A political group is spreading the perception that the country will again become Pakistan if Awami League loses control of Bangladesh. They even suggested a label “Banglastan” for this supposed nation which transforms into an improvised Pakistan in the East. But symptomatically it appears to become another Kashmir, or in a classical sense be called Banglashir (Bangladesh + Kashmir).
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina went to Shantiniketan, India to attend the VishvaBharati convocation. On the same occasion, Narendra Modi joined in as a Vishva-Bharati’s Acharya. Various observers believe this particular rendezvous was orchestrated at an opportune moment to help re-establish a relationship between the two leaders. The media hyped it as viewing a display of the mythical chariots (RathaYatra), but the primary objective was to push a package; “how to win the upcoming election at the end of this year once again”; by hook or crook, whatever it takes.
On this visit, Hasina propagated the fear of Pakistan and that; her’s is the only party that can be trusted to continue the pro-India mantle faithfully that works out magnificently for India and also gives the power she wants.
The “Ananda Bazar Patrika” zealously propagated the Pakistan fear. Even though this magazine was not supposed to be privy to the contents of the secret meeting between Hasina and Modi, and yet they published a piece covering the event. It was headlined “Hasina’s message – the anti-liberation forces are perpetrating the plot to make Bangladesh into Pakistan. If Awami League loses power, India has to live with two houses of Pakistan; one in the West and the other in the East. So, India should render its necessary support to the present government of Bangladesh.”
Indira Gandhi uttered the above sentence in 1971. She used to say that the head could survive pain on one side. But it is difficult to sleep with pain on both sides. Ananda Bazar highlighted a similar statement by Hasina. As there are no comments on this issue from Hasina’s office, it can be assumed to be a true declaration by Sheikh Hasina.
A “Preeti” press conference was organized at Ganobhaban (Prime Minister’s residence) after her return from that trip. The entire country was watching the congregation of such an elite group of flattering journalists who were asking appealing questions allowing her to continue her long cacophony against her opponents without even semblance to the questions asked. One of them asked; “we understand, an Indian newspaper has indicated that Bangladesh wants a reward for what you have done for India.” To this, the Prime Minister retorted; “I do not want any rewards. Why do I need a reward here? I do not have the habit of asking for favors; rather I am magnanimous in giving more than I receive. Whatever I gave to India; India should remember me forever. ”
Another Sheikh, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah of Kashmir, also gave away everything without asking for anything in return. He had the habit of being magnanimous in giving more than what he received. People in Kashmir have not forgotten that ever since 1947.
In 1947, Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah welcomed the Indian army into Kashmir. He fully supported the document evidencing alignment with India. In exchange, he was able to act as the Chief Minister of Kashmir till 1953. The man who is most responsible for the suffering of people in Jammu and Kashmir, as well as the people of India and Pakistan; is Sheikh Mohammed Abdullah.
In the lust for power, these Sheikhs became so blind that, the sufferings of the people never crossed their minds. There were mass killings of about 250,000 Muslims and displacement of approximately 1,000,000 persons in Jammu and Kashmir.
In 1953, Sheikh Abdullah realized he made a tremendous mistake by trusting India when his perceived friend Nehru put him in jail. This mistake has caused enormous sufferings for the Kashmiri people for which they are paying till now. They do not see any future in the Indian Federation.
All indications are that Bangladesh is proceeding towards the path of Kashmir. By creating the myth of a Pakistani Genie, Bangladesh is being prepared to become another Kashmir. Here, we can hear the sound of another Sheikh’s footsteps.
Before the arrival of the British, the Hindus and Muslims lived peacefully in these lands what was India. To effectively administer India, the British devised a “divide and rule” policy between Hindus and the Muslims. It worked out very well for them. They were acting as the judge and the jury while the Hindus and Muslims were fighting. If they did not get tired, the British could have ruled India for another century using the same method.
Their “divide and rule” policy created a new dimension of troubles in India. Even before leaving for good, they embedded a seed of enmity between Hindus and Muslims. One of these seeds was the creation of the Kashmir problem. India and Pakistan; even though very poor, were importing arms and ammunition in record levels heeding poverty of their population. Now, both of these nations are very large purveyors of weapons and are two big nuclear powers.
