Zia wanted US to takeover BD defense

Bangladesh National Party (BNP) chairperson General Zia wanted the Americans to take the responsibility of Bangladesh’s defense. The US State Department has released this information in its secret document. The document was declassified for public on late Thursday. There are 39 documents on Bangladesh. However, some of the documents have not been published completely yet.

Presumably, it can be said that the move that was made by General Zia was only to protect his chair. The document titled Foreign Relations of the United States, 1977–1980, Volume XIX, shows the than Jimmy Carter administration's foreign policy message on South Asia. According to the document, during his visit to USA in 1977 General Zia raised this to US President Jimmy Carter.

The report said, “In foreign policy Zia is conservative, non-communist but pragmatic. He seeks good relations with everyone but leans ideologically toward the US and UK. Zia would like us to undertake responsibility for Bangladesh’s defense”. “Masters has stressed that efforts to draw us too closely into these matters would not only fail, but would endanger the broad base of support for economic assistance within the US Government. 

He believes Zia now understands this and that this, in part, explains the recent spreading of his international options, as by his successful trip to China,” the document added. The document said, “The Army is Zia’s power base. While not totally cohesive, it is by far the strongest political force in the country. Zia clearly commands wide support in the army, but there are other contenders for power which would be strengthened if the economic progress of the past year were to falter.”

While explaining Zia’s policy to stay in the power, the document said, “We cannot be certain how long Zia will remain in office or how repressive his government might become. We should, given the fragility of political institutions and traditions, avoid a commitment to him or any other single individual. Thus far there has been no significant opposition to Zia’s tightening of authoritarian control”.

“Most people are more interested in adequate food, jobs and price stability than in elections under present circumstances. Zia probably has several years to show what he can do. By then, and by one means or another, he will have to (a) legitimize his own regime or return to a government which, directly or indirectly, is accountable to the people or (b) become more repressive to retain power against what is likely to be rising opposition,” the document expressed.