. Moeen used the threat of Bangladesh’s probable deprivation of UN Peacekeeping facilities to the army evidently from the letter of Renata. This threat united the divided army, which Moeen could not do in other means. Consequently, this military intervention was termed as ‘soft coup’. A section of diplomats including British High Commissioner Anwar Choudhury and Canadian High Commissioner Barbara Richardson’s overactive role also helped the ambitious army group. India supported Moeen and there were reasons for this as well.
Only a few persons were behind the army coup during 2007. Moeen used Brigadier General Chowdhury Fazlul Bari and Brigadier General A T M Amin alias Bihari Amin differently. MSP Aminul Karim was mastermind of the coup from where he harnessed his benefit by becoming Lieutenant General without serving any command position. Director General (DG) of Special Security Force (SSF) Major General Syed Fatemi Ahmed Rumi supported Moeen in 2007 military coup. DG of Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) Md. Sadik Hasan Rumi gave walk over to Moeen by going outside the country. He went to attend a seminar in London. Before leaving Bangladesh, he sent a report consisting ‘Moeen may take over and he has connection with Awami League while he supports that politics’. Sadik Hasan Rumi also gave another report to remove me from Bangabhaban. Moeen, Aminul Karim, Sadik Rumi and Fatemi Rumi maintained same line and they were against the DG of National Security Intelligence (NSI) Major General Rezzakul Haidar Chowdhury. On different occasions, former created obstacles in later’s entrance to the President to submit intelligence report. Sometimes, I helped the victim to discharge his duty. On the ‘1/11’ morning, Moeen group spread propaganda to all Cantonments of Bangladesh that Rezzakul is going to be made Army Chief. It was a false propaganda. DG, NSI was a junior officer in the army to be the Chief of Army Staff as his serial was after 28 senior officers. They did spread that message deliberately in order to create chaos in the army and to unite armed forces in favour of Moeen’s take over. They also created confusion about me as saying that I was obstructing army factions when they moved to Bangabhaban.
There was a gap between General Moeen and General Masud Uddin Chowdhury, which was minimised by General Aminul Karim and thus Moeen also used Masud. After using, both Masud and Bari were thrown away while both Amin (Major General Aminul Karim and Brigadier General A T M Amin) were rewarded by receiving promotions as Lt. General and Major General respectively.
Moeen worked extensively for his move of the State of Emergency. On the one hand, he was seeking Awami League (AL)’s support telling them that he is changing the regime of BNP, which will eventually help the AL to come to power. On the other, he was lobbying BNP saying that he will help the outgoing political party in power to bringing back in the statecraft. Both trusted the Army Chief. Brushing Moeen out dipolmatically, I was convincing both the top leaders, two former Prime Ministers Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina that Moeen will use both of them and he himself will come to power. His target is the Presidency. Subsequently, I was solving the political problems of the country. After meeting most of the demands of agitating AL and convincing BNP in same line of politics, I brought back the AL and its allies, for instance, the Grand Alliance led by Sheikh Hasina and comprising Prof. A Q M Badruddoza Chowdhury (B Chowdhury), Dr. Kamal Hossain, among others, in the fold of parliamentary election planned to be held on 22 January 2007. On 23 December 2006, I successfully brought all political parties in to election. Later, by cancelling third major political party Jatiya Party Chairman General Hussain Mohammad Ershad’s nomination was cancelled by a coterie to use short cut to come back to power, which did not help them, rather it helped Moeen to take over what I was obstructing since 28 October 2006 on the day of Logi-Boitha event. Following Logi-Boitha event, when 28 people died in attacks between two political alliances, more specifically the AL led group and its allied party Worker’s Party attacked on the fourth majnor party Jamaat-e-Islami people, moeen and his political as well as military supporters worked together to declare the State of Emergency. They prepared for this and made all paper work ready at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) on the 29th of October 2006. On that night the President took over as the Chief Adviser (in place of the Prime Minister during the Caretaker Government). Thus power was bestowed to us and we worked for continuation of democracy since then. I stopped the move of the emergency then. Thus Moeen missed first chance.
