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The Passing of General Ershad

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General Ershad in mufti
General Ershad in mufti
(Image by Iftekhar Sayeed)
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General Ershad has passed away. May he Rest In Peace.

He gave us nine years of peace and stability himself before the western donors, with the Cold War over, pushed him (plunging us into toxic politics). He gave us no more than that, though - no frisson of irrational loyalty to a cause, no ideological horripilation....

He wasn't much loved because he was non-ideological, uncharismatic, the anti-hero. He was boring as civilization.

He privatized state assets, but that was at the behest of the Bretton Woods sisters; otherwise, aid money would have been cut off (which finally proved his undoing). He boasted to me of paving 8,000 km of highway and generating 3,000 mw of electricity. But numbers are so dull.

His leadership was rational, matching ends to means, not inspirational, not inspiring hatred or fear enough to kill or die for. Nobody was burnt alive or beaten to death on high streets on his watch. No women were raped for being on the wrong side of the political divide. It was a pedestrian provision of safety and security, a good administration, but perhaps not enough to stifle a yawn.

He never interfered with the judiciary, taking each case thrown at his face by a judge with equanimity, as the executive should. How times have changed!

O tempora! O mores!

There was no politics under the General, hence the absence of animosity, group solidarity and other-directed malice. We got along.

Nor did he take himself seriously. You could laugh at him in newspapers and meetings or stage a play like "The Captain of Kopenick" to mock his military rule, and get away with it.

It will doubtless be years, if not decades, before a staid, moderate, reasonable gentleman reemerges. He should be given a state funeral to remember the end of a rational administration of the country.

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Iftekhar Sayeed teaches English and economics. He was born and lives in Dhaka, ├ éČ┼ŻBangladesh. He has contributed to AXIS OF LOGIC, ENTER TEXT, POSTCOLONIAL ├ éČ┼ŻTEXT, LEFT CURVE, MOBIUS, ERBACCE, THE JOURNAL, and other publications. ├ éČ┼ŻHe (more...)
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