British misdeeds have created this enormous enmity amongst peoples that were otherwise living peacefully for centuries. Without the Kashmir issue, India and Pakistan could have lived peacefully. But the British had to leave their legacy behind. Instead of using their wealth for the benefit of their people, they indulged into purchasing arms and ammunition. Otherwise, the region could have achieved unprecedented prosperity.
A prolific crusader, Arundhati Roy promoted the cause of Kashmiri independence despite the stereotyped Indians calling her a traitor and wanted her incarcerated. In an interview, Miss Roy said, if the state runs a case against me in the court of law then there should be a case against Nehru (the first Prime Minister of India) even post his death. She mentioned several telegrams and radio addresses by Nehru in which he said; “I declare, the fate of the Kashmiris will be decided by themselves. This promise is not only for the Kashmiris; it is to the entire world. I will never renege from this covenant, and I won’t be able to do it either (3 November 1947)”.
For the sake of Kashmir, Pakistan and India fought three wars; 1947, 1965 and 1999. It is incumbent to the parties in this conflict to address issues and mitigate their differences for the sake of peace and prosperity. The people who talk about the European like peace in the sub-continent, somehow are not getting involved deeply in this pursuit.
The armed forces of India comprise of about 1,300,000 persons which makes it the third largest standing armies of the world. About 700,000 of their armed personnel are deployed in Jammu and Kashmir. With a population of 7,000,000, this is one to ten ratio and makes it the largest per capita army deployment in the world. Naturally, the expenditures related to this engagement is enormous.
If Bangladesh was to be made into a defacto colony, India has to deploy 20 times the soldiers as in Jammu and Kashmir. When India is already over-stressed within Kashmir, where should she be looking into when it comes to Bangladesh?
If India thinks Bangladesh will be similar to the peoples of Sikkim and Bhutan, they would grossly misjudge the situation on the ground. In 1947, 90 percent people of the then East Bengal (now Bangladesh) voted for the formation of Pakistan. Bangladeshis got disenchanted with the misrule of the Pakistani ruling class. Even with the commonality of religion, which was initially thought to be viable, now could not keep the Bangladeshis from remaining in Pakistan. The war of liberation in 1971 was the result of the resolve of the Bangladeshis.
India must realize, the hatred towards Pakistani rulers is now being diverted against Indian defacto rule of Bangladesh by maintaining Awami League as their proxy. More the Awami League gets through with make-believe elections; the more Bangladeshis will be agitated against India. They firmly believe, the Indian government is behind these fake elections.
Anti-India feelings are running high throughout South Asia. Leaving Pakistan alone, one cannot forget Sri Lanka, the Maldives and the people of Bangladesh who are tired of Indian policies. Even the Hindu Nepal is no exception. How long will the peace in Bhutan last is someone’s guess? No one likes anyone to pry into one’s family and nation. People abhor agents of foreign governments. If this hatred magnifies, the scenario in the entire sub-continent may drown into chaos.
Various Indian think tanks are already warning about these scenarios. With China encircling India in all directions, one does not have to look in any other direction.
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. When India is playing with her smaller neighbors, a counter activity/reaction is developing. Indian neighbors would rather have China as their friend owing to meddling in their internal affairs by India. Not only that India has pain on both sides; that pain will propagate to every organ of the body. Because of wrong Indian policies, all neighbors are transforming into Pakistan.
When the neighboring nations like Bangladesh and India create ties with some political parties and not the people, they focus all their energies on the winning of that political party. With aiding Awami League only, there is already tremendous anti-Indian feelings within the people of Bangladesh. China would gladly work her way into the void.
Awami League strengthens their power by exhibiting the fear of the Pakistani Genie. The main opposition party BNP must expose that point in a clear voice. The recent trip to Delhi by the BNP leadership must be clearly explained to the public. BNP must proceed with their political agenda in a transparent, concise manner keeping the people with them at every stage.
