Bangladesh is now on the foundation of a strong economy; the Padma Bridge has crossed a major milestone and the peaceful political situation will help achieve all our missions.
But the “medieval group” has chosen to disrupt the growth and development because they are losing all issues to stage any anti-government campaigns with the growing popularity of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
The economic development of Bangladesh in the last 50 years is not only commendable but impressive with an infused economic growth in 12 years under the able leadership of Sheikh Hasina. The country has moved away from “bottomless basket” to “full basket,” and now the basket is overflowing and spilling into the South Asian region.
There is a lot of nostalgic memory for December 16 1971 with BLF/FF members did not reach Dhaka until 17th morning. We reached up to Savar and got information that Mirpur, the ghetto of the Urdu-speaking Biharis, was still under siege. We stayed back for a day.
Today, I will not recollect any personal memories in this piece.
We all know by now on 16 December 1971, Lt. Gen Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, Chief Martial Law Administrator of East Pakistan and Commander of Pakistan Armed forces in East Pakistan signed the Instrument of Surrender at the Racecourse (Now Suhrawardy Uddyan) in Dhaka. At the time of surrender, only a few countries had provided diplomatic recognition to the new nation.
Over 93,000 Pakistani troops surrendered to the joint Indian forces and Bangladesh Liberation forces, making it the largest surrender since World War II.
If we analyze the liberation war of 1971 more deeply, we can easily understand that we defeated two evil forces of Pakistan in the liberation war.
The first was the military fascist force and the second a religious fascist force, led by the fundamentalist Jamaat-e-Islami party. The Jamaat was the leader of the intellectual assassination that took place during the nine months of the war and largest number on a single day was 14 December1971.They formed the Eazakar, Al-Badr and Al-Shams forces on the advice of West Pakistani military officers, whose primary mission was to assassinate intellectuals.
All the fascist and evil reactionary forces that we defeated in the war of liberation of 1971 have re-emerged with the tragic death of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman on 15 August 1975. As a result, the politics of Bangladesh dumped the liberation war ideals.
For 15 years after the death of Bangabandhu, we were under military rule, which has severely damaged our democratic values and increased the power of fundamentalist fascist forces in the country, which has hurt the spirit of our liberation war.
Let’s reflect what we achieved in the past 50 years. On 10 January 1972, Bangabandhu returned to Dhaka. I was lucky enough to be in the same truck, which carried him from the Airport to Racecourse field.
In 3 years and 7 months of his administration, he countered anarchism from the leftists, the leftwing Jatiya Samajtantrik Dal and anti- Bangladesh forces like Jammat.
During the brief time of his regime, Bangabandhu achieved many milestones for the country. Under Bangabandhu’s leadership and guidance, we received a modern constitution which encompassed four fundamental principles of the liberation war — Bangali Nationalism, socialism, democracy and secularism. The Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladeshwas adopted on 4 November 4 1972, and came into effect from 16 December1972.
To tackle anarchism by the JSD and the leftists, Bangabandhuhas adopted the fourth principle in the constitution was, in essence, a journey into a new political terrain for the nation. In all the decades which have gone by since 25 January 1975, and the weeks after that, his moves were criticised ignoring the dramatic phase of our history. So, the Bangladesh Krishak Sramik Awami League (BAKSAL) was formed in the country.
But critics and enemies of Bangladesh did not try to understand that it was a step to counter anarchism. According to Bangabandhu’s opinion, the move had become necessary owing to the anarchy that prevailed in the country through the activities of extremists of both the leftist and rightist brands as also the debilitating consequences of corruption eating away at the vitals of the nation. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had formed BaKSAL in a bid to make the whole country united, but the entire idea was misinterpreted.
Alas, before we could experiment with the second revolution, Bangabandhu was assassinated on 15 August 1975 by vested interest members of the party and the then Armed Forces.
Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was assassinated by a handful of army renegades in the early hours of 15 August as part of a larger national and international political conspiracy hatched by anti-liberation forces. They conspirators murdered in cold blood almost the entire family, but his daughters Sheikh Hasina and Sheikh Rehana escaped as they were abroad at that time.
Awami League had to wait for 21 years before it could restore Bangabandhu in his rightful place. Then again, the other reactionary forces took over, the electricity and achievements during 1996 -2001 were destroyed by the then regime from 2001 to 2008 under jailed Khaleda Zia and the caretaker government. In January 2009, the Awami league started with a new manifesto to rebuild Bangladesh into the dreams of Bangabandhu’s “Sonar Bangla” under the able leadership of Sheikh Hasina.
The economic progress made in the last 12 years is phenomenal. The impressive economic success of Bangladesh has become a matter of discussion world over. The energy sector has given impetus to the higher GDP growth rate for the last 11 years, due to uninterrupted electricity supplied to 90% of the population and the manufacturing and industrial sector. In 2008 December we had 3600MW, but now we have an overcapacity of 23,000MW of hydro which is essential for a production process. There are other economic miracles as stated by IMF recently that even during the pandemic of COVID-19, it has awe-inspiring growth rate. Since 2009, Bangladesh has been achieving more than 7 per cent growth.In FY 2018-19 Bangladesh export income was US$ 40.3 billion, foreign exchange reserve of Bangladesh recorded at US$ 40.4 billion. These are indeed an impressive economic feat
As stated by Md. Mazadul Hoque in Newsnextbd.com analysis, “By achieving higher per capita gross national income and meeting the human assets index and the economic vulnerability index of the United Nations, Bangladesh has fulfilled all three criteria to graduate from an LDC to a developing country by 2024.”
Bangladesh is moving forward with specific targets. The present government has set some targets for Bangladesh to achieve the status of a middle-income country by 2021, accomplishing the SDG goals by 2030, becoming a developed country by 2041.
In summary, phenomenal achievements done by the government of Sheikh Hasina are:
Bangabandhu’s murder trial; ii. Trials of war criminals; iii. Increasing effective power production from 3,600 MW to 23,000MW capacity. Bringing 94% people under national grid coverage from 47% in 12 years; iv. 99% completion of Padma Bridge by quelling all conspiracies. All these economic miracles could only happen due to able and correct positive visionary leadership of Bangabandhu’s daughter Sheikh Hasina.
In conclusion, on the 50th anniversary of Victory Day, I appeal for taking a vow that if we can conduct the politics of the country in the spirit of the war of liberation and at the same time protect the right of the people to freedom of speech, then this country must stand up.
No evil power can suppress and defeat this nation that was born out of sweat, sacrifice, blood and tears. We must have that confidence. There is no alternative to social, cultural and political unity in the fight against evil.
Omer Selim Sher is a retired Professor of Economics at Algonquin College, Ottawa, Canada, and a researcher on South Asia politics.