Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury

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Lieutenant General Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury, awc, psc
Nickname(s) Hasan Mashhud
Born 11 September 1948
Allegiance Bangladesh
Service/branch Bangladesh Army
Rank Lieutenant General
Unit Frontier Force Regiment

Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury (Bengali: হাসান মশহুদ চৌধূরী; born 11 September 1948) is a retired Bangladesh Army officer and was Chief of Army Staff of the Bangladesh Army from 16 June 2002 to 15 June 2005. He was the last officer to serve in this position who had first been commissioned by and served with the Pakistani Army, before the Liberation War of 1971. He served for two years before the war.

After Chowdhury retired from his career with the Bangladesh Army, in October 2006 he was appointed as an adviser of the interim caretaker government. Chowdhury and three other advisers, Akbar Ali Khan, C M Shafi Sami and Sultana Kamal, resigned in December .

In 2007, Chowdhury was appointed as chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission. He served nearly two years until April 2009 and resigned during Sheikh Hasina's government.

Early life and education[edit]

Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury spent his childhood in Sylhet. His student life started in a patshala in Kanishail village of Sylhet. As his father had work that reassigned him to different locations, Chowdhury moved with his father and family to Barisal. He studied at Barisal Zilla School for five years.

After passing SSC in 1964, he was admitted to Notre Dame College and moved to Dhaka. In 1966 he transferred to the Economics Department of the University of Dhaka. One year later Chowdhury decided to join the army.

Military life in Pakistan[edit]

The Pak Army sent Chowdhury to the Pakistan Military Academy at Kakul in West Pakistan. On 20 April 1969, he was commissioned into the Frontier Force Regiment, which was mainly formed with Pathan soldiers. He worked in Karachi, Lahore, Azad Kashmir and Sindh. He went to Quetta a few times for training.[1]

During the Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, Chowdhury was interned by the Pakistanis as an enemy officer because of his birth and rearing in Eastern Pakistan. He recalled later, "I was interned in a remote place surrounded by mountains. We were treated as prisoners of war. It was clear to me that we would be used to exchange for Pakistani prisoners of war in India."[1] He was held in Pakistan from 1972 to 1974 and described the period as "miserable and wastage of time and working ability."[1]

Bangladesh Army career[edit]

In January 1974, Chowdhury was finally released and returned to Independent Bangladesh, where he joined the Bangladesh Army. Later he joined the 17th East Bengal Regiment. In 1975 he became a brigade major of the 46 Infantry Brigade Headquarters at Dhaka. Later he returned to 17th East Bengal Regiment as a captain. In 1977 he was assigned to Ruma of Chittagong Hill Tracts.

Later that year, he was assigned to Dhaka to join the 9th Infantry Division.[citation needed] He received advanced training at the Defence Services Command and Staff College, Mirpur, graduating in 1979.[2] For two years, he served as an instructor there, before being assigned to Alikadam of Chittagong Hill Tracts. From there he went to Bangladesh Military Academy at Bhatiari and later returned to Dhaka.

After some time he was promoted into brigade commander at Savar. At the time of the Gulf War in 1990, he commanded a Bangladesh Military contingent that took part in the war.[3] He and his forces were stationed for nine months in different places across Saudi Arabia. He described his experience as "tough but professionally pleasing."[citation needed]

In June 1991, after returning from the war, Chowdhury was sponsored for training at the United States Army War College (USAWC). At the same time he earned a Master of Public Administration degree at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. He graduated from USAWC in 1992.[4][5] As part of the training, he toured other military forces in Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador and Mexico.

Upon his return, he was commissioned as a Brigade Commander at Khagrachhari, Chittagong Hill Tracts. After that he was posted at Defence Services Command and Staff College at Mirpur.[citation needed] One year later he became Area Commander, Bogra Area and General Officer Commanding of the 11th Infantry Division[6] after a turmoil inside the army in 1996.

After one year, he was appointed as Chief of General Staff and then as Commandant of the National Defence College from 1 March 2000 to 31 December 2000.[7] Passed over when M. Harun-ur-Rashid (bn) was made Chief of Army Staff on 25 December 2002, Chowdhury chose to serve as an envoy and was appointed Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, where he helped Bangladeshi immigrants.[3]

On 16 June 2002, he was promoted from Major General to Lieutenant General and appointed Chief of Army Staff, the highest position for an army officer.[3] After serving three years, Chowdhury was asked to extend his term, but he refused. He said, "... three years was sufficient to prove the credibility of an army chief. Secondly those who are new were ready and interested for this responsibility."[1] He recommended Moeen to succeed him, passing over nine other senior army officers.

