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Military Rule


Military Rule in the sense of governing a country unconstitutionally by armed forces was very common during cold war period between 1940s and 1960s. In staging a military rule by overthrowing an elected government, major role was often played by contending super powers. In some countries, even in the absence of direct military rule, the army is often seen to have been asserting their influence in administration. Military intervention took place in Bangladesh a number of times since 1975.

The military rule in Bangladesh was led mostly in Pakistani style. After the partition of India in 1947, the earliest military rule was promulgated in Pakistan in 1953 and that was in the province of the Punjab in Pakistan. With the deterioration of law and order situation in the Punjab on the issue of the demand for declaration of the Ahmadia community as non-Muslim, martial law was imposed in the province by its governor Mian Momtaz Daulatana. Subsequently, the army intervention in politics was gradually on the increase. The united front emerged victorious in the 1954 general elections. ak fazlul huq took over as chief minister of East Bengal. Consequent upon a public statement of AK Fazlul Huq, chief minister of East Bengal, on the issue of the autonomy of the province, the Prime Minister Mohammad Ali removed him from the premiership and placed Major General Iskandar Mirza, the central Defense Secretary, in charge of the civil administration of East Bengal in May 1954. The Chief of Staff of the army Ayub Khan removed Iskandar Mirza, in turn, and took over the state power in 1958.

It was perhaps from the failure of the political leaders to conduct the affairs of the state at the initial stage that the high ranking military officers developed in themselves the idea that a strong central government was a need of the time for the proper administration of Pakistan, and that such an administration could only be ensured by the army. The United Front election of 1954 created a clear intervening distance between the two provinces of Pakistan. It was perhaps from this problem that military intervention occurred in the central administration of Pakistan.

Regime of Ayub Khan (1958-1969) General Ayub Khan was long in power in Pakistan. It was not only the weakness of internal political system that led Ayub Khan to join politics. Ayub's initiative and lead in inclusion of Pakistan into the SEATO and CENTO pacts served the interest of the USA. This role of Ayub Khan earned for him the support of the USA in favour of his military rule. Ayub continued his long role as a strategic ally of the USA in resisting the spread of communism.

Ayub Khan considered the cultural and lingual diversity of Pakistan as a threat to the integrity of Pakistan. It was perhaps for this reason that earlier West Pakistan was transformed into a single unit. He devised a concept of a strong central government under a President to rule West and East Pakistan as a whole. To give legal support to his administration General Ayub Khan introduced two political institutions. The first was a four tier local government institution styled as basic democracy. The system had multifarious objectives; firstly, to mobilize the rural people, and secondly, to conduct development activities and to ensure the participation of the people in local administration. Despite the inclusion of these activities in Basic Democracy system, its ultimate objective was to work for the election of the President and of the National Assembly.

General Ayab had a disliking for the politicians. Hence to control the politicians he promulgated the Elective Bodies Disqualification Ordinance (EBDO) under which provisions were made for disqualifying the politicians for participating in politics for eight years. Due to his disliking for the politicians Ayub Khan did not include any politician in his first cabinet.

The salient feature of Ayub's philosophy of economic development was to active economic growth under the control of a strong central government and to continue to maintain this growth in all the sectors including agriculture and industry. In process of the implementation of this policy the earliest investment of resources was made in West Pakistan on the plea that the investment of resources in West Pakistan would give a better return than from East Pakistan. The possibility of such return was meagre from East Pakistan because of the infrastructural weakness and political instability. Besides, infrastructure for development was almost absent here.

During the Pakistani rule from 1947 to 1971, the Bangalis were deprived of the equal share in the central administrative structure of Pakistan. Due to limited participation of the Bangalis of East Pakistan in the army and in central bureaucracy the Bangalis had very scanty scope for decision making in the central administration. Even the strategy of utilizing Islam as a medium of unity between the people of two units of Pakistan also failed.

