Dhaka – Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Saturday said Bangladesh Army, a force imbued with the spirit of the War of Liberation, is very much ready than ever before to foil any evil force.
The peoples’ confidence on army has been strengthened as the force is equipped with vast resources of modern war machines and capable to operate those efficiently, she said at a maneuver exercise of Bangladesh Army at Swarna Dweep in Noakhali.
Hasina said modern armament of the army and their tough activities manifest their professionalism. Excellent maneuver is an example of modern and strong military force, she said praising the attractive exercise of the 11 Infantry Division, according to Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha news agency.
“We don’t want war, but we have to have every preparation to foil any attempt against our independence and sovereignty,” she said adding “our armed forces are growing up as befitting enough required for an independent country.”
The exercise was organized under the management of the 93 Armour Brigade Group of 11 Infantry Division of Bangladesh Army. Brigadier General Sharif Ahsan led the exercise.
“I’m confident over the overall capacity of the army after seeing the use of newly inducted MBT-2000 tank, APC BTR-80, Self Propelled Artillery Gun, NORA-B-52, Radar Vehicle SLC-2, anti-tank missile METIS-M-1 and professionalism of the army,” she said.
Army Chief General Abu Belal Muhammad Shafiul Huq gave the welcome address on the occasion, attended by ministers, chiefs of navy and air forces, parliament members, GOCs of 11 and 33 infantry divisions.
The island popularly known as the Jahaijjar Char under Noakhali district surfaced in 1978.
The inaccessible island for long had been used by the organized miscreants and pirates as their safe haven, disrupting the activities of the civil administration.
Situated over a three-meter height from the sea level, the island is about 360 square kilometers in area.
In 2013, the island was renamed as ‘Swarna Dweep’ and the government allocated it to the Bangladesh Army in 2013 for training as well as development of the island for habitation, improved law and order and afforestation.
Over the last three years, the island witnessed tremendous progress in terms of infrastructural development with construction of two cyclone centers and a container based camp.
Hasina expressed her pleasure for planned use of the newly developed island located at the estuary of the Meghna.
She said Bangladesh Army, born through our War of Liberation in 1971, secured its position globally as a competent, disciplined and well-organized force.
She announced her government’s plan to construct three more cyclone centers in the island within a very short time and extend all services to the islanders to make them self-dependent.
The Prime Minister said the government has taken steps to produce different varieties of saline tolerant paddy and Robi crops in addition to plantation of coconut trees and creation of ‘keora’ garden to check erosion.
The government has also taken initiative to support the char people for dairy and poultry farming, she said, adding that “Mujib Killa” is being constructed for shelter of the people and livestock resources during any natural disaster.
The Prime Minister extended her thanks to Bangladesh Army, ministries of agriculture, LGRD, fisheries and livestock, road transport and bridges, water resources, environment and forests, disaster management and relief, planning, land and other concerned ministries for doing their tremendous tasks in a short period for development of the island.
She particularly thanked the army personnel of the 33 Infantry Division, Comilla Commanding Area, who have been staying in the remote area for a long time for development of the island to turn it into ‘Swarna Dweep’ (golden island).
The Prime Minister appreciated the activities of Bangladesh Army during the winter exercise saying the army is playing a glorious role in serving the nation, particularly during any national crisis.
In this regard, the Prime Minister recalled the role of Bangladesh Army in Padma Bridge construction and expressed her firm hope that the force would properly discharge their duty to be entrusted by the government in future.
Hasina said the Awami League under the leadership of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman played a pioneering role for development of the armed forces.
Present Awami League government is also following the footprint of Bangabandhu, she said adding that the armed forces would be made a modern force under the “Forces Goal-2030”.
The prime minister inaugurated a multipurpose cyclone shelter centre and planted a sapling of coconut tree. She also visited the dairy farm of Bangladesh Army and a coconut garden.
Quarter Master General of Bangladesh Army Lt. Gen. Anwar Hossain gave a video presentation and briefed the Prime Minister about the stride made by Bangladesh Army to turn the once inaccessible island into a scenic and resourceful one and future plan to make it as a full-fledged army training centre by next 15 years.