Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in an exclusive interview with the BBC during her stay in the UK to pay respect to the late Queen Elizabeth II told that she herself struggled for establishing the democratic process and free fair election in Bangladesh and free and fair election was only held during the Awami League regime.
"Of course, it is my struggle to establish democratic system and free fair election. ---only during the Awami League time you can see free fair election," she said while replying to a question regarding her government's commitment to make the next election be free and fair by BBC journalist Laura Kunessberg.
During the interview that was aired on Sunday, the Prime Minister said that many people can lodge complaints about disappearances, but you have to judge how true it is.
The Prime Minister told the BBC that her country had military rulers for a long time, directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly.
"In 1975, my father (Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman) was assassinated. He was the then president of the country and you know that my entire family, my mother, my three brothers, two sisters in -laws, other family members, and a total of 18 members were brutally murdered" she said.
Since then for 21 years, she said the country had witnessed coups time and again, adding that there were attempts of coups for around 20 times and every time there was bloodshed. "There was no democracy, no democratic rights, so I struggled to establish democracy in my country," she said.
About the allegations of disappearance, Sheikh Hasina said, "many people can place allegations, but how far it is true, you have to judge. Before knowing that no one should make any comment."
The Prime Minister told the BBC that military rulers ruled the country for long and they formed parties and never went to the people of the country to ask to vote for them.
"They (military dictators) used the army, used the administration and used everything just to cling to power," she said.
About launching crack downs on allegations of disappearance, the premier questioned the BBC journalist, "How many people disappear in your country as well as other countries? You can judge. All these issues I think first you have to take into consideration, all the information you should collect, then you can accuse."
On how importance of Commonwealth to you and Bangladesh, she said, "Of course (it has great value), when we are together, there are many opportunities there, so it is good and important as we have one place where we can exchange our views, can adopt some ideas, or deliver some good jobs for the countries or the people. So that is why I feel it is good."
Now at present, you see, she said one country cannot go alone as it is an interdependent world, adding, "So, under this circumstance, Commonwealth means a lot for the member countries. Each country can work together---because there are many countries, developed countries, developing countries and poor countries, small island countries."
About personal memory with Queen Elizabeth II she said it was 1961 when she (Queen) visited then East Pakistan and she had the opportunity to see her (for the first time in person).
She said: "We are very young and went to my father's (Bangabandhu's) office, because we knew that she was passing through that road. So, all of us, the whole family, are eagerly waiting in the windows with binoculars. So we can see her more (clearly)."
The premier added that when she became the prime minister, she met the queen in every Commonwealth summit.
"I attended about seven commonwealth summits. Every time I had the opportunity to talk to her," she said, adding that she said they discussed each other for a long time as she went to attend the Olympic games in response to the invitation of the late Queen.
Recalling beautiful memories with the late queen, the Prime Minister, "She (Queen) had a wonderful memory and she used to inquire about me saying where Hasina was if she didn't see me."
The Prime Minister said her Majesty is a queen of the United Kingdom, no doubt about it.
"But she is a leader of the Commonwealth also. As a member of the commonwealth countries, she has a great value to us," she said.
The Premier said the late Queen was the monarch for about 70 years, adding, "I feel for this world she was not only a queen, but also a very affectionate and motherly personality, whenever I met her, I felt that."
The Gaibandha-5 by-poll is scheduled to be held on January 4 next year, Election Commission has said.
The voting will be held in Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) from 8:30am to 4:30pm, Election Commission Secretary Jahangir Alam said on Tuesday.
The EC Secretary said that the date of the by-election of the Gaibandha-5 constituency has been fixed on January 4. Voting for this seat will be done by Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). All the centers will be covered by CCTV. Candidates can start campaigning today.
Earlier on Monday (December 5) at noon, EC Commissioner Rasheda Sultana said that the Gaibandha by-election will be held by January 15. “No one guilty of the previous election” shall be in charge of the new election. “If it is not possible from that area, if necessary, neighboring districts and upazilas, if that is not possible, the presiding officer will be brought from anywhere in the country,” she also said.
She added that the election culture should be changed for good elections.
