Bangladesh, once sarcastically described as a bottomless basket by former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, is now a role model in the world for economic development. This spectacular achievement defying all odds and impediments that includes natural disasters and political arch-rivalry has been made possible only for the charismatic leadership role of the Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina. Her name has been associated with the term humanity because she in spite of being the Prime Minister of a developing country has accepted 1.2 million Rohingya people, who have fled to Bangladesh after being tortured and evicted from Myanmar. In fact, Sheikh Hasina is not the mere prime minister of our country but has emerged as a symbol of humanity, rule of law, empowering women, democracy, and spectacular economic development of a poor country. Receiving SDG Progress Award from United Nation is the latest recognition of her success.
Sheikh Hasina is a daughter of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, who is the Father of the Bengali Nation and architect of independent Bangladesh. A few years after independence, some disgruntled army officers with tacit support from some conspirators assassinated her father, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman along with his entire family members. The killers were so heinous and brutal that they did not spare Sheikh Hasina’s eight-year-old brother Russel, who was also shot out and killed when he wanted to go to his mother. Sheikh Hasina and her only sister were survived because they were in Europe during that assassination. After losing her entire family, she not only became an orphan but also felt insecure as conspirators were targeting them too. At that critical juncture, she somehow drew sympathy from the then Indian government who provided shelter to Sheikh Hasina and her sister in Delhi where she had to live in hiding for a few years.
So, overcoming her emotional shock and defying her life threat, Sheikh Hasina entered Bangladesh and started her mission. After a long struggle, she became Prime Minister of Bangladesh for the first time in 1996 and the second time in 2009. Thenceforth she has been successfully leading the country. Altogether she has led the country for eighteen years so far and during her leadership, Bangladesh has made tremendous development in all respect of country’s socio-economic condition. Some milestone success and achievements made under her dynamic leadership include the following:
• She has repealed black law that banned the trial of the killers of the Father of Nation, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family members and brought those killers to justice and executed court verdict.
• She resolved one longstanding problem with ethnic communities in Chattogram, who had been carrying insurgency in the country’s hilly area. She resolved this issue by negotiation and signed a treaty with those fighting groups of tribes’ leaders and thus established peace in the region.
• She has emphasised women empowerment, so from the remote village to the urban industrialised zone, women have been working alongside their male partners. Even many high-profile positions including Speaker of Parliament, Minister, Justice, Secretary, Vice Chancellor, Deputy Governor of central bank, Generals in Army are being honoured by women.
• The country has elevated from least developed country to the status of developing country by exceeding all relevant socioeconomic index set by the international body.
• The country’s poverty rate has come below 30% during the last ten years.
• People’s per-capita income has increased from USD 500 to over USD 2200 during her last ten years tenure.
• Despite the limitations, she has provided shelter for 1.2 million Rohingyas.
• She has ensured peaceful coexisting of people of all religions— Muslim, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist and others living together sharing joy and happiness what is the historic tradition of this soil.
• She has resolved many longstanding disputes with neighbouring countries, especially India and Myanmar through negotiation and amicable settlement and among those, land disputes or enclave settlement with India and Ocean territory demarcation are milestone success.
• She has undertaken and implemented many mega projects of which Padma Bridge with own finance, Metro Rail in Dhaka city, Karnaphuli Tunnel, four & six lanes Highways, self-sufficiency electricity production are remarkable. Metro Rail in Dhaka city and Karnaphuly tunnel in Chattogram, which once were beyond the dream, are now a reality.
• She has consolidated the country’s democratic process by conducting dialogue with all political parties, including her arch-rivals, which even under direct mediation of foreign leaders was not possible at all. Under her good gesture towards democracy, all political parties had participated in the last national election and thenceforth, have been participating in all polls. This is another spectacular success in her political career.
The list can prolong and needless to speak that many of the aforesaid success stories may seem to be found as regular achievements of any state leader. However, ensuring peace for the country’s ethnic communities i.e. marginalised population, amicably resolving longstanding issues with neighbouring countries avoiding confronting situations, empowering women, rapid poverty alleviation are of course exclusive achievements of Sheikh Hasina. More importantly, her recent humanitarian role in sheltering 1.2 million Rohingyas has drawn the attention of the world community. Bangladesh is not only a developing country but also an overburden with a huge population, so it is very difficult and tremendous hardship for her to afford the basic needs of those over 1.2 million victims. Nevertheless, Sheikh Hasina has managed to ensure those Rohingyas’ basic needs and assured them to continue their shelter until they are amicably and safely taken back by the Myanmar government. Sheikh Hasina thought that with the help and active cooperation from the international community, this problem will be resolved soon, and Myanmar will take back their citizens what did not happen, rather the situation seems to be prolonging. So, she took another initiative to ensure a healthy living atmosphere by building special shelter arrangements in a designated area so that these poor people can live in a minimum hygienic and healthy environment.
Her recent milestone success in managing the coronavirus pandemic is another exemplary achievement. When many developed countries and even neighbouring countries have been scrambling hard to manage this invisible enemy, Sheikh Hasina has been able to manage this crisis with minimum loss. To speak the truth, Sheikh Hasina’s farsighted decision in timely shutting down the country, reopening at the appropriate time, providing financial assistance and finally vaccine rollout has managed this pandemic in a much better way with minimum loss.
In spite of huge success stories, allegations of corruption, deterioration in quality of education and weak banking system with rising non-performing loans remain as major problems which, we believe, she is fully aware of and will, of course, address in due course for the sake of sustaining her development program. Our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, a proven world-class leader’s birthday is on Sep 28. Happy Birthday to our Honourable Prime Minister!
We wish her healthy long life and pray to the Almighty for empowering her to lead the country many more years so that country can economically and socially elevate further.
The writer is a Banker, Toronto,
Canada. Email: [email protected]