During our regime, when I was trying to convince Khaleda Zia on the 7th of January that Moeen took over power by the 12th, she did not believe me. By the time she consulted with Brigadier Bari on this. Bari told Khaleda that it was nothing and nothing of that kind was going to happen. I tried to make understand Brigadier Wazed Thakur, the Military Secretary to the Chief Adviser (MSCA) in vain. Prior to ‘1/11’, during the then SAARC Summit, which was held in Dhaka, I was talking to Lt. Commandar Saiful Islam Duke, who was the PS and nephew of then PM Khaleda Zia, about Moeen’s hidden agenda, but he also did not trust on this. I told my hypothesis to Ministers Saifur Rahman, Mannan Bhuiyan, Barkatullah Bhulu and even Ziaul Haq Zia. Saifur Rahman and Mannan Bhuiyan told if our leader does not understand what we can do.
When military faction’s one after another attempt was obstructed by me, then they used their contacts to hypnotise me in their favour. They were asking me to be the President of the country as saying you are doing everything for the President and he is not fit and capable etc. Moeen was addressing the President among his fellow colleagues as mad man. I refused to be the President saying that you want to make me scape-goat like Ahsan Uddin Chowdhury, which I don’t want to be. My aim in life has been to be the President to serve the nation since my boyhood, but not illegitimate head of state.
Actually, on ‘1/11’, it was a Martial Law, which I stopped as I was obstructing the same since 29 October 2006 following ‘Logi-Boitha’ event on 28 October 2006. Two top leaders of both AL and BNP were agreed for declaration of the State of Emergency on separate grounds. Moeen assured both that they will be the Prime Minister. He and his army faction instigated political rivalry beforehand and deteriorate the political situation prior to ‘1/11’.
As the UN and the USA’s policy is to support democracy worldwide, I involved the world body and the top super power to save our democracy so that army chief Moeen could not be the President. In line with my mission, I organised US Assistant Secretary of State Richard A. Boucher and UN Secretary General Kofi A. Annan’s Special Envoy Craig Jennes’s visit to Bangladesh in November 2006.
I convinced the UN envoy that following our official meeting with his delegation where Renata and Eric was included, we both should have an exclusive meeting to share the gravity of volatile political situation of Bangladesh. Consequently, I had one to one meeting with Craig where I gave him clear message that I did not believe Renata that she might support Moeen to take over power. Thus my hypothesis also became true when with Renata’s support Moeen became successful to force the President to declare the State of Emergency. Meanwhile, Moeen contacted with Jean-Marie Guéhenno, the Under Secretary General of the UN in charge of Peacekeeping seeking a letter so that he can use this to stop the ongoing process of 22 January 2007 parliamentary election. Following my departure from the statecraft at the pressure of Aminul Karim through Moeen, I was very active with my foreign contacts especially the UN and the USA. At one stage I went to the UK and from there I went to the USA, where I used my access to the State Department and the UN Headquarter. The leading world diplomats were highly convinced by me as I was thorough on the issues. Later, Brigadier General Chowdhury Fazlul Bari’s US mission was failed due to my diplomatic manoeuvring. Bari’s that mission was to declare Martial Law in Bangladesh for short period so that Moeen can become the President of the country. In the mission, Bari was sent by Moeen to the State Department with his official letter to parley with the US administration to declare Martial Law in Bangladesh for a short period in order to Moeen’s becoming the President of Bangladesh, which was the main motive of ‘1/11’. The short period could be for a day for example from the dawn to dusk, where after the declaration, Moeen would be the President of Bangladesh, and the Martial Law could be lifted afterwards. According to the proposal, everything would be as usual following beginning of new President’s rule, as for example, all political detainees including both the lady leaders would be released, there will be no bar to one of them to become the Prime Minister and one Leader of the Opposition and except President, the country will remain as it was and democratic journey would continue in this way. In this case, power, honour and activities of the President will be increased while power of the Prime Minister will be decreased means power of both President and Prime Minister would be balanced. Eventually, military back government of 2007-08 worked on this formula.