The EC has announced that action will be taken against 133 people for alleged irregularities in the by-election.
Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) Kazi Habibul Awal said in a press conference held at the EC Bhaban on November 30 that the investigation has found evidence of negligence against 125 presiding officers and five SIs from five centers. For this, as per the law, the EC Secretary has been asked to send the list of names of those 125 officials to their respective controlling and appointing authorities.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today called Bangladesh as the most ideal place for investment in the world, seeking larger foreign and local investment for mutual benefit.
"Bangladesh is the most ideal place for investment in the world as we offered maximum investment opportunities. So, I hope overseas investment will come here and local people will also invest in their own country," she said.
The prime minister said this while inaugurating the formal operation of the Japanese Economic Zone in the Bangladesh Special Economic Zone (BSEZ) at Araihazar in Narayanganj district on the outskirts of the capital.
She joined the function virtually from her official Ganabhaban residence here.
The premier mentioned that Bangladesh could be a market of 300 crore people with 17 crore of its own, 50 crore in east, 150 crore in north and 50 crore in west due to its geographical location.
The different countries of the world can invest in Bangladesh largely to reap benefits of the vast market, she added.
She also said that her government has attached topmost priority to planned industrialisation alongside agriculture by protecting the country's environment and arable lands.
Sheikh Hasina said her government is setting up 100 economic zones across the country aimed at eliminating indiscriminate industrialisation and protecting arable lands.
The Japanese Economic Zone is being built on 1000 acres of land at Araihazar Upazila in Narayanganj district of Bangladesh in line with an agreement signed between the two countries during her Japan visit in 2014, she said.
The prime minister said, "Foreign investment is coming to the economic zones. Discussion is going on with India, China and Saudi Arabia (on setting up economic zones in Bangladesh). Some other countries also expressed interest to this end."
She assured the interested countries, which wanted to build economic zones in Bangladesh, of providing their desired places and said they can develop it as per their need.
Bangladesh is offering special opportunities for the investors, she said, adding that foreign investors can use Chattogram, Mongla and Payra seaports and Matharbari deep seaport for transportation of their produced goods.
The prime minister said geographical location of Bangladesh is the most important for investors as they can reach the markets with their products across the globe while her country can make a bridge between East and West.
She described various measures including enactment of investment friendly laws and rules and special stimulus packages and loans for the investors.
Bangladeshi youths can come forward to invest in the economic zones instead of running after the jobs and generate huge employment for others, she said.
She added that women also can invest in the economic zones as special arrangement has been made to give them industrial plots here.
The prime minister said her government has upgraded the road, rail, water and airways with building new streets and railways alongside developing the waterways through dredging to ensure easy and quick transportation of the goods produced in the economic zones.
Describing Japan as a true friend and development partner of Bangladesh, she said Japan is currently helping the country in building metro rail, third terminal of Shahjalal international airport, Dhaka and Matharbari deep seaport.
She also recalled the Japanese cooperation in building the Rupsha Bridge and conducting feasibility study of the Padma Bridge and Bangabandhu Bridge over the Jamuna River.
"I am extending my sincere thanks to Japan for staying beside Bangladesh always," she added.
The prime minister also recalled with due respect the contribution of late Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to the overall development of Bangladesh describing him a "true friend" and greeted the present Japanese Prime Minister also for supporting her country.
She said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman wanted to transform Bangladesh into an industrialised country from an agriculture-based nation following the footprints of Japan, she said.
The premier said Bangabandhu had established Tejgaon industrial area and BSCIC (Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation) when he was the minister during the Pakistan period.
After coming to power in 1996, she said they have first set up economic processing zone in Syedpur as there was no industry in the northern part of Bangladesh and later built the economic zones at different parts of the country.
She said she later thought to establish special economic zones across the country aimed at stopping indiscriminate industrialisation and protecting the arable lands.
"We have to save agriculture as Bangladesh is an agriculture based country. We have to ensure food security for people, but we have to go for industrialisation alongside the agriculture. So, I started to establish special economic zones across the country in a planned way," she said.
