British Foreign and Development Office (FCDO) Minister for South Asia and Commonwealth Lord Tariq Ahmed has said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Bangabandhu is “an inspiration” not just to the Bengali community across the world but to many who fight for liberty and democracy, reports UNB.
He said Bangabandhu laid the foundation of a strong partnership and deep friendship that Bangladesh-UK has been enjoying in the past five decades since his maiden visit to the UK on 08 January 1972.Lord Ahmed said that Bangabandhu’s founding vision of a democratic, secular and inclusive Bangladesh was an inspiring one; and the UK would remain a critical partner of Bangladesh seeking to support peace and prosperity for all its people led by the able leader of Bangabandhu, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The British Minister made the remarks at an event organised by Bangladesh High Commission, London recently commemorating the historic maiden visit of Bangabandhu to the United Kingdom on 8 January 1972 en route his heroic homecoming to independent Bangladesh following his release form 9-month long imprisonment in Pakistan.
Speaking as the chief guest, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said Bangabandhu’s stopover in London before he reached independent Bangladesh and subsequent meetings with
the then British Prime Minister Sir Edward Heath and opposition and Labour Leader Sir William Harold demonstrated friendship from both the ruling conservative government as well as the opposition labour party and unconditional love from his Bangladeshi-British brethren.
Dr Momen said Bangabandhu’s 8 January official meeting with Sir Edward Heath not only set in stone a strong Bangladesh-UK friendship to grow in leaps and bounds over the next 50 years, but also paved the way for Bangladesh’s official recognition by Britain on 4 February 1972.
Leader of the Opposition and the Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer MP paid his deep tribute to Bangabandhu and said, “Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was a great statement who spent 14 years imprisonment for fighting to establish civil, political and cultural rights of his people and leading his country towards independence.”High Commissioner Saida Muna Tasneem paid homage to the Father of the Nation and said Bangabandhu’s 08 January visit to the UK and his official meeting at No 10 Downing Street where he was recognised by Prime Minister Edward Heath as the President of independent Bangladesh, was in fact de facto diplomatic recognition by the then Conservative Government of a just liberated Bangladesh, and a testimony to the special status that a Statesman like Bangabandhu enjoyed with Britain.
Representing Conservative Party Chair Amanda Milling, Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party Ms. Nickie Aiken MP said the bond Bangabandhu had established with the UK since his stopover in London on 08 January 1972 would continue to guide the bilateral relations between Bangladesh and the UK in the post-Brexit and post-Covid era.
A documentary on the Father of the Nation was screened at the beginning of the event titled, “Bangabandhu and Britain: A special relationship” that followed a cultural presentation of sarod recital and dance titled “Bangabandhu the Brave heart: A Veer Rasa”, by renowned classical musician Rajrupa Chowdhury and prominent perfuming artist from Bangladesh Sadia Islam Mou and her troupe.
First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford as special guest.
Eminent parliamentarians, senior members of the House of Lords, ambassadors, renowned British journalists and senior UK Foreign Office officials addressed the event titled “Bangabandhu & Britain: And the Historic 8 January”, paying their profound homage to Bangabandhu and recalling his special relationship with British Government, its Conservative and Labour Prime Ministers in early 70s and with the British-Bangladeshi expatriates.
Chair of Conservative Friends of India, Seema Malhotra, MP, Indian High Commissioner to the UK Gaitri Issar Kumar, Human Rights Lawyer Cherie Blair CBE QC, Former Assistant Private Secretary to The Queen and Chief Executive, Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council (CWEIC) Samantha Cohen CVO, former Bangladesh Ambassador Mohiuddin Ahmed, former BBC journalist William Crawley, organiser of Bangladesh Liberation War overseas freedom movement in the UK Sultan Mahmud Sharif and Conservative member of the London Assembly and candidate for London Mayor Shaun Baily participated in the discussions.
Hundreds of expatriate Bangladeshis from the UK and Ireland joined the commemorative event paying their tribute to the Father of the Nation, said the High Commission on Sunday.