One notable characteristics of development policy of Ayub Khan was to create incentive among the businessmen and industrialists and thus to utilise them as medium in development process. The leading industrialists encouraged by him mainly belonged to the business groups like Memon, Bohra and Chinioti. This business group was the partner of 35% individual and corporate share of the total investment. With an object of helping the commercial capitalism Ayub Khan took the venture for industrialisation under a codified industrial principle, which however minimised the vista of state control over economy and encouraged the development of private sector enterprise.

Between 1951 and 1958 Ayub Khan consolidated his position as the chief of the army. After his taking over power as chief of the military government in October 1958 he curved the power of the bureaucracy for consolidating his position. With an object of weakening the power of the Karachi based capitalists he developed a Punjab based new capitalist class through governmental patronisation. He won over a section of the landholders in his favour, and consolidated his position through polarisation of power in the politics of Pakistan. On the other hand, disparity was made between the two wings of Pakistan in the distribution of wealth and in development expenditure. The use of Islam as a strategy for maintaining unity between the two wings produced an adverse result. During the Ayub regime the demand in all the political movements in East Pakistan was the revival of parliamentary system of government and provincial autonomy. The movement for provincial autonomy sponsored by the Awami League was based on six point programme of 1966. The main objective of the Six points formula was the greater autonomy for East Pakistan in economic, political and foreign policy. Between the end of 1968 and the beginning of 1969 the spirit of nationalism had its culmination in the form of mass upsurge in East Pakistan under the leadership of Awami League. Having failed to contain the movement General Ayub was compelled to hand over power to General Yahya Khan in March 1969.

Regime of Yahya Khan (1969-1971) The main objective of the military rule of Yahya Khan was to support and maintain the existing system of administration, because the movement for autonomy of East Pakistan created a threat to the prestige of the army in one hand and to the control of the Punjabis over West Pakistan on the other. Yahya Khan took resort to some sort of compromising formula to face the movement for autonomy of East Pakistan. He declared a new education policy for pacifying the students and new pay scale for the labour class. The new pay scale was helpful in improving the lifestyle of the professionals. As a venture for compromise with the Bangalis he annulled the 'One unit' system and the representation to National Assembly was determined on the basis of population. Consequently, the Bangalis acquired majorty in the National Assembly.

Yahya Khan could realize the importance of the politicians as against the disliking of Ayub Khan for them. So he took the initiative for mediation among the conflicting political groups, though his role was not impartial. His objective here was to safeguard the interest of the ruling class. With an object of establishing a constitutional government he declared the elections of National and Provincial Assembly to be held in October 1970, and to facilitate the election campaign he allowed political activities from 1 January 1970. Yahya Khan placed the future constitutional system of Pakistan in his Legal Framework Order promulgated in March 1970. In this document he promised to establish a democratic and federal system of government in Pakistan and to delegate the highest legal administrative and financial power to the provinces. Awami League agreed with Yahya's formula and participated in 1970 elections. Nine political parties contested in the election. In this election, Awami League got absolute majority securing 160 seats out of 300 in the National Assembly, and secured 288 seats out of 300 seats in the Provincial Assembly. Pakistan Peoples Party secured 81 seats in the National Assembly. This party got 113 seats out of a total of 180 seats in the Punjab, and 28 seats in Karachi out of a total of 60 seats. This election culminated into polarization between the West and East Pakistan.

Though state power was to be handed over to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the leader of the majority party, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and his Peoples Party aspired to create quibble and false pretext against hand over of power. Reluctant to hand over power to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in the centre, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto threatened to boycott the National Assembly session scheduled to be held on 3 March. He sent to Sheikh Mujibur Rahman a proposal for sharing power which the latter rejected outright. Under pressure from Bhutto, President Yahya Khan postponed the session of the National Assembly on 1 March 1971. As a protest Sheikh Mujibur Rahman called for non-cooperation movement in his historic sevenTH march address. Consequent upon the all out Non-Cooperation Movement the government of Pakistan virtually lost its control over East Pakistan. In this backdrop, the Pakistan army launched military operation in Dhaka on the might of 25 March killing indiscriminately the innocent people, plundering in their houses and violating the women. Thus an attempt for solving a political problem through military interference led the Bangalis towards the war of liberation. Under this background, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman declared the independence of Bangladesh on 26 March 1971 leading to nine months war and emergence of Bangladesh as a sovereign state.