Ambassador of Japan to Bangladesh, ITO Naoki and President and Chief Executive Officer of the Sumitomo Corporation Group, Masayuki Hyodo, spoke at function.
Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) Shaikh Yusuf Harun gave the address of welcome.
A video documentary on activities of the Bangladesh Economic Zones was screened on the occasion.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday said a vested quarter continues misleading people by spreading various rumours, but there is nothing for the people to be misguided.
“Today some words are being propagated in many ways and it will continue for many days. Many people can be misled. I would like to say there is nothing to be misguided,” she said.
The premier was addressing the graduation ceremony of National Defence Course-2022 and Armed Forces War Course-2022 at Sheikh Hasina Complex of Defence Services Command and Staff College (DSCSC) in Mirpur Cantonment.
Hasina said it is unfortunate for Bangladesh that when the country advances to economic progress amid a peaceful environment, all people don’t like it.
Talking about the world economic crisis induced by the war and economic sanctions, she said her government has still been able to keep Bangladesh stable.
“A quarter continues misleading the people through saying many things and injecting fear among the people,” she said.
The PM said her government has been able to raise the reserve of foreign currencies to $ 48 billion during the Covid-19 period from only $ 5 billion in 2009. Then the money from the reserve was spent to procure Covid-19 vaccines and testing kits, food and others, she added.
She said her government’s goal is always to develop Bangladesh socio-economically. “We’ll continue to make socio-economic development of Bangladesh keeping its people free from terrorism, militancy, terrorism, drug and corruption. We don’t want war with anyone,” she added.
Hasina said Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman framed a foreign policy where he said friendship with all, malice towards none.
“We’ve friendly relations with every country. We’re marching forward. Because, we don’t want war, rather we want peace. We witnessed the consequences of the war. If there is any problem, we solve it through negotiation,” she continued.
In this context, she mentioned solutions to maritime disputes with neighbours in a peaceful way and implementation of land boundary agreement through discussions.
The PM stressed the need for attaining economic independence. “Unless we can attain economic self-reliance, we won’t be able to uphold our independence and its spirit. So, we’ve been working to accomplish the goal," she said.
She said today Bangladesh has got the status of a developing country thanks to the continuation of an uninterrupted democratic trend and her government’s special attention paid to socio-economic development.
She put emphasis on upholding the recognition of a developing nation.
The PM said the Armed Forces stand always beside the people in any disaster and trouble. They earned public trust and confidence inside the country. The armed forces and police are getting acclamation from the United Nations for playing their roles efficiently in the peacekeeping missions in foreign lands, she added.
The PM extended her sincere thanks to the armed forces for upholding the image of the country.
She also congratulated the fresh NDC and AFWC graduates on their successful completion of their respective courses.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said Awami League (AL) never forgets the contribution of the freedom fighters, adding her government is building the country with the spirit and ideology of the War of Liberation.
"We never forget the contribution of the freedom fighters (FFs). And that is why we've taken initiative to build Bangladesh with the spirit and ideology of the War of Liberation," she said.
The premier said this while addressing a reception accorded to the gallantry award winning freedom fighters of the armed forces and their heirs, marking the Armed Forces Day-2022 at Dhaka Cantonment.
She said they are searching out the FFs who are in negligence and are taking all out measures to ensure their facilities such as FF allowance.
"It's our duty to work for those who had taken arms in their hands in reply to the clarion call of my father Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to make the country independent," she added.
She continued that there might be different ideologies among the FFs, "but we didn't look down on their contribution and didn't show any negligence to them".
The head of government said, "We will remember your (FFs) contribution forever. We are working to preserve the memories of the War of Liberation".
She added that if the young generation knows the history of victory by seeing the memories of the War of Liberation, they will be inspired and will try to know how to work for the nation.
She also said the government is establishing Muktijoddha Complex in each Upazila and has also taken measures to preserve the historic Suhrawardy Udyan where the Father of the Nation had given historic March 7 speech, delivered directives to govern the country after the independence and where Pakistani occupation forces surrendered.
"So, any one will never disrespect the FFs. None will see the FFs and their families in the eyes of negligence in future," the premier added.
