Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina left for New York on 17 September to attend the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). During her stay in New York from September 17 to September 22, the premier will attend the first day of the high-level General Debate of the 78th UNGA session at the General Assembly Hall of the UN Headquarters today while she will address it on September 22 between 1:00pm to 2:00pm local time. The prime minister of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina, will address the UNGA for a record-breaking 20th time. It is an outstanding accomplishment for any world leader. Her uninterrupted participation at UNGA,in the face of several obstacles throughout her life, during her position as head of state has not only increased her honor but also made Bangladesh an important country in front of the global audience.
The world leaders gathered in New York to attend the 78th UNGA session under the theme, “Rebuilding trust and reigniting global solidarity: Accelerating action on the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals towards peace, prosperity, progress and the sustainability for all.” On the sidelines of the UNGA session, Sheikh Hasina will also attend a number of high-level side events involving issues such as the Rohingya and climate change, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), universal health, and finance.
She will also take part in several bilateral and courtesy meetings. She was also invited to join a dinner hosted by US President Joe Biden tonight. She will also attend a high level side event on community clinic based on medical services, co-organized by Bangladesh, Antigua and Barbuda, Bhutan, China, Malaysia, Chatham House and Suchona Foundation at CR-11, UNHQ.During the visit, UN secretary-general, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, UN secretary-general’s genocide adviser, the newly elected International Organization for Migration (IOM) director-general, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general and International Atomic Energy Agency director-general will pay courtesy calls on the prime minister. The Bangladesh premier is likely to hold bilateral meetings with Prime Minister of Denmark MetteFrederiksen and President of Sri Lanka RanilWickremesinghe at Bilateral Booth, UNHQ.
Bangladesh has taken the lead at many UN forums under her astute leadership, and the international community has praised Bangladesh for its accomplishments over the past decade. While highlighting our successes and ambitions, we also need to bring back global attention on the impacts of climate change and also the ecological disaster in Bangladesh due to prolonged stay of the Rohingya refugees. Like; most other previous leaders of Bangladesh, Sheikh Hasina never attended UNGA for the sake of participation only. Along with her customary address at UNGA, she had also participated in many forum discussions. She even chaired many forums and had been very active in utilizing this global attendance to the fullest. For her continuous participation and effort 21 February was recognized as International Mother Language Day.
Unfortunately, the non-resident Bangladeshis often protest when a Bangladeshi head of state goes to foreign countries. This demonstration is actually against a particular political party but it goes against a nation as the head of state represents the nation, not any political party. We have seen such demonstration during almost all the previous governments and it is still continuing. It is an uncivilized culture and portrays our lack of unity. It also dishonors Bangladesh as country and hence, we need to get out of such practice.
Sheikh Hasina did not only participate in UNGA as Bangladesh is an active participant in BIMSTEC, ASEAN, SAARC, OIC, UN Climate Change Conference (COP) and many others. She has also participated in G20 Summit, BRICS Summit and several others on invitation though Bangladesh is not a member. She has been working relentlessly to address all possible global and regional forums and that actually provided Bangladesh a great global exposure despite being a small country.
Her legendary and tireless work brought light on Bangladesh from which the country gained a lot. Being a small economy country, we have many global friends and they are eager to work as development partner of Bangladesh due to her visionary leadership. Bangladesh now has the capacity to explore new markets and Sheikh Hasina also uttered her confidence saying that Bangladesh will be the third largest market of the world.
Bangladesh received control of new marine and land areas under Sheikh Hasina’s leadership. She always maintained her connections throughout the world. Her policy like her father, ‘friendship to all; malice towards none’ has overcome all challenges from the global powers even during a time when the world is moving towards bipolarity again.Due to our amazing achievement under her visionary guidance as well as our marine areas, our geological location and our economic progress, the foreign nations treat Bangladesh with much respect and want to find democracy, human rights and freedom of expression here just like a developed nation. As Sheikh Hasina fought a lot in her political career for democracy, human rights and freedom of expression, she is truly the right leader to ensure those for the people of Bangladesh.
We also acknowledge that, Sheikh Hasina has yet many things to do like; eliminating or limiting corruption, controlling inflation, sharing the fruits of economic development with the middle and lower-income people, modernization of different sectors like; education and health and several other things, but her achievements truly overshadows those shortcomings.
From the daughter of the father of the nation to an orphan to an opposition leader to four-time prime minister of Bangladesh – the journey of Sheikh Hasina was full of hurdles. Sheikh Hasina’s father Bangabandhu was in jail for most of his political career and his family lived in dire straits. After winning the 1970 election, the West Pakistani rulers did not hand over power to Bangabandhu and the 1971 liberation war started. Sheikh Hasina gave birth to her first son SajeebWazed Joy in an unlivable condition in a sub-jail during the liberation war. Her parents and most of her family members were brutally killed in 1975 in independent Bangladesh. Only she, along with her younger sister Sheikh Rehana, survived as they were out of country. She could not return to the country to see her demised family members.
When Sheikh Hasina returned to Bangladesh in 1981 under the threats of the then autocratic ruler, she could not enter her house and kept sitting on the road. After a continuous fight for democracy, human rights and freedom of speech for 15 years, she came in power in 1996 for the first time. During the BNP-Jamaat regime in 2001-06, she faced the brutal grenade attack and severe oppression. She was arrested in false charges during the 2007-08 caretaker government regime. Finally, she came back in power in 2009 and is now working as the head of state for consecutive three terms. There were 21 attempts on her life. But during this journey she turned herself into a valiant leader, the mother of humanity and a global leader. Along with that, she transformed Bangladesh into a role model of development while placing this country at a stage of honor in front of the global audience.
The most important side of Sheikh Hasina is her love for the fellow countrymen which inspired her to change the lives of the people by cultivating development in different indices. She took initiatives like; arranging accommodation for every homeless people of Bangladesh, ensuring pension for all citizens including the non-resident Bangladeshis – a mammoth task that no leaders previously could even think about. She worked tremendously for women empowerment. She courageously declared war on terror, drugs and corruption on the face of serious threats. Her political insight, honesty, devotion, patriotism and capability of leading in international arena, assures us that, Bangladesh received a proper leadership at proper time.
76th birthday of Sheikh Hasina will be celebrated on 28 September. We always wonder how she is doing so much work at this age as she not only work actively at home but also at abroad as she has visited many countries to promote national interest during the last few months and also hosted several global leaders at home and also participated in so many programs. She is truly an example of a tireless leader. We hope Sheikh Hasina has a long healthy life as she can truly take Bangladesh a long way further. We wish her happy birthday in advance.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA) and Editor at Kishore Bangla