The Bangladesh Military Coup and The Cia Link

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Item Code: NAG461
Publisher: Rupa Publication Pvt. Ltd.
Author: B.Z. Khasru
Language: English
Edition: 2014
ISBN: 9788129129086
Pages: 420
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 9.5 inch X 6 inch
Weight 590 gm
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Book Description

About the Book


On 15 August 1975, several junior officers of the Bangladesh Army stormed the residence of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's killing the nation's founder and most of Contrary to popular myth that the violent putsch was orchestrated by those countries which had opposed the creation of Bangladesh, American declassified documents suggest that the as assassination was the culmination of a home- grown plot, but the United States had advance knowledge of it.


In tracing the events leading up to the murders, The Bangladesh Military Coup and the CLA Link narrates the untold stories of two statesmen of Bangladesh, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and Ziaur Rahman, whose legacies continue to dominate Bangladeshi politics to this day. It documents the events that occurred/between 1971 and 1977- beginning with coup perpetrators, Major Shariful Haque Dalim! and Major Nur Chowdhury's defection from Pakistan, to General Ziaur Rahman's rise to power.


The book also details the events that took place in India during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, events which shaped the Bangladesh military which would eventually pit itself against the nation's founding leaders. It also seeks answers to several vital questions: Did Mujib favor a confederation with Pakistan after Bangladesh's independence? Why did he authorize the release of Pakistani war prisoners, reneging on his vow to put them on trial in Bangladesh? What prompted Mujib to form a Communist-style political system, discarding his life-long crusade for parliamentary democracy? And, most importantly, did his one-party policy catapult the grisly putsch that shook the foundation of the fledged nation?


Well-researched, insightful and illuminating, The Bangladesh Military Coup and the CM Link is a decisive account of one of the most turbulent events in the political history of Bangladesh.


About the Author


B.Z. Khasru is an award-winning journalist and editor of The Capital Express in New York. He was previously managing editior of the Business Journal. He was also a reporter for the Journal News, a New York daily. His first book, Myths and Facts Bangladesh Liberation War, was published in 2010. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Northeastern University in Boston.


Author's Note


This book reveals the mystery surrounding the first military coup in Bangladesh in which the nation's founding president, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was assassinated. Contrary to the popular myth that the violent putsch was orchestrated by those countries that opposed the South Asian nation's creation and its flirting with the Communist-style political system, recent declassified documents suggest that it was in fact home-grown, although the United States had known about the plan long before it was carried out.


The narrative chronicles the bloody upheavals that shook Bangladesh to the core as a result of the coup. It documents the unprecedented events that took place between 1971 and 1977, starting from the defection of coup perpetrators-Major Shariful Hague Dalim and Major Nur Chowdhury from Pakistan-to Bangladesh army chief General Ziaur Rahman's rise to power.


It strives to examine America's role in the putsch. It traces the coup's origins, citing fascinating details of what transpired in India during the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, and how those episodes shaped the nascent Bangladesh armed forces and eventually put them on a collision course with the nation's founders. It explains why the junior officers self-appointed themselves as Bangladesh's moral guardians and reveals why soon after independence the majors formed a secret cell within the military that ultimately organized the mutiny.


This book is based on once-secret US government documents. Some data stemmed from interviews with such sources as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who played a crucial role in shaping South Asia's history under the Nixon and Ford administrations; General K.M. Shafiullah, who was army chief of staff when his subordinates toppled the Mujib government; Khandaker Moshtaque Ahmed, who became president following Mujib's assassination; and Justice A.M. Sayem, who assumed power after Moshtague was overthrown in a counter-coup.


It relates to my first book, Myths and Facts: Bangladesh Liberation "War-How India, US, China, and the USSR Shaped the Outcome, published in 2010. In fact, my initial research focused on what happened in Bangladesh in 1975 rather than on the events that occurred before and during the Bangladesh Liberation War. But as I continued my research on the assassination, I uncovered lots of previously unknown pre-Bangladesh stuff that I thought would make fascinating reading and help readers better understand what actually happened during that chaotic period. So, I finished Myths and Facts: Bangladesh Liberation Uilr before writing this book.


These two books combined are an attempt to record some facts of a tumultuous era in Bangladesh that was shaped greatly by external forces, but left a lasting imprint on the traumatized Bengali nation to ponder about for decades to come.




Soaked in blood at birth in 1971, Bangladesh saw yet another bloodbath in 1975, when junior military officers led a mutiny against the nation's founding president, killing him and most of his family members. President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman's death was followed by several other grisly military insurrections, ultimately leading to the killing of the military- man-turned-president, General Ziaur Rahman, in 1981. The demise of Zia, who had managed to restore a semblance of stability to the chaotic war-ravaged country, shocked the Bengalis all the more.


