Bangladesh’s Terrorism Problem-Bangladeshi government realise

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Bangladesh’s Terrorism Problem

The Nation

The Dhaka café attack must make the Bangladeshi government realise a fact that it had been trying not to admit; that country has a terrorism problem – and a serious one.

Bangladeshi intellectuals, secular writers, LGBT community members, and minorities had been under attack of gruesome murders for a while now, but the government has always portrayed these as isolated attacks carried out by a few individuals. This brazen attack at the heart of the capital’s diplomatic zone is one of a different scope and ambition. Claimed by Islamic State (IS), the meticulously planned attack specifically targeted foreigners and diplomatic workers. It must be openly accepted that the militancy problem is growing, and now international organisations have well and truly joined the fight.

This realisation demands a change in counter-terrorism policy from Bangladesh Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina Wajed, and perhaps a change in her political policy too. Shikeh Hasina has been accused of marginalising the main opposition party Bangladesh Nationalist party (BNP) and its ally the Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) by controlling political discourse. Furthermore, the vengeful prosecution and execution of JI leaders through the 1971 national war crimes tribunal (established in 2009) has infuriated its supporters and is the leading cause of communal tension in the country.

Counter terrorism policy may tackle the perpetrators of these attacks but the Bangladesh government must also tackle this antagonistic political policy that is creating space for such attacks to take place. A militancy problem never arises in vacuum, it is always supported by political will on the ground – and Sheikh Hasina’s policies are partially responsible for creating this volatility. This attack must be a watershed moment for Bangladesh – just as the Peshawar attack was for Pakistan. It must logistically gear up much more extensive militant problem, while it must politically re-evaluate its policies, otherwise the vibrantly growing Bangladesh economy is at risk.

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