MNA Feature Desk: Today is the 71st birthday of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. She was born on September 28, 1947. Eldest daughter of the greatest Bengali of all times, nation’s father Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Sheikh Hasina is the three time’s Prime Minister of Bangladesh today. Due to her tireless and relentless efforts, Bangladesh is at the door of becoming a middle income country after overcoming so many obstacles. With grief of losing her family from inhuman and barbaric killings, she returned to Bangladesh from deportation ignoring dictator’s bloody-eyes on May 17, 1981. Beside adverse political, social and economic environment, the nature environment was also slumber the day she returned. In her long struggling journey, she faced oppression, conspiracy and trickery to establish democracy to protect the people’s rights. She has been working since tirelessly with her life at stake for the implementation of the dreams of Bangabondhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Since she had closely observed her father’s political life from childhood and been involved with politics in her student life, she became active in politics after returning to Bangladesh to address the needs of people, stressed from dictator’s maladministration. Her father, nation’s father and architect of independence, never walked behind in fulfilling Bengalis’ dream of independence despite a very long jail time. He was never scared for his life. That Sheikh Mujib’s blood runs through the veins of Sheikh Hasina. 20 attempts were made to murder her prior and after her return to Bangladesh. But she never left her goal of implementing her father’s dreams. She has been working with great bravery. It is only a matter of time to fulfill Bangabondhu’s dreams considering her works for the people and the country’s development.
I want to mention an event here. I visited Germany to participate in a program of World Newspaper Association. While sitting at the Bangladesh High Commission, I expressed my wish to visit the house where Bangabondhu’s daughters were on August 15, 1975. I came to know that, Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana were not in Germany on that day. They were lucky to leave Germany just before. Because, after brutally killing Bangabondhu and his family members, Colonel Faruk-Rashid and their associates sent their men to that house to kill both Bangabondhu-daughters which was the very first attempt to kill Sheikh Hasina. Its Allah’s mercy and kindness, they just left Germany for Belgium. They received the news of the killings of their parents, brothers and family there and their run for fleeing started.
Two sisters were fleeing around the world like fugitives and did not even get chance to see their family members’ dead bodies. Secretly, they reached to Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India at that time. Sheikh Hasina remained in her shelter. After long six years, she returned to her homeland, which achieved a new identity through the efforts of her father and where her father and whole family was brutally murdered. Listening to their post-1975 story, tears were flowing heavily from my eyes. I just felt, the pain and grief that Sheikh Hasina was bearing then might have been more than that of not only whole Bangladesh but also of the whole world. Any Bangladeshi will shed tears even today if he hears her painful history of those six years. And I remembered Sheikh Russel – a life, full of potential, was taken away by cruel bullets of assassins. Born on the same month of my birth, Sheikh Russel was only a year younger to me. Can we overcome this grief?
I have been very lucky to observe the daughter of Bangabondhu, Sheikh Hasina very closely being the chief patron of the country’s renowned children organization, Bangabondhu Shishu Kishore Mela. She comes to the programs of the organization whenever possible. It found that she besides being a skilled leader is an affectionate mother. She used to talk closely with the children and scratched out about their wellbeing. She inspired them with advisory speech. She often became emotional remembering Sheikh Russel while talking to the children and asked what his fault was and why he was killed as he could not have committed any crime. She used to ask in grief why Sheikh Russel was killed viciously as he was only a child as her eyes used to be teary while she spoke about him.
Talking personally about some virtues of prople’s leader Sheikh Hasina, firstly, she is very truthful. Very easily, she tells the tough truths. She is very pious. Intense motherly love, she has deep inside, touches our heart the most. She draws everyone close to her like an affectionate mother. She owns a soft heart to make people her own. She is like a mother to some; like a sister to some; like an aunt to some – we find all affectionate roles of woman in her. We find proof of that during her recent visit to the Rohingya refugee camp. Only a mother can embrace a child, who suffered inhuman torture and now living at the refugee camp, with tearful eyes like her. We doubt if any other statesman will ever be able to establish themselves as an idol of humanity like her. And that makes Sheikh Hasina different from everyone.
I learnt about her intense motherly love and humanity while working as the chief patron of Bangabondhu Shishu kishor Mela. These virtues of hers personally inspired me a lot. I became more strong-willed to work for the proper mental developments of the children and teenagers according to her guidance. We have been through a long way after that. Bangabondhu Shishu Kishor Mela is a very well known and inspiring name among the children and teenagers of Bangladesh. We are progressing with the inspiration and enthusiasm from Sheikh Hasina even today.
