Change of guard in Bangladesh, hope for the region?

December 31, 2008

Sheikh Hasina, the leader of an avowedly secular party, is set to return to power in Bangladesh, the 
other end of South Asia’s arc of instability stretching from Afghanistan through Pakistan to India.

And because the teeming region, home to a fifth of the world’s population, is so closely intertwined 
Hasina’s election and the change that she has promised to bring to her country will almost certainly have a bearing across South Asia, but especially for India and Pakistan.

Bangladesh, as far as New Delhi is concerned, is the eastern launching pad for Islamist militants hostile  to it, complementing Pakistan on the west. So even if the heat is turned on the militants in Pakistan as India is  demanding following the attacks in Mumbai, they or their controllers can unleash groups such as  Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami  (HuJI) based in Bangladesh.

India’s new Home Minister P. Chidambaram told a parliament debate this month that Bangladesh had a  responsibility to control the  HuJI.

Hasina has said she wouldn’t allow her nation to be used to attack other countries, and her election has been welcomed in New Delhi. In particular the defeat of the Jamaat-e-Islami, the  largest Islamist party and an ally of Hasina’s bitter rival Khaleda Zia, is seen as a sign that the country wants to stick to a secular democratic path. In that, New Delhi is hoping Hasina would act against the hardline forces who have attacked her as well .

But how far can she really go? She has a huge parlimentary majority but no politician in Bangladesh can been seen as doing India’s bidding. India, which was instrumental in Bangladesh’s birth as an independent nation from what was then East Pakistan, has over time been seen as a big brother, a hegemonic power.

Tensions are rarely far from the surface, with New Delhi routinely accusing Bangladesh of allowing tens of thousands of people to cross into its territory and live as illegal immigrants. Dhaka, in turn, accuses border guards of killing innocent Bangladeshis on the frontier, in the name of curbing infiltration.

This month the nations were feuding over the maritime border in the Bay of Bengal.

What of Pakistan? It has, as has “all weather ally” China, cultivated close ties with all of India’s neighbours including Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. How will it, and especially the military-intelligence establishment view Hasina’s return to power and her promise to crack down on hardline groups? The links of some of these groups such as the Huji go all the way to Pakistan, the Indians say.

And New Delhi is on a diplomatic offensive at the moment, trying to convince governments worldwide of the threat posed by these Pakistan-based  organisations.



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Congratulation to all bengalis, for resrtoring true democracy. Unlike the voting we have seenin Indian occupied kashmir which are illegitimate without any international observers.

Shame on the indians!!

Posted by Ali | Report as abusive

It is really a great achievement, the new year has start showing th prosperity and blessing which “Allah” (God) has bstowed upon us….
But people from Palestine, Kashmir, Thailand, Somalia, Greece and others must not be forgotten….
Lets start the year with a wish that the world would become a much better place to live in succeeding years than in past.
Long live, freedom, prosperity, democracy….

Posted by Peace | Report as abusive


Wish you a very very happy new year.Personally i lost many things in 2008 my savings, my job & also i am sitting all alone. I wish that there is hope for me in 2009.I wish you all the best, May your god guide you to guide people from darkness to light & use the weapon of honesty.Once again warm & best wishes for the new year.

Posted by Vijay | Report as abusive


What kind of democracy your country had/has?

Posted by Nick | Report as abusive

Congratulations to Sheikh Hasina and all Bangladeshis for choosing a secular democracy.
International Observers actually say this was the most legitimate election ever held in Kashmir because there was no Pakistani intervention .Maybe I am wrong.You can quote your sources if you think you are right..

Posted by mitchell | Report as abusive

Congratulations to all bengalis..bangladesh is in the right direction of democracy..We did a great job by cutting bangladesh off pakistan other wise bangladesh would have been another terror hub and bangla people would have been ashamed and humiliated everywhere for being a pakistani national.

Posted by Om | Report as abusive

The two operating words in this article are ” Secular” and “Democracy”. I wonder how many pakis understand the real meaning of these two words

Posted by chirkut | Report as abusive


We had very good democracy when Mr Bhutto was in power, but your goverments in the West talk about democracy but infact they have been backing dictatorsin the last 8 years in the form of Gen Musharaf. As well as backed a dictaor in the name of Zia Ul aqnted for solely their intrest who hanged my Bhutto.

When I talk of true democracy I dont mean what India has where the minorties are killed, tortured, raped and the will of people opressed. So go and ask your leaders Nick why have they been backing dictators all over the world. If you can not understand go and pick some books up and read and you will see everything in black n white.

Few examples USA backed all the dictators in Pakistan, so dont blame the citizen of PAKISTAN, USA backs egyptian Husni Mubarak been in power for last three decades where is democracy.

