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Should Bangladesh Send Troops To Afghanistan?

Members of the Bangladesh batallion of the United Nations Mission in Liberia (UNMIL). Image via United Nations Photo in Flickr. CC BY-NC-ND

The Bangladesh Army has earned a reputation in contributing troops for different United Nation Peacekeeping Operations across the world since 1988. With 10,855 personnel deployed, Bangladesh is ranked first in the contribution of troops in various UN peacekeeping forces worldwide.

However recently the country received an extra-ordinary request for troops. Faheem Haider at Bangladesh Foreign Policy blog reports:

Richard Holbrooke, U.S. Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan forwarded on a request to Foreign Minister Dipu Moni that the government of Bangladesh send troops to help secure Afghanistan against Taliban advances.

The request was received in Bangladesh with mixed reactions, however, a threat of the Talibans made this issue more complicated. AFP quoted the statement of the Talibans in an website:

“(We) believe that the leader of Bangladesh has enough Islamic knowledge and political wit not to involve his people in the fight against Islam and against the Afghan people by sending a few hundred soldiers to Afghanistan,”

The public sentiment is generally against this move as seen in different newspaper op-eds. Former BBC correspondence in Bangladesh Ataus Samad thinks [bn] that this may create public outrage and invite unwanted enemies like Talibans to harm Bangladesh. Former army chief General M. Harun-or-Rashid notes [bn] that there is no UN peacekeeping force in Afghanistan, but NATO troops are operating there. Bangladesh is not a member of Nato, so it makes no sense to join NATO forces.

Bangladeshi netizen are also discussing this issue. Kazi Mamun opines [bn] that Bangladesh should consider what the Afghanistan government wants. He questions whether Bangladesh should refuse the offer and be blamed as siding with the radicals or send limited troops to support war and terror and Afghanistan's cause.

Dheebor at Somewhereinblog mentions [bn] that many European countries have started to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. He wonders why US is not asking India or Pakistan for more troops.

Gaurango Karmakar, commenting on a post by Mahasachib at Nagorikblog, says [bn]:

বাংলাদেশের সৈন্যদের যেহেতু কোনো কাজ নেই,তাই তারা সেখানে যেতে পারে। কিছু টাকা পয়সা আসলো। সৈন্য সামন্ত আফগান থেকে উঠিয়ে নেয়া হবে একটি মস্তবড় ভুল সিদ্ধান্ত।অন্ধ ধর্মীয় গুরুরা আবার মাথা চাড়া দিবে।সেই সুযোগ কাউকে আর দেয়া যায় না।

As Bangladeshi troops do not have significant engagements, they can go there. They can at least earn some money. Withdrawing (NATO) troops will be a big mistake. The bigoted religious leaders will rise again. We cannot let this happen.

Lenin Haider comments on this post:

বাংলাদেশের ক্ষেত্রে মানুষের চিন্তা চেতনাকে ভাবতে হবে। আমার ধারনা আওয়ামীলীগ কোনোভাবেই সৈন্য পাঠাবে না আগামী ভোটের কথা চিন্তা করে। কারন তখন জামাত আর তালেবান সমর্থকরা ৫ম সংশোধনী ও আফগানে সৈন্য পাঠানোকে এক করে প্রপাগান্ডা ছড়াবে যে আওয়ামীলীগ যে ইসলামের বিরুদ্ধে তার প্রমাণ হিসেবে।

We should assess the sentiments of the Bangladeshis. I think the Awami League government will never send the troops considering the next election. Because this will be a propaganda item for the Jamaat-e-Islami (right-wing Islamist political party) and the Taliban appeasers. They will say that the Awami league government is working against Islam by tagging with the troops to Afghanistan issue and the 5th amendment of constitution (reverting back to secular constitution).

So it seems that it will be very difficult for the Bangladeshi government to keep the request of USA in sending the troops to Afghanistan. But ideologically Bangladesh supports the war against terror which is evident from its crackdown on radicals.

4 comments

  • Prof. Dr. Ziaush Shams

    I firmly believe that Bangladesh should become partner of US to end unjust war in Afghanistan which was started by the Bush administration (mainly by the rpublican hawks) after the 9/11 attack. President Obama is a different American leader. He and his administration are trying hard to bring peace in the whole world and work relentesly for the majority of Americans who are utterly suffering from the recent worldwide economic meltdown (especialy in America and Europe).

