Far-sighted and visionary leaders make things happen that ordinary people think impossible. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was such a leader who not only changed the lot of his people, but also changed the geopolitics of South Asia. Maybe he was a leader of a small country with a territory of fifty-six thousand square miles, but the impact of his vision and actions had reached worldwide.
So powerful and so pragmatic was his vision that even after nearly five decades of his death, statesmen in the 21st century ponder about “what could the subcontinent have looked like, had this modern-day giant not been assassinated.” He is physically no more with us, but the legacy he left have started inspiring heads of different states in this region to imagine a new South Asia.The just concluded 10-day celebration of Bangabandhu’s birth centenary and Bangladesh’s 50 years of independence saw the physical presence of five heads of state and heads of government from the South Asian region despite the coronavirus pandemic. Thus the auspicious occasion has virtually brought the entire region closer, further strengthening the bilateral and multi-lateral ties in the region, which is in fact a historic development.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has rightly pointed out the countries in the region have common heritage, common development, common goals and common challenges as well. The countries have similar possibilities in the area of trade and development, and also face similar threats, such as terrorism and poverty. Therefore, just as the South Asian countries have a shared vision of moving forward together, they must also stay united in facing the challenges.
Over the last 10 days, Bangladesh has signed a plethora of bilateral agreements with five South Asian countries. Among others, the agreements will enhance physical connectivity through road, water and air, which in turn will pave the way for greater cooperation in trade and commerce among the nations.
Given that the SAARC cannot function smoothly due to geopolitical reason, enhancing bilateral and sub-regional cooperation among friendly neighbouring countries is apparently the only option for greater connectivity and cooperation in this region. However, there is a need for bringing these friendly countries under a common platform. In this regard we think Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was right to say that India needs to play a pioneering role in building a stable and politically and economically vibrant South Asia. If we move forward hand in hand, development of our people is inevitable.