Subsequent simmering public uproar pushed the army into retreat for the time being, and the military leadership let an ailing Vice President Abdus Sattar to succeed Zia. General H.M. Ershad, who was Bangladesh military chief when Zia was assassinated, wised up not to immediately take over the government because he feared a strong public backlash could make governance a nightmare. He broke the lull in 1982 and sent the president packing home.


Eight years later, a popular upsurge brought Ershad's military rule to an abrupt end, and Bangladesh once again resumed its journey toward parliamentary democracy. In 1991, Zia's widow, Khaleda, became the prime minister. Mujib's daughter, Hasina Wazed, replaced Khaleda Zia in 1996.


From Mujib to Hasina, in a matter of a just quarter century, the Bengali nation went through a series of traumatic upheavals, but details about what triggered those cataclysmic events are few.


Since Mujib returned home in early 1972 from prison in Pakistan, he inherited a country mired in both political and economic chaos - a situation he never contemplated confronting when he agitated for political autonomy for the Bengalis. He sought autonomy, but got independence. He was ill-prepared to deal with it. Even in 1973, when he secretly met Pakistan's parliamentary opposition leader, Shaukat Hyat Khan, the Bengali leader appeared to be reeling from his shock. He denied that he broke Pakistan and insisted that Bangladesh was pushed away from Pakistan by a conspiracy.


A pro-American crusader of Westminster-type democracy, Mujib found his position at odds with realities in Bangladesh because of Washington's hostility toward the new nation. He saw a political landscape swept by red air because of Moscow's direct support for Bangladesh's independence. He discovered signs of schism in his power-base-his political organization, the Awami League-and feared that folks within his own fold might challenge his supreme authority.


On the domestic front, Mujib embarked upon consolidating his position by relying more and more on his trusted lieutenants. Prominent among them was his ambitious nephew, Sheikh Fazlul Haq Moni, leader of the Awami League youth front. Moni, who aspired to one day succeed his uncle as Bangladesh's ruler, pulled the strings from behind and steered Mujib off the parliamentary road to a one-party political system. So ambitious was Moni that he even unwittingly agreed to help a man linked with a US intelligence agency, in exchange for a promise to aid him to further his political ambition.


Despite embracing the new mechanism to deal with potential challenges to his power, Mujib repeatedly assured Americans that he was not a Communist and that Bangladesh would not turn red. US diplomats, however, feared that Mujib's move toward the one-party rule had removed the safety valve to let out political steam and increased the possibility of his violent overthrow.


Mujib strived to keep America-his impoverished nation's economic life line-in good humor. He was more than eager to forge strong ties with Washington, but sought to balance his act lest he antagonized his left-leaning comrades. He, however, refused to be a pawn in the Cold War game; he knew very well whom he needed to court to keep his country afloat and himself in power. He asked the US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, to create a Marshall Plan-an American program to rebuild European economies after World War Two-for Bangladesh.


He wanted strong trade ties with Pakistan, but India stoked fear in the fiercely independent-minded nationalist leader's heart, so he meticulously crafted his moves. He confided to an American journalist his fear that India might annex Bangladesh and bitterly complained that New Delhi sought a contract to rebuild Bangladesh railways as a way to improve India's own engineering business-an overture he summarily rejected.


Distrust of New Delhi is embedded in Bangladesh's psyche, perhaps a legacy of the age-old rift rooted in the Indian caste system, a social structure that forced many lower-class Hindus to jump fence and embrace Islam. When the Bengalis took up arms against Pakistan, they did not intend to transfer their country's capital from Islamabad to Delhi; they rather harbored a romantic dream of creating a socialist nation that would flourish outside India's sphere of influence. But India's war-time expediency left Bengali military officers with the impression that they had fallen into the pond they fervently sought to avoid- they have escaped Pakistan's tyranny only to fall under Hindu India's domination. Bangladesh's nascent army, with a Muslim majority, distrusted India from its inception and gradually became resentful of Big Sister's hegemonistic attitude toward her Little Brother. The Bangladesh military, which perceived Mujib to be subservient to New Delhi, put the blamed many of the nation's woes on India. Religion eventually superseded nationalism in Bangladesh.