BNP was in power at a crucial time of Bangladesh when coups and counter-coups were happening every time you look around. BNP is a nationalist party and never converted Bangladesh into Pakistan then, and is not planning for it now. It is transparent propaganda spread by Sheikh Hasina and her party. Creating Sheikh Abdullahs by instilling fear of a ghost of Pakistan, we cannot save Bangladesh from becoming a Kashmir. India must realize this and not put all eggs in one basket.
While BNP needs India, India also requires the cooperation of BNP. If the scenario changes, India may have lost their opportunity to maintain a reliable neighbor. Any shortcut way may bring a considerable loss for India as well as BNP.
India’s general election is forthcoming. In the last election, Awami League government helped the Congress Party. BJP is fully aware of this. Doubt remains whether Modi government will bring the crocodile by digging the canal. Whether Modi has realized this, it is a matter of guess. “All disciples’ in a temple are not true disciples”; Modi is fully aware of this.
BNP and their partners are deeply rooted in various localities outside the capital city Dhaka. At this time, BNP has only one roadmap in front of them. They should not participate in the upcoming polls without the help of a neutral caretaker government; otherwise, it will be another electoral fiasco like 2014 election. Awami League and Hasina know, they are shouldering a burden of illegitimacy and BNP must make sure this burden should crush an authoritarian regime Hasina is running. With firm resolve and clear direction, this fascist government will crumble.
Possible scenarios in Afghanistan after US withdrawal
After two decades of U.S. warfare in Afghanistan, President Joe Biden has announced the date for the withdrawal of U.S. troops and ends the longest war. According to him, the United States wills withdrawal its entire military forces from Afghanistan military bases by 9/11/2021. Many Afghanistan politicians do not believe that the U.S. withdraws all of its troops because the central government of Afghanistan does not have adequate preparation after the U.S. withdrawal situation. However, in this article, I will explore the thinkable scenarios in Afghanistan after the U.S. troop’s withdrawal? In this study, I will focus on some possible situations in Afghanistan.
First, achieving peace and construction of Afghanistan National Unity Government (ANUG) is the first possible option post-exit of U.S., Now that foreigners have announced they have left the country, there is no reason for conflict. Such a situation will achieve long peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region; this option needs a comprehensive peace, including internal and external players involved in the coming peace process. I look forward to how the Afghan government maintains the balance of power between the Taliban and other political parties; this is very crucial because the imbalance drawback to the collapse of government and Afghanistan will plunge into civil war as we experienced during the Najibullah government as well. In the external arena, the most affirmative scenario is the situation for the regional country will not be worse. The U.S. will continue its support to the Kabul government in the post-exit era. The external stakeholders, particularly China and Russia, are interested in stability and durable peace in Afghanistan through cooperation with the other regional states (Pakistan, India, Iran, and Turkey). The resolution of the Afghanistan issue will guarantee the security of South and Central Asia its vital for China and Russia because of the core threats to China and Russia from Afghanistan terrorist groups activities, its danger for the U.S. as well.
Another significant reason is that Afghanistan is the gateway to the Central Asian States with potentially untapped energy resources. The regional Actors want direct access through Afghanistan to these natural resources to meet their dire energy demands. Because of American military presence in the region, the regional countries, particularly Iran, Pakistan, China, and Russia, felt threatened. They began to oppose and protect their interests connected with Afghanistan’s peace and security. The notion is that, in the prolonged presence of the United States, these states that have economic and security interests in Afghanistan would be in danger. China and Afghanistan have several ongoing projects underway, and different transnational actors have sabotaged these projects on several occasions. Likewise, Pakistan has a direct border link with Afghanistan, has several stakes in Afghanistan, and needs access to Central Asia. Pakistan also has concerns about the presence of America. It has also made strong connections with China so that mutual interests could be met by joining hands together.
Similarly, Iran and Russia being strategic partnerships have profound political and economic interests in Afghanistan and arch-rivals of the United States. Both countries have to oppose the actions of the United States and a potential threat for both country’s interests in the Afghan mainland and Central Asia. It means the diverging interests in Afghanistan of regional and American interests, politico-military outcomes would in the long term seem not conducive for lasting peace in Afghanistan unless these could have a political consensus on the said diverging interests vis-à-vis Afghanistan internal reconciliation. If all stakeholders involving in the Istanbul negotiation, they could form an ANUG that all have so far required. Agree, this will be the best option to end the war, and such a government will be bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.
