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U.S. -Taliban deal: Will Peace Endure in Afghanistan?

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The face-saving exit of the US  from its protracted fatigued involvement in the Afghan theatre, which cost the country $3 trillion and blood of 2400 soldiers, was refurbished as the US Taliban peace deal signed on 29th February in Doha.  Congenitally inept to turn the tide of war in its favor through military might, a typical US resorted to diplomatic overtures in the form of peace talks granting concrete major concessions to those Taliban leaders, who are placed on the US’s and UN’s terror list. Under the deal, the US will reduce its military footprint of 14,000 troops to 8,300  within 135 days followed by the complete withdrawal of all the US and foreign troops within the next 14 months. The US has further bolstered the Taliban’s standing by agreeing to release 5000 political prisoners by 10th march, the first day of intra- Afghan talks, and promised to delist Taliban from the US and UN sanctions list that entail travel bans, assets freeze, and arms embargo.

In return, the US hopes that the Taliban abides by an unenforceable promise of not harboring terror outfits like ISIS and Al Qaeda that threaten the security of the US and its allies and start negotiating with the Afghan political leaders to reach a national accord for the future governing system. To naively believe that the Taliban will cut its umbilical connections with Al Qaeda will be a major strategic mis calculus, considering that the Taliban gambled on  their tenuous hold on power for protecting Al Qaeda leader Bin Laden only to face the wrath of  US invasion in 2001. Any anticipated vagaries in the equation of Al Qaeda -Taliban ties are elusive as the Sirajuddin led Haqqani network shares deep bonhomie with Al Qaeda and its leader Ayman al Zawahiri has shared bayat or allegiance to Taliban’s leader Habitullah Akhunzada. The two may well augment their joint military operations against their common enemy, the Islamic State of Khorasan, as the group has staged a deadly comeback in Kabul attacking a gathering of politicians and local populace commemorating the killing of an ethnic Hazara leader. Apart from that, the US outsourced its counter-terrorism operations to that  Taliban who never proved any discernible evidence of officially  drifting away from Al Qaeda. In the event of raining attacks from the US and coalition forces, these ties will further strengthen at the crest. Further Taliban’s leadership due to its decentralized governing structures, factionalism has limited capacity to control battlefield actions as their commanders hail from diverse geographical and tribal constituencies.

The US – Taliban agreement has overwhelming use of the prefix of “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan not recognized by the United States and Taliban” in a bid to not legitimize the Taliban. But this acted counterproductive, as the US might have officially conceded to Taliban’s authority or its role in the future political matrix of Afghanistan where it has asked Taliban to perform the  government’s obligations of not issuing travel documents or providing refuge to those who endanger the security of the US and its allies. When just mainstreaming  Taliban’s deputy leader Sirajuddin Haqqani was not enough, by offering him the editorial space in the venerable New York times, to whitewash Taliban’s barbaric self-righteous history of inflicting pain on the Afghans titled with the article “What we the Taliban want”, US without the concurrence of Afghan government, its principal ally, promised Taliban that their  5,000 fighters will walk free before the start of inta Afghan dialogue.

President Ghani, well cognizant, about how the release of these Taliban leaders might boost the Taliban’s fighting  morale and military capabilities, refused to release them keeping in mind the harsh battlefield imbalance skewed in the favour of the Taliban. Perhaps in the wake of the political stalemate where his principal rival  Abudllah Abdullah has discredited his victory in the principal elections thus enervating the prospect of the cohesive political front in negotiating with Taliban, he thought that prisoner card could have given the government a miniscule leverage  when they negotiate political settlement with Taliban. Right after the signing of deal with the US , Taliban showed its true colors and  issued directives to avoid hostilities against the US and foreign forces but to  resume attacks on Afghan security forces which was met by a retaliatory  response in the form of US airstrikes on Taliban.

As the US begins its withdrawal, Taliban will ramp up its operational  tempo and pressure targeting the Afghan forces and even civilians which ironically wont be considered  as the breach of the deal considering that Afghan lives are of less value and they will left on their own as the  emphasis in the deal  has only been given  to the security of US and its allies. The risks of miscalculations run high for the Taliban as their strategy to increase skirmishes on the  battlefield to retain the balance of power on ground   can elevate the risk of reckless escalations, imperiling  the lives of US forces.  Such an event increases the probability  that the US security  establishment in the pursuit of their own security  guarantees might think of leaving  behind a residual  intelligence  and security  presence which might well play out in the favour of Afghan government.