The coup's origin can be traced to the Bangladesh Liberation War. For historic reasons, many Bengali Muslims tend to be anti-Hindu and thus, anti-Indian. Bengali guerillas waged a campaign against Pakistan's armed forces in East Pakistan to create their independent homeland. But they grew disillusioned during the war when they discovered India called the shots. This simmering resentment ballooned into massive discontent in the military circle soon after the war ended. Multiple factors fueled the fire, including India's carting away of arms left behind in Bangladesh by the Pakistani soldiers who surrendered in Dhaka, rampant smuggling of jute and food from Bangladesh and the Bangladesh government playing second fiddle to India.

Contrary to the popular notion that the violent putsch that toppled Mujib was orchestrated by the United States, which opposed Bangladesh's creation, newly available documents suggest that the military action was, in fact, home grown. America had known about the coup plan long before it was carried out, but the US official records made public so far do not indicate Washington's direct complicity. The view that the United States had actively participated in the coup surfaced immediately after Mujib's killing because of successor, President Khandaker Moshtaque Ahmed's reputation as a pro-West politician, and America's anti-Bangladesh role during the liberation war. Because of the proclivity of the Bengalis to see a hidden and external hand in every major event, a small residue of United States role in Mujib's ouster remained.

The planning for the coup had begun years before the actual event.


However, Mujib's decision to remove some mid-ranking officers from the military broke the camel's back. Majors Abdur Rashid and Farook Rahman, who masterminded the coup, recruited the dismissed officers to put their plan into action. The role of Khandaker Moshtaque, Mujib's cabinet colleague who is widely believed to be the political ringleader behind the coup, still remains shrouded in mystery.


Moshtaque never directly addressed the lingering question of his involvement in Mujib's assassination. In an interview in 1979, when asked to respond to the accusation, he chastised his accusers. He claimed he rather saved his party colleagues by accepting the majors' offer to assume the presidency after Mujib's death. The US Embassy reports from Dhaka suggested that Moshtaque had no direct knowledge of the coup until he was asked to serve as president, "nevertheless, there is a sizable body of opinion which concluded that he was aware that the death of Sheikh Mujib was planned." The two majors-Rashid and Farook-indicated Moshtaque and Zia tacitly endorsed the coup, but both denied their direct participation in the plan.


Moshtaque's name popped up as the chief architect of the mutiny because of an obvious reason- he succeeded Mujib as the president. Then there was his flirting with the Americans during the liberation war to strike a deal with President Yahya Khan. If Syed Nazrul Islam or Tajuddin Ahmed-two other top Awami League leaders-were made president after the coup, would Moshtaque still be blamed for plotting to overthrow Mujib? In such a scenario, Nazrul and Tajuddin would have been accused of betraying Mujib, who had reportedly blamed both of them a year earlier for creating problems for him. Moshtaque's well- known tilt toward the United States was yet another factor to link him with the anti-Mujib conspiracy. Ironically, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Moshtaque was ideologically much closer to Mujib than many other Awami League leaders, his inclusion in the Baksal politburo being one example.


Zia's rise to power was more fortuitous than pre-planned. Coming from the military, Zia had no backing of socio-political institutions that traditionally support politicians and to which people are accustomed. His home base-the military-was a treacherous and an unreliable instrument, at best. Like a new Machiavellian prince, he faced a daunting task in ruling. He had to first stabilize his new-found power to build an enduring governing structure. Such a task required him to be concerned with reputation, but also to be willing to act immorally. In line with Machiavelli's dictum, Zia quickly learned that an imaginary ideal society was not the model for this prince to follow to keep himself in power.





Author's Note






Mujib Freed From Prison: Favored Confederation with Pakistan?



US-South Asia Relations: Post-War Game Plan



US Recognizes Bangladesh: Geostrategic Duel in Dhaka



Why Mujib Freed paws: Mujib-Bhutto Saga



America and Mujib: Old Allies or New Foes?



Bangla-US First Crisis: Attack on USIS



US Grades Bangladesh: Performance Satisfactory, But



Mujib in America: Mujib-Kissinger Talks



Lahore Islamic Summit: How Mujib Got Invited



Bhutto Visits Bangladesh: All Talk, No Substance



Second Revolution: Why Mujib Formed Baksal



Mujib and the Military: Uneasy Co-existence



Origin of the Coup: Liberation War and India



15 August Coup: CIA Conspiracy?



CIA in Bangladesh: Facts and Fallacies



Coup Post-mortem: What India, US Knew



7 November Coup: Zia in, Mosharraf Out



Majors in Exile: Revolutionary Torment



Zia's Turbulent Years: Did India Plan to Invade Bangladesh?



Zia-India Confrontation: A Political Ploy?



Post-Mujib Bangladesh: Only Change-Mujib's Absence



JSD, Taher and Zia: Unholy Trinity



Bangladesh and India: Friends with Issues






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