Monday, August 17, 2009

Public financing and merging... not a corporation, militancy

Two recent revelations continue to shed light on the extent of the Islamist militant threat in Bangladesh. Whereas past investigations and probes stopped at the heads of militant organizations, leaving the political patrons unscathed, the current Awami League government seems poised to not only go after the political patrons but the financing vehicles as well. If the Awami League succeeds in bringing the traitors to book, a Constitutional book, then perhaps this Awami League government will be best known to history as the government that secured secularism as one of the founding principles of Bangladesh.

But if the investigations fizzle as they always do, then the people of Bangladesh, particularly the Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, and adhivasis will face yet another Islamist militant group bent on subverting democracy and imposing their view of a homogeneous society on Bangladesh.

Today, Parliament asked the Ministry of Social Welfare to probe the dispersal of government monies during the past BNP-Jamaat-e-Islami administration (2001 through 2006). A specific name for investigation is the Secretary General of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mojahid, who was Minister of Social Welfare at the time. Specifically the investigation aims to uncover the monies distributed to various NGOs during that time and what they did with it (Daily Star).

Ministers and MPs patronizing projects is nothing new in democracies, its an accepted method in retaining votes in the constituency. But what if your political party believes in fundamentally changing the system? Who then would your constituents be? The agents of that change one would imagine. Even if the probe uncovers nothing, such oversight would benefit the government and the country. Its a step in the right direction of ensuring that NGOs are doing what they're supposed to be doing, which is bringing services and aid to people in need.

While the political patrons remain on the loose, Daily Star has reported that JMB and HUJI have held several meetings on the topic of merging. Interestingly, it was revealed that executed JMB chief Abdur Rahman founded JMB after defecting from HUJI. The merger talks apparently begun in response to the government's execution of six JMB leaders and the wave of arrests following the 17 August 2005 bombings.

The talks of merging the JMB and HUJI are unsurprising given that the reason that Abdur Rahman was the reason they split (though Bangla Nation wonders on his particular reasons). Moreover, it would also make more sense now given that both organizations have probably suffered significantly over the continuing pressure from Bangladesh's security forces.

However, former Inspector General of Police SM Shahjahan said it best 'It would not be possible to uproot militancy soon until taking measures against their patrons or guardians.' (as quoted in Daily Star).

No comments: