Bangladesh’s former Foreign Secretary and immediate-past High Commissioner to India Syed Muazzem Ali passed away on Monday at the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in the capital. He was 75.
Muazzem Ali, who suffered ‘pneumonia and successive cardiac arrest’, breathed his last around 11:45am at the CMH, said an official.
He is survived by wife and two sons.
President Abdul Hamid, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam expressed deep shock at the death of Muazzem Ali.
They also conveyed deep sympathy to his bereaved family members and prayed for the eternal peace of the departed soul.
In a condolence message, the President said Muazzem Ali’s death is an irreparable loss to the country. “The nation will remember him for long with due respect.”
Prime Minister Hasina recalled the outstanding contributions of Muazzem Ali on diplomatic front during the country’s War of Liberation in 1971.
In his message, Dr Momen said the nation will remember him with due respect for his contributions during the Liberation War.
He said Muazzem Ali, who was close to Dr Momen’s family, performed his duties skillfully as a diplomat.
Shahriar said veteran diplomat Muazzem Ali returned to work after his retirement at the call of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and completed his assignment just 10 days ago.
“We’ll never forget his contributions towards building opinion in favour of Bangladesh during the Liberation War during his stay in the USA,” he said.
Muazzem Ali left New Delhi on December 19 on successful completion of his tenure of five years as the High Commissioner of Bangladesh to India.
The High Commission of Bangladesh in New Delhi will open a condolence book from December 31 2019 to January 2, 2020 on the second floor (conference room) of Bangladesh High Commission Chancery, EP-39, S Radhakrishnan Marg, Chanakypuri, New Delhi.
The timings for the signing of the condolence book are as follows: December 31 (11 am to 1 pm, 3 pm-5 pm), January 1 (11 am to 1 pm, 3 pm-5 pm) and January 2 (11 am to 1 pm, 3 pm-5 pm).
Muazzem Ali will be given guard of honor at State guesthouse Padma on Wednesday as his first namaj-e-janaza will be held there at 10:30am.
His second namaj-e-janaza will be held at Gulshan Azad Mosque after Zuhr prayers on the same day, an official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told UNB.
He will be buried at Banani Graveyard after his second namaj-e-janaza while Qulkhawani will be held on Friday, the official said.
Born on July 18, 1944 in Sylhet, he joined the Pakistan Foreign Service in 1968, and retired in December 2001. While serving in the Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC in 1971, he declared his allegiance to the government of Bangladesh.
Muazzem Ali served as Bangladesh High Commissioner to New Delhi from September 2014 to 2019. The government appointed Muhammad Imran as the new High Commissioner to India last month.
As a founding member of the Bangladesh Mission in Washington DC, Ali was active in the lobbying process for political support for Bangladesh’s independence movement.
After the independence, he was directly involved in working towards US recognition of Bangladesh as well as the US, World Bank and UN participation in the massive reconstruction efforts in war-ravaged Bangladesh (1971-1975).
He also served in Bangladesh Embassies in Warsaw (1975-1978), and New Delhi (1986-1988) and in the Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York (1982-1986).
He was Consul General in Jeddah (1988-1991) during the Gulf War, and later served as Bangladesh Ambassador to Bhutan (1991-1992), Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Turkmenistan (1995-1998), France and Portugal (1998-2000).
In Paris, he was also Bangladesh’s Permanent Representative to UNESCO. In that capacity, he tabled a draft resolution on behalf of Bangladesh for the proclamation of February 21 as the International Mother Language Day.
He spearheaded the lobbying efforts and its unanimous adoption by the UNESCO General Conference in 1999.
As Foreign Secretary, Ali worked for the peaceful resolution of conflicts in the South Asian region and beyond.
Since Bangladesh was the Chairman of the LDC group at that time, he coordinated the move that led to duty- and quota-free access of LDC exports to the EU at the Third UN LDC Conference.
He also worked for the emergence of Bangladesh as the largest troop contributor to UN peacekeeping operations.
Specialising in multilateral diplomacy, he has represented and led Bangladesh delegations to various Senior Officials’, Ministerial, and Summit-level meetings of the UN, UNESCO, Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), Commonwealth, South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Group of 77, and World Bank’s Development Forum (earlier know an Consortium) Meetings.
Ali came from a distinguished literary family of Greater Bengal. His father, late Syed Mustafa Ali, and uncle late Syed Murtaza Ali, served in the Assam Civil Service prior to 1947, and also wrote several books and articles.
His youngest uncle late Syed Mujtoba Ali is a distinguished writer of Bengali literature. His eldest brother Late SM Ali (Syed Mohammad Ali), founder-editor of the leading Bangladeshi English newspaper ‘The Daily Star’, was one of the most well-known Bangladeshi journalists in the international arena.
His father-in-law late Chowdhury Imamuzaman served in the Assam Engineering Service prior to 1947. His wife Tuhfa Zaman Ali obtained her MA from Dhaka University and MPhil from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.