Most of all how can you justify only 5 members having veto power the rest 195 countries have no say. No represenation for over 1.5 billion muslims. I thought democracy was the majorty win e.g out of ten if 6 people agree and 4 disagree then the party getting the six votes should be the winner. But in the UN you have 199 countries condemning what Israelis doing but the USA will Veto the resolution. You call this just, r true democracy UN is their to legalise occupation e.g Palestine, Kashmir etc legalise agresstion and everything that is illegal is legalised in the UN.

You can fool your people but not the people who are on the reciveing end of your double standards.

Happy New Year 2all!

Posted by ALI | Report as abusive


So you agree India has always been involved in the internal matters of another soverign countries. As you did in the East Pakistan, now with over dozen Indian counslates on the border with Pakistan in Afghnistan are not their to issue visas to Taliban but to destablise Pakistan, NWFP and Balouchistan.

You Indians need a good lesson not what the ten kids taught you, a real lesson. But I am glad Bengalis have their own place where they can decided their fate but surley as all over the power hungry people dont care for ordinary people be it in India, Pakistan r Bangladesh.

They are all their to serve their masters in the West and India is best at it and thats why they are getting few deals. USA used Paksitan and now it is India turn and good luck khatris…

Posted by Ali | Report as abusive

Ali pakistan by now has eaten its own boots by calling itself a soverign has never been one and will never be one..people be it leaders or common man simply do not understand what soverignity means..all you want is inhuman ruthless Islamic rule..bangladesh and its people did not deserve it nor do sensible people in baluchistan, sindh and kashmir.

Posted by Om | Report as abusive

Nor do the sensible people of “Kashmir” deserve Indian occupation of the Kashmiri land to my indian friend. I have been to kashmir every 5 yards there is a soldier with a gun in his hand n I have never seen any other place on the planet so militrised.

If that is not to oppress the people then surley its not to provide them with security. I have spoken to thel ocals in the valley and believe me they dont want Indians there they want peace and their lifes back.

Before Indian or India points finger at anyone else just look inside you what you are doing, that would be a good start.

Posted by John | Report as abusive

Bangladeshi people do not want a true secular social or political environment (thank God). The fact that they rejected Jamaat-e-Islami indicates that they will not accept anyone hijacking Islam for selfish political purpose. Good for them.

Posted by therneck | Report as abusive

If you want to know why there are army soldiers in Kashmir go and visit the minority(Kashmiri Pandits) in Kashmir. The day Pakis stop sending their brainwashed zombies to Kashmir and India, the Indian Army will move out of Kashmir. Till then it is their duty to protect the citizens.

Posted by chirkut | Report as abusive


May God be with all the people of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh in the New Year with Peace and Understanding as the hallmarks.

And to you, Vijay, may Good Fortune, Happiness and Health come your way…

Posted by Alethia | Report as abusive

Wish you the very best, I am sure 2009 will a happier and more prosperous year.

Posted by belligerent | Report as abusive

The original kashmiri people are in very less numbers in kashmir now..the muslim population who advocate azadi and wahabism are not kashmiris but people who have infiltrated from pakistan side over time with the sole agenda of injecting seperatism and scare by terrorist activities. Now why should India give away piece of its land for the protest of rented infiltrators ??
Kashmir is not an issue for original kashmiris who are more than happy to be a part of India.

Posted by Om | Report as abusive


Indian Army have deployed over 600,000 soldiers on the LOC and in Kashmir valley, still unable to stop inflatration then shame on your Indian security forces. (cowards, rapists)

The people who want Independent are the locals, without the locals support nothing is possible. It is your government that wants to change the number of Kashmiris living there the demograph.

Om you think 70,000 Kashmiris sacrificed there life to agree to Indian rule. You are not only a fool but a proven fool. Who lives in some remote part of India thousand of miles from Kashmir trained in RSA schools with Hindu fanatic mentality and never been to Kashmir and spoon fed everything by STARNEWS.

“The original kashmiri people are in very less numbers in kashmir now.” as you write, you know why half in in Indian jails, half killed and half to get away from rape, murder moved to AJK. Thats what happened! Personaly the words Kashmir should not come out of your dirty filthy mouth speak for urself not for kashmiris and go n find who burned the train full of Muslim and who commited the Crimes in Gujrat. No one has been charged with killing of over 2000 Muslims and you still sing you democrracy songs..

Wake up Om, Yor are not only illetrate but do not have the capcity to understand others point of view.

Posted by ALI | Report as abusive

Om Your illogical debate does not make any sense to me I dont think it does to others.

Firstly the infiltration has stoped long ago when Mushraf cracked down which even the Indians admir the militancy is its lowest level. Why, because the Paksitanis have pulled the plug on militants even the moral support thats why.

