Bangladeshi Prime Minister and the architect of the country’s development Sheikh Hasina returns home today after a glorious tri-nation visit. On April 25, she embarked on a 15-day foreign trip to Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Bangladesh became a role model of development under her valiant leadership, and her visit was significant in many ways, as it sealed the plan of Bangladesh’s ongoing journey to the roads of development, especially with the 12th National Parliamentary Election approaching. Bangladesh and its people gained greatly from this visit, which we anticipate will be visible in the future.
A game-changer for Bangladesh’s socioeconomic and political situation, PM Hasina’s visit came before the nation’s 12th National Election. In the face of global political turmoil, Bangladesh has maintained cordial and significant relations with all superpowers, including the US, China, UK, Russia, and India under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina. Bangladesh also maintained a strong and good relationship with its neighbors during her reign.
Seven Memorandums of Understanding and one Agreement were signed between Japan and Bangladesh during Sheikh Hasina’s visit. Since Bangladesh’s founding, Japan has been its biggest development partner. Bangladesh has received greater assistance from Japan than from the World Bank and ADB. Sheikh Hasina’s official visit to Japan was concluded by a joint statement from Bangladesh and Japan in which the two nations once more reaffirmed their commitment to fostering their bilateral relations.
Sheikh Hasina traveled to the US from Japan at the World Bank President’s invitation. 50 years of partnership between Bangladesh and the World Bank was celebrated there as Bangladesh became a member of World Bank in 1972. Before Sheikh Hasina even met with the head of the World Bank, the bank decided to approve a loan of US$2.25 billion to fund five projects in Bangladesh. Bangladesh will eventually receive a loan worth $4 billion to fund its development budget. Sheikh Hasina and World Bank President David Malpass jointly opened a photo exhibition to celebrate the 50 years of partnership.
The most significant event occurred when Sheikh Hasina gave the president of the World Bank a large framed photograph of the much-discussed Padma Bridge, from which the World Bank withdrew in 2012 under the pretext that they suspected corruption in the project, which was later exposed as a hoax by the Royal Canadian Federal Court. Sheikh Hasina made the choice to build the bridge without any outside help, and it is now a reality. The presentation of the photograph represented Bangladesh’s resolve, self-reliance, and dedication to growth as well as the bold leadership of Bangladesh’s Prime Minister.
Despite the efforts of anti-government propagandists, foreign leaders during PM Hasina’s visit praised Bangladesh’s enormous development. While meeting with Sheikh Hasina, IMF MD Kristalina Georgieva reaffirmed the IMF’s faith in her ability to steer Bangladesh’s economy toward growth. According to the official press release, World Bank President David Malpass reiterated his organization’s strong support for Bangladesh and its people as it navigates previously unknown global challenges following his conversation with Sheikh Hasina.
Just before Sheikh Hasina left US for London, Bangladesh’s Foreign Secretary Masud bin Momen had the 9th Bangladesh-US partnership dialogue with the Under Secretary of US Victoria Nuland on May 3. Momen informed his counterpart during the conversation about the measures taken by Bangladesh’s Election Commission to guarantee that all local or national elections will be held in a free and fair way. Victoria Nuland commended the Bangladeshi government’s efforts and the Prime Minister’s promise to welcome all domestic and foreign observers throughout the election. Peter Hass, the US ambassador to Bangladesh, also took part in the discussion.
During the final leg of her recent trip to three countries, Sheikh Hasina traveled to London, United Kingdom, to attend King Charles III and Queen Consort Camilla Parker’s coronation. There, she met various heads of state. They all complimented the continuous prosperity of Bangladesh despite the COVID-19 outbreak and difficulties facing the world economy as a result of the Russia-Ukraine war. Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister of UK, said about Sheikh Hasina, “You’re inspiration for us. I’m following you for many years. You’re a successful economic leader. You’re great inspiration for my two daughters”. He described Bangladesh premier as a “role model” for development. Sierra Leone Prime Minister and his spouse have also lauded the leadership of Sheikh Hasina by saying, “We’re following you (Sheikh Hasina)”.
Bangladesh has made tremendous strides in a number of development indices under the leadership of Sheikh Hasina. For their compassionate reaction to the Rohingya issue in 2017, Sheikh Hasina and her administration have received accolades. Additionally, Sheikh Hasina has led a successful campaign against terrorism and extremism. The prosecution and sentencing of war criminals and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s assassins is one of Sheikh Hasina’s administration’s finest accomplishments. She will also always be remembered for the Chittagong Hill Tract Peace Treaty, implemented in her first term as the Prime Minister of the country.
Sheikh Hasina is widely regarded as one of the most influential leaders in South Asia. She was ranked as the 59th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine in 2015 and 42nd consecutively in 2018 and 2022. In addition to being named one of the top 100 intellectuals in the world in 2019, she received the United Nations’ Champions of the Earth award in 2015. For her political knowledge and astute intellect, she has won more than sixty national and international prizes, as well as multiple doctoral fellowships from prestigious universities throughout the world.
Sheikh Hasina is the longest serving female non-hereditary head of government and longest serving female leader of any country. She is the longest serving prime minister in the history of Bangladesh. According to a survey by Wiki Leaks, Sheikh Hasina has been an icon of resurrection of women and the longest serving eminent female leaders of the world. The name of Sheikh Hasina has been placed in the list of the longest serving eminent female leaders of the world as the Bangladesh premier has exceeded the records of famed female heads of governments including Indira Gandhi of India, Margaret Thatcher of Britain and Chandrika Kumaratunga of Sri Lanka.
The month of ‘May’ has been of great significance for Sheikh Hasina and Bangladesh. On 17 May, 1981 Sheikh Hasina returned home from India after nearly six years in exile following the assassination of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and most of his family members. Her return changed the political scenario of Bangladesh as she led the democratic movement under the threats of autocratic leadership and contributed significantly in restoring democracy. Her government came into power for the first time in 1996 through democratic struggle.
On 7 May, 2007 amid the state of emergency declared by the then caretaker government, Sheikh Hasina returned to the country en route to London, after receiving treatments in the United States, defying all obstacles and conspiracy. The caretaker government was involved in a conspiracy to prevent Sheikh Hasina from entering Bangladesh. But the Awami League president announced to return to the country ignoring the illegal ban of the then government. Protests against illegal bans erupted worldwide. The then caretaker government was forced to lift the ban on her homecoming under the pressure of Sheikh Hasina’s determination, courage and the democracy-loving people. Her return on that day actually opened the routes of development for Bangladesh and its people.
Now, on 9 May, 2023 (today) Sheikh Hasina is again returning home after clearing so many clouds over the political and economic scenario of Bangladesh. Those, who were constantly criticizing her government in front of the world, are silent now as she received immense honor from the world leaders as her farsighted leadership to enhance Bangladesh’s development matters to the world. The diplomatic intellect of Sheikh Hasina has been highly contributive to the success of the nation while she protected the honor, dignity and integrity of the country. The world leaders have also put their confidence on her to hold a free and fair election in the country against which the opposition parties and anti-sovereign forces were continuous knocking on the doors of foreign powers. Hence, it has been another successful and triumphant ‘May’ story for her, the country and fellow countrymen.
The writer is Chief Editor at Mohammadi News Agency (MNA) and Editor at Kishore Bangla