New Delhi: Pakistani’s notorious spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) has been trying to influence the politics of Bangladesh, if a recent audio leak is to be believed. Ahead of the National Parliament election on December 30, the shadowy spy agency seems to have increased contact with political allies in Bangladesh.

An audio conversation, which is in possession of MyNation, has been leaked of BNP standing committee member Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain with an ISI official. The BNP leader is heard seeking help from the ISI for China's intervention in Bangladesh elections.

Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina's communication cells are known to strategically leak sensitive phone recordings to influence public opinion before elections, but the content and intent of the conversation, if proven genuine, should worry India. Bangladesh achieved freedom from Pakistani tyranny forced occupation after India routed Pakistan in the 1971 war. But that has not stopped Pakistan from constantly meddling in Bangladesh politics. BNP has been close to the local Islamist organisation Jamaat-e-Islami and Pakistan's ISI.

Who is Mahmud?

According to sources, BNP leader Mosharraf recently spoke to a person named Mahmud over the telephone. The man has been identified as Shahid Mahmud Muhammad Sharif. He was commissioned in the 54th long course of the Pakistan Army. He later joined the ISI. Since retirement in 2004, he is living in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Mahmud is working as an ISI agent. He served as a means of communication to top ISI officials with leaders of several political parties in Bangladesh, according to sources of Bangladesh intelligence.

Political analysts believe the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) is repeatedly contacting the spy agency, with the ISI to implement the Pakistani agenda. According to them, the ISI wants to turn Bangladesh into an inefficient and despotic state. The involvement of Pakistan's intelligence agency ISI has been met with several initiatives against Bangladesh's anti-liberation forces.

The news of the meeting between the BNP’s top leader Tarique Rahman and others have been published by a number of local and foreign press. However, BNP has denied such allegations.According to the findings conducted by the audio, it is seen that the ISI is trying to bring its own motivated and supportive party to power. They are making plans to influence the forthcoming 11th national election, taking a call from Dubai.

Bangladeshi intelligence agencies say that there is regular contact between the top leaders of the BNP and Jamaat-e-Islami with the ISI. Even the BNP acting chairman Tareq Rahman, who lives in London, is also keeping regular contact with the Pakistani intelligence agency. There is also evidence that BNP-Jamaat leaders tried to use a medium to communicate with China. In such a situation, security and political analysts questioned the responsibility of the BNP towards the country as a political party. When the national elections are at the doorstep, they see the meeting of the top BNP leaders and the dialogue with the ISI as an insidious and anti-national conspiracy.  

BNP-ISI ties alive?

Barrister Shah Ali Farhad, senior analyst of Centre for Research and Information (CRI) of Bangladesh said to MyNation, “Jamaat-e-Islami was a willing participant of Pakistan’s brutal genocide campaign against the Bengalis during the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War. They never accepted Bangladesh and continued believing in a pro-Pakistan and anti-Bangladesh ideology. Terror and militancy are their tools of choice. ISI has always helped them in this regard. BNP is not far behind too”. 

He added that the recent phone conversation did not surprise him, as ties between the BNP and ISI are longstanding. He commented, “Even ISI’s former chief Asad Durrani admitted funding BNP in its 1991 election win”. 

He noted that the ISI helps BNP and Jamaat because whenever these parties are in government, the ISI has a free rein to cause havoc in South Asia, especially through propping up terror and separatist groups in India’s Northeast states.   

In this situation, Shah Ali Farhad advised the government and the administration to guard against the efforts of the ISI linked BNP-Jamaat from unduly influencing the upcoming election in Bangladesh.

BNP rubbishes ISI links 

Meanwhile, BNP leaders denied the meeting or the phone call, saying that there is no relationship with the ISI. A MyNation correspondent contacted BNP leader Khandaker Mosharraf Hossain on this issue. In a statement, Khandaker Musharraf said, "I do not know the person named Mehmood or did not know any person or officer of the alleged ISI. I have never had any conversations with ISI official or agent."

However, a leader of the BNP did not want to say anything about the allegation of Tarique Rahman’s meeting with the ISI.