There are as many similarities as there are differences between the two military regimes which governed Bangladesh for nearly fifteen out of the first twenty years of its existence. Bangladesh would find it difficult to recover from the effects of the long periods of martial rule or of rule with an unrepresentative government which virtually destroyed the growth of democratic institutions. Both Zia and Ershad involved the military in politics, disrupted constitutional rule, stifled civil administration and courts of judicature and established themselves as rulers by decree rather than consent, facilitated the consolidation of the civil-military bureaucracy and relied on the bureaucrats rather than politicians to administer the country. The power of governing the state moved from the hands of the politicians to the combined class of officers and technocrats - which changed the character and complexion of the administration as a whole. This is a unique book written by a former Vice-President and Prime Minister of Bangladesh who served under two military rulers of the country. The writer belonged to political parties created by the two military rulers whose interventions in democratic rule created a leadership crisis in Bangladesh. The book reveals how the military rulers in third-world countries tend to distort the social, economic and democratic fabric of the society through military interventions. The book provides an excellent perspective on the recent political history of Bangladesh. Fortunately, Bangladesh has again adopted a democratic order. Although this new journey is not covered in this book, the events recorded and issues raised in this book will continue to remain relevant for a better understanding of the future course of democracy in Bangladesh and third-world countries. The challenge to the existing and future leaders of Bangladesh will however remain the same: to be able to sustain a democratic order and at the same time achieve the desired economic growth despite all the constraints.
Moudud Ahmed displays profound insight into the life of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and as a sequel to the author’s earlier book. Bangladesh: Constitutional Quest for Autonomy, this definitive work is a major addition to books on the political history of Bangladesh. The author’s work is particularly relevant to the actions and responses shown through its style of governance.
Barrister Ahmed has been Deputy Prime Minister (1976-78), Prime Minister (1986-89), and Vice-President of Bangladesh. He has his B.A. (Honours) and M.A. in Political Science from Dhaka University. He studied law in England and was called to the English Bar in 1966. He is a Fellow of Heidelberg University and also Harvard University.
He prepared the book, Bangladesh: Contemporary Events and Documents, published by