SHEIKH HASINA: RISE OF A REMARKABLE WORLD LEADER
MIR MOSHARREF HOSSAIN
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, Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Sheikh Hasina is 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 Bangabandhu 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, 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.
At least 20 attempts were made to kill 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 fulfil Bangabandhu’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 programme of World Newspaper Association. While sitting at the Bangladesh High Commission, I expressed my wish to visit the house where Bangabandhu’s daughters stayed 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 Bangabandhu and his family members, Colonel Faruk-Rashid and their associates sent their men to that house to kill both Bangabandhu-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 members there and their run for life and security started.
They reached India and meet 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.
Listening to their post-1975 agony, any Bangladeshi will shed tears even today. 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 Bangabandhu, Sheikh Hasina, very closely being the chief patron of the country’s renowned children organization, Bangabandhu Shishu Kishore Mela. She came to the programmes of the organization whenever possible. It revealed that she besides being a skilled leader is an affectionate mother.
***We find her humanism during her recent visit to the Rohingya refugee camps. Only a mother can embrace a child, who suffered inhuman torture and now living at the refugee camp, with tearful eyes like her.***
Talking personally about PM 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 many — we find all affectionate roles of a woman in her. We find her humanism during her recent visit to the Rohingya refugee camps. 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.
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 2009. She promised that implementation of the ‘Padma Bridge’ project is her one of her first targets. She had to face 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. The country progressed significantly under her leadership.
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 now.
During the three terms of Sheikh Hasina’s government, the people and the world witnessed huge development of Bangladesh. Many development projects have started under her guidance. Declaration and implementation of ‘Digital Bangladesh’; implementation of Vision 2021 on the way; punishment of Bangabandhu’s murderers; judgement and punishment of war criminals; enormous success in meeting country’s electricity demand; starting of Padma bridge project works; notable success in women’s empowerment and development; improvement in quality of education and uplifting literacy rate from 53.7 per cent (2008) to 72.3 per cent (2017); promoting foreign currency reserve from USD 5.79bn (2008) to USD 33.4bn (2017); elevating per capita income of Bangladesh from USD 698.7 (2008) to USD 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 bold role in stopping insurgency from Bangladesh against neighbouring countries, etc are few among many success stories of her government.
The problem of influx of refugees, who are subject to ‘ethnic cleansing’ and inhuman torture, from Myanmar at the south-east border of our country is currently creating deep concern all around the world. We believe the diplomatic acumen of Sheikh Hasina will solve this international humanitarian problem.
Sheikh Hasina has now become a world leader from people’s leader. She received international laurels and many coveted awards 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.
Her political insight, honesty, devotion, patriotism and capability of leading in international arena, assures us that, Bangladesh received a proper leadership at proper time. If this type of leadership continues, the plan of making Bangladesh a middle income country by 2021 and developed country by 2041 will not be hard to achieve.
We all wish and pray for her good health on the 71st birthday.
The author is the Chairman of Mohammadi Group of Companies Ltd
SEPTEMBER 28, 2017