India wanted to keep Bangla military out of politics: US cable

Cables released by the whistle-blower website show that a top Indian foreign ministry official had suggested to the US and the UK that the three powers ask the interim government in Bangladesh to hold "credible" elections and insist that army "remain out of politics".

Mohan Kumar, the then Joint Secretary in Ministry of External Affairs during a meeting with political counsellors at US embassy in New Delhi Ted Osius and his British counterpart PolCouns Alex Hall-Hall, said that they agree on a "core message" to the Bangladeshi caretaker government that "it remains on a path toward credible elections but clarifies that the military needs to remain out of politics."

Kumar said "the recent decision by the caretaker government in Bangladesh to allow Sheikh Hasina and Khaleda Zia to return had put that country at a crossroads."

"The government had gone back on its strategy to remove the two women from the political scene...the government will (now) reassert itself by pushing the election schedule forward, or by digging in its heels and seeking to remain in power longer," the secret cable quoted Kumar as saying.

"Kumar presented a third option, that either the military or one of the women would stir up civil unrest, which could then be used as a pretext by the military to step in and take political control," the cable dated April 27, 2007 said.

Caretaker government in Bangladesh was formed with Fakhruddin Ahmed as its Chief Adviser after tenure of the government under Prime Minister Khaleda Zia ended in October 2006.

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