For instance, Lutfuzzaman Babar was patronised by Bari in Mannan Bhuian’s faction of BNP. Later when Bari was ousted, Babar was arrested by Amin. On the 7th of January 2007 morning, I told Brigadier General Wazed Thakur that Moeen is going to take over power. But Thakur did not trust this as Moeen gave him a different understanding that he will serve democracy. During last days of BNP government, I told the same to Lt. Commandar Saiful Islam Duke, a PS to the then Prime Minister Khaleda zia, who was incidentally nephew of her. He also ddid not believe as he was also convinced by Moeen that rather he will be in the side of Khaleda Zia. Moeen hypnotised all that he will serve his once appointing authority and boss. Moeen planted Aminul Karim at Bangabhaban prior to ‘1/11’ through PM Khaleda Zia, which I could not make her understand. Even when power came to me at the night of 29 October 2006, I provided proofs that Aminul Karim was conspiring with Moeen to capture power holding secret meetings at Bangabhaban’s different rooms in a couple of times, I was not allowed to transfer him to another similar kind of position as his job was transferable. DG of SSF MG Syed Fatemi Ahmed Rumi took the side of Aminul Karim and requested me not to remove him from Bangabhaban at that time.
But finally I could not stop the State of Emergency what I did since 29 October 2006 following the cancellation of General Ershad’s nomination. We wanted all political parties’ participation in the election. For this reason, I continued negotiation with Sheikh Hasina and the AL, met their demands and brought all political parties into the fold of parliamentary elections of 22 January 2007. Mentionable, this was one my great successes in the presidency while keeping the country and head of the state on the right track during President Iajuddin Ahmed’s coma, his serious illness while was under treatment in Singapore Mount Elijabeth Hospital, Dhaka Combined Military Hospital (CMH) and at Bangabhaban, the Presidential Palace cum Office, for all about more than three months in May-August 2006 was another success story. Nevertheless, publication of noncontrovertial publication of two separate research books namely “Bangabhabaner Shatabarsha” and “Hundred Years of Bangabhaban” involving the imminent researchers and academic of the countries was also yet my another achievement, as acclaimed by historians and researchers.
Coming back to the volatile political situation, in fact, on the ‘1/11’ when BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia did not receive series of phone calls from me. At one stage, Saifur Rahman, Mannan Bhuiyan, Salauddin Qader Chowdhury, among others gave me phone calls and I told to call Begum Zia and on that day latter did not receive former’s call as well. Subsequently, on the ‘day when military took over in disguise, I called US Ambassador Patricia Butenis to stop the State of Emergency. Then she replied “this provision is the part of your constitution. We stopped the Martial Law at your request. But we cannot stop the Emergency”. Foreign power thought political crisis will be over after the emergency, situation will be under control and there will be an election acceptable to all.
Consequently, Moeen failed to declare Martial Law and had to take over power in disguise of the State of Emergency. Then to materialise his vision to become President, he attempted to minus two lady leaders, which I analysed beforehand. Later Moeen sent a letter to the US administration seeking approval to declare the Martial Law even for a day by what he will declare himself the President of Bangladesh. Then America realised my hypothesis becomes true and the top super power gave Moeen the last warning asking to hold parliamentary election, hand over power to the elected government and go back to barrack. Thus army cohorts’ days were numbered and Moeen failed to become the President for what he was working for long time.
Renata was involved with Moeen, thus foreign power’s intervention took place. I told the President that the letter Moeen is using is a fake. I showed the original letter of the UN Secretary General Kofi A. Annan in the morning of ‘1/11’ which asked to restrain from violence on the street and hold parliamentary election with participation of all parties. Although Renata was attending meeting, dinner and other parties with Moeen and was silent on the letter she issued, finally when she completed her three years diplomatic assignment in Bangladesh, she echoed with my challenge that she did not issue the letter and the UN cannot support military intervention, which demonstrates my hypothesis on this. Moeen successfully intervened in politics of Bangladesh on 11 January 2007 by using the letter of UN. But by the time, ‘the patient had died before the doctor came’. I wanted all parties’ participatory election, the foreign powers also wanted this, by bringing all political parties I meant what we wanted. But, all efforts of democracy were destroyed following the cancellation of the Jatiya Party Chief H M Ershad’s candidature. I wanted to stop this. Lutfuzzaman Babar, who maintained relations with both BNP and army high command played role to cancel the said nomination. Babar was the State Minister for Home affairs of Bangladesh during 2001-2006. He was recruited by Tarique Rahman, elder son of Khaleda Zia. He was also maintaining good relations with diplomats and army chief and other concerned important people. Previously, he was connected with Raushan Ershad when General H M Ershad was the President. He was involvement with business and was always in search of power. On the eve of ‘1/11’, Babar took Moeen’s side. At the same time his relations with BNP high ups and people in the government continued side by side. It was not possible to know his this characteristic by all concerned. On 28 October 2006 Babar being the State Minister for Home managed to withdraw police on duty from the event of ‘Logi-Boitha’ in Dhaka so that there can be a serious crisis in Bangladeshi politics and army can take over power. Moeen used Babar on this and Inspectror General of Police (IGP) Anwarul Iqbal, who was brother in law of Moeen, also worked in same line for what he was rewarded later by Moeen becoming the Adviser (Minister) of the extra-constitutional military-backed government. Babar was also promised to be the full minister if Moeen’s mission becomes true. Following army take over Moeen maintained good relation with Babar through Brigadier Bari and later after a period of time when he thrown Bari away arrested Babar through Brigadier Amin, his most trusted aide in army, as corrupt.