Second, maintain the status quo: U.S. President announced the date of the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, reminding that the United States continued its assistance, exceptionally provide large military and financial aid to Afghanistan. It is unclear whether such a promise will be fulfilled; if the U.S. keeps its support, particularly military and financial assistance to Kabul, the Afghan security forces have enough power to maintain the status quo after the U.S. exit. In this case, if the peace talks in the Istanbul conference fail, the Kabul government will survive. The Afghanistan national army will able to fight against the Taliban and other terrorist groups. Let us remember that Dr. Najib’s government was still strong in terms of power, defense. Still, the main reason was led to his government downfall are the imbalance between internal control and ethnic divisions. Regarding imbalance, we can see the role of General Dostum. In the beginning, he was a core ally with Najib when he turned to the North alliance because he did not see himself in the power position. The ongoing situations in Afghanistan are similar; the statement should focus on the role of warlords and political parties to maintain the inter balance this significant for the central government to survive. On the other hands, the economic and military support for the Afghanistan government crucial because without external support Afghanistan government cannot survive; if the necessary financial resources for security are not available from external donors at the same times in the government of the internal situation have many challenges such as insurgency, terrorist, ethnicity, corruption, and warlords. The current conditions Afghanistan faces the external and internal threat; the Afghanistan government need to deal with it. In this situation how the Ghani will deal with post-U.S. withdrawal, he has two choices two survive the first; he imbalance with China and Russia because china can help Afghanistan financially and play a significant role to force Pakistan and Taliban as well, this choice very dangerous if he fails cannot survive if he succeeds he will be overcome both threats. The second is to keep its alliance with the U.S. this situation will maintain the status quo but not bring durable peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Third, the collapse of government and going to civil war: after two decades of war, the U.S. shortcut way to bring peace in Afghanistan. Washington tries to face save from withdrawal of Afghanistan. The U.S., represent Khalilzad, has provided a draft Afghanistan Peace Agreement to the Kabul government and Taliban. The core idea is to replace the elected Afghan government with a transnational one that may occur, including Taliban and negotiation between the parties for a future permanent system. At the same time, president Ghani receives a letter from U.S. Secretary of state Blinken saying it was “urgent” to “accelerate peace talks” and move “quickly toward a settlement.” The letter also has asked Turkey to host a high-level meeting between the Afghan sides “in the coming weeks to finalize a peace agreement.” Suppose the government is to think of independent defense. The Istanbul conference is a good opportunity for the Taliban and Kabul governments to achieve peace; otherwise, the situation will be worse. The current situations are an important opportunity for all different parties, ideologies, groups, and ethnic groups have come together. The unification and arrangement of these products is a complex and arduous task and requires compassion and sacrifice. On the other hand, if the Kabul government delays the negation to remain in power and the Taliban also holds up to returning to power by force, this condition will disintegrate because the ethnic, linguistic, religious, and other divisions turn into armed conflict. In the worst-case scenario, then the 1990s, conflict and war and killing will be restarted, and Afghanistan situations will be worse than Iraq and Syria. In conclusion, this paper argues the future situations of Afghanistan after the U.S. force withdrawal from Afghanistan. During the history of Afghanistan’s statement constantly losing in the diplomatic arena in this crucial moment, how the Ghani governments deal with internal and external issues? All Afghanistan people wish the politicians can play a good role and end the forty-year war and move towards prosperity and stability. If the intra-afghan dialog fails, keep the status quo is also good, at least worse government better than no government, for the benefit of the people and the inhabitants of the big cities, as far as it is acceptable. It is like being delivered in an explosion and suicide attack in these twenty years, and so on. But if we go to the civil war and ethnic conflict and alley to alley, people will forget the previous civil war. I hope that will not happen. People are starving for peace and stability. It would be suitable for political leaders to abandon their interests, focus on the national interest, and move toward a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan.
Afghanistan: the US and NATO withdrawal and future prospects
On April 14, the United States of America announced that it would withdraw all its troops stationed in Afghanistan from May 1 to September 11, 2021. On the same day, NATO also said it would coordinate with the White House military to initiate the withdrawal.