Military rule in Bangladesh: Background After the liberation though the civil bureaucrats and the members of the armed forces took part in the state and nation building process, the division current between the repatriated section and the freedom fighters of the respective sector left both the civil and military bodies internally weak. A number of senior army officers repatriated from Pakistan were posted in insignificant posts. The moral strength of the army was rather weakened when the government formed a distinctive para-militia force styled as raksi bahini. Though the recruitment and training of the Raksi Bahini continued uninterrupted, the development of the army was left behind. The number of the strong para-militia rose to 29,000 as against the strength of the army as 26,500. Dejection in the army was intensified when the government began to deploy them in the recovery of stolen arms and materials. Two Majors were removed from service consequent upon their conflict with some Awami League leaders. The recruitment in the regular forces was almost suspended while recruitment in the Raksi Bahini was on the increase. The adverse attitude of the government in power towards the army created distraction in all levels of the army personnels. Between 1972 and 1975 the allocation on defense head in the budget did never exceed 13% of the total national expenditure. From the subsequent course of events it seems that the Raksi Bahini was developed as a substitute of the army and its objective was to eliminate the anti-government force. To contain the parties in opposition, the government approved the Special Power Act in February 1974. This Act empowered the government to ban any political party provided its activities are found detrimental to the national interest. The State of Emergency was proclaimed in December 1974 and all basic rights were suspended. The ultimate expression of the dominating attitude of the government was found through fourth amendment of the Constitution on 25 January 1975. By this amendment the parliamentary form of government was replaced by a single party government system. The BAKSAL system though considered to be an alternative measure for mitigating the political crisis of the time, it is believed that the amendment expedited the fall of the Awami League government in 1975 and initiated the military interference in the politics of Bangladesh.

On 15 August 1975 before dawn, six mid level officers of the Bangladesh army (most of them were Major) along with a few hundred soldiers brutally killed the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with his family members. The officers executing the coup detat took over control of the government and justified the coup as a 'historical necessity'. On 3 November 1975 another coup was executed under the command of khaled mosharraf. Some identified this coup as an attempt of the supporters of Sheikh Mujib, and the others considered it as a venture for restoration of the chain of command of the army. On 7 November 1975, a huge number of soldiers came out of the Dhaka cantonment and chanted revolutionary slogan in the streets of Dhaka in favour of social revolution. In the process of capture of power, they killed Khaled Mosharraf and his associates. Amidst such events and counter events Major General Ziaur Rahman emerged as a powerful man in the politics of Bangladesh through another counter coup on 7 November.

Regime of General Zia (1975-1981) Having acquired state power General Zia succeeded in consolidating his position. Like other military rulers he also placed his personal rule in the focal point of administrative system by civilianising and democratizing the administration. On 15 November 1975 Ziaur Rahman promulgated some military rules and regulations which included the provision of death sentence for instigating into the army the spirit of rebellion. During Zia's rule, the military and civil bureaucracy was again came to the focal point of decision making. On 26 November 1975, President Sayem appointed an advisory council which included three deputy chief martial law administrators each from three armed forces, and four civil bureaucrats. The number of technocrat members in this council was later made double. A good number of such bureaucrats and technocrats were included in the council who had experience and efficiency in conducting the military and civil bureaucratic administration during the regime of Ayub Khan and Yahya Khan.

The series of incidents between August and November 1975 undoubtedly revealed the fact that the army as an institution was mostly divided into various factions, polarized, politics oriented and somehow animated by revolutionary ideas. Even though Ziaur Rahman safeguarded the organisational interest of the army and virtually developed the force, a number of coup detat was organised and attempted during his time. As a follow up, Ziaur Rahman was killed during a military coup in Chittagong on 31 May 1981. After the death of Ziaur Rahman, Justice Abdus Sattar was elected the President of the county.