There is mention in the agreement that the US will act as a  facilitator of intra afghan dialogue but if the Taiban- Afgan dialogue doesn’t lead to fruition   of any sort of political arrangement within these 14 months , it wouldn’t have any impact on the US ‘s plan of phased withdrawal. This bears stark resemblance  to the 1973 Paris Peace agreement when  the US repackaged its military defeat against the North Vietnam Communist  bloc as a peace deal leaving South Vietnam in the lurch leading to the fall of Saigon in 1975. With Trump’s administration’s abandonment of the Afghan government and the Syrian Kurds,  the US rightfully championed  Kissinger’s controversial statement that America has no permanent friends or enemies but only interest. While this is true for nearly every state in the world where realpolitik is the hallmark of any foreign policy, the US just proves it more explicitly and unabashedly than anyone else.

The fact  that US had a timeline for its exit  in the deal and didn’t push for an adherence or a strict timeline for a country wide ceasefire, which lays the groundwork for any neat peace agreements especially while dealing with non state thugs like Taliban says alot about much the US really cares for stable and prosperous future of Afghanistan. Before any peace talks,  political will, systematic exchange of information on arms buildup , troops movement, establishment  of observation  posts , peace keeping forces, and opening of diplomatic channels for negotiations and most important ceasefire monitoring  mechanisms form the fulcrum of any confidence building measures. But in this scenario ,  a seven day reduction in violence pact was the only litmus test the Taliban had to pass through to negotiate for the departure  of foreign forces.

We can draw parallels with that of the developments in Idlib where  the Sochi partners of Russia and Turkey respectively announced ceasefire in Idlib, the last rebel  held stronghold, just to break them initiating revealing how cheap the life of Syrians is in today’s debilitating  security landscape.

It is also worth to raise questions  as to why the Kabul declaration  with the Islamic Republican of Afghanistan and the Doha agreement with Taliban  didn’t evince any mention of the preservation of the democratic progressive gains made in the  last 18 years after the Taliban’s ouster since 2001? The US has shown its back by not fulfilling the moral obligation of protecting the rights of  minorities and women in Afghanistan. It didn’t seek any guarantees from Taliban’s to uphold the liberties of these segments of societies once they set foot into the political  mainstream even after Taliban’s repetitive insistence that they will protect their rights and freedom as governed by the strict interpretation of Islam.

Though the US has exemplified  that it will nullify the agreement  if Taliban doesn’t  adhere to its promises prescribed in the deal, these can be simply idle threats considering that Trump in the  crucial election year has to tantalize his support base by fulfilling one of its core election promise of bringing back home the US troops from all “endless wars” in the Middle east.

The US jubilation will eclipse over the misery of  Afghans when they  are already disillusioned with the country’s communal discord, rampant corruption, which has led to the loss of confidence in the state institutions and where violence and bloodshed with each passing is becoming a norm, simultaneously  making them numb.

 The intra afghan talks will face major stumbling blocks as Taliban will have a better bargaining position and the onset of challanges of accommodating  the  political visions  of  strange bedfellows,  one coveted by Taliban to run the state through the rigid islamic sharia law, and  the second,  a democratic, inclusive and  nationalistic model of Islamic republic of Afghanistan .  For that,  Abdullah and Ghani must first settle the power dispute to have an upper hand in the talks. Other contentious, hard pressing issues include  the framework of the current  democratic Afghan  constitution , which is  an anathema to Taliban, representation of the minorities  and the demobilization or reorganization of the Taliban’s forces into Afghan security  apparatus.

 The most  tenacious Afghans stood indomitable driving out  Soviets, British,  and US out of the country, but might be at war with themselves, as the cultural and multi ethnic make of the country, which raged   a bloody civil war might prove as a voodoo   if the second phase of intra afghan dialogues  fails to materialize the prospect of peace in Afghanistan.

Mona Thakkar, based in Mumbai, India, graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Mass Media with specialization in Journalism from Mumbai University. Due to her lucid understanding of German and Arabic, she has worked as a translator and fixer with various German news outlets like Swiss Radio und Fernsehen, Tageszeitung , and Supernova. Her research interests include martime security and contemporary geopolitical dynamics of Asia-Pacific Pacific and MENA region . She has been an integral part of strategic studies programme with a tha m called Centre for Public Policy Research based in Kochi. She can be reached at m.thakkar1601[at]gmail.com

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South Asia

Growing insecurity in Rohingya Refugee Camps: A Threat to South Asian Security?

