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A veritable threat or a well-cooked political thriller?

September 25, 2014

We grew up in a society where suspicions, mysticism and cloak-and-dagger stuff like thrillers are aplenty.

In that society, we easily accept conspiracy theories. And never put them into the litmus test of authenticity.

If it is a report about stirring trouble against a government with the assistance of a foreign country, then it will have us on the edge of our seats.

In brief the report in question says that Indian intelligence agency has recently unearthed a plot to oust Hasina govt. The plot was the brainchild of a western agency whose operative in diplomatic cover will try to execute the plan with a wayward section of Bangladesh Army and to replace Hasina govt with a govt of ‘National Unity’, represented by politicians of all the major parties.

The sensational story captures the storyline of a low-budget and well-made Hollywood political thriller to a T.

There is indeed some iota of truth in this story otherwise a responsible online news agency would not carry it.

Putting aside the story’s acceptance part, let us check where the report actually turns into a cock-and-bull story.

  1. We have not yet heard any official response from the Army and the major parties who are the actors of this plot.
  2. Army is tremendously gaining from the huge defense spending spree that the current AL govt is pursuing. Moreover, in its first nine months in power this govt raised at least two new units of the Army. And Army’s participation in UN peace keeping operation is going on undeterred. Army’s bread and butter are clearly not under any kind of threat in the rule of AL. Why will then the Army let this scheme execute right under its nose?
  3. Effete BNP is still recovering from the changing political scenario of January 5 election. This is a time when the Awami popularity is receding swiftly. And BNP knows if there is a free and fair election it will secure an overwhelming win. BNP will not be part of any such plot that will revive Awami popularity and let AL play the card of ‘Politics of Victimhood’ that will ultimately victimize BNP. This argument holds equally true for Army and Jamaat.
  4. This report has been published at a moment when the entente between Jamaat and AL are getting abound though ruling party leaders ruled out the speculations. Wealth of Jamaat’s financial institutions has been swelling in this govt’s tenure. Jamaat heaved a sigh of relief when one of its top leaders evades gallows for his role during the liberation war of Bangladesh in a Supreme Court verdict. Furthermore, it won many local govt elections under the incumbent govt and many of its activists have not yet been tried for the violent campaign they carried out before and after the January 5 election. Jamaat is still an ally of BNP, as affirmed by BNP chairperson in her recent Brahmanbaria address. So, Jamaat’s stakes are pretty much secured in the existing political context. Then why will it ‘collaborate’ again to a scheme that will engender its current interests?
  1. Without more ado, let us spit it out clearly that by western agency here we are indicating the US agencies. Public image of US among the common Bangladeshi is questionable for its controversial role in 1975 and in 2007, aka known as 1/11. Installing a US base at the Bay of Bengal is the motive behind US engagement in such plot, the report says. US have good relationships with all the neighboring countries. Even if it has a plan to set up base here it will not team up with a future government that lacks people’s mandate at home in order to materialize that plan. What will US achieve by hatching and helping the execution of such scheme?
  2. According to the report, Indian PM Modi will tell about the specific ‘threats’ to Hasina when the two will have a 1-to-1 meeting in New York where the two are currently attending the annual sessions of UN General Assembly. Why will the Indians wait till the official meeting of the two PMs? And why will they brief the PM Hasina about the plot in a city of the country in question?

Can other conspiracy theories justify the (hidden) motive of the report?

Apart from PM Modi and other world leaders, PM will also meet Qatar’s Emir Al Thani, a sympathizer of Islamic extremism, who was a political outcast in the gulf for being the accountant of Muslim Brotherhood until he has joined the coalition forces against the ISIS.

This meeting will clearly fetch more aid to Bangladesh that has not a good record of spending aid in a transparent way. Before this meeting raises much noise at home and calls into question Hasina’s anti-terror stance, the report deliberately tries to divert attention towards Modi-Hasina meeting.

We also have to view the report in light of upcoming online policy for online news outlets. Online news agencies have so far avoid the iron grip of National Broadcast Policy(NBP) as to some extent it is not applicable to online news agencies. Clauses of NBP require that no program or content that malign the image of Armed Forces and jeopardize the relationship with a friendly country be broadcast. If you put the report under the scanner, you can clearly see it violates all these major clauses of NBP.

So what we are seeing now is ‘cultivation’ of sensational reports that will create a favorable ground for another draconian policy. Reports like this one, if not true, are just providing a cause célèbre for introducing a  new strict online policy.

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