Having assumed the state power Ziaur Rahman with an object of pleasing the government officers annulled the Presidential Order No. 9 of 1972. Under this Order the government was empowered to remove any government officer from service at any time without showing any cause. Even the incumbent was not eligible to sue in the court. Ziaur Rahman allowed the officers sacked under the Presidential order to file appeal petition in the court for redress. He even brought back some senior officers sacked by the civil government and appointed them in influential government posts. Ziaur Rahman promulgated the Political Parties Regulation on 28 July 1976. Under this rule, the political parties were allowed to indoor political activities. But this lenience was subjected to the approval of the programme of the political parties by the government. Rules were issued enforcing affiliation of the political parties mandatory.

Ziaur Rahman was virtually ruling the country since November 1975. In April 1977, he removed President ASM Sayem from power and himself took over as President. With an object of weakening the political opposition with the help of the rightist group of politicians in one hand, and for asserting legality to his assumption of state power on the other, Ziaur Rahman arranged for public polls in the country in May 1977. But out of 88.5% total polls, 99.88% 'yes' vote was rather impractical. The presidential election was held in June 1978. A six party electoral alliance named Nationalist Front was formed in support of Ziaur Rahman. General (Retd) MAG Osmany contested in the presidential election as a candidate of the Ganatantrik Oikya Front, an alliance of the opposition parties. In this election Ziaur Rahman secured 76.67% of the votes and Osmany got 21.63%. The other politically insignificant candidates obtained a total of 1.70% votes. Ziaur Rahman was in full army uniform even when he contested in the presidential election. At the end of the year, Zia launched the bangladesh nationalist party (BNP). This party constituted a platform of the politicians ranging from the fundamentalist group to the ultra-leftist elements. Zia attempted to remove the crisis of legality of his rule through his success in presidential election and the formation of BNP, and took important initiatives for switching over from military rule to civilianization. In the election of the Jatiya Sangsad held on 18 February 1979 the BNP secured 207 seats. In his process of civilianisation, Ziaur Rahman followed Ayub Khan's method as his model.

As in the military rule in other countries of the world, the military rulers of Bangladesh had to restore chain of command in different stages of the army. Ziaur Rahman was very much active in safeguarding the corporate interest of the army. His government took measures for elevating the status of the army personnels and to ensure their facilities like regular promotion, upgrading of salary, subsidised rationing and improved housing. Earlier in September 1975, the Indemnity Ordinance was promulgated to safeguard the army officers involved in the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The killers of Bangabandhu were provided with lucrative posts in different foreign embassies of Bangladesh. Under Ziaur Rahman the defense budget was enhanced, and 32% of the revenue budget was allocated to defense head in 1975-1976, which continued in subsequent years. The defense budget had an increase of 186% between 1972 and 1981. New battalion and brigade were added to the army. Nearly twenty thousand personnels of Raksi Bahini were absorbed in the army. Ziaur Rahman issued profiteering trading licenses and permits to the military officers including the allotment of plots in the planned areas of Dhaka city.

The martialisation of the cabinet was initiated by Ziaur Rahman which reached its zenith under Huseyn Mohammad Ershad. The ten member Advisory Council of 1975 included seven military officers. The cabinet of 1981 formed of 24 full ministers included six ministers from the army. The appointment of the army personnel in the civil administration was then on the increase. The army officers occupied the important posts in police administration and in other state controlled sectors including various posts in the secretariat. In 1987, a total of 1500 army personnel joined the civil administration. The police administration in district level was martialized. In a certain period, out of 64 districts the posts of police superintendents in 53 districts were occupied by the army officers. Moreover, the senior army officers were appointed in various diplomatic missions abroad. The professional bureaucrats and the diplomats considered such appointments as extreme interference from beyond their professional realm. But the professional bureaucrats and the diplomats abstained themselves from challenging the appointment of army officers in their profession perhaps out of fear of persecution. The entry of the army officers in public administration was helpful to the military rulers for achieving the following objectives: Firstly, this intrusion strengthens the authority of the military rulers over the administrative machinery; secondly, this process makes the removal of the probable conspirators from inside the army easier. The appointment in any post in public administration appears to be very attractive to many a military officers for some reasons; firstly, this provides an opportunity for public liaison which is extremely scanty in the army; secondly, through such assignments the army officers get relieved from the strict disciplinary rules of the army; thirdly, the service in public administration provides opportunities to many a military officers for making fortune by corruption.

