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Bangladesh, a tiny country with infinite possibilities

Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, Rohingyas, Rohingya, Arakan

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Bangladesh, a tiny country with infinite possibilities

Back in December 1971, when Bangladesh won the war of independence by defeating cruel Pakistani occupation forces, the country was truly in acute socio-economic challenges as Pakistanis had looted the wealth of Bangladesh since 1947. Even two decades ago, Bangladesh was known as an underdeveloped country with struggled economy and numerous social odds. When Sheikh Hasina formed government in January 2009, she promised of transforming the Bangladesh into a developed country. She dedicatedly started working towards drastically improving country’s infrastructure, connectivity and helped economic sectors in recovering from sufferings and slowly but steadily advance towards prosperity. This had not only helped Bangladesh in emerging in the world as an economic rising star and paragon of development and prosperity, the country has also witnessed tremendous progress in every field, including empowerment of women, public health, girl’s education and resolving the electricity shortages.

While the country was advancing towards progress and prosperity, in August 2017 global media was dominated by the news of massive influx of Rohingyas to Bangladesh due to cruel genocide perpetrated by Myanmar’s military junta. A 444-page report of the UN’s Independent Fact-Finding Commission substantiated that more than 7,25,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh after this deadly crackdown, totaling the number of Rohingyas in the country to 1.20 million. The degree of atrocities of this “campaign of terror” embarked on by the military was so intense that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights referred to it as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing” whilst other investigators dubbed it as “genocide”. In the first three weeks of August 2017, Bangladesh received more refugees than entire Europe did in 2016 during “Syrian crisis”. Since then, Bangladesh has been generously hosting more than 1.20 million Rohingyas as short-term guests ensuring “safe haven” on humanitarian grounds.

It may be mentioned here that, Rohingyas living in Arakan for thousand years have been actively involved in Burma’s politics since independence. The recognition of Rohingya as Myanmar’s citizens by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) resolves their identity crisis by providing a legal base. Besides, in the hearing of ICJ, Aung San Suu Kyi defined Rohingyas as Arakan’s Muslims. Myanmar signed two repatriation agreements with Bangladesh in 2018 and 2019 respectively giving consent to take back their citizens. Although these repatriation agreements were in vain due to reluctance of Myanmar, still these agreements are significant proof of Myanmar’s official stance on Rohingyas’ citizenship.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina did not hesitate in providing temporary shelter to persecuted Rohingyas in Bangladesh despite the fact, with 166.65 million population, 8th largest in the world, Bangladesh is one of the densely populated countries with 1,125 people in per sq. ml. This tiny country, 92nd in terms of land size, with a total landmass of 147,570 sq. ml, slightly smaller than the US Iowa state, is hosting over 1.20 million Rohingyas which is higher than the total population of Bhutan. No country in the world is bearing the burden of so many refugees as by overpopulated Bangladesh.

And most regrettably, Bangladesh is receiving expected help and assistance from the international community in meeting basic demands of these 1.20 million Rohingyas.

But despite such odds, due to magnanimous leadership of nation’s most-adored Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh’s progress did not stop.

Bangladesh’s dependence on foreign aid has been significantly decreasing while our foreign exchange earnings are on steady rise. On the 50th anniversary of our independence, we are proudly proclaiming to have become a development paragon – a great miracle to the world. Bangladesh is the fastest growing economy and is already a role model to many nations. Meanwhile, there has been tremendous improvement in the average standard of living of the citizen. According to the most recent statistics from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Bangladesh’s per capita GDP was about half of Pakistan’s in 1987 and two-third of India’s as recently as 2007. But in 2020, Bangladesh has surpassed both Pakistan and India, owing partly to the success in emerging a leading textile and clothing exporter, trailing just behind China and Vietnam. According to economic experts, Bangladesh’s economic growth will surpass many of the Asian nations, including Singapore by 2030.

It is not only the case of tremendous economic progress. Bangladesh has already achieved successes in other sectors. For example, life expectancy, infant and maternal mortality, fertility, and female labor-force participation. Bangladesh also has been successful in maintaining democratic stability.

Bangladesh already is a prime destination for foreign investment as the country offers political stability, peaceful atmosphere and investor-friendly economic benefits, with the goal of turning Bangladesh into the land of infinite possibility. A large number of foreign investors and industrial giants from China in particular are gradually switching their investments and industrial projects to Bangladesh, which also is helping in creating thousands of job opportunities. The government has already chalked-out plan for starting few more special economic zones, mainly for the foreign investors. Especially after the inauguration of the Padma Bridge, special economic zones in the southern districts in the country will emerge as hotspot of foreign investments.

According to experts, the country may further boost tourism sector by turning St Martin Island into exclusive tourism zone, mainly for tourists from around the world. According to experts, once St Martin Island is transformed into exclusive tourism zone, it can bring at least US$ 8-9 billion in country’s exchequer, which can continue to grow further.

On September 28, Bangladesh shall celebrate the birthday of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. The entire nation expresses its profound gratitude to Sheikh Hasina.

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An internationally acclaimed multi-award-winning anti-militancy journalist, research-scholar, counter-terrorism specialist, and editor of Blitz. Follow his on Twitter Salah_Shoaib

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