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 during our war of independence, Pakistanis and their cohorts were busy in branding Bengali freedom fighters as terrorists and were terming the war as “jihad against Islam and infidels”. In the eyes of Pakistanis and their cohorts, we, Bengalis were infidels. While nations like India and Russia in particular were extending all-out support towards our war of independence, according to documented facts, darlings of Pakistan, Palestinian Arab nationalist and Muslim leader in “Mandatory Palestine” Mohammed Amin al-Husseini was openly calling upon the Muslim nations to extend support towards Pakistan. Yasser Arafat, at the request of Pakistan had travelled to a number of countries with the agenda of getting support towards Pakistani occupation forces. In Arafat’s eyes, Bengali freedom fighters were seen as “terrorists”.
Even after the independence of Bangladesh, anti-liberation forces and cohorts of Pakistan did not stop in conspiring against the newly born nation, which had resulted in brutal assassination of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his family members in August 1975. Onwards Bangladesh was under ruthless dictatorship for more than fifteen years. Instead of focusing on socio-economic progress of the country, military dictators were indulged into cruelty and numerous attempts of Islamizing Bangladesh thus rejecting rights of the religious minorities.
Following landslide victory in the general election in December 2008, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina vowed of establish Bangladesh as a prosperous country. She also expressed firm determination of improving country’s infrastructure, connectivity and socio-economy. Now finally, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has succeeded in transforming Bangladesh into the paragon of socio-economic progress. 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.
The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has also succeeded in effectively combating religious extremism and militancy. Threats posed by militancy outfits such as Harkat ul Jihad, Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh, Hizbut Tahrir, Ansar al Islam, Hezbut Towheed are already reduced to greatest extent, while members of the law enforcement agencies, including Bangladesh Police, Rapid Action Battalion, Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit as well as the intelligence agencies are vigorously maintaining strict vigilance on issues such as terrorism, religious extremism and militancy.
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.
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.
For Bangladesh, which already has emerged as the paragon of socio-economic progress, it is essential that our government takes immediate measures in properly projecting our achievements to the international community. For attaining this goal, government needs to put special emphasis on the performance of the press wings of Bangladesh missions abroad. Our foreign missions need to become proactive. They must abandon decade-old practice of just killing time by sitting on the cozy chairs, because being a diplomat is not a political privilege, it is a national responsibility. For the sake of the nation, they must employ their full efforts to bring visible diplomatic and economic benefits to Bangladesh.
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