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A young Rohingya girl holds her brother outside a youth club in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. © UNHCR/Vincent Tremeau

5 years have passed since the Rohingya refugee influx in August, 2017.  Bangladesh is currently hosting 1.2 million Rohingya refugees in 34 camps in its southern district of Cox’s Bazar. The increasing rate of trans-border crime in those bordering camps is not only making the Rohingya refugees vulnerable and prone to crimes but also threatening South Asian security as a whole. The Rohingya community leader’s speech of “We don’t want to stay in the camps. It’s hell.” in the ‘Go Home’ campaign in 20th June, 2022, made us rethink about the security situation in the camps and how the safety and security of Rohingya refugees is linked to South Asian Security.

Security Situation inside the Rohingya Camps

More than 1,200,000 Rohingya refugees are now living in the camps in Ukhiya and Teknaf in Cox’s Bazar, making it the largest refugee settlement in the world. While Bangladesh has the ninth-highest population density in the world, around 40,000 to 70,000 refugees are living in per square kilometre in the Rohingya camps, which is 40 times higher than the average population density in Bangladesh. With no sign of repatriation combined with the lack of economic alternatives for Rohingyas and the difficulty in maintaining law and order in overcrowded camps, frustrated Rohingyas are increasingly becoming involved in criminal activities or being targeted by criminal groups.

Currently, around 14 armed criminal gangs are operating in the camps, in which seven gangs known as Hakim Bahini, Hasan Bahini, Sadeq Bahini, Nurul Alam Bahini, Nur Mohammad Bahini and Hamid Bahini are in Teknaf and seven gangs named Munna Bahini, Asad Bahini, Jamal Bahini, Manu Bahini, Rahim Bahini, Kamal Bahini, and Giyas Bahini are active in Ukhiya camps.

According to law enforcement agencies at least 10 groups among these are engaged in 12 types of crimes including murder, rape, kidnapping, drug smuggling and human trafficking. The fighting over controlling the camps among the armed gangs is also deteriorating the security situation inside the camps. A Rohingya refugee in the camps said in an interview, “Everything seems calm in daytime. After sunset, the situation becomes fully different.” As there is no police or army surveillance from 4 pm to 8 am, camps come under the control of gangs at night. They are equipped with weapons like lead meat choppers, knives and other made weapons.

According to Prothom Alo report citing the police, in the last two and half years, more than 50 Rohingyas have been killed in clashes between Rohingya armed gangs over establishing supremacy in the camp area, drugs and gold smuggling, money laundering and extortion.  Recently, the Armed Police Battalion (APBn) has recovered M16 assault rifles with 491 bullets from a camp in Ukhiya which indicates the worsening security situation in the camps. At night Rohingya women are also taken from their houses & are return in the morning. At least 59 women have been raped in the Rohingya camp. As crimes often go unpunished, no one in the camps has the courage to speak against the criminals. Sometimes, for ensuring own security, Rohingyas themselves, including children become engaged with smuggling, narcotics trafficking and other crimes.

As of May 2022,a total of 12,97 cases have been filed against 3,023 Rohingyas. Among them, 73 cases are in charge of murder, 762 are narcotics cases, 28 cases are filed on the allegation of human trafficking, 87 for illegal weapons, 65 are rape charges, 35 for kidnapping and ransom, 10 for robberies, and 89 are other cases related to crime and violence.

Besides, it is believed that Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), a Rohingya insurgent group are also active in Rohingya camps and made contract with a Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). ARSA is not only relying on arms like AK-47s, M-22s, M-21s and M-16 rifles but also gaining support through other means. More than 500 madrassas in the Rohingya camps are  said to be controlled by an ARSA affiliates which will help ARSA to gain sympathy, spread propaganda and extend their network.

A Threat to South Asian Security

Since Cox’s Bazar provides a strategic route for smuggling and a shelter to Rohingyas refugees who have lack of economic alternatives, the bordering Rohingyas camps are turning into a breeding place for criminalities and the insecurity in the camps can threaten the security of the whole region.

Cox’s Bazar is used as a direct route from eastern India to Nepal for arms smugglers to reach Indian and Nepali buyer. United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA), an insurgent group seeking independence from India, also buys arms from China and smuggles them using Bangladeshi ports and overland to India.

