On formation of National Security Council
Tuesday, 27 May 2008

The Home Ministry has reportedly circulated a paper among all other ministries suggesting formation of a Cabinet Committee on National Security,  a National Security Council and a Joint Intelligence Unit to counter terrorist threats in a coordinated way. Interestingly at a time when the Home Ministry and some people are demanding the NSC a study conducted by Global Peace Index, an independent think tank, has ranked Bangladesh as the most peaceful country in the region.  Because of our past experiences any talk of forming any special law enforcement body creates a scare in the minds of the people. These are inevitably seen as arms to carry out the hidden agenda of the government in power. NSCs are there in the US, India and many other countries of the world that have genuine security concerns, both external and internal. In both US and India, NSCs are headed by civilian advisers and operate under the executive chief’s office. We have lived long 37 years without such a specialized body. There has been hardly any new development to justify formation of a Security Council. If we take the August 21 attack on the Awami League meeting, Udichi, Ramna Batamul and Sylhet bombings these appear more like isolated incidents resulting from slack security. Now if governments in power plan or encourage such incidents then even a specialized agency wouldn’t be able to stop these. These incidents took place because the law enforcement agencies looked the other way, All governments have turned blind eye to militancy training by certain groups in return of political support. Hence to us at least these are more a law and order problem then security threats.  Our problem is with the tradition that behind everything we do there are hidden motives. There are people, quite knowledgeable also, who think that the demand for formation of a Security is an attempt to give the armed forces an institutional role in governance. This may be heresy. But it would surely require convincing arguments to justify formation of a new security apparatus.

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