The year 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the outbreak of war in Afghanistan, a conflict that has actually been going on since the Soviet invasion of that unfortunate country on December 24, 1979.
What are the plans of NATO and the United States? How will the situation in Afghanistan change in the future?
Regarding the US announcement of the deadline for troop withdrawal, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has said that the Afghan government respects the US government’s decision to withdraw its troops by the agreed date.
According to the Associated Press, there were 2,500 US troops in Afghanistan before May 1, far below the peak of over 110,000 in 2011.
According to the websites of the Financial Times and theDeutsche Welle, some ten thousand soldiers from the 36 NATO Member States and other US allies are currently stationed in Afghanistan, including as many as 895 Italian soldiers, as well as 1,300 Germans, 750 Brits, 619 Romanians, 600 Turks, etc.
President Trump’s previous Administration signed a peace agreement with the Taliban in Afghanistan in February 2020, setting May 1, 2021 as the deadline for NATO to begin withdrawing from that country. The Washington Post reported that after the current US government issued the withdrawal statement, the Taliban immediately said that if the United States violated the peace agreement and did not withdraw its troops in Afghanistan, the situation would get worse and one of the parties to the agreement would take responsibility for it.
This year is the twentieth since the United States started the war in Afghanistan after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The war in Afghanistan is the United States’ longest overseas war, and has killed over 2,300 US soldiers and wounded some 20,000 people, at a cost of over 1 trillion US dollars.
Although the United States and its allies attacked the Taliban and al-Qaeda, the situation in Afghanistan has been turbulent for a long time, with over a hundred thousand Afghan civilian casualties in the fighting.
According to The New York Times, both Parties’ members of the US Congress have differing views on the consequences of withdrawal. According to the newspaper, Republicans and some Democrats believe that the troop withdrawal will encourage the Taliban insurgency, while others believe it is necessary to put an end to this indefinite war.
But what considerations can be made for the US and NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan?
It is well known that the purpose of the United States in taking the war to Afghanistan was a very heavy measure of retaliation against al-Qaeda, which had organised the terrorist attacks of September 11, and against the Taliban regime that protected the top leaders of that terrorist organisation. Although al-Qaeda has not been destroyed, it is unlikely to create similar problems. The United States has achieved its strategic goals and is no longer involved in East Asia’s tactics and strategy.
The interests of NATO (considering its individual Member States) in Afghanistan are fewer than those of the United States. As a military alliance with the United States, the achievement of US strategic goals means that NATO’s equal strategic goals have also been achieved. Hence, rather than continuing to run the risk of confronting the Taliban and al-Qaeda after US military withdrawals, NATO is more willing to remove the “political burden” as soon as possible.
While announcing the terms of the withdrawal, the White House has stated that the threat of extremist organisations such as Somalia’s al-Shabaab and ISIS is spreading globally and it is therefore meaningless to concentrate forces in Afghanistan, with a steady expansion of its military cycle. At the same time, however, the White House has stated that after withdrawal, diplomatic and counter-terrorism mechanisms will be reorganised in Afghanistan to face security challenges. Hence, from the US perspective, there is currently a greater terrorist threat than al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
The prospectsfor advancing the Indo-Pacific regional strategy to oppose China also means that it would be counterproductive for the United States to remain in Afghanistan any longer. Even after the troop withdrawal, there will be insecurity in Afghanistan. That being the case, however, the United States will still find ways and means to support the Afghan regime and the armed forces of the Kabul government.
The Washington Post has also reported statements by a Pentagon official who has stressed that Afghanistan is a landlocked country: consequently, once US and NATO forces withdraw, one of the biggest challenges will be how to effectively monitor and combat extremist organisations and resist threats to US security: at that distance it will be even more difficult without sea landings.
According to Reuters, the CIA predicts that the possibility of a further US-Afghan peace deal is little and has warned that once the United States and its allies withdraw, it will be difficult to stop the Taliban.
The Afghan government forces currently control Kabul and other large cities, but the Taliban are present in more than half of the country’s territory and rural areas. In the future, the possibility of a Taliban counter-offensive cannot be ruled out.
