Conflicts and Resolution
BANGLADESH HAS SEEN A NUMBER OF CONFLICTS. Some have already been discussed, such as the dispute between the parliamentary and the presidential forms of government. Three conflicts in particular will be discussed in this chapter. First, the military has played an extraconstitutional role, has at times been politicized, and at one time demanded a permanent role in the operation of the government. Second, Bangladesh has been involved in a lasting struggle with the tribes in the Chittagong Hill Tracts that may be coming to an end. Finally, there has been a lack of cooperation between the government party and the opposition, for which Bangladesh has incurred political and economic costs.
The military has played a major role in the politics of Bangladesh and Pakistan. By contrast, this has not been the case in two of the other large nations of South Asia, India and Sri Lanka, where the military has generally accepted a role subordinate to the civilian leadership (as would behoove the military in a democratic political system). Although the governmental and military heritage of the British period is common to all four states, the military in Pakistan and Bangladesh has assumed the governance of those two countries for prolonged periods, initially under martial law but occasionally continuing after martial law was lifted (as when military leaders such as Ayub Khan, Zia-ul-Haq, Ziaur Rahman, and H. M. Ershad have remained in office in what might be described as military-dominant civilian regimes). Ayub Khan in Pakistan never let it be forgotten that he was a field marshal; and Ziaur Rahman in Bangladesh, even though he tried to drop the title of major general and despite his popularity, was also a "soldier-statesman." Ershad, too, attempted to shed his formal military role.