Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has emphasised regional cooperation and urged all to rise above differences to work for the welfare of the people on the twin occasions of 50 years of independence and Bangabandhu’s birth centenary.
The independence hero, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, believed in regional cooperation and emphasised cooperation based on trust and equity as he dreamt of economic freedom along with political independence, his daughter Hasina said at a programme to mark the occasions.
Joined by her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi in Dhaka’s National Parade Ground, the main venue of the celebrations, Hasina noted that India is the largest country in South Asia and so it needs to take the leadership role in stabilising and strengthening the region both politically and economically.
“If we step forward in the aid of each other, the development of our people is inevitable. Because South Asia is the most densely populated area, and we have a lot of resources that we can all use to build this country and the region free from hunger and poverty,” she said.
Bangladesh’s progress on the path of prosperity by overcoming various obstacles, the prime minister said Bangladesh has been recognised for moving from a least developed country to a developing country following her government’s efforts in the past 12 years.
“We want to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2031; in other words, we want to establish ourselves as an upper-middle income country. We want to build Bangladesh as a developed and prosperous country by 2041.”
She said: “In this auspicious moment, let us promise that we will forget all differences and work for the welfare of the people. And our foreign policy is very clear, which the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib has given us – friendship to all, malice to none. Bangladesh is moving forward with that policy and we are committed to establishing South Asia as a developed, prosperous region.”
The 10-day programme started on Mar 17, Bangabandhu’s 101st birth anniversary, under the theme ‘Mujib Eternal’. Friday marks the 50th anniversary of independence.
Heads of state and government of five neighbouring countries have joined the programme in person with a limited guests amid the coronavirus pandemic.
On the last day, President Md Abddul Hamid was the chief guest at the event organised under the theme ‘Fifty Years of Independence and the Golden Line of Progress’.
Modi was the guest of honour at the function presided over by Hasina.
Modi handed the Gandhi Peace Prize for Bangabandhu to Hasina’s sister Sheikh Rehana, the youngest daughter of the Father of Nation, at the event.
Bangladesh’s relations with India have reached a new height, according to Hasina. “We appreciate Prime Minister Modiji’s ‘neighbours first’ [foreign] policy. He has sent coronavirus vaccines to neighbouring countries, including Bangladesh. This is a reflection of his policy. ”
In the last few years, cooperation between Bangladesh and India has increased in various fields, including trade and commerce, communication, power, energy and agriculture, she said.
“The Friendship Bridge over the Feni River was recently inaugurated to increase Bangladesh’s connectivity with the northeastern states of India. These states can now use Chattogram seaport and airport and they are doing it. They will also be able to use the port of Mongla.”
Besides Bangabandhu, the prime minister paid a rich tribute to the four national leaders, the three million Liberation War martyrs, the 200,000 women raped by the Pakistani Army and its local collaborators, and the valiant freedom fighters.
She also remembered with sadness the members of her family who were killed along with Bangabandhu in the Aug 15 massacre of 1975.