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Islamic NGOs: Shadow Government in Bangladesh

Islamic NGOs: Shadow Government in Bangladesh

Author: William Gomes
Publication: Islam Watch
Date: April 9, 2009
URL: http://islam-watch.org/Gomes/Islamic-NGOs-Shadow-Government-in-Bangladesh.htm

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) play a vital role in developing countries, such as in Bangladesh. The number of NGOs in Bangladesh will be in excess of 78,000 by the midst of the year 2009 registered with five different government instruments.
The news that Islamic NGOs with foreign funds are fueling Islamic militancy in Bangladesh has been bubbling all over the country. The Daily Star reported that the suspected NGOs include Rabita Al-Alam Al-Islami, Al-Muntada Al- Islami, Society of Social Reforms, Qatar Charitable Society, Islamic Relief Agency, Al-Forkan Foundation, International Relief Organisation, Kuwait Joint Relief Committee, Muslim Aid Bangladesh, Dar Al-Khair, Hayatul Igachha, and Tawheed-e-Noor.

The daily New Age wrote, "During the previous BNP-led alliance government, some 473 local and 25 foreign NGOs were enlisted with the NGO Affairs Bureau. One hundred and twenty-nine of them are local and eight foreign NGOs who were enlisted in the financial year 2006-07. Since 1990, the NGO Bureau has approved 2,367 local and foreign NGOs who run on foreign funding."

When the Bangladesh National Party (BNP)-led alliance government was in power, 900 billion taka (~ US$13b) in foreign donations, in the name of 11,000 NGOs, came into Bangladesh. That amount is nearly equal to the government's financial budget for the year 2009, which stood at 999.62 billion taka (~ US$14.5b).

The main process of registering an NGO and funding its operations is highly dependent upon the bureaucracy. That was and is the main reason that NGO activities in Bangladesh have become politicized. As a result of this, during the term of the last BNP-led alliance government, the institutional outfits of the radical Islamic interest-groups triumphed.

The NGO registration process in Bangladesh involves some powerful intelligence instruments of the government, such as the Directorate General of Forces Intelligence (DGFI), the National Security Intelligence (NSI), and the Special Branch of the Bangladesh Police.

There is clear evidence of corruption and political interference in the NGO registration process. The government's policy is tricky on the issue of NGO registration, especially because the NGO Affairs Bureau, which is under the Prime Minister's Office in name, but is mainly controlled by intelligence instruments, like DGFI and NSI. It should be noted that during the term of the BNP alliance government, several proponents of radical Islamic agenda have been placed in various important government instruments, including intelligence organizations.

We have had a past record of 34 foreign-funded major Islamic NGOs and 15 of them were very active back in the year 2005. In 1999, the intelligence agencies tracked an NGO named Suffering Humanity International, which had vibrant relations with fascistic Islamic elements in Bangladesh to establish an Islamic dictatorship.

The radical Islamists have fully succeeded in forming a shadow government in Bangladesh. Their institutional outfits, the Islamic NGOs, put their huge foreign-funds in several long-term investments such as in Banking, health-care and hospital, and education sectors. In the time of need, they will be able to control the market and to destabilize country. Even the same quarter has engulfed the print and media sector with the motive to play up its ideological propaganda.

This quarter is nursing an agenda to bring new crisis before the government where the treatment of government is very poor. After the recent Islamists-linked Pilkhana Revolt in Bangladesh, the prisons are the next target of this vested quarter to destabilize the country. They are using prisons as recruiting office to strengthen their terrorist activities. The young hardened criminals, after coming out from the prison, join these violent groups to take part in destructive works.

The government should make it very clear to make the whole NGO activities free from the influence of the intelligence agencies and politics to safeguard the country from bigger future failures. The Islamic NGOs has turned into shadow government in Bangladesh: they are the highest threat not only to the future of Bangladesh but also to the security of South Asia.

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