WikiLeaks sheds light on Bangladesh
* Return of Hasina Khaleda to politics during CG rule
* Assessment of Fakhruddin's power as cheif adviser
* DGFI's role in promoting HUJI thru forming new party IDP
* Credible elections, keeping army out of politics
The first batch of US embassy cables related to Bangladesh released on WikiLeaks reveals the role of Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI) in an effort to absorb the banned militant outfit Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (Huji) into mainstream politics through forming the Islamic Democratic Party (IDP), just before the 2008 general elections.
The cable originating from the US mission in New Delhi on April 27, 2007, describes the thoughts of the US, the UK and India in the aftermath of the '1/11' political changeover in 2007.
It was four days after the arrest warrant issued against Sheikh Hasina was suspended, and two days after the ban on her re-entering the country was lifted.
The subject of the cable is given as “Indian official sees Bangladesh at crossroads, Sri Lanka deteriorating, Burma becoming one-dimensional.”
Its content describes a meeting between a joint secretary at the Indian ministry of external affairs, Mohan Kumar, the political counsellor at the US embassy in Delhi, Ted Osius and the British High Commission's political counsellor in Delhi, Alex Hall.
In the meeting, Kumar is said to have told Osius that “the caretaker government in Bangladesh has reached a crossroads by allowing Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia to return,” stating such a move weakens the government.
The cable goes on to assert the role that can be played by the US, the UK and India in cajoling the caretaker government into holding “credible” elections, while insisting that the army “needs to remain out of politics.”
Kumar also briefed the US diplomat on chief adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed, lending credence to the view that he was not in control of the government, but rather an “executor” for the military.
The Indian bureaucrat is also said to have asked for US help in getting Bangladesh to open its economy.
All three men agreed that the decision by the caretaker government to allow Hasina and Khaleda back to politics had put Bangladesh “on the crossroads.” They noted that the government had “gone back on its decision to remove the two women from the political scene.”
They foresaw three possible alternative scenarios, including an “unlikely” military coup. They also asserted that their respective countries should agree on “a core message” to take to the Fakhruddin government, pressing for elections and voter list reforms, while again making clear the military needs to stay out of politics.
The cable also notes matter-of-factly that any move to enter the mainstream politics by the Huji, through the formation of IDP, would probably not meet with much success, as the people would reject them.
According to the cable Kumar also said Indian conglomerate TATA had complained to him about the caretaker government “impeding its entry” into Bangladesh.
The rest of the cable contains some Indian frustrations over the volume of trade between the two countries and also discusses Burma and Sri Lanka.
None of the cables released so far originate from the US embassy in Dhaka. Data compiled on the total cache of cables by The Guardian and Der Spiegel indicates as many as 1984 cables, sent from Dhaka to Washington, are among the total of 251,287.
As of Saturday evening in Bangladesh, only 1618 of these cables have been released, which is less than one percent of the total number of cables obtained by WikiLeaks.
Apart from the two mentioned above, the others refer to Bangladesh more generally within a group of nations, for example one that reveals the French government was planning to DNA-test visa applicants from Bangladesh and eight other countries.