Counter-Terrorism: The Other Pakistan


December 2, 2009: Bangladesh is a Moslem country in eastern India. Bangladesh used to be (from 1947-71) East Pakistan. While there has been a lot of Islamic radical activity in the country, there has been very little violence (8 Islamic terrorist deaths in 2007, one last year, and none so far this year). When you consider that Bangladesh has a population of 162 million, that's a remarkably low rate of Islamic radical violence. Then again, there is a very different culture in Bangladesh, and that makes a big differences when it comes to Islamic terrorism. Moreover, unlike Pakistan (West Pakistan from 1947-70), Bangladesh did not, in the 1970s, make support of Islamic radicals a government policy. Moreover, Bangladesh does not see India as a mortal foe. Partly, that's because Indian troops liberated East Pakistan from unpopular West Pakistan politicians and troops in 1971. But there's also the fact that the former state of Bengal (which is what East Pakistan/Bangladesh was, and still is) had a much more harmonious relationship with the rest of the India than did the northwestern provinces that became West Pakistan.

But there has been evidence of Pakistani terrorist groups using Bangladesh as a base for operations inside India. There has been considerable counter-terrorism effort directed at this, and many arrests. Meanwhile, the major source of radical violence in Bangladesh is among leftist groups. This has been fairly steady, at about 80 deaths a year. Again, for a country this size, that's very low. Many of the leftist groups label themselves as communist, but many of them have already devolved into criminal gangs, with little political effort remaining.



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