Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Wednesday urged the South Asian leaders to work together to build a prosperous South Asia.
“At this auspicious moment of celebrating the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation and the Golden Jubilee of our Independence, I call upon the political leaders and policymakers of South Asia to work hand in hand to build a peaceful and prosperous South Asia,” she said.
The Prime Minister said this while addressing a programme arranged at the city’s National Parade Square, marking the birth centenary of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and the Golden Jubilee of Bangladesh’s Independence.
Bhutanese Prime Minister Dr. Lotay Tshering was present at the event as the guest of honour.
Sheikh Hasina said South Asia is a home to about a quarter of the world population. As much as there are challenges, there are a lot of possibilities as well in this region. The people of this region possess unbelievable spirit, innovation, and the ability to survive against natural disasters.
“We can easily improve the fate of the people of South Asia by utilising the resources we’ve been endowed through exhibiting mutual cooperation. If we work together for the betterment of our people, South Asia will surely be flourished as one of the most prosperous regions in the world,” she said.
“In Bangladesh, we’re working relentlessly to establish the hunger- poverty-free non-communal ‘Golden Bangladesh’ of Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman,” she said.
The Prime Minister said Bangladesh has already received the final recommendation to shift from a Least Developed Country to developing country status.
She said Bangladesh will be a higher-middle income country by 2031 and a developed and prosperous one by 2041.
Sheikh Hasina, also the eldest daughter of Bangabandhu, said Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rashman not only fought for the political and economic freedom of the people of Bangladesh but also dreamed of the emancipation of all the oppressed and deprived fraction of people of the world.
“He (Bangabandhu) was respectful of peaceful co-existence and regional integrity. He believed that any problem could be solved through mutual cooperation,” she said.
Dhaka, a place of reunion
Noting that the 10-day programme from 17 to 26 March, 2021 with the theme ‘Mujib Eternal’ is being held in the Dhaka, the Bangladesh PM said Dhaka has become a place of reunion for South Asian leaders centering this event.
Sheikh Hasina said Bhutan is a very close neighbor and friendly-country of Bangladesh. “Apart from the geographical proximity, we’ve almost identical history and tradition. Our position on various international and regional issues is characterised by uniqueness and similarity in all aspects. We’ve always been extending support and cooperation to each other,” she said.
She said the people-to-people contact between the two countries dates back to time immemorial. Mahasiddha Tilopa, who preached Buddhism in Tibet and Bhutan, was born in the 10th century in Bangladesh territory.
In the great Liberation War of Bangladesh in 1971, late third King of Bhutan Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, and the Bhutanese people not only supported the freedom-loving Bengalis but also extended necessary help as much as they could. The Bhutanese youth volunteered in various refugee camps in India to serve injured and sick Bengali refugees, she said.
Bhutan is the first among all countries to recognise independent Bangladesh. Before achieving the final victory on 16 December 1971, Bhutan formally recognized Bangladesh on the 6th of December, she added.
“We gratefully recollect the contribution of the people of Bhutan. We awarded His Excellency Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, the third King of Bhutan, with the ‘Bangladesh Liberation War’ accolade in 2012 for his outstanding contribution to the great liberation war of Bangladesh,” she added.
The PM said cooperation between Bangladesh and Bhutan in the fields of trade, commerce, communication, tourism, education and others is continuously growing. A significant number of Bhutanese students are pursuing higher education, including in medicine, in various universities of Bangladesh, she said.
“Our guest of honor today, Prime Minister Dr. Lotay Tshering studied medicine at Mymensingh Medical College. It’s a matter of great pride for us. We’re honoured to be a partner in Bhutan’s human resource development,” she said.
Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen delivered the welcome speech, while former foreign minister Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali, MP and noted political scientist Dr Rounaq Jahan was the keynote speaker and she spoke on ‘‘Bangabandhu: Pioneer of Peace, Freedom and Humanity.’
At the event, the Bhutanese Prime Minister handed over a memorial postal stamp to Sheikh Hasina on the occasion of the 50 years of Bangladesh-Bhutan diplomatic relation.
Dr. Lotay Tshering was honoured with Eternal Mujib Memento. Former Cultural Affairs Minister Asaduzzaman Noor, MP handed over the memento to the guest of the honour.
President of France Emmanuel Macron, President of Italy Sergio Mattarella and President of European Council Charles Michel sent congratulatory messages on the occasion of the grand celebration.
French and Italian Ambassadors in Dhaka read out the messages of their respective Presidents, and State Minister for Foreign Affairs Md Shahriar Alam read out Michel’s message.
The video messages of Pope Francis and President of Indian National Congress Sonia Gandhi were screened in the discussion, which was followed a cultural soiree.
Earlier, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina accompanied by Sheikh Rehana received the Bhutanese Prime Minister at the venue.