SHEIKH HASINA, HER POLITICAL INSIGHT AND BANGLADESH DEVELOPMENT
A K AZAD
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the worthy daughter of the greatest Bangalee of all time Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, has inaugurated a brilliant chapter in Bangladesh`s development history. She has uplifted the country’s image and made a significant contribution to the national economy and politics.
With her sincere and relentless efforts, the country is enjoying a balanced relationship with some of the key players of the world politics. She has been able to create a positive acceptance throughout the world, earning prestigious global awards as marks of recognition to the country’s gradual development in all key fields.
Despite conspiracies against her and her government, Sheikh Hasina has become not only a beacon of Bengali nation, but also an icon of South Asian politics, by her bold and visionary leadership.
By the way of her outstanding leadership, she has been able to splash her importance in South Asian region. Amid spate of horrific terror attacks across the country, she could encourage foreign friends to invest here, making the way to boost country`s development.
Though several world leaders criticised the Sheikh Hasina led Awami League (AL) government for the January 5, 2014 national election. After the elections Sheikh Hasina also made a successful visit to United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK) as well. It has been just three years, the world leaders are now inspired by her diplomatic strategy. Responding to her life-awakening call, now foreign investors are ready to invest billions of dollars in Bangladesh.
Examples of her diplomatic strategy
Sheikh Hasina, maintaining strong ties with Russia and India, started to build ties with China. Balancing China, India, and Russia is no easy task, but it is indeed Sheikh Hasina’s diplomatic strategy. Hasina`s charm leadership and strategic plans have put Bangladesh on centre-stage of international and regional politics.
During the liberation war in 1971, China along with the United States (US) took an “anti” stand in the name of what they called the “ping-pong diplomacy.” Governments came and went, with the US recognising Bangladesh reluctantly and China vetoing our entry into the United Nations.
China only recognised Bangladesh after the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the man they held responsible for breaking up Pakistan.
In an attempt to carve out innovative ways to strengthen the more than three decade old bilateral and diplomatic relations with the emerging Asian giant, Sheikh Hasina undertook a high-profile five-day official visit to China since coming to power for the third time. It was her first foreign visit since taking charge of Bangladesh’s new government, after the landslide victory in the December 2009 elections.
The much anticipated high level talks between Sheikh Hasina and her then Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao yielded a resolution to create a “closer comprehensive partnership of cooperation.” This was a crucial stepping stone in Hasina’s ambition to get a “comprehensive partnership” with Beijing, according to analysts.
The landmark talks dealt with a spectrum of issues that were significant for both countries. China gave a positive answer to Hasina’s call for Chinese financial aid and technical support for development projects, collaboration in agriculture, and the power sector. Chinese premier Web Jiabao then assured Hasina of overall backing and support in all areas.
The far-sighted Sheikh Hasina also took her maiden visit to China when she was in opposition. It was then called an “ice-breaking” trip.
It has been 45 years since Bangladesh was born, the two superpowers (China and US) of the world are now busy to maintain a balanced relationship with their Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina. It has been possible only for her effective diplomatic strategy.
Xi Jinping`s visit
Chinese President Xi Jinping recently spent two days in Bangladesh, making the historic visit in three decades by a first Chinese President.
After signing 40 agreements during the visit, Chinese President told media, “We agreed to elevate China-Bangladesh relations from a closer comprehensive partnership of cooperation to a strategic partnership of cooperation and to increase high-level exchanges and strategic communication, so that our bilateral relations continue to move ahead at a higher level.”
Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina and Chinese President Xi Jinping
On October 14 after bilateral talks, Bangladesh and China signed 40 agreements, including loan and investment deals in the infrastructure sector worth over $20 billion, as they upgraded their ties to a strategic partnership.
Xi and Hasina witnessed the signing of 27 agreements and memoranda of understanding involving the two governments. Chinese state-owned and private entities also signed 13 agreements mostly with Bangladeshi private enterprises.
John Kerry`s visit
After suspending the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) for Bangladeshi products, US tried to put Bangladesh in pressure waging voices over the existence of global terrorists in Bangladesh. They frequently said Islamic States (IS) backed militants existed in the domain of Bangladesh and carrying out terror attacks across the country. But, out far sighted Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina always dismisses their allegations. She always says, “There is no existence of IS back militants in Bangladesh. Those who are making isolated attacks here, they are from local oppositions and off the rails.
John Kerry and Sheikh Hasina
Sensing her boldness and far sights over the world politics, US sent its State Secretary John Kerry to visit Bangladesh for maintaining balanced relationship. Amid the wake of militant attacks across the country, John Kerry arrived in Dhaka on August 29 to discuss the global challenge, preventing the rise of militancy and violent extremism in Bangladesh and the region.