During military rule of Ziaur Rahman, some important ventures were undertaken for civilianisation of administration. His government aspired to enlist public support with twofold objectives: firstly, to relieve the government of the depth of crisis of legitimacy, and secondly to maintain the stability of the government in confrontation with the organised opposition. To that end, Ziaur Rahman took some initiatives, and most of them had the target to utilize the religious sentiment of the Muslims. By a proclamation order Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim was included in the Constitution on the top of the Preamble. 'Secularism' as fundamental principle of the Constitution was dropped and the term 'confidence and belief upon the Almighty Allah' was inserted. Article 12 of the Constitution with provision for elimination of all sorts of sectarianism, and discrimination against the believer of a particular religion, resistance against the misuse of religion for political purposes, was removed. Article 5(1) subsection (2) includes that the state shall strengthen, maintain and consolidate its relation with the brotherly Muslim states on the basis of Islamic solidarity. These amendments changed the secular character of the Constitution. Another fundamental principle 'socialism' was redefined as economic and social justice. The annulment of the Collaboration Act was intended to enlist the support of the rightist political forum. Even by a proclamation order, Ziaur Rahman annulled the Article 38 of the Constitution prohibiting the formation of religion based political party.

Following the line of Ayub Khan, Ziaur Rahman formed the Gram Sarkar with an object of ensuring his control over the rural administrative structure. It was also aimed at utilising this force at the time of crisis. Ziaur Rahman threw the Nineteen Points Programme for economic and social development. Surplus food production was one of his targets. Family Planning Programme was another objective of his government, and measures were taken for proper utilisation of the manpower and wealth.

Despite the civilianisation of the military government through general election, inclusion of the civil politicians in the cabinet in a larger number, the absolute jurisdiction of the formation of the Jatiya Sangsad, was vested with the President as the chief executive. The power and authority of the President enhanced in the subsequent years. By the Second Proclamation Order of 1978 (Fifth Amendment) the Jatiya Sangsad was made subordinate to the President. Through this Order the President was empowered to appoint anybody with support of the majority of the members of the Sangsad as Prime Minister. This implies that he was not bound to appoint the leader of the majority party in the Sangsad as Prime Minister. Moreover, the President could appoint one fifth of the cabinet members from outside the members of the Jatiya Sangsad. He could execute any treaty or alliance with any foreign state on national interest without having the National Assembly in connivance. He could postpone his consent in any bill passed in the Sangsad (The Second Proclamation Order No 4 (1978), 18 December 1978).

Simultaneously with the consolidation of power the military and civil bureaucrats stepped forward with their economic project. The objective of the project was generally the fostering of capitalism and specifically the implementation of the pre-liberation 'sponsored capitalism'. In this process of development the state would give financial support to the private entrepreneurs. Between 1975 and 1981 the military government took following venture for capitalistic development: (a) To legalise black money, (b) Denationalisation of state owned institutions, (c) To extend and abolish the limit of private investment, (d) To withdraw restrictions on private foreign investment, (e) To advance loan to the private entrepreneurs. One of the main objectives of the military ruler was to legalise the income of the newly rising capitalist group in various ways.

The government adopted a revised investment policy on 7 December 1975. This policy continued to be followed in revised form from time to time. The extensive development in private sector, adoption of sponsored capitalist policy, the intrusion of foreign aid, together with the autonomous role of the civil and military bureaucrats resulted in a change in the characteristics of social gradation in Bangladesh. The newly rising moneyed class with the help of the administrative machinery elevated themselves to be the lumpen capitalists aspiring for accumulating wealth through plunder. The augmenting development scheme enunciated by the donor countries/ organisations was though considered profitable by the government of Ziaur Rahman, it rather enmeshed the country in debt and consequently enhanced poverty. Besides, the governmental interference in redistribution of the productive distribution reduced it to the marginal stage.

