Describing Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as a charismatic leader, Nepalese President Bidya Devi Bhandari on Monday said the continued progress of Bangladeshi people is a fitting tribute to his contributions to the nation-building process of Bangladesh.
She made the remarks while delivering her speech on ‘Nepal-Bangladesh Relations and Bangabandhu’s Birth Centenary’ on the sixth-day function of the 10-day programmes to celebrate the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation and the golden jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence as the guest of honour at the National Parade Ground in the capital in the afternoon.President Abdul Hamid spoke at the programme as the chief guest with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the chair.
Bidya Devi Bhandari is the third South Asian dignitary to have attended the programme physically and extended her heartfelt compliments and warm wishes to the people of Bangladesh.
She thanked President Abdul Hamid for inviting her to Bangladesh.Recalling her past private visits, the Nepalese President said this is the first time that she has come to Bangladesh as the President of Nepal.
She said, “I’ve found a lot of progress taking place in Bangladesh in terms of economic activities, development works and the enhancement of the people’s living standard.”
“In recent years, Bangladesh has successfully lifted a large population out of poverty through rapid economic growth and this trend is ongoing,” Bidya Devi said, adding, “I feel happy to witness these positive changes taking place in our friendly country and the life of its people.”
She said Nepal and Bangladesh are rich countries in terms of natural and human resources, history, civilisation and culture.Describing Nepal as a long time friend of Bangladesh, Bidya Devi said, “Geographically, our two countries are only a short distance away from each other. This geographical proximity, similar culture, tradition, mutual support and goodwill have firmly knotted the bilateral ties.”
“We’ve been cooperating to enhance trade, transit, energy, connectivity, tourism, education, culture and people-to people relations,” she said.
The Nepalese President thinks the volume of bilateral trade at present is moderate with enough scope for its expansion. “Nepal has an increasing trade deficit with Bangladesh. We need to minimise the trade deficit in order to make trade beneficial for both countries.”
She believes that elimination of trade barriers, development of infrastructure and easy market access could significantly boost the trade relationship.
Bidya Devi sees energy as another important area for the expansion of cooperation between Nepal and Bangladesh as the two countries have already signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the field. “Nepal’s hydropower and Bangladesh’s natural gas can be the game-changers for our development needs,” she said.
Focusing on connectivity, she said more flights apart from the existing Kathmandu-Dhaka ones, waterways through the linkages of Nepal’s rivers with India and Bangladesh, and development of roadways and railways and their linkages can also contribute meaningfully to this process.
The Nepalese President also thinks that the natural beauty, rich historical and archaeological sites and cultural heritages of Nepal and Bangladesh can benefit both the countries to expand mutual cooperation in the tourism sector.
Mentioning the existing bilateral cooperation in the education sector, she expects its further enhancement. Paying tribute to Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Bidya Devi said, “Bangabandhu's incessant struggle gave birth to Bangladesh. He had showed unswerving leadership and unremitting action for it.”
“We also learn about his great compassion for the weak, downtrodden, poor and other citizens in difficulty,” she added.
The Nepalese President said, “We’re happy to see the celebrations of the birth centenary of Bangabandhu across Bangladesh in recognition of his role, contribution and sacrifice for the independence of Bangladesh.”
She also congratulated and wished all on the occasion of the golden jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence.
Earlier, President Abdul Hamid and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina received Bidya Devi Bhandari when she reached the programme venue at 4:40pm.
The programme began with the chorus presentation of Bangladesh’s national anthem.
The recitation from the holy religious books, Mujib Year theme song and video on the Monday’s theme ‘Banglar Mati, Amar Mati’ were presented at the programme.
Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni and renowned author Selina Hossain also addressed the function.