Why you lot potray that all is rosy in Kashmir it is NOT. You never heard the voices in the valley calling for Independence thats is only few months ago biggest anti India rallies and even some locals even want to part of Pakistan.

Why stage elections, first have apeblicite as agreed by the UN with International observers. Whatever the Kashmiris want should stand that will test Indian so called democracy.

Indian will never give Kashmiris their rights when they do, Kashmiris would weant to be Independent as they have been before india n Pakistan were even independent.

Hands off INDIA n Pakistan give Kashmiris their right you morons, murderers, rapest and compulsive liars.

Posted by John | Report as abusive

>>>But people from Palestine, Kashmir, Thailand, Somalia, Greece and others must not be forgotten….
Long live, freedom, prosperity, democracy….<<>>>When I talk of true democracy I dont mean what India has where the minorties are killed, tortured, raped and the will of people opressed<<<

AGAIN GREAT PAKI SENSE OF HUMOR!! People in outside world would take you seriously if you had 15% minority population in Pak and if you had a Pak constituition that declares 100% equality to those minorities. Very dry jokes.

Posted by Victor | Report as abusive

John lets analyze your “Logical” debate

Mushi’s crack down on terrorist in Pak occupied Kashmir = peace in Indian kashmir. Is it not a acceptance that terrorism in Kashmir is Paki funded and supported terrorism?

Firstly, Yes Not everything is rosy in Kashmir. But so is in rest of india and the world. Wake up to reality my dear friend.
Secondly the anti indian demonstration were a perfect example of demogougy. First an allocation of land to build temporary facilities to piligrims is pictured as an attempt to change demography of the state and evoke fear and then chanelled it to fuel anti india sentiments. And then the farce of Jammu Srinagar Highway blockade that i will just mention it here.

Read myra’s blog on plebicite that she posted sometime ago. Here is a recap
1) Plebicite will be held only when Pakistan to move out of Pak occupied Kashmir
2) Options in Plebicite a) Go with Pak b) Go with india (No option of independence alas. do you still want UN plebicite??)

Indian Kashmiris enjoy more privildeges in India than most Indians in other state do. (And i personally dont agree to it).
Also do you really think that Independent Kashmir will be a feasible option? Will Pak let you be independent? From where will your revenue come? That time you will not have access to resources from India which keeps the night lamp burning in your house. Don’t tell me tourism! Tourism in Kashmir in both countries survives on national tourism. That wont be there once you become independant and any Paki or Indian will rather go to a local alternative than a foreign location. And if anyone wants to go to a foreign location than believe me Switzerland is a much better option than Kashmir.

My friend, tts high time you come out of your imaginary Utopia.

Posted by chirkut | Report as abusive

India and Pakistan should get on with the business of settling the Kashmir dispute to their satisfaction and, most of all, to the satisfaction of the suffering Kashmiri populace. Of course, the Pandits’ grievances must be addressed and they must be allowed to return to Kashmir in peace and security. Other problems must be resolved such as the interests of the people of Ladakh. And very importantly, all groups must be allowed to stay in place in Kashmir with no transfer of population such that happened in 1947.

I know that it is very difficult for India to accept even the idea of the possible loss of Kashmir. Any country would be resistant. And from that perspective I am very sympathetic to India.

But India should come to terms with reality. Perhaps the ultimate solution would not be so bad.

I will not offer any solution of my own except to say that the Kashmiri people, the Indian people and the Pakistani people need a solution.

Posted by Alethia | Report as abusive


If Kashmir is to gain independence it has to gain from both India and Pakistan. That means a loss not just to india but also to pakistan.
Now try to say to a Pakistanis that they must relinquish Kashmir and lets see the response.

When the Amarnath Agitation was at its peak I also pondered on why we need to keep a dark hole called Kashmir which is gobbling so much of our resources (man, money, energy etc) that could be better utilized somewhere else. And then i realized two things.
1) India is a secular democracy. Separation of Kashmir will send a very wrong signal to the rest of the country that Muslims cannot live together with other people and carve out land for themselves whenever they reach majority. This happened in 1947 and if it happens again then i will be disastrous for the minority Muslim population in rest of India.
2) We as a secular republic have to take care of our Minorities. Kashmir has minority Hindu and Buddhist population and an independent Kashmir will be disastrous to them. We have seen in 1947 what happens to Minority if we leave to Mullahs. Pakistan is a hell hole for minorities we all know. But for Bangladesh which has teetered back to its secular values has seen many anti-minority pogroms in the past. Still many Mullahs run amok in Bangladesh. Read about Chakma if you want to know more.

Posted by chirkut | Report as abusive

The news here is Sheikh Hasina has promised India to crack down on HuJI militants. Finally a good news is at least coming from the east ,if not from the west.