Regime of General Ershad (1982-1990) The armed forces of the country led by its Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Huseyn Mohammad Ershad removed the elected President abdus sattar from power by a coup d'etat on 24 March 1982. General Ershad had notable venture for militarisation of the administrative machinary. He took strong stand for incorporating in the Constitution the role of the army in codifying the principle of the state and of administration. Before his usurpation of power he put pressure on the then President Abdus Sattar to ensure the role of the army in conducting the affairs of the state. Just after his assumption of state power General Ershad aspired to include in the zila parishad a representative from the army. This attempt was foiled by the resistance of the civil society.

In the Warrant of Precedence declared by General Ershad in 1986, the status of the Major General was made equivalent to the chairman of Public Service Commission, chairman of University Grants Commission and to the secretaries of the Ministries. In the same Warrant of Precedence, the status of the chiefs of three armed forces was placed above the secretary and even above the defence secretary. Thus in status in Warrant of Precedence the civil bureaucrats were superceded by the military bureaucrats. Consequently, the unity of advantage and interest developed between the military and civil bureaucrats at the beginning of the military rule was foiled. Under the pressure of political power, the donar countries and of the organisations, the military government of General Ershad was compelled to take resort to civilianisation.

Following the footsteps of General Ziaur Rahman, General Ershad arranged for public polls on 21 March 1985 to assert legality to his assumption of power. Out of 72% of the total polls as claimed by the government, 94.14% of the' 'yes' vote was in favour of General Ershad. As per report of the inland and foreign observers, the number of total polls did in no way exceed between 15% and 20%. To the supporters of Ershad, this public poll was an important step towards achieving the legality of the government. The opposition identified it as a futile venture.

The government sponsored political party Jana Dal was floated in 1983. In 1986 the Jana Dal was renamed as jatiya party. In August 1986, General Ershad resigned from the position of Army Chief of Staff and formally joined the Jatiya Party. As a part of his continuous attempt for ensuring legality to his government, General Ershad declared the presidential election to be held on 15 October 1986. Ershad contested in the election as a candidate of Jatiya Party. All the Major opposition parties boycotted the election and virtually there was no opposition party in the election. As per report of the Election Commission, Ershad secured 83.57% votes in the election. The opposition alliance identified this election as a fun, and claimed that the total polls were less than 3%. Ershad convened the session of the Jatiya Sangsad on 10 November 1986. In this session the Seventh Amendment of the Constitution was passed having all military orders and proclamations of his time ratified thereunder. On the issue of usurpation of power by General Ershad, corruption in governmental and administrative level and polution of the election procedures, the oust Ershad movement began from 1987 led by three party alliance formed of the Awami League, BNP and the left organisations. This movement simultaneously influenced the administration and economy, and challenged the legality of Ershad's rule. The members of the Jatiya Sangsad belonging to the Jamat-e-Islami Bangladesh resigned en masse from Sangsad, and the other opposition parties followed the suit. As the last resort to remain in power Ershad dissolved the Jatiya Sangsad on 6 December 1987, and declared a fresh election to be held on 8 March 1988. All the leading political parties boycotted the election. A combined opposition alliance was formed consisting of small and insignificant seventy political parties. In the election that held the Jatiya Party won a landslide victory. The total polls as claimed by the Election Commission was 52.48% while the opposition party calculated it not exceeding 1%. The unfair election monitoring and tampering adopted in the fourth Jatiya Sangsad election superceded all such records of the past, which however was an incentive in the oust Ershad movement. Having failed to secure legitimacy through election Ershad ventured to utilise the religious sentiment of the people as the basis of support to his government. He declared Islam as the state religion through the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution in 1988.