Great Britain’s The Guardian has commented that the years of war have generally made Afghans feel a strong sense of insecurity and the withdrawal of troops will not bring much comfort to the local population. According to the London-based newspaper, for the United States this is yet another war that cannot be won.
According to experts, there are two extreme possibilities in the future situation in Afghanistan. The excellent situation is the one in which the less extremist wing of the Taliban mediates so that, once the United States withdraws, the Taliban can gradually move from being an extremist organisation to being an internal administrative one and then negotiate with the legitimate government supported by the United Nations: this would mean a long-term peace after forty-two years of war.
Under extremely unfavourable circumstances, instead, the Afghan government forces would overestimate their military strength and intend to continue the war alone against their traditional opponents, at which point peace negotiations between the two sides would break down.
This would mean falling again into a prolonged civil war and into eternal war.
Bhashan Char Relocation: Bangladesh’s Effort Appreciated by UN
Bhashan Char, situated in the district of Noakhali, is one of the 75 islands of Bangladesh. To ease the pressure on the digested camps in Cox’s Bazar and to maintain law and order, Bangladesh has relocated about 18,500 Rohingya refugees from the overcrowded camps to the island since December last year. The Rohingya relocation plan to Bhashan Char aligns with the Bangladesh government’s all-encompassing efforts towards repatriation. The initial plan was to relocate 100,000 of the more than a million refugees from the clogged camps to the island. From the onset of the relocation process, the UN and some other human rights organizations criticized the decision pointing to remoteness and sustainability. UNHCR showed their concern over the island’s susceptibility to seasonal storm and flood. They proposed for a “technical assessment” of the Bhashan Char facilities.
An 18-member UN delegation visited Bhashan Char Island on March 17 this year to have a first-hand assessment of the housing facility for the Rohingya forcibly displaced Myanmar Nationals (FDMNs). Shortly after the UN’s visit, a team with 10 diplomats including heads of missions of embassies and delegations from Turkey, the EU, US, UK, France, Germany, Japan, Australia, Canada and the Netherlands also went to the island on April 3 to appraise the facilities. All the members of the technical team opined that they are ‘satisfied’ with the facilities in Bhashan Char. The experts of the UN told, they will hand over a 10-page report of their annotations and they have already submitted a two-page abridgment. On April 16, they released the two-page synopsis after a month of the visit. After the three-day study of Bhashan Char by the UN delegates, they recommended the Bangladesh government to continue the relocation process to the island in a ‘phased manner’. The team twigged three points – education for Rohingya children, increasing heights of the embankments and better communication system. The Foreign Minister of Bangladesh A. K. Abdul Momen concerted to take the necessary measures to create a safe and secure environment for the Rohingya refugees until the repatriation takes place. The relocation is not the solution of the Rohingya crisis rather the over emphasis of the relocation and facilities inside Bangladesh is protracting the crisis and distracting the attention from the broader emphasis on the repatriation to Myanmar.
The UNHCR and other concerned parties should plan for a long run repatriation process. Repatriation is the only durable solution, not the relocation of the Rohingya refugees. For the time being, resettlement under the Asrayan-3 project is an ease for the FDMNs but in the long run the Rohingya crisis is going to turn as a tremendous threat for regional peace and stability. Besides, resentment in the host community in Bangladesh due to the scarce resources may emerge as a critical security and socio-economic concern for Bangladesh. It is not new that the Rohingyas are repatriated in Myanmar during the Military rule. Around 20,000 Rohingya refugees were repatriated to Myanmar in the 2000s. The focus of the world community should be creating favourable conditions for the Rohingyas to return safely regardless who is in the power seat of Myanmar-civilian or military government. The UN should largely focus on repatriating the Rohingya refugees in a “phased manner”, let alone deciding their concern in the camps and the Bhashan Char. After the praiseworthy relocation plan, they should now concentrate on implementing speedy and durable repatriation. Proactive initiatives are essential from all walks for a safe and dignified return of the FDMNs. To be specific, the relocation is a part of the repatriation, not the solution of the problem.
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