The Naaf river, the border between Bangladesh and Myanmar, is also the busiest drug route in the region. Almost 80% of Yaba enter in Bangladesh through Naikhyangchhari and 70% of them are stored in Rohingya camps before distributing them and Rohingyas are increasingly getting involved in peddling yaba for their survival.

Besides, drug trafficking, Rohingyas are also taking part in trans-border crimes, including human trafficking, extremism, arms fighting and the camps can be a potential base for extremist activities and the insecurity in the camps and border could transcend to Bangladesh anytime and create insecurity for the whole region of South Asia. As there is a growing concern over the recruitment of refugees by the extremist networks like Hizb-ut Tahrir and Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), as well as by radical Islamist groups like HeI. It is also reported that the influence of HeI is growing among the traumatized and frustrated Rohingyas which could fuel militancy not only in Bangladesh but also across the South Asian region. Along with this, the Rohingya militant groups bordering Myanmar i.e.  Arakan Rohingya National Organization (ARNO), Rohingya National Alliance (RNA), the Arakan Rohingya Islamic Front (ARIF), and Rohingya Solidarity Organization (RSO) could also recruit from Rohingyas and threaten regional security.

From security perspective, ensuring the security of Rohingyas is directly linked to the security of the region Though Bangladesh has taken several measures to ensure the security of these displaced people, it is tough to maintain law and order in the densely populated camps near the border. Therefore, safe, sustainable and dignified return of these displaced people is the only solution. Since Rohingya refugees have also expressed their desire to go home through the “Go Home” campaign, in which thousands of Rohingyas in Ukhiya & Teknaf camps staged demonstration on World Refugee Day demanding their repatriation back to Myanmar. Bangladesh as well as the international community should act together to facilitate Rohingya repatriation to ensure the security of Rohingyas as well as the South Asian region before its too late.

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Rohingya repatriation between Myanmar-Bangladesh

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Rohingya refugees fleeing conflict and persecution in Myanmar (file photo). IOM/Mohammed

Refugees find themselves in a situation of limbo because of the prolonged refugee scenario. They are neither eligible for repatriation nor do they qualify as citizens of the host nation or a third country. However, they must deal with the harsh reality of the nature of vicious politics because of the complexity of state systems and the institutional weaknesses of international institutions.

Prolonged refugees, according to UNHCR (2004), are trapped in an impenetrable and protracted condition of limbo. Despite not being in danger or facing threats, they significantly lack access to basic rights, financial aid, and support for their psychological and social needs. As they are pushed toward outside help, they feel unable to escape the core of forced dependence.

Are Rohingya refugees in some way contributing to an ongoing, serious refugee crisis? In relation to the Rohingya crisis, statistics from UNHCR shows that more than 0.7 million Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in 2017. There are 1.1 million Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, the prime minister of Bangladesh stated in 2018 during the 73rd United Nations General Assembly.

For this South Asian emerging nation in 2017, the flow of this deluge was nothing new. These migrants have been entering Bangladesh since the 1970s after being forcibly uprooted by the military dictatorship.

According to a survey, there were around 0.25 million refugees in Bangladesh throughout the 1990s. Nearly 0.02 million people were returned after the 2000s, but the SPDC (State Peace and Development Council) and the Bangladeshi government’s inability to settle their differences has made this process difficult to complete.

The world’s most persecuted minority, who is clearly stateless and has strong proof of persecution and genocide on account of race, ethnicity, and religion, is currently being cared for by Bangladesh. The responses of international organizations like the UN and its branches like the ICJ and IOM are not positive enough for Bangladesh in this regard to produce a permanent solution.

West African nation Gambia filed a 35-page application with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in November 2019 against Myanmar. The ICJ’s extraordinary victory in the Gambia v. Myanmar case regarding the ethnic cleansing and genocide of Rohingya people is the first of its kind. This was founded on an “erga omnes” premise, which periodically reports on the situation of the Rohingya.

However, Bangladesh continues to push for international organizations to take humanitarian action through the UN. Though this worry might attract their attention and drive them to consider ensuring human rights for these forcibly displaced persons, it has instead placed a heavy load on Bangladesh.

Tom Andrews, the UN special rapporteur on Myanmar, issued a warning to the international bodies regarding the Rohingya crisis just a few days ago during his visit to Bangladesh in December 2021. Bangladesh “cannot and should not bear this duty alone,” he said, urging foreign groups to express grave concern. He went on to say that Myanmar, not Bangladesh, was the origin of the conflict and where it will ultimately be resolved.

Bangladesh, a developing nation with a population of 160 million, is being horribly impacted by the Rohingya people in terms of social, economic, and political spheres. Rohingyas have been in a condition of limbo since at least 2017, which is now more than five years ago.

They have been relocated, assisted, and given security by Bangladesh and several international organizations, but they still yearn for a long-lasting solution.

Bangladesh has been taking every action imaginable to bring the Rohingya refugees’ home. Since the 2017 refugee inflow, the Bangladeshi government has worked with various international groups to promote peaceful voluntary repatriation; however, the Myanmar military junta has consistently resisted these efforts. Refugees from the Rohingya minority are currently suffering greatly as a result of the political unrest in Myanmar.

As Cox’s Bazar’s refugee camps are already overflowing with 1.1 million Rohingya refugees, the Bangladesh is moving them to Bhasan Char in order to provide for them improved living conditions.

International organizations had doubts regarding the safety and security of the Island; however, Bangladesh eventually persuaded them to cooperate. Bangladesh was left with no choice but to relocate some Rohingya refugees to Bhasan Char. Bangladesh now faces a security danger from overcrowded camps. The Rohingya camps in Bangladesh are home to numerous terrorist and armed rebel organizations. One of them is the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA). Despite the issues, Bangladesh has continued to push for bilateral discussions while also applying international pressure to the junta.

Myanmar, on the other hand, is a lawless state that disobeys international law and order. The arrangements established for the peaceful return of Rohingya refugees were broken.

In Myanmar, the regime has been increasingly hostile since the military takeover. Myanmar is utterly unwilling to help the Rohingya refugees develop a strong sense of desire for return. There is no “supranational” authority in anarchy, which is advantageous for Myanmar. It is now time for the international community to recognize that the Rohingya refugee crisis has grown into a regional security issue.

Myanmar-related news indicates a new genocide. the country’s rebel and protest groups are being repressed by the military junta with violence.

The Myanmar military is still buying new weapons from China and Russia, including the SU-30SME multi-role heavy fighter, the YAK-130 light attack advanced jet trainer, the K-8W advanced trainer, and Ming class attack submarine, among others, despite an arms embargo. The world community is concerned that these weapons could accidentally attack defenseless populations. A peaceful voluntary return will face further obstacles as a result of internal unrest in Myanmar.

The Rohingya catastrophe, which forced 1.1 million individuals to leave their country of birth due to state-sponsored persecution, was of a size that is easy to comprehend. When the state commits the crime, the environment becomes more hostile. The main duty of the state is to uphold the rights and interests of its citizens.

Refugees are currently skeptical of the military junta in Myanmar. They have a long and painful history of persecuting people. Therefore, persuading the refugees to return home voluntarily won’t be simple. Myanmar must extend their hands in mutually beneficial ways. More discussions between international parties, including the Rohingya, will build confidence and facilitate a peaceful voluntary return of the Rohingya refugees. Humanity and peace should ultimately triumph over all other factors.

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Why the implementation of the CHT peace agreement is still elusive?

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When the “Top boxer” of Bangladesh, for the past eight years, Sura Krishna Chakma raised the national flag of Bangladesh in the first-ever professional boxing tournament held in last month, it reminds the contribution of the UK Ching Marma and other minority people who fought valiantly in the Liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971.

Bangladesh began its independence journey with a population that is ethnically homogeneous, with less than 1% of the population being ethnically diverse. However, Bangladesh had struggled to deal with Chittagong Hill Tracts’ (CHT) tribal people as they have been waging an insurgency movement for autonomy. Later, Peace Accord was signed aiming to end the conflict in 1997. But, after 25 years of its signature, the treaty is still failing to instil trust among national political parties and factional groups. Currently, the situation in the CHT area is a complex mix of conflicts and negotiations. The area is also beset by ethnic tensions between indigenous communities and groups, interferences from neighbouring states, widespread poverty, resource scarcity, and low literacy rates.

Why peace in the CHT is still elusive?

