A grateful nation joyously celebrated yesterday the 76th birth anniversary of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the longest serving prime minister of this republic (1996 to 2001; 2009 to 2014; and 2014 to today). Though the Prime Minister was not in the country her spirit is omnipresent and the welfare of her country and its citizens is always in her mind.
In addition to being the Chief Executive of the country Sheikh Hasina is also the president of the political party Awami League since 1981. Not only is she the longest serving prime minister but also the most successful one after the catastrophic assassination of her father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Indeed, the assassination of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had brought the country’s journey to progress and prosperity to a screeching halt. The leaders who usurped state power had neither the intention nor the capacity to put the country on the right track. It was Sheikh Hasina who took on the daunting task of uplifting Bangladesh out of the quagmire and guides the nation to the height it has reached today.
And for Bangladesh to prosper further her leadership will be the key factor. Sheikh Hasina’s leadership acumen and statesmanlike qualities have attracted global admiration and her opinions are keenly sought after in the international arena. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has been recognised as one of the most powerful women in the world, ranking 26th on Forbes’ list of The World’s 100 Most Powerful Women in 2018. She is also included in the US-based Foreign Policy journal’s list of 100 Global Thinkers of the present decade.
Every move of the Bangladesh premier taken for her country and for the international community has been widely appreciated at home and abroad. Under her judicious leadership, the country has gained stupendous successes like establishing political stability, robust uninterrupted GDP growth, increased per capita income and consequential poverty reduction as well as unprecedented achievements in all human indices. All these together have put the country on a strong footing when it, all at a time, can take up (and successfully complete) a good number of mega development projects including the Padma Bridge and the Metro Rail.
It is due to Hasina’s strong and determined leadership that Bangladesh qualified for transition to a Middle Income country status from the LDC one. The success of Sheikh Hasina is nothing short of a miracle. However, more than anything, it is the unwavering love, loyalty and affection she gets from the people – as evidenced by her getting the mandate of her people repeatedly– is something few leaders in the country, nay, the world enjoys.
Another huge success of Sheikh Hasina was her steadfast determination to bring the war criminals of 1971 to justice. These war criminals–before Sheikh Hasina came to power – wielded great political clout and shared power with the previous regime. The people of the country, particularly those who lost their near and dear ones during the liberation war in 1971, breathed a collective sigh of relief to see the perpetrators of war crimes put on trial and brought to justice decades after these heinous crimes were committed.
Sheikh Hasina has engaged in a relentless battle against fundamentalism and came out triumphant. The evil forces of regression have been tamed by her government. If these elements had not been fought back in right earnest by Sheikh Hasina they could have done great damage to the country. Sheikh Hasina, while a firm believer in Islam has ensured that the rights of all religious and ethnic minorities are protected.
Sheikh Hasina became the leader of Bangladesh at a relatively early age. However, she was by no means a stranger to politics. She had a good political training at home. That training was enriched by her participation in the national movements rocking the 1960s. As a student, she actively took part in the six-point movement of 1966, which snowballed into the great people’s upsurge in 1969 and led to the overthrow of President Ayub Khan.
Over the years Sheikh Hasina has fulfilled almost all her promises to the people. She fought against poverty and hunger successfully. The war criminals of 71 including the killers of Bangabandhu were put on trials and punished. Under her leadership politics in the country has stabilized, the democratic practices are continuing, economy is flourishing and the law and order has not deteriorated. If this process continues then within the next ten years the country will become a developing country of middle-income. The most dangerous enemies of democracy in Bangladesh are communalism and ultra-fundamentalism. These forces have almost been crushed. The unfulfilled agenda of the Hasina government is the taming of the demon of corruption which has created a powerful place inside Awami League too. The Prime Minister assured the public that this time her government's main target is to free the society and administration from corruption and that the government will try to establish good governance for the people. She has shown courage to face mighty America, ignored the threat of the World Bank and started building Padma Bridge with undaunted courage and stamina. No doubt this era will be included in annals of the history of Bangladesh.
Sheikh Hasina is the worthiest successor to Bangabandhu Bengalis could hope for. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman brought us independence. And his worthy daughter guided us towards becoming proud citizens of a fast developing nation. Sheikh Hasina’s life has been a tumultuous one. However, her unwavering courage and determination has helped her stand up to grave adversities and overcome them. There have been repeated attempts to assassinate her. However, her courage, no doubt inherited from her illustrious father, has never abandoned her. All dastardly attempts to silence her pro-people voice have only emboldened her to move ahead with her lofty cause.
The writer is a journalist. He can contacted at [email protected]