    The terms and conditions of sending troops, and other development personel, should be worked out a priori, however.

    The first condition is that our troops should be adequately trained by Nato/ American military experts and properly oriented towards the harsh physical geographic realities and real world situations of Afghanistan.

    Second, salaries and benefits of our military personel should be at par with the American/ Nato troops.

    Third, only the best and dedicated military personel should be chosen from Bangladesh and American/Nato selectors should be involved in the recruiting process.

    Fourth, deployment should be made time bound.

    Fifth, presence of other volunteers like doctors,
    teachers, social workers should also be bolstered and civil- military link in Afghanistan should be augumented.

    Sixth, it should be discussed and approved in the
    parliament.

    Seventh, US administration should be approached to
    to pass the bill of free entry of Bangladeshi
    garments and sea food pending in US Congress.

    Eighth, US should help to develop at least one
    university from Bangladesh (preferebly University of
    Dhaka) to achieve world-standard.

    There will be only one negative point of sendiing troops to Afghanistan, however. We shall be compelled to support and uphold a very corrupt govrnement of Karzai. We have no choice, as the Americans also do not have , at least for the moment.

    The positive points are many:

    (i) We shall gain political leverage from US as this
    country is very politically commited country ( look at
    the unconditional support US has provided to Israel
    since its creation by the zionist, alhough
    demographically and economically Israel is a country
    of marginal importance)

    (ii) We shall be a partner/friend of Presiden Obama who
    I think is an honest and extraordinary leader of
    America as well as of the whole world.

    (iii) We shall again take the lead in South Asia to bring
    peace and enhance development efforts in the
    region as we have done so in the early eighties by
    taking the lead by forming SAARC, of which
    Afghanistan is the latest member.

    (iv) Our credentials will be enhanced as a Muslim-
    majority secular state and we shall actively
    participate in the quest for peace in the region
    giving a clear signal to the extremists and religious
    bigots that in Islam there is no place for killing
    innocent people in the name of religion. ( In fact
    Quran does not support killing of innocent people
    on any pretext).

    (v) American involvement in the region will be
    enhanced for the benefit of all the South Asian
    people ( including Afghanistan). And
    since US, under the leadership of President Obama,
    has honoured us by offering this opportunity, we
    must honour their request. America shall also gain
    immensely by getting a genuine partner and a true
    freind in Bangladesh and its people.

    (v) We shall gain a genuine friend in America as well as
    President Obama is an honest person and Foreign
    Secretary Hillary Clinton is a freind of Bangladesh.
    They will help us in our development efforts so that
    we can break the shackles of exreme poverty which
    has been imposed on us by the colonial powers of
    the Mughals, British and Pakistanis for centuries.

    (vi) US shall also help us establishing a vibrant democratic and just society in based on the Amerian democratic principles.

  • yusuf

    I think it will be a biggest mistake of sending for few goals of Dr. shams, US has definitely has chosen Bnagladesh in this work as Bangladesh is the Muslim & thirld world country, they want these muslim childrens themselves to sacrifice morever it will upthrust the country’s security once again as that of the time of BNP, however Indians were not chosen may be because they have already a strong tie that was made wit formere indian president Manmohan of then US president George Bush and pakistan was may be because the tensions may a rise, already their the situation is worse that can be understood by the assasination Benazir and attack in Marriot hotel,

    Hence i feel it is not only be unsafe to recruit our troops their but also a deathtrap decison may prove for our government as well.

  • […] di Rezwan · tradotto da Vito Russi · articolo originale [en] […]

  • azmat

    Dr. Shams

    Thanks for writing such a positive article which could help motivate people of Bangladesh in believing the advantages of democracy. Unfortunately the Islamic countries tend to be more dictatorial in nature. To be very honest you just can’t duplicate American democracy for Bangladesh or any other nation. Every democracy has its own unique form and value system. The American democracy has evolved on its own from religious to non-religious value system (separation of church and state) to ensure the rights for all the people. I don’t know whether it can be fairly accomplished in Islamic states right away where religious instructions tend to favor one religious majority. But if enough people believed in the merits of free society there could be a reasonable separation of mosque and state also. In order to sow the seeds of democracy you have to battle long and hard with the mullas who often suppress such ideas. And yes there are so many advantages in having US as your friend and alley.

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