14 May, 2021

Gun Tantra

At long last, Dhaka cracks down on its militants

Gun Tantra
For years, Bangladesh had been denying the existence of Islamic militants on its soil. Last week, Begum Khaleda Zia's government ironically provided proof of their presence: it arrested a clutch of militants, including Jamat-ul-Mujahideen (JM) leader Asadullah Galib, and reiterated its resolve to nab Jagrata Muslim Janata Bangladesh (JMJB) leaders, Siddiqul Islam aka Bangla Bhai and Abdur Rahman; both the JM and the JMJB were also banned. The crackdown on militants ought to immensely please New Delhi, which had cited terrorism and fundamentalism in Bangladesh among the reasons for pulling out of the SAARC summit early February.

But it wasn't New Delhi that goaded Dhaka into arresting the militants. The pressure came from elsewhere: donor countries and banks hadn't even invited Bangladesh to their February 23-24 meeting in Washington, where they discussed deteriorating governance, worsening law and order problems and rising militancy. Desperately dependent on foreign financial assistance, and apprehensive of what the future might entail, Prime Minister Begum Khaleda Zia...

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