Muzaffar Ahmad Noori Bajwa
Ten years back, Bangladesh was an economically struggling country, especially because of rampant looting by the previous coalition government of Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and Jamaat E Islami during 2001-2006 and again series of failure of the interim government ‘s tenure from 2007-2008. But things started changing miraculously soon after Sheikh Hasina, the daughter of Bangladesh’s founding father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman came to power through a landslide victory in 2009. To people of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina was like an angel of hope, prosperity and peace. During 2009-2018, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, through her magnanimous leadership qualities and statesmanship, has very successfully transformed Bangladesh into a developing star – one of the top fastest growing economies in the world. To most of the developing nations, Sheikh Hasina and her Bangladesh are not only role models, but a glowing example of how a true and patriotic leader can really change the lucks of her people. Let us not forget, in a country like Bangladesh, which has a massive population of 180 million, it was not an easy task for Sheikh Hasina in achieving such tremendous success. Moreover, she had serious economic constraint with several conspirators continuously conspiring in discouraging international financial bodies like the World Bank in refraining from investing in Bangladesh. But, a fearless Sheikh Hasina did not bow to such odds. She moved ahead with absolute determination with the help of trusted developing partners of Bangladesh, and finally now she has shown the world – only leaders like Sheikh Hasina can lead her nation towards prosperity and peace, even when organizations like the World Bank were biased towards enemies of Bangladesh.
According to Bloomberg, “Bangladesh under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina looks like a developing-world success story. Last year, its economy grew at close to eight percent a year, faster than its neighbor India’s. Its human development indicators, as Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen is fond of pointing out, are even better than its income level would indicate.
“Bangladesh is also one of the few countries in the developing world which has successfully wedded secularism to its national identity. And, in a truly extraordinary act that should shame many larger and richer countries, this enormously crowded nation — the most densely populated of all countries with a population greater than 10 million — has taken in at least 700,000 persecuted Rohingya refugees from Myanmar with a minimum of fuss or outrage.
“So, it’s hardly surprising that Sheikh Hasina’s party won last week’s elections in Bangladesh. The scale of her victory, however, is literally unbelievable: Her Awami League won all but 10 of Bangladesh’s 298 constituencies. In her own seat of Gopalganj, the prime minister won by 229,539 votes to 123.”
Witnessing the tremendous economic boom in Bangladesh under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, none of the real friends of the country in the world have very correctly renewed their fullest support towards Sheikh Hasina. International community are fully aware, an economically prosperous Bangladesh can effectively change the political landscape of the region, while committed leaders like Sheikh Hasina would be the best ally of the West, China and India when it comes to combating militancy. Sheikh Hasina herself, with her uncompromising views on political Islamism and her commitment to the values of Bengali — and not Muslim — identity on which Bangladesh was built, is the kind of partner that India would like to have. Certainly, Khaleda Zia’s tenure in the 2000s is remembered in New Delhi with a shudder, as Bangladesh seemed set to take the turn towards radicalism that has blighted Pakistan’s fortunes, and become an exporter of terrorism to the neighborhood.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina well deserves continuous support from every country in the world. She also needs support in continuing her offensives on militancy and terrorism. At the same time, international community should come forward in helping Bangladesh in immediately resolving the existing Rohingya refugee crisis. Until that crisis is solved, there should not be any hesitation from the international community in helping Bangladesh with the annual US$ 2-3 billion it requires for meeting various requirements including food and medicare to the persecuted Rohingya refugees. There should be severe pressure on Myanmar from the global community in immediately resolving the crisis by taking back 1.1 million Rohingya refugees from Bangladesh.
Muzaffar Ahmad Noori Bajwa is the Editor-in-chief of the Eastern Herald