Diplomat article praises PM Hasina for 'zero-tolerance policy on terrorism'


Published on August 29, 2021
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Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been governing Bangladesh with a "zero tolerance to terror" policy, says an article published by The Diplomat, highlighting the situation in Afghanistan.

The article written by Subir Bhaumik, a former BBC and Reuters correspondent, particularly mentions the efforts taken following the 2016 terror attack on an upscale Dhaka restaurant.

Her government has controlled the radical Islamist ecosystem with some tough policing, often triggering Western criticism over human rights violations, it says.

Despite these efforts, over the last two years, Hefajat-e-Islam, which controls a huge network of Qawmi madrasas, unleashed a series of violent street protests, the article reads.

Like the Taliban, Hefajat leaders oppose women's empowerment and demand the enactment of blasphemy laws and a Shariah-driven polity, writes the author of five books on South Asian conflicts.

They are in stark opposition to PM Hasina, who has restored much of her father's secular dispensation and touted economic growth, gender empowerment, and protection of minorities, he mentions.

"Bangladesh is carefully observing the fast-evolving situation in Afghanistan, which we believe, may have an impact on the region and beyond," Bangladesh's foreign ministry said in a statement.

India's leading Bangladesh watcher, Sabyasachi Basu Ray Chaudhury, said, "Both Bangladesh and India will have cause for worry about the situation in Afghanistan. The Taliban takeover is a huge morale booster for all Islamist radical forces, so both India and Bangladesh have to fight the threat of radicalism together."

Former Indian Foreign Secretary Krishnan Srinivasan said the "expected apprehensions" in India and Bangladesh were understandable, but he pointed to the success of both Delhi and Dhaka in fighting terror and developing economically.

"The Taliban takeover is unlikely to make a material difference," he said in an interview, insisting that India and other governments have to deal with the Taliban. "Keeping them at arm's length for fear of terror will only be counterproductive."

Indeed, there are reports that India has begun engaging with the Taliban for the first time.

But Bangladesh's government seems more cautious, worried that any outreach to the Taliban might boost the radicals back home, Subir Bhaumik writes in his article titled "Taliban Takeover in Afghanistan Stokes Bangladesh's Terrorist Fears".

On August 15, 1975, a group of army men assassinated Bangladesh's founding father, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, along with much of his family, he mentions.

The military rulers who took over and ruled Bangladesh for the next 15 years legitimised the pro-Pakistan Jamaat-e-Islami, introduced constitutional amendments that undermined the country's secular democratic polity, and finally declared Islam as the state religion of Bangladesh, writes the journalist.

On August 21, 2004, Bangabandhu's daughter Sheikh Hasina, then opposition leader and now prime minister, barely survived a grenade attack on her rally.

The attack left 24 Awami Leaguers dead and more than 500 injured.

The 1975 coup was led by disgruntled junior army officers, but the 2004 grenade attack was carried out by Islamist Harkat ul-Jihad al-Islami (Huji) militants, he mentions.

A Dhaka court verdict on the attack held senior functionaries of the Bangladesh National Party (BNP) and Jamaat-e-Islami coalition, including Tarique Rahman, responsible for using the Huji jihadis to wipe out the top Awami League leadership, Subir Bhaumik writes.

Source: UNB