In recent years, remote areas of CHT have become more prone to violence due to the involvement of various active groups in the area. The four ethnic political groups – PCJSS, Jana Samhati Samiti (Reformist-MN Larma), United People’s Democratic Front (UPDF) and UPDF (Ganatantrik) – in the region appear to be at odds with one another. They have no ideological disagreements but are involved in inter-conflict for narrow self-interest rather than protecting the minority rights. All factions have specific armed wings with advanced weapons such as rocket launchers, automatic sniper rifles, and heavy machine guns, according to law enforcement. They extort wood trade, cooking markets, livestock markets, transportation, and a variety of other services, each on their own turf. Ransom for the abduction of ethnic groups and Bangalis are also a major source of income. Contractors also have to pay at the rate of 10 percent of the original budget. To stay safe, locals were forced to maintain good relationships with all parties. They are compelled to pay monthly tributes to remain in their homes. There are even reports of indigenous women being abducted and raped by rival groups. They are so vulnerable and frightened that they do not even move after the sunset. The inter-group conflicts have claimed more than 1100 lives since the signing of the peace accord. Although according to the terms of the accord, the guerrillas were to surrender and surrender their weapons but many haven’t surrendered arms yet.

What’s to blame for the present unrest?

The agreement’s lethargic implementation has reignited separatist tendencies among the Paharis. Recently, the Kuki-Chin National Front (KNF), an insurgent organization of small ethnic group, demanded a separate state in CHT with full autonomy and threatened strict armed movement. Prior to this, The UPDF, a breakaway group, continues to oppose the treaty and seeks full regional autonomy.

The most pressing concern in CHT, however, is extensive Christianization among the tribal population. ‘Evangelization’ is generally carried out by the missionaries through a number of NGOs operating under the umbrella of “development partner.” Christian missionaries use money and other worldly trappings to entice poor tribal people to become Christians. So far, 4344 families in CHT became Christian in the last two decades and the number of churches increased dramatically from 274 in 1998 to 644 in 2022. It’s worth noting that more than a third of the Bandarban district’s tribal population is now Christian.

Impact of the Peace Accord on the Situation of ethnic People

Certainly, the Peace Accord made room and rendered opportunities for the CHT’s development. In these 25 years, comprehensive and systematic development efforts have contributed to the socio-economic development of the Pahari people, which immensely contributed in reducing the gap between the Pahari and Bengalis. Many tribes are well-integrated into mainstream middle-class Bangladeshi society, with officers and ambassadors serving in Bangladesh’s military and diplomatic corps.

With its contrasting topography of hilly terrains, immense lakes, wide-open spaces, as well as rich ethnic and cultural diversity, tourism industry flourished in the CHT. Tourism boosted due to the infrastructural projects connecting the remote and mystic parts with the main areas of the country and security ensured by the law enforcement agencies from the precarious hilly terrain to the remote bordering area. The treaty also integrated the CHT people into the mainstream economy, while permitting them to retain their specific ethnic and cultural identities.

The ‘Small Ethnic Groups Cultural Organisation Act 2010’ was passed in order to safeguard and foster the cultural expressions of Bangladesh’s small ethnic groups. Small ethnic groups’ rights are now more recognized by the government in Bangladesh than before. The development allocation per capita in the CHT districts is significantly higher than in the rest other districts. The government has amended some laws to allow for the implementation of the peace accord mainly the formation of the ‘CHT Regional Council’ and the ‘Ministry of CHT Affairs’, establishing the ‘Land commission’ to deal with conflicts over land and natural resource rights. The government is also gradually reducing military camps. The number decreased from 546 to 206. Another feature of post-agreement development in the hills has been the influx of development partners and the extension of NGOs and INGOs in the CHT area.

Way Forward

The first and foremost, the Bangladesh Government must take into cognizance the factors behind the failure of establishing peace in CHT areas to ensure peace in the hilly region. Secondly, the implementation of the remaining articles should also need to be prioritized. So far, out of 78 provisions, 48 provisions of the Accord have been implemented. Hill people strongly believe that the implementation of the Accord is the key to solving problems in the CHT. Thirdly, it is crucial to control the armed factions to evict violence and restore peace to CHT on an urgent basis. Fourthly, both the Hill and the Bengali people emphasize that land disputes need to be resolved immediately. And finally, there is a need for consolidating the progress achieved so far.

Nevertheless, an established misconception is prevailing among the hilly people that their voices are not heard and they are treated differently from the rest of the Bengalis. To eradicate this misconception and build trust and harmony, more initiatives should be undertaken by the government.

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