I told concerned politician and they did not support me as they did not understand consequence of this. Foreign diplomats were aware of this as they had also contacts with all concerned including Babar. That became the last trump card, which jeopardized all hopes. Foreign powers did not support this. This helped directly or indirectly Moeen to precede what was further helped by the UN’s fake letter. Moeen and Renata were held responsible for this.
Evidently, Military government pursued to implement their King’s Party formula with Nagarik Shakti (NaSh) under the leadership of Noble laureate Dr Muhammad Yunus and failed as people’s strong opposition. Then they did proceed with Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) led by Dr Ferdous Ahmed Koreshi, which also became a failed case.
In respect of Indian intervention, Moeen paid a maiden visit to that country where he was given VVIP reception of President with gift of six horses. Moeen sent Dr Muhammad Yunus and Dr Kamal Hossain to Delhi in order to receive India’s support and Sheikh Hasina’s derogatory comment against a community which affects India in presence of Indian acting High Commissioner in the month of December, 2006 prompted Indian authority to support Moeen. Dr Yunus and Dr Kamal was apparently successful to convince Prime Minister Dr Monmohon Sing as Indian administration was on the same page though Pranab Mukherjee was maintaining good relations with Sheikh Hasina. Later, Sheikh Hasina repaired her broken relations with India by sending Gowher Rizvi to Monmohon Sing while Pranab Mukherjee was on her side. This helps again her to become to form the government in 2009 and to remain as only trusted ally of the country as was all along.
India always play proactive role in neighbouring countries in connection to military rule, for example, the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Bajpayee addressed Chief Executive of Pakistan General Pervez Musharraf after his take over on 12 October 1999 as ‘Mr President’. That addressing was deliberate and it was done to instigate Musharraf to overthrow democracy in full scale. Eventually, Pervez Musharraf declared himself the President of Pakistan. Here, contradiction is India practices democracy within the country and supports undemocratic regime outside the country if it is suitable to it. For instance, Ershad regime was supported by India and AL regime was also. Recently Indian External Affairs Secretary JayaShankar asked the world community to support India’s ole in Bangladesh.
Some foreign powers namely the UN Ambassador (Resident Coordinator) and India had direct while the Tuesday Group and the western World had indirect interference or pressure though army group led by General Moeen could declare the State of Emergency. However, military cohort led by army chief could not achieve support for Martial Law from foreign power specifically the western World directly as I was active against Martial Law since before, during and after ‘1/11’. Only India’s support for the Martial Law did not work as this is an era of globalisation. Additionally, coup leaders could not convince army rank and file for their move for Martial Law due to prevailing threat of losing of UN Peacekeeping facilities. The second move of Moeen to declare Martial Law after assuming power was not successful as the USA stopped it when the super power of the world found my hypothesis was correct. The UN worked in the same line then.
M Mukhlesur Rahman Chowdhury is a London-based Researcher, who achieved distinction in research in the King’s College, University of London as well as Independent Analyst in Politics and International Relations. A Career Journalist Mukhles Chowdhury is a Former Minister and Adviser to the President of Bangladesh. Former President of Overseas Correspondents’ Association Bangladesh (OCAB) Mukhles Chowdhury has been working as the Chief Editor of the Bangladesh Worldwide and the Weekly Prekshit as well. Email: [email protected]