Bangladesh Army Chief General Aziz Ahmed has said that demeaning the army chief is tantamount to demeaning the prime minister.
“The rejoinder issued by the ISPR is the statement of the army. Meanwhile, I’m sure you know that … they are carrying out propaganda against an institution like Bangladesh Army, which is the pride of the nation, pride of the country — so that confusion arises,” General Aziz told the media after a programme organised by Army Aviation Group at Dhaka’s Tejgaon yesterday morning.
“Bangladesh Army is a well-trained and well-motivated force… more organised than ever before. The chain of command of the army is very effective. Every member of the army has rejected this ill attempt in the past and they are rejecting what’s there at present, and all those who are in our chain of command are aware of it,” he said.
“I want to assure you this kind of propaganda will not be able to affect our chain of command. Bangladesh Army is respectful to the constitution, determined to uphold Bangladesh’s constitution, loyal to the Bangladesh government and ready to follow any command of the government… the present government and we are constitutionally committed to face any challenge — domestic or global,” he said.
While replying to a query over Al Jazeera’s report on his family members and footage, he said, “I am asking you… case has been filed against you, there’s punishment, but if you were acquitted yesterday, and if there is no other case under trial against you — can you be called a fugitive today?
“Can it be said that you are a convict? If a convict is acquitted of the charges, he/she is a free person,” he said.
“There is an explanation of the propaganda regarding my brothers. We will inform you everything through a press conference on behalf of my family. I can say that I, as army chief, am aware of the image of the army, my position and responsibilities,” he added.
He claimed that there were no cases against his brother when he met him in Malaysia.
“There was a conspiratorial case from which he was acquitted in March,” General Aziz said, adding that he went to Malaysia in April, 2020.
The Al Jazeera statement was completely ill-motivated, he added.
“Secondly, video footage was captured during my trips to various countries. I think my security, as an army chief, is confirmed officially when I am anywhere within official capacity. Wherever I go, the host country does it. I do not think there is any necessity to take any additional security measures there.
“But if I am on a personal trip, may be visiting my relatives during transits, I don’t think I should use the official protocol. I think it is a wastage [of resources] and I shouldn’t do that.
“After getting our rejoinder, you would understand the purpose of those who are doing these,” he said.
“You have asked why I am the target repeatedly. I think, I will leave it up to you — you guys find out why Bangladesh Army is being targeted.
“This army chief has been appointed by the honourable prime minister of Bangladesh government. Demeaning the army chief means demeaning the prime minister. We must understand that,” General Aziz said.
“I am up to speed so that my institution, organisation — Bangladesh Army — and our government do not feel embarrassed or face any controversy.
“What you have heard … they can do it, collecting pieces from different places. But they will not be able to achieve the target. And you [journalists] have already answered them through your writing. So, I am grateful to you [journalists],” he said.
Asked whether any action will be taken against those in Bangladesh who contributed to the Al Jazeera report, the army chief said Bangladesh Army may not be able to take any action in this regard.
“I am sure, ministries concerned will take action in this regard,” he said.
The Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) in a rejoinder dated February 15 said the Army Headquarters outright rejected “all malicious attempt and claims of Al-Jazeera to debase a professionally highly skilled, universally accepted Chief of Army Staff without any valid evidence” in a report titled “All the Prime Minister’s Men” broadcast on February 1 by the international news channel.
The ISPR rejoinder categorically rejected the Al-Jazeera documentary’s claims of the Bangladesh Army buying equipment from Israel and its allegations against the army chief’s family.
“Note that the information provided by Al-Jazeera that the signal device was made by Israel is not true at all and the name of Israel is not engraved anywhere in the device. It is to be noted that there is no scope of corruption since the procurement of all military equipment in Bangladesh Army is done under a specific and set policy and following a number of steps.
“The procurement process for this signal equipment began long before the current Chief of Army Staff, General Aziz Ahmed, took over his office. The process started in 2017 during the tenure of previous Chief of Army Staff, following the procurement process of the Army Headquarters and with the approval of the Government the Directorate General Defence Purchase (DGDP) entered into the contract in June 2018. Hence the attempt of Al-Jazeera to link the Chief of Army Staff or his brother residing in Hungary in the process of procuring the said equipment was motivated by a completely nefarious motive,” the rejoinder said.
The rejoinder added: “It is to be noted here that in the said report, an attempt has been made to directly mention and present the Chief of Army Staff of Bangladesh and portray his family as a mafia family. Such slanders and lies about the Chief of Army Staff appointed according to law by the Government of an independent and democratic country are utterly objectionable and unsolicited and which is not expected from a news agency like Al-Jazeera.”