Kerry`s tour at the end of the tenure of Obama administration, diplomatic sources said the visit is quite “extraordinary” and carries “special significance” as the US government is giving importance to Hasina`s government after giving it the cold shoulder for years.
WB President Kim`s visit
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has proved that it is wrong to depend on foreign aids for the country`s development. The Padma Multipurpose Bridge (PMB) project was designed to be funded by donors such as the World Bank (WB), JICA, ADB etc. After a scandal of alleged corruption by some people associated with project preparation the global financing organisation WB withdrew its commitment and other donors followed.
Then the premier announced to construct it with own-finance, proving Bangladesh is now well-off enough to complete any project with own-funds.
Later, WB also announced that no evidence was found over corruption in the Padma Bridge Project, but the announcement could not heal the cold relation with Bangladesh authority.
Sheikh Hasina and Jim Yong Kim
Recently, WB president Jim Yong Kim visited Bangladesh and heaped praises upon the country, its people and leadership for becoming a model for poverty reduction despite being saddled with a long list of hardships.
He also lauded Bangladesh’s role in empowering women and terming the country as a model in women’s progress.
During the visit, WB President pledged Bangladesh to give USD $3 billion over the next three years to help the country become less vulnerable to climate change and to combat malnutrition of children.
Earlier, the WB released two reports that Bangladesh has done an impressive job in reducing poverty over the last decade and has the potential to end extreme poverty by 2030 if it takes firm steps to make growth more inclusive to benefit all Bangladeshis.
The reports titled ‘Bangladesh Development Update’ and ‘Poverty and Shared Prosperity 2016: Taking on Inequality’, find that Bangladesh is making sustained progress in poverty reduction and increasing opportunities.
Under the new $1.90 poverty line based on 2011 purchasing power, 28 million, or 18.5 percent of Bangladeshis lived in extreme poverty in 2010, according to the reports.
More than 16 million people in Bangladesh graduated from extreme poverty between 2000 and 2010, the reports said.
A beacon of Bengali nation
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in BIMSTEC summit lauded the steps taken by Sheikh Hasina to fight terrorism in the country and went on to tell her that she has “given a new template on how to fight terrorism”.
Narendra Modi and Sheikh Hasina
Earlier on Sheikh Hasina`s birthday, Modi also highly appreciated her leadership saying her resolute leadership has provided the people of Bangladesh a beacon of hope during a difficult period.
“From development to security, Bangladesh has made rapid strides in its progress towards peace and prosperity for all citizens, under your able stewardship,” Modi wrote in the birthday message to Hasina.
Remarkable success in power sector
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has become a role model of development in South Asia as she could overcome all complexities to boost countries development.
Though political demonstrations centering the January 5, 2014 national election disturbed the country`s development temporarily, her brilliant leadership and effective steps helped national economy to overcome the situation soon. Despite traffic and non-traffic barriers, foreigners are now inspired by her diplomatic strategy to invest in Bangladesh.
Under her dynamic leadership, the country has achieved tremendous success in the overall development. After assuming power by the Awami League-led government in 2009, the power generation capacity was only 4,942 MW and real electricity production was only 3,268 MW. Now the power generation has arisen up to 14,539 MW (Megawatt) and 76 percent of the total population has been brought under electricity coverage and the nation has witnessed the continued turnaround of recovering from the chronic energy crisis.
The common people across the country are proud enough to see a tremendous success of this government in the power sector as load shedding, a perennial problem before 2009, is no more in both urban and rural areas.
The government has set a target to generate 24,000 MW electricity by 2021 and 40,000 MW by 2030 to cover the whole country with electricity. The villages normally die soon after the dusk into the darkness of the night, but the scene has now changed as most of the households remain alive at night in rural Bangladesh.
Incredible economic boost
On the overall economic front, the Awami League government has scored the GDP (gross domestic product) rate at 7.2 percent in the 2016-17 fiscal year by the outstanding leadership of Sheikh Hasina. The current year’s GDP has been fixed at 7.5 percent with the confidence that it will grow in the same pace steadily in the years to come.
Meanwhile, the per capita income has already reached USD1466 and the foreign currency reserves exceeded USD 30 billion in June 2016 to lead Bangladesh to be a middle-income country very soon.
The government under the bold and visionary leadership by Sheikh Hasina has been progressing towards materializing the vision-2021 along with turning the country into a Digital Bangladesh.
NOVEMBER 15, 2017