Ali & Umeir,
Why wont you people spread love between India and Pakistan just for a change .
Your statements against Indian Security Forces are very harsh. No Indian here ever mentioned Pakistani army’s incompetency in Bangladesh and I don’t want to. The so called suppression by Indians against Kashmiris would not have happened if Pakistan hadn’t supported extremism in the first place. No wonder you never gave peace call in any of your posts. I am an Indian and I particularly don’t like the Indian occupation of Kashmir at all . If the protests have started peacefully without extremism ,today there would have definitely been some progress. Alas most of the Pakistani population see their happiness in their neighbor’s sufferings. .I am not lying and let me quote one of you, ” India needs a good lesson ,not what these 10 kids have taught ,but a good lesson”. One of you two had said that in some reuters blog before..
In this decade a few inch of sympathy Indians had towards the kashmiri freedom is dead. Yeah suppose say India has liberated kashmir today and tomorrow jehadis like lakhvi will rule it either directly or by proxy ,they will say Mughals once ruled Agra and they will want to annex Delhi next and they will now use Srinagar as their base to plot against India and India will have to bang its head again. The islamic state of kashmir will not come soon and the liberation of kashmir has no meaning until Pakistan put its own house in order and genuinely crack down militants. Else Kashmir will become even worse ,like NWFP..
If is true that RAW is indeed carrying out proxy war(many of you mentioned that) to destabilize Pakistani provinces ,I seriously disapprove RAW’s method. ‘Tit for Tat’ policy employed by the Indian Government is not going to solve any of its problems ..

Posted by mitchell | Report as abusive

Bangladesh should learn from Pakistan, how not to behave.

Posted by reddy | Report as abusive

All those who are commenting from places far away from kashmir..I am in Amritsar. Dont tell me you are very logical by saying the border can be fully manned and gaurded 24/7. the border is so difficult that even fencing the full border is not practically possible. The biggest infiltration from the pakistani side happened during 2 wars over kashmir between India and pakistan the non-native muslims from somewhere else were pushed in to kashmir by pakistan in thousands..who have committed crime, rape and murder to native kashmiris to make the place their strong hold and still work on pakistani pay-roll and are supported with weapons, drugs and fake currency by pakistan.. now that they have their generations firmly rooted in kashmir they cannot be nabbed unless they are caught red handed with a pak connection..the native muslims in kashmir still support Indian army and police to nab such people when they are planning any crime.

Posted by Om | Report as abusive


You have raised some very good points (sorry I am replying to your post so late).

Yes, if India were to give up Kashmir to independence, Pakistan would have to give up their portion also. There’s no doubt about that.

On your second point, yes, India is a secular democracy. But Kashmir is a special case. It seems more like Kashmiri nationalism nowadays than Muslim nationalism. Pandits must return to Kashmir, Buddhists in Ladakh must be included in all decisions, and Hindu Dogras of Jammu also. But your concern about secularism and the plight of other Indian Muslims is a very real concern. I cannot give you answer on that.

But on your comment that “Pakistan is a hellhole for minorities”, I cannot agree with you there. In the past 20-25 years there has been progress, though slow, on the betterment of minorities in Pakistan. It was accelerated under the Musharraf regime. Hindu temples restored and functioning, Sikh gurdwaras and pilgrimages proliferating, minorites inducted into the armed forces, their last chief justice a Hindu. The situation still needs improvement, but treatment of minorities in Pakistan has vastly improved.

I myself have no answers about Kashmir except to say India and Pakistan should continue dialogue on it, there should be no interference from outside powers and perhaps, through goodwill on all sides, there can be a uniquely South Asian solution that satisfies all parties.

Posted by Alethia | Report as abusive

I’m a Kashmiri Muslim, I migrated to Bangalore for education and a job with dreams. Believe me or not, I have got almost everything what I wanted, a good education, a respectable job, and of course a good people around me.
I even went back to valley and got few of my cousins here, now everyone of us are settled down here and we are slowly rebuilding our land, homes, and business in Kashmir. Therefore, in reality i would say most of us in the Valley know that life in India is must more superior than in Pakistan. At least we have freedom to move around the country for a job and earning, I don’t think we get such freedom in Pakistan.
Please note most of the Valley people have changed our minds now to be a part of India just because some of us were are the best examples to those who live in the valley.
We at first believed in a Separate or freedom state with the help from outside, however our lives were miserable, suffering for a single meal with no business and earning, then we thought to try the other way and we are well settled now.
This is the reality. We The people of Valley were part of India and will always be a part of India.

To my fellow Kashmiris here, please open your eyes and see the reality, its been almost 25 years I migrated to south of india, and now living with a good life. My parents and relatives still live in the valley, and we are supporting them from here to rebuild our business, homes etc back, I hope sooner the valley will be opened for tourism.

Posted by Kashmiri, India | Report as abusive