After the fourth Jatiya Sangsad election the anti-Ershad movement began to get momentum. Hartal, blockade and gherao programmes continued throughout the country. The students had pioneering role in ogranising the anti-Ershad Movement. Twenty two students organisations united themselves in floating Sarbadaliya Chhatra Oikya Parishad. By the initiative of the student organisations and the civil society, the three political alliances were united with the demand of the fall of Ershad. The three alliances signed a combined declaration on the strategy of transition from military rule to democracy on 19 November 1990. The State of Emergency was declared in the country on 27 November 1990 and all the fundamental rights incorporated in the Constitution were suspended. The people from various professional groups expressed their alliance with the movement. In the face of serious mass movement President Ershad was compelled to resign on 6 December 1990 and hand over power to Justice shahabuddin ahmad as chief of the interim Caretaker Government. Shahabuddin Ahmad took over as Acting President of the country. General Ershad was in power for more than eight and a half years in Bangladesh. Inspite of the support of the military high command in favour of Ershad, the army did not come to his rescue at the climax of the movement.

General Zia and General Ershad executed six amendments in the Constitution. But none of them preferred parliamentary system as the form of government. With an object of perpetuating the absolute state power in their hands both of them preferred presidential form of government over the parliamentary system.

After his assumption of state power General Ershad annulled the Gram Sarkar system of General Ziaur Rahman. On the contrary, he receded from the line of Ayub Khan and Ziaur Rahman and had a venture to delegate more power to the rural people through decentralization of power as per local demands. This scheme curtailed the power of the public administrators. He elevated the thana level administration and thus introduced the upazila system. Under a upazila chairman, each upazila parishad was developed as a strong local government unit by delegating power and providing resources. The upazila parishad not only worked as a unit of administration, the elected chairman of the upazila was politically connected with the central government. Though decentralisation of administration was not virtually effective under general Zia's Gram Sarkar and upazila scheme of General Ershad, at least the administrative power was delegated from the centre to the local government through these systems. Consequently, the central government could maintain strong supremacy over the local government.'

The history of military interference in politics beginning from 1953 in Pakistan to 2008 in Bangladesh may be divided into two phases, the first being extended up to the end of cold war in 1989, and the second from 1990 through the fall of General Ershad and extending up to 2008. In pre-cold war period, the military interference in politics was of direct nature. This interference was intended to establish social and political stability thereby to communate economic benefit to the people. The military rule had two fold slogan: firstly, the politicians have utterly spoilt the country, they are corrupted, and hence are to be exterminated; and secondly, free and unrestrained democracy especially western democracy is obsolete in this country.

'Each of the military rulers from Ayub Khan to General Ershad arbitrarily amended the Constitution to appropriate and concentrate power in the hands of the military rulers. They encouraged the presidential form of government as against the parliamentary form, and centralised the absolute power in the hands of the President. Even the affairs of the Sangsad were conducted under the directives of one man. Every military government in power aspired to utilize the army as the base of consolidating their power, and with this end in view they enhanced various facilities to the army personnels including the scope of service for the army officers in civil administration. Recently, the participation of the army officers in commercial profiteering activities is augmenting their corporate interest.

The failure of the civilian politicians, the grouping wrangle inside the army and adverse measure against the corporate interest of the army contributed to the army interference in the politics of Bangladesh. Excepting General Ziaur Rahman all the military rulers like Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan and General Ershad were compelled to hand over power in the face of mass movement. The Fifteenth Amendment in the Constitution of Bangladesh has identified the unconstitutional assumption of power as treason thereby minimising the incentive for military interference in politics. The military rule in Bangladesh has failed to achieve any stable political and economic development except some mass propitiating temporary initiatives. [Sabbir Ahmed]

Bibliography Lawrence Ziring, Bangladesh : From Mujib to Ershad, An Interpretive Study, University Press Limited, Dhaka, 1994; Talukder Maniruzzaman, Politics and Security of Bangladesh, University Press Limited, 1994; Ali Riaz, State, Class and Military Rule, Nadi New Press, Dhaka, 1994; Rounaq Jahan, Pakistam's Failure in National Integration, The University Press Limited, 2001; ZR. Khan, Martial Law to Martial Law: Leadership Crisis in Bangladesh, University Press Limited, Dhaka, 1984.