Vol. 5 Num 985 Thu. March 08, 2007  
Front Page

National Security Council on cards
Strengthening security, crackdown on the corrupt key objectives

The caretaker government has made a move to reconstitute the high-powered National Security Council (NSC) to make it effective, to strengthen the ongoing crackdown on corrupt individuals, and to ensure national security and accountability in the government.

Chief Adviser Fakhruddin Ahmed will lead the NSC while the chiefs of three armed forces, chief of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR), and civil society personalities will be its members.

Adviser to the Caretaker Government Maj Gen (retd) MA Matin yesterday said a new NSC will be formed soon.

"The framework of the council is yet to be formulated," Matin said while talking to BBC Bangla Service yesterday. He said the framework will include the council's functions, responsibilities, and spheres of work in detail.

Asked about its necessity he said the NSC will also deal with the issue of accountability in the government. "If the council sits and discuss such matters, transparency and accountability will be ensured."

An NSC was formed in 1985 during the regime of military ruler HM Ershad. After restoration of democracy with the introduction of the parliamentary form of government in 1991, NSCs were formed during the regimes of BNP and Awami League, but none of them made the councils effective.

The issue of reconstituting the NSC is being discussed again following the declaration of the state of emergency on January 11 suspending the January 22 parliamentary election. Demand for making the NSC functional has been raised from different corners following the joint forces' crackdown on corrupt individuals and criminal godfathers.

Matin said the chief adviser will head the NSC. The chiefs of army, navy and air force will be in it while chiefs of BDR, DGFI, and NSI as well as civil society members might also be in the NSC, he added.

Regarding the council's tasks, the adviser said, "It will primarily ensure security at the national level and time to time suggest ways and means."

He said other than security issues it will also deal with corruption and accountability. If the council works, sits in meetings and discusses, transparency and accountability will be ensured, he added.

Explaining the rationale behind forming the council, he said during the past years governments worked while corruption and irregularities existed side by side. If the council sits from time to time and discusses such matters, irregularities will be made public and everybody will be careful.

He also said it is not a new concept that exists only in Bangladesh. It exists in India, Pakistan and in the US. It was also in Bangladesh, but was not made effective, he commented.

Although the NSC was born during Ershad's regime, a BNP government in 1992 also formed an NSC headed by the erstwhile prime minister, but it did not have a single meeting during its tenure.

An Awami League government on May 4, 1997 formed a 24-member NSC led by the then prime minister for taking decisions on national security and defence affairs. A circular issued back then by the Cabinet Division on the formation of the NSC said the council had also been given responsibilities to deal with all internal problems related to security.

The NSC was also given the power to take decisions or direct the authorities concerned to take actions, and to make recommendations to the cabinet, if necessary.

Other members of that NSC were the ministers of finance, foreign, commerce, energy, home, law, information, and planning, principal secretary to the prime minister, the chiefs of three armed forces, cabinet secretary, secretaries to the ministries of defence, foreign, finance, home, and law, principal staff officer of the armed forces division, directors general of DGFI and NSI, inspector general of police, and the director general of BDR.

The NSC formed during the AL government however also did not have a single meeting.