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The Disinformation Campaign

August 23, 2011

On July the 30th, the Economist carried an article titled Embraceable You that flabbergasted everyone at home and abroad.

The article raised serious questions over the incumbent party’s win in 2008’s election saying that the triumph was “helped by bags of Indian Cash and advice”. What is interesting is that the Economist, like many other news agencies around the globe, hailed the 2008’s general election as the free and fair election ever held in this country.

Govt. of Bangladesh accused the Economist of initiating a smear campaign. Even the present govt.’s forthright critics found the recent article unacceptable.

Why did the news agency carry such baseless article with little evidence? Why was the article so overtly critical to India in its dealing with Bangladesh’s two major political parties? Why does it consider Jamaat-i-Islami an Islamic party rather than an Islamist party? Why does it think War crime trials are meant to crush Jamaat?

Well, first we have to take into account that the present Awami League (AL) led Grand Alliance made couple of powerful enemies in its 2 and half year rules. They want to embarrass the govt. Then, we have to consider the time the article was published. It was published ahead of Indian PM Dr. Manmohan Singh’s scheduled visit of early September.

There are quarters who do not want Bangladesh and India come closer and who are victims of steps, which they view unjust and prejudiced, taken by present government.

So to put pressure on AL and to weaken its credibility, they started a disinformation campaign. During cold war, this campaign was used to put pressure on key political figures. Former Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was herself a victim of such vicious campaign. A description of such campaign can be found on B. Raman’s “The Kaoboys of R&AW”:

Between 1971 and her assassination in October 1984, the PSYWAR Division of the CIA mounted a vicious disinformation campaign against her projecting her as a Soviet surrogate. All sorts of false stories regarding her were disseminated through compliant foreign journalists. These stories alleged that she had agreed to give base facilities to the Soviet Navy in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and in Vizag, that a large number of Soviet military officers were attached to the Indian Armed Forces in various capacities, that experts from the KGB, the Soviet intelligence agency, had played a role during Operation Blue Star in June 1984, when the Indian Army raided the Golden Temple in Amritsar to flush out the terrorists etc.

Who might influence to carry such article? The article seems more concerned on the insurgency situation of North–East. It thinks any transit/corridor through Bangladesh could be used to supply military aid to suppress insurgents operating in Manipur and Nagaland. This gives some indication on the quarter behind such article. It would be wrong to assume only the same agency that started the campaign during cold war resumes it. They may be behind this, but don’t rule out the others. Mia Musharraf bagged, better read siphoned off, $15 billion from the ongoing campaign of War on Terror. Jamaat has a pool of funds and a strong support base in UK and USA. Money provided by Pak agencies, Mia Musharraf and Jamaat may be used to ‘inspire’ the Economist to carry such article to save Pak interests in this part of the world.

What surprised me is that how the article can use a phrase like “helped by bag of Indian cash…”. In fact it was BNP, not AL, that came to power back in 1991 with the assistance of Pak cash. Prominent historian Muntasir Mamun in his book “Shei Sahb Pakistani”—-a collection of interviews of former Pak Generals, Journalists, Bureaucrats and Intellectuals who were holding key decision making posts during the period of United Pakistan—-described one such incident. He interviewed Khaled Ahmed, a Pakistani Journalist who works for The Friday Times, who was an election observer during the 1996’s election. This gentleman reported an incident where Pak General Aslam Beg met some senior Bangladeshi Army Generals on the eve of 1991’s general election and bribed TK 10 crore at least one General to prevent any Awami League triumph in that election.

What I am trying to say is that the article published by the Economist is part of a disinformation campaign, which is a key tool of PSYWAR to undermine the authority of unfriendly foreign government.


From → Analysis, My Thoughts

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