Says BBC radio documentary
The business Bangladesh Army is carrying out in the country, is just following the model of Pakistan Army, reported the second episode of the nine-part BBC radio documentary "Probaho" yesterday.
The documentary revealed this while investigating business projects of Bangladesh Army, particularly the Mongla Cement Factory in Khulna.
Regarding the relations between two armies, eminent expert on military affairs in the sub-continent Dr Ayesha Siddika told the weekly BBC documentary, “There is a keen interest in building links with Bangladesh. I mean, older officers, Pakistan Army officers, want to develop a close relationship with Bangladesh Army.”
Ayesha also said that she had taken part in many discussions in which high ranked officials of Pakistan Army and Air Force talked without due respect and dignity that another sovereign country deserves. “I know a retired general of Pakistan who is a businessman nowadays and frequents to Bangladesh. He can be defined as a medium of communication,” Ayesha added.
While investigating the history of Mongla Cement Factory, a concern of Bangladesh Army Welfare Trust, the documentary found that a bilateral deal was signed between Pakistan and Bangladesh on October 13, 1988 focusing on a loan of $ 5 crore at 2 percent interest.
The deal was signed at a time when Gen Ziaul Haque of Pakistan was killed in a mysterious plane crash nearly two to three months back and Pakistan was heading for a general election.The then Pakistan Army chief was Aslam Begh when Pakistan government approved the loan for Bangladesh considering it as a state matter, the documentary said.
The Mongla factory was financed by a portion of the loan. A government document shows though there were discrepancies in the deal the two states signed, Sena Kalyan Sangstha (SKS) did not face much problem in purchasing machineries for the cement factory project.
The documentary quoted a letter addressed to the then managing director of SKS on June 6, 1990.“The deal between SKS and Pakistan Heavy Mechanical Complex Ltd have discrepancies …..The institutional deal allows payment in advance, which was not entertained in the state deal. We need an immediate explanation in this regard,” the letter reads.
The time when the cement factory was financed also coincides with the military rule in Bangladesh.High ranking army officers of that time confirmed BBC that the then Pakistan high commissioner in Bangladesh was much eager to have the loan used in implementing the cement project of SKS.
The documentary said that the cement factory in 2008 earned Tk 24 crore as profit--equivalent to the half of the total business profit earned from the business ventures under the trust.The trust was established in Bangladesh in June in 1998 following the model of Pakistan Army Welfare Trust, which was established in 1965.
Pakistan army established the trust showing reasons that as army is the biggest defence force in the country and largest number of personnel are going into retirement every year, the force needs a separate business platform for welfare of the soldiers, said a book titled "Military Inc: Inside Pakistan's Military Economy" by Ayesha Siddiqa.
The projects taken under the trust are more profitable than SKS's and mainly controlled by army headquarters, the documentary added.