She also mentioned that her government has increased the allowance for FFs and it will continue from generation to generation.
The prime minister said Bangladesh has witnessed huge development and prosperity as the AL has been in power for the last 14 years in a row.
"We have to advance more as a developing country and take the country forward into a developed one. And I've formulated that plan. We've formulated Vision-2041 and Delta Plan-2100 for the future generations," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said that as the victorious nation people of the country will roam around the world with their heads ever high. "And we have achieved that. But, we have to advance more in the coming days," she said.
She also said the government is constructing houses for the homeless people to give them scope for changing their lives and fate.
"We are trying tirelessly. Now at least we can say that the people of the world will not see Bangladeshis in a neglected way," she added.
The premier said as a party the AL and the government never forget the contributions of the freedom fighters.
She added, "And that is why we have taken steps to build Bangladesh in line with the spirit of the Liberation War."
She said the country has to move further, creating its solid base so that it could step into the developed country from the developing one. "We are working for that aim," she said.
Sheikh Hasina said COVID-19 pandemic, Russia-Ukraine war, sanction and counter sanction has put Bangladesh in deep trouble along with the world and the prices of essentials have increased.
In this connection, she said that Bangladesh has to procure items like edible oil, fuel oil, wheat, corn, lentil etc. from abroad.
She mentioned that, "The transportation cost has increased, so we are facing problems. But we are not sitting idle. I've already urged all not to leave one inch of land uncultivated to ease the sufferings of the people and avert the economic recession."
The prime minister said the government is taking appropriate steps to overcome the problems arisen from the war, for which, the whole world is suffering a lot.
Briefly describing various measures for the freedom fighters and their families, she said that no one will never ever look at them with an attitude of dishonor and negligence.
Five police men have been suspended in the incident of snatching two militants from the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court premises on Sunday.
The police officers were suspended by Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) on Monday, confirmed Deputy Commisioner of DMP's media wing Faruk Hossain during a press briefing in the capital.
The suspended officers are - Chief Metropolitan Magistrate (CMM) court jail's Inspector Matiur Rahman, Jail Incharge (SI) Nahidur Rahman Bhuiyan, those responsible of taking the convicts to jail including Police Assistant Town Sub-Inspector Mohiuddin Pal, Constables Sharif Hasan and Abdus Sattar.
According to police, the incident took place around 12:45pm on Sunday when four accused were taken to Chief Judicial Magistrate Court in Dhaka in order to produce them before the Anti-Terrorism Tribunal.
Four people on two motorbike riders came in and blinded the cops by spraying their faces when the officers were taking the convicts to court.
The Gaibandha-5 by-poll is scheduled to be held on January 4 next year, Election Commission has said. The voting will be held in Electronic Voting Machines (EVM) from 8:30am to 4:30pm, Election Commission Secretary Jahangir Alam said on Tuesday. The EC Secretary said that the date of the by-election of the Gaibandha-5 constituency has been fixed on January 4. Voting for this seat will be done by Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs). All the centers will be covered by CCTV. Candidates can start campaigning today.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today called Bangladesh as the most ideal place for investment in the world, seeking larger foreign and local investment for mutual benefit. "Bangladesh is the most ideal place for investment in the world as we offered maximum investment opportunities. So, I hope overseas investment will come here and local people will also invest in their own country," she said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday said a vested quarter continues misleading people by spreading various rumours, but there is nothing for the people to be misguided. “Today some words are being propagated in many ways and it will continue for many days. Many people can be misled. I would like to say there is nothing to be misguided,” she said.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said Awami League (AL) never forgets the contribution of the freedom fighters, adding her government is building the country with the spirit and ideology of the War of Liberation. "We never forget the contribution of the freedom fighters (FFs). And that is why we've taken initiative to build Bangladesh with the spirit and ideology of the War of Liberation," she said.
Five police men have been suspended in the incident of snatching two militants from the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court premises on Sunday. The police officers were suspended by Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) on Monday, confirmed Deputy Commisioner of DMP's media wing Faruk Hossain during a press briefing in the capital.