Hossain Mohammad Ershad (হুসেইন মুহাম্মাদ এরশাদ Husein Muhammad Ershad) (b. February 1, 1930) is a Bangladeshi politician who previously served as army chief of staff (1978-82) and president of Bangladesh (1982-90). He is the current leader of Jatiya Party established by himself.
Hossain Mohammad Ershad was born in Rangpur in 1930. He graduated from the University of Dhaka in 1950 and was commissioned into the Pakistan Army in 1952. Between 1960 and 1962, he was an adjutant in the East Bengal regimental depot in Chittagong. He also completed advanced courses from the Command and Staff College in Quetta in 1966. After a brief period serving with a brigade in Sialkot, he was given command of the 3rd East Bengal Regiment in 1969 and the 7th East Bengal Regiment in 1971. During the Bangladesh Liberation War, he was interned along with other Bengali officers stationed in West Pakistan at the outbreak of the 1971 liberation war and repatriated to Bangladesh in 1973 in accordance with the Simla Agreement between India's Indira Gandhi and Pakistan's Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto.
He arrived back to his homeland - the new state of Bangladesh in 1973, and was appointed Adjutant General of the Bangladesh Army by Prime Minister Sheikh Mujib. After attending advanced military courses in India, Ershad was appointed Deputy chief of army Staff in 1975 by Major General Ziaur Rahman when he became the chief martial law administrator (CMLA) following Justice Sayem's elevation to the presidency on November 19, 1976.
H M Ershad remained loyal to Ziaur Rahman, Major General Zia had been appointed Army Chief by President Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad after the assassination of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the country's founding leader, on 15 August, 1975. Although Major General Zia was overthrown in a counter-coup on November 3, he was restored to power in a coup led by Col. Abu Taher on November 7. When Ziaur Rahman assumed the presidency, he appointed Ershad as the new Army Chief, promoting him to the rank of Lieutenant General. In his tenure as army chief, Ershad helped Zia suppress several attempted coups, and mutiny.
After the assassination of Ziaur Rahman on 30 May, 1981 Ershad remained loyal to the government and ordered the army to suppress the coup attempt of Zia's associates, allegedly led by Major General Abul Monjur. Ershad had the It is widely speculated that Monjur was used as a scapegoat and Ershad himself was behind the liquidation of President Zia. Ershad however maintained loyalty to the new president Abdus Sattar, who led the Bangladesh Nationalist Party to victory in elections in 1982. However, the BNP government was not doing well and pressure increased from high-ranking army commanders for the military to take over the reins of state. Ershad toppled President Sattar on 24 March, 1982 and proclaimed himself chief martial law administrator. He took over as president on 11 December, 1983 by replacing A. F. M. Ahsanuddin Chowdhury. Leadership crisis in Bangladesh
Ershad also played a key role during the SAARC Summit, uniting all member states of South-East Asian States. Significant achievement was that be brought leaders of arch rivals - India & Pakistan together in the same table.
As president, Ershad included amendments into the constitution of Bangladesh, which legalised the military coups led by himself. He also amended the constitution to declare Islam the state religion, abandoning state secularism. To improve rural administration, Ershad introduced the upazila and zila parishad system and held the first democratic elections for these village councils in 1985. In an election held in 1986, Ershad was nominated by the Jatiya party, which had been created by him and his supporters. All other major political parties boycotted the election, but Ershad was declared its winner. The Jatiya Party also won an absolute majority in the Jatiyo Sangshad.In 1987 Bangladesh’s Land Ministry launched the Land Reforms Action Program, an initiative to distribute khas – unoccupied state-owned land – to landless families. A novel element of the land reform was the establishment by the Ministry of Land.
Ershad's regime is seen as the longest autocratic rule in Bangladesh. There was violence, human rights abuse and corruption during his tenure, which still is a common practice by any government in power in Bangladesh.
UN Population Award in 10th June 1987 United Nations Laureates
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A wide umbrella of political parties united against Ershad. Zia's widow Khaleda Zia now led the BNP, which allied itself with the Awami League, led by Mujib's daughter Sheikh Hasina. The leftist parties and groups remained keen to keep other parties on the track towards the ousting of Ershad's regime. The Jamaat-e-Islami Bangladesh and other parties also joined the opposition ranks. The strikes and protests called by the opposition groups paralysed the state and its economy. Under pressure, Ershad dissolved the parliament on 7 December, 1987 but the fresh elections were again boycotted by the opposition. An intensifying opposition campaign launched by the students ultimately forced Ershad to step down on 6 December, 1990. The West, that backed him for almost a decade, no longer needed the Non-Socialist President after the fall of USSR
He handed over power to Justice Shahabuddin Ahmed to an acceptable Caretaker Cvernment, who was suppose to maintain Neutrality. However the neutrality is questionable as he placed Ershad in house arrest immediately. Lt. General Nuruddin Khan the then Army Chief backed the arrest to the alleged caretaker Govt. Shahabuddin became the President and Nuruddin Khan the Energy Minister when Awami League Government came to power in 1996. This has been speculated as a reward of a secret deal, their role played in in 1991 by Sheikh Hasina the Prime Minister and leader of the Awami League.
Although anti-Ershad sentiment was strong, H M Ershad contested the election from jail and still won all 5 different constituencies he contested from in 1991. The new government led by the BNP's Khaleda Zia instituted a number of corruption charges. Ershad was convicted of some of the charges while mostly were dismissed and thrown out of court.
In the 1996 elections, Ershad again won election from jail and aligned his party with the Awami League against the BNP. He was released from jail on 9 January, 1997 by the government of Sheikh Hasina only after unconditional support was provided to her by the former President.
Hussain Muhammad Ershad, is the only high profile politician to be convicted of corruption and serve a prison sentence. Legal complexities tend to prolong the investigation and settlement of the corruption cases against senior politicians in Bangladesh."We really don't know what will be the fate of these cases," lawyer Shahdeen Malik told the BBC. BBC News
Ershad lost his membership in parliament owing to his conviction on charges of corruption, which seems superfluous, when his relations with the ruling Awami League subsequently deteriorated. He switched his support to his one-time political adversary and main opposition leader, Khaleda Zia forming an anti-government coalition. BBC News Online
Although the ageing Tiger (Infantry Men of Bangladesh Army) never Roared again. Lieutenant General H.M.Ershad had the last laugh when corrupt, socially and morally challenged sons, daughters & wives of former opposition leaders during his regime were charged one by one in series or corruption charges and sent to jail in a dramatic & historic change in the country in January 2007. Corrupt Ministers in Bangladesh Bangladesh News The Daily Star - Tk 200 Million Bashundhara Bribe Recovered from Babar The Daily Star - Graft Cases Police Arrest Bangladeshi ex-PM Hasina Asian Tribune - Those Shameless Corrupts in Bangladesh