The signs of prudence that Sheikh Hasina displayed while leading this nation is very hard to portray in short. She declared to build ‘Digital Bangladesh’ after taking charge of the government for the second term in 2008. She promised that implementing the ‘Padma Bridge’ project is her first objective. She got trapped into international conspiracy with that project. But unstoppable Sheikh Hasina became stronger, braver. Works of Padma bridge project with own funding is proceeding in great speed. We are transforming into ‘Digital Bangladesh’ with high confidence. The people of Bangladesh have already started to get benefits of that. We do not hesitate to say, the country progressed significantly under her leadership.
She played the role of a strong-willed statesman while illogical complaint of World Bank almost under jeopardized the implementation of Padma bridge project. She declared the project to be implemented without the World Bank’s support. Many world leaders got amazed by her strong attitude. How can she, the Prime Minister of a developing country, dream of implementing such a large project? Many criticized her decision of making Padma bridge with own funding and building ‘Digital Bangladesh’ as daydream. But these are not any dream or imagination, rather reality in front of the people of the world.
During the three terms of Sheikh Hasina’s government, huge development of Bangladesh in multiple areas has incurred. Many development projects have started under her guidance. Declaration and implementation of ‘Digital Bangladesh’; implementation of Vision 2021 on the way; punishment of Bangabondhu’s murderers; judgment and punishment of war criminals; enormous success in meeting country’s electricity demand; starting of Padma bridge project works; notable success women’s empowerment and development; improvement in quality of education and uplifting literacy rate from 53.7% (2008) to 72.3% (2017); promoting foreign currency reserve from $5.79bn (2008) to $33.4bn (2017); elevating per capita income of Bangladesh from $698.7 (2008) to $1602 (2017); expanding the border and increasing the area of Bangladesh through successful claim of enclaves from India and sea area from both India and Myanmar; strong handling of terrorism inside the country; playing vital role in combating terrorism in neighboring countries etc. are few among many success of her government.
The problem of penetration of refugees, who are subject to ethnic cleansing and inhuman torture, from Myanmar at the south-east border of our country is currently creating massive concern all around the world. We believe only the diplomatic skill and excellence of Sheikh Hasina will solve that international humanitarian problem. The development incurred in three terms of her government is much more than that of any other government in the 47 years of independence which took her to unmatchable heights.
Sheikh Hasina has transformed into a world leader from people’s leader. She received huge recognition and countless prizes from all around the globe. ‘Planet 50-50 Champion’ award; ‘Agent of Change’ award; ‘Felix Houphouet-Boigny Peace Prize’; ‘Mother Teresa Award’; ‘M.K. Gandhi Award’; ‘Peace Tree Award’; ‘UN Environment Prize’; ‘Champions of the Earth Award’; ‘ICT Sustainable Development Award’; ‘South-South Cooperation Visionary Award’ are some of the most notable accomplishment of Sheikh Hasina. Fortune declared her 10th among 50 greatest leaders of the world in 2016. She gave speech at UN general assembly 14 times and set a record of presenting her speech in Bengali 9 times consecutively. She has uplifted not only herself but also the Bangladeshi people to an honorable position. All need to work united to strengthen her hands to get taste of ‘Golden Bangla’ of Bangabondhu’s dream. Her political insight, honesty, devotion, patriotism and capability of leading in international arena, assures us that, Bangladesh received proper leadership in proper time. If this type of leadership continues, the plan of making Bangladesh a middle income country by 2021 and developed country by 2041 is confirm to be a reality.
We are wishing good health of the people’s leader on her birthday. Not once or twice, several attempts were made to assassinate her. But with great kindness of Allah and prayer of all Bangladeshis, she is still alive and relentlessly working for her fellow countrymen. Our dear leader, we wish you live for many years. We wish for your long life with hopes to see the ‘Golden Bangladesh’ of Bangabondhu’s dream, Bangladesh of non-communal consciousness and developed, enriched Bangladesh. We wish Bangladesh reaches far beyond under your leadership. This country, nation and world will never forget your sacrifice and love for the people.
The author, Mir Mosharref Hossain Pakbir, is the Chairman of Mohammadi Group of Companies Ltd. and Director of the Daily Observer. This article was first published in the Daily Observer.