I could not understand the motive of US ban: Aziz Ahmed

The US State Department imposed a ban on former army chief General (retd) Aziz Ahmed on allegations of his involvement in corruption. He spoke to Prothom Alo’s Qadir Kallol about this issue at his residence in Mirpur DHOS in Dhaka on Tuesday.

Prothom Alo:

The US has slapped a ban on you. How do you see this development?

General (retd) Aziz Ahmed: One of my well-wishers informed me about this in the morning. Then I saw the US State Department has barred me and my family members from entering their country. I was surprised and shocked at the development. This is unfortunate.

Prothom Alo :

The US announcement reads that your involvement with corruption as the prime reason for this sanction. The country said the action came as you help your brother evade accountability for criminal activities by interfering in public process. Also, you got involved in significant corruption.

Aziz Ahmed: This allegation is not true. Al-Jazeera (Qatar-based media) in February 2021 aired a documentary titled "All the Prime Minister's Men". The allegation brought in that documentary was the same as the US allegation. So I think these two are intertwined.

Prothom Alo:

The US also accused you of working closely with your brother to ensure the improper awarding of military contracts and accepting bribes in exchange for government appointments for his personal benefit.

Aziz Ahmed: Al-Jazeera also brought these two allegations against me and now the US joined too. I said during that time and still maintain that these allegations are not true. My brother in question has not been living in the country since 2002. I don’t agree with the notion that I helped him by using my position in government. And the letter that awarded presidential pardon to my brother mentioned that the case against him was politically motivated. He is closely connected with the Awami Jubo League. That’s why the letter mentioned the case being politically motivated. It happened within several months of my appointment as army chief. My other brother was pardoned before I became the army chief. It had nothing to do with influencing my government post.

Prothom Alo :

But, when the incidents happened you were holding an important position.

Aziz Ahmed: No, no, I did not cooperate. These have been processed much before I became the army chief. Lots of allegations can be raised, but those have no base or evidence. None could show any evidence.

Prothom Alo:

You were the head of the BGB before becoming the army chief, but why is such controversy centering you?

Aziz Ahmed: Look, this controversy focuses on an individual and this has been done to make me controversial as a person.

Prothom Alo:

So, why did this allegation or controversy centre on you?

Aziz Ahmed: There might be any motive; I could not understand. However, it might be that I was the chief of two forces at two different times. One of the tenures lasted from December 2012 to November 2016. Many things including elections took place in the country over the period. Then I was the army chief from June 2018 to June 2021. The coronavirus pandemic and the election took place during this period. Perhaps, these might be the reasons.

Prothom Alo:

Whether a question on morality appears here since you have faced such allegations and now a ban on your entry into the US has come.

Aziz Ahmed: No, why would I take the moral responsibility here? Now if someone does not like me and brings allegations, why I would take the responsibility?

Prothom Alo :

You said the US ban has been imposed on you as an individual, but does it embarrass the government?

Aziz Ahmed: I do not want to involve anyone else with this. However, the government appointed me to two forces at various times; hence, the action, perhaps, embarrasses the government or discredits them a little. Since allegations have been brought about me without any evidence, it may or may not embarrass the government.