Bangladeshi Islamist and jihadist forces are becoming increasingly acting as within the next 19 months, by December 2023, Bangladesh will be holding the next general elections, which is expected to be held in a festive atmosphere with participation of all political parties. The Bangladesh government is sincerely willing to hold a free and fair election.
With Afghanistan gone into the grips of the Taliban jihadists and ongoing war in Ukraine opening opportunities to the jihadist and terrorist groups of collecting sophisticated weapons and explosives from the war field as well as neo-Nazis; there would be substantial security threats posed to majority of the nations in the region especially India, as Pakistani spy agency Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) would get extended opportunities of spreading terrorism deep inside India.
As I have mentioned in the period installment of this series articles, Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) may not finally join the 2023 general elections even though it will be held in free, fair and festive atmosphere, just because two of the top leaders of the pro-Islamist party, Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman cannot run due to legal barriers, as both are convicted in numerous criminal and corruption cases. For BNP to participate in the election, they need to find an alternative leader, where Khaleda Zia and her son would not allow anyone else in sitting in that position. Party insiders believe, BNP is currently in the verge of bankruptcy due to disastrous decisions of the top leadership as well Tarique Rahman’s extreme greed for money. During 2018 general elections, Tarique Rahman, with the active help of his “friend” Giasuddin Mamun and confidante Mia Nuruddin Opu had sold party nominations to various individuals in exchange for billions of takas. This was one of the key reasons of BNP’s failure in bagging substantial number of seats as most of the candidates were either unknown in the locality or were apolitical. For BNP, once its top leaders – Khaleda Zia and Tarique Rahman decide once again to boycott the 2023 elections, it may resort to 2014-2015 destructive politics. This time, Bangladesh Nationalist Party may play the militancy card, along side Rohingya and Hefazat-e-Islam cards, as the party enjoys extreme intimacy with the militants and Islamists.
On the other hand, for the ruling Awami League, it will be a huge challenge to find a acceptable opposition party to contest in 2023 elections, as the current main opposition in the parliament, former military dictator Hussain Muhammed Ershad’s Jatiyo Party is politically dead following demise of Gen Ershad. At the same time, due to pro-Islamist philosophy of the party and its desire of transforming Bangladesh into Pakistan-type Islamic republic, Jatiyo Party does not enjoy support from the United States and India. On the other hand, Bangladesh Nationalist Party is not seen as a friendly force both by India and China for its hostile policies towards India and its secret romance for Taiwan.
It may be mentioned here that, during 1991-1996 tenure, Bangladesh Nationalist Party made frantic bids in establishing diplomatic relations with Taiwan by ignoring China’s claim over that island country. BNP even went further by allowing Taiwan in opening its economic office in Bangladesh, which had greatly annoyed China. At the same time, Bangladesh Nationalist Party was extending secret support and patronization to insurgency groups in the northeastern part of India, and the party was also working as “allied force” of Pakistani spy agency ISI in supplying weapons and explosives to the insurgency groups, including United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA). For India, BNP poses valid security threats, while pro-Islamist Jatiyo Party is a nightmare.
In my opinion, for India’s national security, policymakers in New Delhi will always support a secularist government in Bangladesh. This will also be a priority choice for China, the United States and the Western nations.
While the United States wants a free, fair and credible election in Bangladesh in 2023, it does not want Taliban-prototype party winning majority and turning Bangladesh into another Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iran or worse.
END OF PART 4. Next Installment: Bangladesh needs the guardianship of Sheikh Hasina at least for another decade
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