ISI prepared BNP-Jamaat candidate list for Dec 30 polls

Bangla Tribune Report
Published : 01:32, Dec 22, 2018 | Updated : 23:21, Dec 22, 2018

ISI prepared BNP-Jamaat candidate list for Dec 30 pollsAs the nation prepares for the 11th Parliament Election, active involvement of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) in Bangladesh’s politics has come to light once again.
According to intelligence sources, the Pakistani spy agency has even handed BNP Acting Chairman Tarique Rahman a list of prospective candidates for 300 seats to contest the Dec 30 election.
The list also contained names from BNP’s major ally Jamaat-e-Islami, whose several leaders have been convicted and hanged for crimes against humanity during the 1971 Liberation War. The Election Commission also scrapped its registration forcing the party to ride on BNP’s back.
Intelligence sources, however, say it has been confirmed that the list reached to Tarique in London by the first week of December.
BNP’s UAE unit chief Zakir Hossain acts as the liaison between ISI and Tarique, investigations revealed.
Zakir, who hails from Sylhet and graduated in Commerce from the Chittagong University, works for Royal Packaging Industry in Dubai, officials said before adding he was interested to run on the BNP’s ticket from a seat in Sylhet.
The ISI prepared two separate lists of BNP’s prospective candidates, which Zakir received from his handler at their last meeting in Dubai on Dec 7. Later, Zakir dispatched the lists to Tarique in London.
Zakir’s handler has been identified as Dubai-based ISI operative as Shaheed Mehmood Muhammad Sharif.
Sharif, who was commissioned as an officer of the Pakistan Army’s 54th long course, retired in 2004 and now lives in Dubai and is paid by the ISI to act as the liaison between its top officials and political leaders in Bangladesh, according to intelligence sources.
According to them, Mehmood’s handler is a top ISI official who has been identified as Javed Mehdi.
He maintains regular communication with BNP’s UAE unit leader Zakir to convey his message to Tarique in London, they said.
According to intelligence agencies, Zakir has met Mehmood at least on 11 occasions between July and December this year and the last meeting took place on Dec 7.
At the Dec 7 meeting, Zakir and Sharif bargained over the list, which Zakir said Tarique wanted a slight change in it.
Sharif, on the other hand, told Zakir the list has been prepared based on the survey carried out on behalf Pakistan and they picked names of the person, who was considered ‘good’ and ‘may win’ the polls.
The ISI dispatched it first list to Tarique sometime in November this year. It contained the prospective candidates of BNP and its ally Jamaat for 300 constituencies.
On Dec 7, Tarique received another short ‘list of 10 very important persons’. They are Barrister Kaiser Kamal (Netrokona -1), Mahmuda Habiba (Rajshahi-5), Alhaj AKM Moazzem Hossain (Dhaka-16), Zeba Ahmed Khan (Jhalakti-2), Mahmudur Rahman (Narayanganj-2)m Ahammed Sohel Manzur (Pirojpur-2), Yeasir Khan Chowdhury (Mymansingh-9) Samiran Dewan (Khagrachari), Barrister Rumin Farhana (Brahmanbaria-2) and Dpen Dewan (Rangamati).
Later, Zakir conveyed Tarique’s messages to his handler Sharif.
“One of enlisted person died four or five months ago,” Zakir told Sharif on the first list citing Tarique.
On the short list, Zakir informed Sharif that his boss (Tarique) don’t even know Mahmuda Habiba while the ISI agent insisted on her as they thought “Mahmuda is a competent candidate and may win the polls.”
During their conversation, Sharif also hinted they also dispatched another list to Tarique via another media.
According to intelligence agencies, the Pakistan spy agency was also particularly keen on Bangladesh’s move to use the electronic voting machine (EVM) in the national election.
Sharif also sought updates on EVM from Zakir several times during their meet between Aug 14 and Sept 4.
BNP leader Nazrul Islam Khan, however, vehemently denied his party’s having any link to the ISI and blamed the government instead.
“Why can’t the government arrest one or more ISI agent? Maybe, they (government) maintain the link to the Pakistan spy agency otherwise how on earth did they know it, which we don’t even do.”
Citing these all are propaganda against BNP, Khan, who sits on the party’s highest policymaking forum, said, “If one or more ISI agent was nabbed (on Bangladesh soil), then we would surely understand the capacity of our intelligence agencies.
The incumbent government has been afraid of a possible defeat (in Dec 30 election) so, it’s trying to mislead people with false information but their effort will go in vain,” said Khan, who heads the BNP’s election conducting committee.
The BNP’s UK chapter chief MA Malique told Bangla Tribune, “Leaders of BNP and Jatiya Oikya Front together prepared and then finalised the candidates for 300 constituencies.”
Malique, who is said to be closed to Tarique, denied making further comment.
Analysts, however, agreed that the ISI interfered in Bangladesh ahead of the national elections.
Security analyst brigadier general (rted) Abdur Rashid told Bangla Tribune, “They (ISI) take different plans to bring polls results in favour of a particular quarter, which we always know is the anti-liberation forces.”
Explaining on ISI’s modus operandi, Rashid said, “They supply money for polls and try to spread violence using different local organisations and militant outfits.”
Citing a participatory election is likely, the analyst said, “Different surveys are predicting a possible result. If they (ISI and their local cohorts) see it goes against their favour they may try to foil the election.
Several organisations carried out violence in the past, and we have seen they have been active recently, which is more concerning,” Rashid warned without explaining specific details on these organisations.
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