Chowdhury is the last man to serve as Chief of Army Staff of Bangladesh Army who had been first commissioned in the Pakistan Army before the Bangladesh Liberation War.[citation needed]

Adviser of the caretaker government[edit]

At the start of October 2006, as the confusion about Chief Justice K.M. Hasan started, he expressed his inability. Though he finally agreed to take the duty after the situation had changed. Then Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami proposed his name to become an adviser to the interim Caretaker Government. The Awami League (AL) nominated Sultana Kamal and Sheikh Hasina was consulted on C. M. Shafi Sami by Mukhlesur Rahman Chowdhury, as part of the AL quota.

Working with the other advisers, Chowdhury was concerned by what he perceived as lack of leadership and unwillingness to take the right decision at the right time. When the package proposal of the advisers was accepted by the opposite political parties, he was surprised to see the ignorance of the chief adviser and the President Iajuddin Ahmed about it. There was conspiracy where DGFI was involved what he realised later that Moeen was doing everything staying behind to capture country's presidency.

Even before the package proposal started, Chowdhury was sent to the opposing political parties. He thought negotiation to overcome the problem may not be possible. So he proposed reassigning the advisers to make the politicians responsible for jeopardising the condition. He was also misguided by Moeen. Ironically Khaleda Zia also believed Moeen until declaration of State of Emergency pressed by him defying Adviser Mukhles Chowdhury's repeated objections on it.

Chowdhury said, the chief adviser, Iajuddin Ahmed, single-handedly deployed the army whereas the president was the supreme commander of army, Commander in chief (c in C) and even Defense Minister during Caretaker Government. But when later Moeen was handling army's deployment in Bangladesh and crackdowned on politicians without jurisdiction disobeying constitution he served that illegitimate government until he was ousyted saying that he will not resign again what he did from advisership. Chowdhury had told during Iajuddin Government, "People of Bangladesh can not be controlled by the army. It was not possible in 1971, not in 1990 and there is no legitimate way to succeed in 2006". After that meeting, he decided to resign if the army was to be used. Unfortunately, same Chowdhury did not realise that what he was doing with full of contradiction of his earlier statement.

When Chowdhury learned of its deployment, he and three other advisers immediately resigned, including Akbar Ali Khan, CM Shafi Sami and Sultana Kamal. Responding to a question about his position, Chowdhury said that he believed the regular agencies of the government were sufficient to maintain law and order. He felt the Army could be used for special needs, but not too early in an election cycle. Chowdhury did not assume all responsibility for the political crisis, saying other parties also contributed to it.[1] However, his this role became reverse when he served his successor and joined a lower grade job in the Anti Corruption Commission (ACC). He also proposed to appoint Moeen army chief as latter's request following influence of Sayeed Eskandar, Moudud Ahmed, Barkatullah Bulu and some other influential people from Noakhali for this, which cancelled army chief's appointment of Maj. Gen Razzakul Haider signed by Prime Minister, who was senior to Moeen in army.

As chairman of Anti-Corruption Commission[edit]

On 22 February 2007, Chowdhury was appointed as chairman of the Anti-Corruption Commission.[8] He said he would undertake a sustained battle against corruption, and numerous people were prosecuted for graft.

Chowdhury had to resign on 2 April 2009 after the Awami League ascended to rule. Without his knowledge, the Moeen group had filed cases at night; they arrested former prime ministers and leaders of the two major parties, Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina, of the BNP and Awami League, respectively. Awami League MP's, led by Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, strongly criticised Mashhud in the parliament, and he resigned. BNP MPs, led by Moudud Ahmed, supported the Awami position.

Marriage and family[edit]

After 3 years of serving with the Bangladesh Army, he married 'Zarnigar' in 1977.

See also[edit]

Preceded by
Lt. Gen. M Harun-Ar-Rashid
Chief of Army Staff, Bangladesh Succeeded by
Lt. Gen. Moeen U Ahmed

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Noor, Zahid Reza. "Chutir Dine," Prothom Alo, 13 January 2007
  2. ^ Rahman, Syedur (2010). Historical Dictionary of Bangladesh (4th ed.). Lanham, MD: Scarcrow Press. p. 70. ISBN 978-0-8108-7453-4. 
  3. ^ a b c "New army chief appointed". Gulf News. 13 June 2002. 
  4. ^ Kerr, Carol (February 2005). "IF Hall of Fame to induct two new members". Banner. The United States Army War College. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  5. ^ Krishna M., Gamble (March 2005). "Norway, Bangladesh officers inducted in International Fellows Hall of Fame". Banner. The United States Army War College. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  6. ^ "Up close with Hasan Mashhud Chowdhury". bdnews24.com. 22 February 2007. 
  7. ^ "Hall of Fame (Ex Commandant)". National Defence College. Retrieved 19 June 2015. 
  8. ^ "Lt Gen (rtd) Mashhud made ACC chief". The Daily Star. 23 February 2007.