Disturbance in the Force 3 — IKB

Ikbal Karim Bhuiyan

General Iqbal Karim Bhuiyan — popularly known as IKB — became the army chief in June.  At that time, Prothom Alo reported: তিনি বাহিনীতে নিষ্ঠাবান, দক্ষ ও পেশাদার বলে পরিচিত.

Reading that, a fellow blogger quipped: what else would they write, have you ever seen a different analysis?

Well, I guess they didn’t need to say anything.

As it happens, the appointment did raise a lot of eyebrow among the cognoscenti.  You see, everyone knew that Gen Mustafiz was appointed by Hasina not because he was “নিষ্ঠাবান, দক্ষ ও পেশাদার”, but because he was related to Hasina, and she couldn’t trust anyone else.  Similarly, everyone knew that Gen Moeen was appointed by Khaleda not because he was নিষ্ঠাবান, দক্ষ ও পেশাদার, but because he hailed from Noakhali, and Khaleda trusted her.

But not only is IKB actually considered an out-and-out professional soldier and perfectly qualified for the job, no one has unearthed any Awami connection so far.

In a country where everyone from the peon to president owes their job to party loyalty, how come the army chief isn’t an Awami hack?

In the past few months, I’ve heard several theories.  In no particular order:

1. It goes to show that the honorable prime minister is serious about professionalism, not just in the army, but in all sphere of life.  And all those stories you hear about doliokoron are malicious lies spread by Dr Yunus and war criminals.

2. Appointing unprofessional hacks as army chief has backfired in the past.  Bangabandhu ignored Zia and appointed Shafiullah, who proved incompetent in August 1975.  Zia thought Ershad was a playboy and not interested in politics — how did that work out?  And the Noakhali factor didn’t stop Moeen, did it?  The prime minister believes that a professional soldier like IKB will not intervene in politics.  That’s why he was appointed.

3. After the unrest in the cantonment last winter, the government could not risk appointing an unqualified, partisan figure.  They need a professional to bring discipline to the force.  IKB is the man for it.

4. The prime minister is not worried about the army.  She believes it has been thoroughly neutralised and defanged.  All the potential troublemakers have been hounded out.  So no need to worry.

5. The PM isn’t worried about the army.  She has DGFI and the Special Security Forces to protect her.  In case of trouble, all she needs is a trip to the airport.  Oh, she needs the air force to protect her plane while she leaves the country.  So perhaps it’s this man — known for his “altruism, simplicity and honesty” — we need to analyse.


I have no idea which theory is right.  I’ll leave you with what my fellow blogger said about the former army chief.

Best part of this news is the 10 day extension so that Gen Mubin’s son’s wedding can happen while dad is Army Chief. Jar ambition holo to extend tenure so son can have wedding in style, tader ke niye PM er kono bhoy nai.

Disturbance in the Force: Part 2 and Part 1

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